We have blogged before on the storm that is brewing around Monsanto’s weed-killer Roundup and the allegations that the herbicide causes cancer such as lymphoma. See more here.
The lawsuits have gathered steam as Monsanto suffered yet another blow to its public relations after the appellate verdict of Monsanto Company v. California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The chemical giant lost to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), a branch of the state’s Environmental Protection Agency. They declared that Roundup, a commonly used herbicide, is carcinogenic. Therefore, under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop 65), Monsanto must label the product as such. It will join 800 other chemicals and merchandises.
This whole fiasco started when the OEHHA publically announced that glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup, caused birth defects, reproductive problems, and various types of cancer. They would add Roundup to an existing list of potentially dangerous chemicals mandated by Prop 65.
Monsanto quickly defended itself by suing the agency that supposedly slandered it. They contended that Roundup was true to its slogan: “Safer than Table Salt”. However, this zealous assessment contradicted studies done by the State of California and the World Health Organization, both of whom claim that glyphosate is dangerous.
Monsanto’s defense attorneys stated their client was innocent based on two distinct rationales:
- Prop 65 is unconstitutional by nature. It cedes power to an unelected body that is not watched over by the state or the national government.
- When this justification failed, Monsanto claimed that Proposition 65 violated their First Amendment right to free speech by requiring them to use labels that would harm their sales and reputation.
Notice how neither of these defenses claim that Roundup does not cause cancer.
Judge Kapetan of the California Court of Appeals stated in her ruling that Prop 65 and the OEHHA were created by elected legislators and was, therefore, constitutional. (Read her whole ruling HERE.)
Although Monsanto will be forced to label Roundup, there are still many issues to be addressed by legislators, the courts, and Monsanto itself. While Roundup might see a decline in usage, herbicides without glyphosate have seen greater usage due to the rise of glyphosate-resistant crops. Many of those are potentially harmful, too. Those who have gotten ill from their exposure to Roundup will need to be properly compensated. Monsanto currently has hundreds of poisoning lawsuits against it pending in courts around the country.