In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a declaration that could change the way humanity farms in the near future, calling the main ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship herbicide Roundup, glyphosate, a “probable human carcinogen.”
Since then, the floodgates have opened for everything from lawsuits from people who claimed their loved ones lost lives to the disease, to public relations nightmares for Monsanto in the form of new warnings about its product, and even a pending ban on the herbicide in Europe.
One of the biggest dominoes to fall in the U.S. was the state of California’s decision to label glyphosate-containing products with cancer warnings, but now the company is fighting to save its bottom line, announcing a lawsuit Wednesday in order to stop the warning labels before they hit store packages.
Monsanto Teams With Farm Groups for Lawsuit
According to this report from Reuters, Monsanto and nearly a dozen U.S. farm groups have sued the state of California, which has plans to require products containing glyphosate to carry warnings by July 2018.
Monsanto and the farm groups reject the claims that glyphosate causes cancer, and say that the state’s warnings would force sellers of glyphosate-including products to spread false information.
“Such warnings would equate to compelled false speech, directly violate the First Amendment, and generate unwarranted public concern and confusion,” said Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, in a statement published in the Reuters report.
Glyphosate has been applied to crops for over 40 years and is used in especially large quantities on commodity crops like soybeans and corn. Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered crops (also known as GMOs) have been gene spliced in laboratories to withstand large sprayings of glyphosate and other chemicals in the Roundup formulation; over 90% of these two popular crops are GMO in the United States even though most GMOs are grown in just six countries worldwide.
Monsanto says their GMO crops and chemical pesticides are needed to “feed the world.”
However a recent United Nations report stated that these pesticides are not needed to feed the world, piggybacking off of a prior report calling for a return to small-scale natural farming.
As noted in the article the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) said it generally does not comment on pending litigation.
“Everything that we grow is probably going to have to be labeled,” said lawsuit plaintiff Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, according to Reuters.
The Reuters report also noted that a recent study on glyphosate use by U.S. farm workers found no firm link between exposure to the chemical and cancer.
But farm workers have continued to report their own alleged cases of cancer contracted through exposure to the chemical; for example 136 cases were filed in March 2017 in St. Louis County Circuit Court alleging the plaintiffs developed non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Critics of Monsanto’s safety claims also point out recent scandals in which the company was caught “ghostwriting” editorials to be placed in major newspapers, as well as alleged “independent safety reviews” in scientific journals.
The name of the case is ‘National Association of Wheat Growers et al v. Lauren Zeise, director of the OEHHA, et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, No. 17-at-01224’ according to Reuters.
Thumbnail photo via HealthFreedoms.org.