In a first for the country, California's Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) has issued plans to list glyphosate — the toxic active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide — as known to cause cancer.
According to a "notice of intent" issued last week by the Cal/EPA's California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the effort falls under California's Proposition 65, in which the state is required to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.
The state agency's Sept. 4 announcement follows a classification of glyphosate by the IARC as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in March.The same law, otherwise known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also requires that certain substances identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) — the World Health Organization's cancer arm — be listed as known to cause cancer.
"Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the USA, Canada, and Sweden reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides," the IARC said about the herbicide. There is also "convincing evidence" that it can cause cancer in laboratory animals.
It appears that California is the first state in the country to make this assessment about the controversial chemical, according to Dr. Nathan Donley, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
"As far as I'm aware, this is the first regulatory agency in the U.S. to determine that glyphosate is a carcinogen," he explained in an email to EcoWatch. "So this is a very big deal."
Roundup, Monsanto's flagship herbicide, is sprayed on crops all over the world and is the most popular weed-killer in the U.S. The agribusiness giant maintains the safety of their product and has demanded the WHO retract their report.
A day before California's EPA made the announcement, Monsanto also tweeted this link:
Despite the company's claims, many years of scientific research have linked Roundup to a slew of health and environmental problems, as well as therecord decline of monarch butterflies. In June, France banned the sale of Roundup in garden centers amid concerns of toxicity.