California EPA changes its tune regarding Monsanto's Roundup
The California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has changed its formerly neutral stance on Monsanto's Roundup weed herbicide.
Now, the product may soon be labeled for its glyphosate content, an ingredient that was determined to be "probably carcinogenic," according to the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The OEHHA issued a notice of intent to label products containing glyphosate for their cancer-causing potential, though the agency will be accepting comments through Oct. 5.
Meanwhile, Monsanto has been campaigning to dispute this claim as lacking sufficient proof.
Monsanto won approval from the EPA to use glyphosate in 2013, and it renewed its agreement with long-standing exclusive marketing and distribution agent Scotts-MiracleGro in May.
The Scotts-MiracleGro website contains a ready-made list of answers to frequently asked questions about glyphosate, including former quotes from the EPA that the “EPA has concluded that glyphosate does not pose a cancer risk to humans.”
“More than 250 million pounds of glyphosate are used each year in the United States, and the science is clear that it’s a threat to public health and countless wildlife species,” said Dr. Nathan Donley, a staff scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s long past time to start reining in the out-of-control use of glyphosate in the United States."
California dealer Augie Venezia of Fairfax Lumber told HBSDealer that he has already received an Aug. 18 letter from the Town of Fairfax, asking him to discontinue his sale of Roundup.
The EPA's move follows the decree of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, which provides that businesses must clearly label products that contain chemicals hazardous to human health.
As this article goes to press, Scotts-Miracle Gro has not immediately responded to an e-mail request for comment. Monsanto defended glyphosate in a statement here.
This article was updated on Sept. 10 to reflect the following corrections: 1) As there is only a notice of intent, there is no formal order to label products yet. 2) It was the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which is under the umbrella of the EPA, that issued the notice. 3) The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency of the WHO, determined that glyphosate should be classified as "probably carcinogenic," but it did not definitively say it has been shown to cause cancer.