Roundup Cancer Concerns Have California Communities Consider Weed Killer Alternatives

Some communities in California are rethinking their use of certain herbicides, due to concerns that the side effects of Roundup and other glyphosate weed killers may increase the risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma or other cancers. 

Sonoma County and other local governments are considering a move away from the use of glyphosate-based herbicides. Santa Rosa is the most recent to begin debating the issue, according to a story in The Press Democrat.

On Tuesday, the Santa Rosa City Council voted to re-bid a landscaping contract, to see if they could find options that did not involve the use of Roundup or other glyphosate-based herbicides, or a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, which some say have helped kill off bees and other pollinators.

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Another Sonoma County City, Petaluma, has already stopped using Roundup for safety’s sake, even though they determined that other methods were not as effective, and were more costly. The city’s leaders said the extra expense was worth it given the growing concerns over Roundup cancer risks.

Santa Rosa’s vote to look for other means of weed control comes just days after the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added glyphosate to its list of cancer causing agents, known as the Proposition 65 list, on July 7.

As a result of the move, Monsanto will have to add a Roundup cancel label to all products sold in the state, alerting consumers that the popular herbicide is a probably carcinogenic.

The cancer warnings for Roundup come after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decided to classify glyphosate as a probably human carcinogen in mid-2015, and amid increasing concerns worldwide about the link between exposure to Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as other cancers.

Although Monsanto has continued to defend the safety of Roundup, calling the IARC findings junk science, experts worldwide have joined the debate over the widespread use of glyphosate-based herbicides, raising questions about why Monsanto marketed Roundup as safe and non-toxic, without providing warnings about the importance of safety precautions.

Across the U.S., several hundred product liability lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto by farmers, landscapers, agricultural workers and others regularly exposed to Roundup, alleging that they may have avoided a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma or other cancer if warnings had been provided by Monsanto.

Since October 2016, all federal Roundup lawsuits have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which is centralized before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California. As part of the coordinated litigation, it is expected that a small group of bellwether trials will be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the cases. However, if Monsanto fails to reach Roundup settlements or another resolution for the failure to warn cases, hundreds of individual lawsuits may eventually be remanded back to the federal courts where they were originally filed for an separate trial dates.

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