Judge: California can’t require cancer label for weed killer

June 22, 2020 - 11:34 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California can’t require a cancer warning label on Roundup, the world’s most widely used weed-killer, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge William Shubb issued a permanent injunction against the labeling, saying the state couldn’t meet a legal standard for such a requirement, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

California requires warning labels on cancer-causing products under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, approved by voters in 1986.

The state wanted to label products containing glyphosate — the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup — because of a 2015 finding by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, that glyphosate was a probable cause of cancer in humans.

But Monsanto sued and in 2018 Shubb temporarily blocked the warning label. In issuing Monday’s permanent injunction, the judge said the state can only require a private company to change its label if the statement is “purely factual and non-controversial.”

Shubb said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and similar agencies in Europe haven’t found a connection between the chemical and cancer.

“The great weight of evidence indicates that glyphosate is not known to cause cancer,” the judge said.

The decision is “a very important ruling for California agriculture and for science,” Monsanto said in a statement.

Last year, the Trump administration said it wouldn’t approve warning labels for products that contain glyphosate because its research showed the chemical poses no risks to public health.

Monsanto contends the product is safe but is facing thousands of lawsuits. Cancer victims in Northern California have won nearly $200 million in awards in three lawsuits, including a couple last year who were awarded about $2 billion. That award was later reduced to $87 million.

The verdicts are being appealed.

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