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Agricultural News

Wheat Growers Lead in Lawsuit Against California Over Designation of Glyphosate as a Carcinogen

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 13:41:37 CST

Wheat Growers Lead in Lawsuit Against California Over Designation of Glyphosate as a Carcinogen Warning of widespread impacts throughout the food supply chain, wheat growers are spearheading a lawsuit against California for listing glyphosate as a carcinogen under the state’s Proposition 65 law, which requires labeling of ingredients “known to the state to cause cancer.”

Monsanto is one of the plaintiffs along with the National Association of Wheat Growers and other groups, including the the Missouri Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, United States Durum Growers Association, Western Plant Health Association, South Dakota Agri-Business Association, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Associated Industries of Missouri, the Agribusiness Association of Iowa and the Iowa Soybean Association, that filed the suit in federal court in California. Their complaint alleges constitutional violations under the First Amendment, the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Supremacy Clause.

At the center of the lawsuit is the International Agency for Research on Cancer, whose March 2015 conclusion that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans" was the trigger for California’s Prop 65 listing. Under California law, the state is required to list as cancer-causing any substances classified by IARC as probable carcinogens.

The lawsuit claims that being forced to comply with the state listing “compels speech that is false and misleading,” because IARC only said glyphosate probably causes cancer, and its scientific conclusion is not supported by any other regulatory bodies or the scientific evidence.

"The determination by IARC, a France-based, non-scientific organization, that glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic’ counters the conclusion of every global regulator that has examined the issue over the past 40 years," noted Iowa Soybean Association CEO Kirk Leeds. "Not only does the scientific community disagree with IARC’s findings, the organization’s internal process for reviewing glyphosate — along with other ‘possible’ or ‘probable carcinogens’ like French fries and coffee — has also been roundly criticized.

“This labeling requirement would do nothing more than compel false warnings about a safe product and unnecessarily increase food prices for consumers,” said Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy. Monsanto is also separately appealing a California court’s ruling that upholds the Prop 65 listing.

And Gordon Stoner, president of NAWG, said, “The unified voice of this diverse coalition of agriculture and business groups illustrates the devastating impact California’s flawed action would have across the country.”

Prior to IARC's ruling, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which administers Prop 65, had itself twice concluded that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, the lawsuit says, adding “California conducted no independent analysis to verify IARC’s outlier contrary conclusion.”

The lawsuit also pointed to a study published last week by the National Cancer Institute, which examined more than 54,000 applicators in North Carolina and Iowa and found “no association was apparent between glyphosate and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, including (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) and its subtypes. There was some evidence of increased risk of (acute myeloid leukemia) among the highest exposed group that requires confirmation.”

The plaintiffs in the action filed today are sounding the alarm about what they characterize as catastrophic effects for growers and handlers.

NAWG members “have already been told by millers that because millers do not want to test for glyphosate residues themselves, this requirement will be imposed on the farmers,” the suit says. “Testing for glyphosate residues is very expensive.”

Click on the PDF link below to review the complete complaint filed by NAWG and the other groups.



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