FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed-killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat despite an insistence from the chemical giant that it poses no risk to people, a judge tentatively ruled Friday.

California would be the first state to order such labeling if it carries out the proposal.

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Monsanto had sued the nation’s leading agricultural state, saying California officials illegally based their decision for carrying the warnings on an international health organization based in France.

Monsanto attorney Trenton Norris argued in court Friday that the labels would have immediate financial consequences for the company. He said many consumers would see the labels and stop buying Roundup.

“It will absolutely be used in ways that will harm Monsanto,” he said.

After the hearing, the firm said in a statement that it will challenge the tentative ruling.

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Critics take issue with Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, which has no color or smell. Monsanto introduced it in 1974 as an effective way of killing weeds while leaving crops and plants intact.

It’s sold in more than 160 countries, and farmers in California use it on 250 types of crops.

The chemical is not restricted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which says it has “low toxicity” and recommends people avoid entering a field for 12 hours after it has been applied.

But the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a Lyon, France-based branch of the U.N. World Health Organization, classified the chemical as a “probable human carcinogen.”

Shortly afterward, the most populated U.S. state took its first step in 2015 to require the warning labels.

St. Louis-based Monsanto contends that California is delegating its authority to an unelected foreign body with no accountability to U.S. or state officials in violation of the California Constitution.

Attorneys for California consider the International Agency for Research on Cancer the “gold standard” for identifying carcinogens, and they rely on its findings along with several states, the federal government and other countries, court papers say.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan still must issue a formal decision, which she said would come soon.

California regulators are waiting for the formal ruling before moving forward with the warnings, said Sam Delson, a spokesman for the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Once a chemical is added to a list of probable carcinogens, the manufacturer has a year before it must attach the label, he said.

Teri McCall believes a warning would have saved her husband, Jack, who toted a backpack of Roundup for more than 30 years to spray weeds on their 20-acre avocado and apple farm. He died of cancer in late 2015.

“I just don’t think my husband would have taken that risk if he had known,” said Teri McCall, one of dozens nationwide who are suing Monsanto, claiming the chemical gave them or a loved one cancer.

But farmer Paul Betancourt, who has been using Roundup for more than three decades on his almond and cotton crops, says he does not know anyone who has gotten sick from it.

“You’ve got to treat it with a level of respect, like anything else,” he said. “Gasoline will cause cancer if you bathe in the stuff.”


Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

Comments (28)
  1. Frank Romo says:

    Look it up, Monsanto is the same company that produced “Agent Orange” and we all know what that spawned to the soldiers in the bush…This company is responsible for a lot of issues.

    1. Niya Watson says:

      Actually it was dow chemicals that made agent orange. the stuff was nasty that the sold it to Monsanto at the end of the Vietnam war.

      1. Frank Romo says:

        I got the information off Monsanto’s web site, they along with five other companies produced Agent Orange…

      2. Frank Romo says:

        From 1965 to 1969, the former Monsanto Company manufactured Agent Orange for the U.S. military as a wartime government contractor. The current Monsanto Company has maintained responsibility for this product since we were spun-off as a separate, independent agricultural company in 2002.

        More than 40 years ago, Agent Orange was one of 15 herbicides used by the U.S. military as a defoliant in the Vietnam War to protect and save the lives of U.S. and allied soldiers. It was a unique mixture of two common herbicides (2,4-D and 2,4,5-T ) that had been used separately in the United States since the late 1940s. The government named the mixture “Agent Orange” because of the orange band that was painted on containers of the material.

        From 1965 to 1969, the former Monsanto Company was one of nine wartime government contractors who manufactured Agent Orange. The government set the specifications for making Agent Orange and determined when, where and how it was used. Agent Orange was only produced for, and used by, the government.

        Ongoing Research and Services
        The use of Agent Orange as a military herbicide in Vietnam continues to be an emotional subject for many people. Asian Affairs Specialist Michael Martin notes, “[a]t the time the herbicides were used, there was little consideration within the U.S. military about potential long-term environmental and health effects of the widespread use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.”

        As a result, the governments that were involved most often take responsibility for resolving any consequences of the Vietnam War, including any relating to the use of Agent Orange. U.S. courts have determined that wartime contractors (such as the former Monsanto) who produced Agent Orange for the government are not responsible for damage claims associated with the chemistry.

        Research on Agent Orange has been conducted for decades and continues today. While a causal connection linking Agent Orange to chronic disease in humans has not been established, some governments have made the decision to provide certain medical benefits to veterans and their families even though there has not been a determination that an individual’s health problem was caused by Agent Orange. In addition, governments and non-governmental humanitarian organizations have increased funding of environmental and healthcare services to help address potential problems that may exist in Vietnam from the use of Agent Orange.

    2. James Buchy says:

      Who he f*ck cares if they made Agent Orange? What difference does it make? The maker is not responsible for the end user. Is Boeing responsible for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima? Is Smith & Wesson responsible for fire arm deaths?

      1. Don Cook says:

        you have a very corporate/immoral/un-american way of apportioning blame for illness and death. Your response is not logical, or intelligent….yes; the manufacturers of death-dealing products are liable for the deaths … your vote for trump was a vote for fascism.

  2. We don’t spray gasoline on our crops. That is the worst defence ever!

    1. Lynn Oster says:

      It’s not sprayed on crops, that would kill them. Only weeds. You don’t eat the weeds do you?

      1. John Grieco says:

        Lynn, they spray the CROPS with glyphosate. They have genetically engineered the crops to resist the glyphosate. This has been their business model since they discovered how to genetically alter seeds to withstand Roundup. So, yes, we’ve all been ingesting this cancer causing poison for decades and over 90% of the population has it in their systems. Monsanto is pure corporate evil and a detriment to our society and ecology.

      2. Lynn, it’s been proven that GMO crops re-seed and cross over in the crop world, therefore spreading whatever poisons it has in and on outside to the non-poisoned crops.

      3. John, it has not been proven that Glyphosate causes cancer, only that there is a risk and appropriate protection is warranted on using the product. Big difference. The gov’t is responding to politics, not to any definitive science. Wood sawdust is DEFINITELY carcinogenic. Pei Kang, any time you say “it is proven that…” you had best provide a reference. It is one thing to hate a big business for its practices, but your credibility is questionable if you make claims you can’t prove. Take down the business practices instead. We fight invasive plants which are PROVEN to impact diversity on the planet, and glyphosate is an important short-term tool to get rid of a living form of pollution that GROWS. Search “Ecological impacts of invasive alien plants: a meta-analysis of their effects on species, communities and ecosystems” for some of the impact. Invasive plants and animals have a bigger impact than either pollution or climate change. Google this for an excellent review: Biodiversity: The ravages of guns, nets and bulldozers.

  3. Doreen Lucia says:

    We already know this, how is it gonna make any significant impact NOW

  4. Will California Wine now be labelled as “Cancer Causing” as it is a Group 1 (Known) Carcinogen according to IARC as opposed to Group 2B (Probable) for glyphosate?

    1. Good point Darryl. For anyone wishing to check this out (and learn more about Glyphosate in general), here’s a useful link link below.

  5. Try finding a building anywhere in California that doesn’t have that stupid cancer warning sign. Apparently, everything in California causes cancer.

    1. Frank Romo says:

      Especially the politicians…

  6. Nina Marks says:

    Just secede, quake off the mainland, and start inbreeding already (but gimme a minute to scooch over to Vegas first).

  7. Isn’t everything in California a death agent of cancer? Might want to check on those pesticides that “organic’s” use LOL

    1. Nina Marks says:

      And maybe look into why Whole Foods (#181) makes more money than Monsanto (#189), which should be impossible because “Monsatan owns everything, you shill!” ; )

  8. Hmmm. Not supposed to enter the field for twelve hours after applying. If it is not toxic then why not, I wonder??

    1. Lewis Goudy says:

      Everything is toxic, including water. “”All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.” The non-toxic substance doesn’t exist anymore than the sky fairy. This is a theological dispute.

  9. I am glad someone has had some success with this company.

  10. Poison is Poison. Monsanto is Evil. Who has the right to control seeds?! Scarie. People are getting sicker and sicker and more and more illnesses and allergies. Why do you think that is?

  11. Russ Dunaway says:

    Frank Romo, just curious,, where do they spray agent orange on crops??? Also, I have always suspected the farmer of America to be a very evil lot!!

  12. well farmer Paul Betancourt you have been very lucky, because there are others that have not been as lucky! Even babies haven’t been so lucky as you! Do you make money from Monsanto to tell these lies? Monsanto is Evil Corp and willing to kill with their poisons! So if you want to stand up for this company lets see you roll around in the grass that has been freshly sprayed with Round – Up and have the time of your life (because I don’t think you will be around to tell your lil lies a few years from now! Do ya wanna be burried with a bottle or two of round-up in your coffin, and on your head stone it will state that round-up never hurt you!

  13. looks like a whole bunch of people have drank the koolaide. it HAS been proven that roundup/glyphosate causes cancer, the government now admits that those who were exposed to agent orange are sick and dying from cancer BECAUSE of agent orange, and the farmers (factory farmers) don’t mean to be evil, but they’ve also listened to monsanto and all of it’s sister companies, who tell them roundup/glyphosate is safe. it’s about as safe as the fracking fluid the big energy companies tell us is perfectly safe to drink. grow up, find a decent news source besides faux news and NPR, and stop listening to those who tell you only what you want to hear.

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