People 1: Monsanto 0.
In all honesty, Monsanto is still way ahead. But this is how I felt when I learned that California’s Environmental Protection Agency proposed to label glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship herbicide, Roundup, as being known to cause cancer.
Roundup is America’s most popular weed-killer and is used on lawns, gardens, and sidewalk cracks all across the nation. However, the majority of glyphosate sprayed onto American soil each year isn’t in our yards, it’s on our food crops. In fact, some Genetically Engineered (GE/GMO) crops such as corn and soybeans are specifically designed to withstand heavy doses of glyphosate. This synthetic chemical is absorbed into the plants that we and our livestock eat, and research has shown that some food crops may contain “excessive” levels of glyphosate.
Last March, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a report describing glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen,” claiming that there is “convincing evidence” that glyphosate can cause cancer in laboratory animals. For humans, the report said that, “Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the U.S.A., Canada, and Sweden reported increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustments to other pesticides.”
California’s Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires any chemical known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm be listed and published by the state. There are roughly 800 chemicals already on this list, and adding glyphosate makes California the first state in the U.S. to admit that it is a carcinogen. As Dr. Nathan Donley of the Center for Biological Diversity said in an email to Ecowatch, “this is a very big deal.”
Organic food advocates and environmentalists are thrilled. Contrary to the company’s claims, decades of scientific studies have linked Roundup to numerous health and environmental problems, as well as to the decline of monarch butterflies. France recently banned the sale of Roundup in garden centers. Labeling will help to educate California residents about the myriad of problems associated with this toxic chemical. Hopefully, it will spark even greater interest in organic farming, which can feed the world and fill the wallets of American farmers.
As one would guess, however, the chemical companies are not pleased with this decision. After all, they are making a fortune by producing both GMO seeds and the chemicals that need to be used on those seeds. Less than a week after the World Health Organization issued its report naming glyphosate as a carcinogen, Monsanto called for a retraction.
About the decision here in California, a spokesperson for Monsanto, Charla Lord, told Agri-Pulse that, “glyphosate is an effective and valuable tool for farmers and other users, including many in the state of California. During the upcoming comment period, we will provide detailed scientific information to OEHHA about the safety of glyphosate and work to ensure that any potential listing will not affect glyphosate use or sales in California.”
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) filed its “notice of intent to list” glyphosate as a carcinogen, and public comments on the decision will be accepted through October 5th. The new requirement will not restrict the sale or use of glyphosate, but will require a label.
Monsanto will be making public comments—WE need to do the same! Public comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 5th to be considered. OEHHA encourages people to submit comments in electronic form, rather than in paper form. Comments transmitted by e‑mail should be addressed to [email protected], and should include “NOIL” and the chemical name in the subject line. For information on other ways to contact OEHHA about this issue, visit their website at: http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/CRNR_notices/admin_listing/intent_to_list/090415LCset27.html