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Monsanto Still Fighting California’s Carcinogen Listing for Glyphosate in Roundup

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Fresno, CAThe manufacturer of Monsanto Roundup is not taking any assertion, accurate or otherwise that Roundup causes cancer, lying down. To that end, Monsanto Co. has joined forces with other agricultural industry groups in a lawsuit aimed squarely at the State of California and the identification by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that a key ingredient in Roundup is known to cause cancer.

To that end, there are several plaintiffs who have filed Monsanto Roundup lawsuits alleging that glyphosate is a carcinogen – specifically, a trigger for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. While various studies have straddled the fence with regard to a conclusive determination that glyphosate is cancerous, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an offshoot of the World Health Organization, published findings in 2015 that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.

The Monsanto lawsuit brought against the State of California notes that the OEHHA had previously determined that glyphosate was not a carcinogen, but reversed its stance when the IARC determination was released.

Roundup, perhaps the most prolific weed killer in the world, can be legally sold and deployed in California in spite of the cancer allegation. However a State initiative known as Proposition 65 requires that products containing chemicals that pose a public health hazard carry warning labels. Further, according to Law360 (11/15/17) and the lawsuit itself, some IARC determinations automatically require a hazard listing with the OEHHA.

“A listing...[sic] is automatically required even if IARC is absolutely alone in its views, as is the case here where IARC’s conclusion is opposed by every global regulatory body that has examined the issue, including OEHHA itself,” the Monsanto lawsuit said.

“California’s listing of glyphosate is an attack on science and the future of farming itself,” Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, said in a statement to Law360. “By ignoring its own scientific assessments and the overwhelming scientific proof that glyphosate is safe, California will needlessly burden both the agricultural industry and consumers with increased compliance costs and higher food prices.”

The State of California is an agriculture center, and certainly of interest to Monsanto. This is also the second go at California for Monsanto in a court setting. This past March, as the carcinogen listing was being considered but not yet implemented, Monsanto sued the State alleging the OEHHA had no authority to undertake a listing for glyphosate under Proposition 65. A state court in California dismissed the Monsanto lawsuit, but the manufacturer appealed, asking the California Supreme Court to stay the lower court’s ruling that the glyphosate carcinogen listing could go forward alleging that Monsanto Roundup causes cancer by way of its key ingredient, glyphosate.

However, Monsanto lost that appeal.

Now, according to Law360 Monsanto has launched a federal complaint together with the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) – the lead plaintiff – and other organizations with a stake in the issue.

This time, the lawsuit alleges that the OEHHA’s decision to list glyphosate as a carcinogen violates the Constitution’s supremacy clause because it violates the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act’s ban on misbranding food products.

Additionally, the plaintiffs said, the listing decision violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

“Listing glyphosate falsely as a known carcinogen and requiring a warning that misleadingly states that California knows glyphosate is a carcinogen are not actions rationally related to any legitimate state interest,” the lawsuit said, adding that the listing also violates their rights under the Constitution’s First Amendment because the Proposition 65 glyphosate warning mandate “compels speech that is factually controversial.”

Joining Monsanto and NAWG in the Roundup lawsuit against the State are: National Corn Growers Association, United States Durum Growers Association, Western Plant Health Association, Missouri Farm Bureau, Iowa Soybean Association, South Dakota Agri-Business Association, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Associated Industries of Missouri and Agribusiness Association of Iowa.

The lawsuit is National Association of Wheat Growers et al. v. Lauren Zeise et al., Case No. 2:17-at-01224, in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California. Lauren Zeise is identified on the OEHHA home page as the Director of the organization.

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