In 2014, farmers sprayed almost a pound of glyphosate—the active ingredient in brand name Roundup weed killer—on every acre of cultivated farmland in the United States. It is by far the most widely used herbicide in America, according to recent data findings, and its popularity could pose potential health risks.

At the end of last month, California’s Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) cleared a major hurdle in its quest to list glyphosate as a human carcinogen, according to U.S. News & World Report. A state judge ruled against Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, saying the state can require it to label its weed killer as a possible cancer threat.

Glyphosate, a phosphonate compound that has no color or smell, has been linked to cancers, particularly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and other health and environmental concerns, prompting Cal/EPA’s action. However, Monsanto insisted throughout court proceedings that it poses no risk to humans and the proposed label would have “immediate financial consequences for the company,” according to U.S. News.

Monsanto sued California saying officials illegally based their decision for the warning label on the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) classification of glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” The agency is a branch of the U.N. World Health Organization based in Lyon, France, which the suit claimed violated the state constitution by delegating authority to an unelected foreign body, according to the news source. However, the state maintained the IARC is the “gold standard” for identifying human carcinogens and is used by other states and the federal government as a source for health information.

Cal/EPA is waiting until the judge officially issues a formal decision, but if the proposed label is carried out as expected, California would be the first state in the U.S. to order the label be placed on Roundup, and Monsanto, which is expected to challenge the ruling, would have a year to comply.

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Beasley Allen lawyer John Tomlinson, a member of our Toxic Torts section, is actively investigating cases where landscapers, farmers, groundskeepers or commercial gardeners used commercial grade Roundup and developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or

Environmental Sciences Europe
U.S. News & World Report

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