The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will no longer approve cancer warnings for Monsanto Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides sold in California.
Glyphosate is the most popular weed killer in the world.
But in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, after an independent review linked occupational exposure to an increased risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment categorized glyphosate a cancer-causing agent in July 2017. The regulator also added the herbicide to its Proposition 65 list, which requires business to warn California consumers if a product is known to cause cancer.
The EPA, however, considers glyphosate safe. Last Thursday, the agency directed companies to no longer include cancer warnings on the labels for any glyphosate containing-products.
“It is irresponsible to require labels on products that are inaccurate when EPA knows the product does not post a cancer risk,” the EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.
Others would disagree with Wheeler’s contention, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry , which earlier this year said it couldn’t rule out a glyphosate-cancer link and called for more research.
In March, a study published in “Mutation Research” suggested that glyphosate exposure increased the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by as much as 41%.
Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto last year, is currently defending more than 18,000 Roundup lawsuits in courts throughout the United States, all of which blame glyphosate exposure for causing cancer.
Plaintiffs claim, among other things, that Monsanto worked aggressively to discredit the IARC reviewing by funding and ghostwriting positive glyphosate studies and leveraging a cozy relationship with the EPA to unduly influence the regulator’s review of the herbicide.
Monsanto Roundup lawsuits began going to trial last August. So far, three out of three juries have found that glyphosate was a substantial factor in plaintiffs’ cancer, with awards ranging from $80 million to $2 billion. However, the verdicts were later reduced because trial judges found punitive damages to be excessive.