Cancer Warnings for Roundup Weedkiller May Be Added in California

A California judge has cleared the way for that state to require warnings about the risk of cancer from Roundup exposure, after the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) previously proposed adding glyphosate contained in the popular weedkiller to a list of cancer-causing chemicals that require label warnings when sold in the state.

California regulators and Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide, have waged a legal battle for months over whether the state can require Roundup to carry warnings that indicate that the weed killer may be carcinogenic.

In January 2016, Monsanto filed a lawsuit over the proposed cancer warnings for Roundup, and Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan tentatively ruled in favor of the state late last week. She is expected to make a more formal ruling allowing California to require the new Roundup warnings in the near future.

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Monsanto has vowed to appeal the decision, indicating that it’s only effect would be to hurt the company.

OEHHA announced in September that it plans to list glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides, as a cancer-causing agent, which would require new warnings on products sold in the state that contain glyphosate.

The proposal came after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed Roundup and other glyphosate herbicides as potential human carcinogens in March 2015.

Monsanto has maintained that there is no reliable evidence of a link between Roundup and cancer, suggesting that the IARC’s conclusions were agenda-driven and based on “junk science.” However, many health experts have stood behind the cancer group’s decision, pointing to prior evidence that suggests exposure to Roundup may cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other forms of cancer.

Monsanto attorneys have argued that by using the IARC’s ruling as a basis for its decision, the OEHHA has ceded authority to an unelected foreign body, and that it has violated California’s constitution by doing so.

The ruling comes as Monsanto also faces a growing number of Roundup cancer lawsuits filed on behalf of farmers, landscapers, agricultural workers and others regularly exposed to large amounts of the weedkiller, each involving allegations that plaintiffs were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) because the manufacturer failed to provide safety warnings.

Plaintiffs maintain that they may have avoided a cancer diagnosis if they had been warned about the Roundup risks for farmers, landscapers and others in the agricultural industry, as safety precautions could have been taken or other products could have been used to control the growth of weeds.

California is also the setting for the federal Roundup litigation as well, with all cases filed nationwide centralized before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

Following coordinated proceedings before Judge Chhabria, if Roundup settlements or another resolution for the cases are not reached, each individual complaint may be remanded back to the federal courts where it was originally filed for an individual trial date.


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