U.S. farm groups, Monsanto sue over glyphosate warning

CHICAGO, Ill. (Reuters) — Monsanto and U.S. farm groups sued California in mid-November to stop the state from requiring cancer warnings on products containing the widely used weed killer glyphosate.

The government of the most populous U.S. state added glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, to its list of cancer-causing chemicals in July and will require that products containing glyphosate carry warnings by July 2018.

California acted after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded in 2015 that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic”.

Roundup and Monsanto’s glyphosate-resistant seeds may become less attractive to customers if California requires warnings on products containing the chemical.

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in California, Monsanto and groups representing corn, soybeans and wheat farmers reject that glyphosate causes cancer.

They say the state’s requirement for warnings would force sellers of products containing the chemical to spread false information.

“Such warnings would equate to compelled false speech, directly violate the First Amendment, and generate unwarranted public concern and confusion,” Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice-president of global strategy, said in a statement.

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which is named in the lawsuit, said it generally does not comment on pending litigation.

The controversy is an additional headache for Monsanto as it faces a crisis around a new version of a herbicide based on dicamba that was linked to widespread U.S. crop damage this summer.

The company, which is being acquired by Bayer AG for $63.5 billion, developed the product as a replacement for glyphosate following an increase of weeds resistant to the chemical.

Monsanto has already suffered damage to its investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in glyphosate products since California added the chemical to its list of products known to cause cancer, according to the lawsuit.

“Everything that we grow is probably going to have to be labelled,” said Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.


  • RobertWager

    Hopefully the entire IARC-gate episode is exposed for everyone to see.

    • Harold

      And then what? Hopefully for whom? There are two hopefuls in the Court. There are one hopeful that don’t give a damn if glyphosate causes cancer or not and they just do want to consume or touch it at all; are you hopeful for them? Good for you. They do have the same constitutional rights too or have your forgotten that? Does it have to be cancer that is causes or can it be other medical disorders and diseases? Is cancer our only concern?
      All glyphosate has to do is create or assist in the body a condition of inflammation and that is pre-cancer. If glyphosate assists in inflammation, this makes it troublesome to pinpoint glyphosate as being a direct cause or a contributing cause. A pesticide is a pesticide and it kills and it doesn’t quit doing that; it is not a nutrient to the plant, the animals, or humans or nature.
      I’m curious; what IARC-Gate do you think that I need to go through? Is this the same as Water- Gate or did you just need a gate. Many such as I, will be unmoved by the outcome of this Trial. A Judges opinion between maybe it does cause cancer or maybe it does not cause cancer is totally un-moving to me. Finally anyone can make a claim and the claim is not proven until it is tested by the Court. The reason this is aired pre-trial is so that the farmers and Monsanto can bait a sympathy guilty verdict before the proceedings of the Court commences. This is nothing more than a Industry publicity stunt right now Right now the supporters of Monsanto are crying foul and non-supporters are crying foul and after the verdict one side will call foul – the trial was rigged. No change. Monsanto is not stupid; he knows when to perform his mind control publicity stunts.

  • Peter Olins

    The IARC even claimed that hot water probably causes cancer.
    Presumably, only iced-coffee can be served at the IARC review meetings.


    • Kissing optional

      Do you have evidence contrary to extremely hot beverages not possible for esophagus cancer?

    • Harold

      Is hot water and Iced coffee the focus or is glyphosate still the issue? It is typical that everyone runs off in another direction every time glyphosate is mentioned. Its like you are looking at the automobile and someone wants to show you an aircraft and place your focus there. We get it; they both have seat belts. Can we get back to the automobile or did you have nothing further or informative to say and we are now looking at aircraft; is there an automobile in the luggage hold?

  • Denise

    Well, I think it’s only FAIR and RIGHT that people know that handling and being exposed to glyphosate is very dangerous. Labels remind people to handle poisons with great care.
    Serious ecological problems are evident, everywhere, because of the current agro-industrial model of production.
    But even worse….
    Studies done by Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, a pediatrician and neonatologist, from the medical faculty of the National University of Cordoba and a group of 160 doctors from ten provinces and dozens of towns ,in Argentina, have found an alarming increase of health issues such as “spontaneous abortions,and cognitive malformations, endocrine problems such as hypothyroidism,neurological disorders or cognitive development problems”, and rising cancer rates.
    There is no doubt in their minds that the massive and growing exposure to pesticides changed a healthy population into a diseased one. Cancer is the leading cause of death in rural populations .
    They have honed in on glyphosate as the key culprit. (source : Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science – author Carey Gillam.
    California has every right to protect it’s people. They live in a highly intensive agricultural zone. No agro-industry has the right to destroy people’s lives in the name of profits or we no longer live in a democratic society.
    Democracy IS eroding and only the people can stop it, since our representative governments seem to lack the backbone to stand up to these corporate monsters and do the right thing.

    • Ddant


  • richard

    What reactionary business interests ignore is that the more noise they generate, the more public awareness is raised around dubious technology…..where there is smoke there will be fire…..and wasting public coffers defending the necessary disruption of change will only galvanize public support towards the demise of glyphosate……As with tobacco, corporate ego is no excuse for maintaining status quo ignorance….. There are a hundred ways to grow food without roundup, all of them requiring a little more imagination than singing the same tired need for greed song……..

  • richard

    Well stated …

  • Denise

    How true. It makes “no sense” to use agrochemical products that cause so much sickness and cancer in people and destroys the very environment we depend on for life . Makes survival on this already stressed planet really difficult. I worry about the next generation who has to clean up this toxic mess.
    The soil and waterways are contaminated with chemicals. The beneficial insects, birds and aquatic life are close to extinction.


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