California Closer to Mandating Roundup Warnings
In March 2015, leading cancer experts from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a Lyon, France-based branch of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” IARC reached its decision based on the research of 17 top cancer experts from 11 countries. The experts met to assess the carcinogenicity of five pesticides. The IARC review of glyphosate led to the European Parliament calling for a complete ban on non-commercial public use of glyphosate, as well as serious restrictions on its agricultural use. Monsanto rejected IARC’s classification and mounted a campaign to discredit IARC scientists, according to The Huffington Post.
Soon after the WHO classification, California began, in 2015, to mandate warning labels. Attorneys for California state consider IARC’s findings as the so-called “gold standard” for carcinogen identification and relies on its findings for identifying carcinogens along with several states, the federal government, and other countries, according to court documents.
Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan just ruled that the state of California may require Monsanto to label its herbicide Roundup as a possible cancer threat. This makes California the first state to order such labeling for the controversial weed killer used by farmers and home gardeners globally.
Monsanto sued California arguing that officials illegally based their decision for carrying the warnings on an international health organization based in France. A Monsanto attorney argued in court that the labels would have immediate financial consequences for Monsanto, consumers would see the labels and stop buying Roundup. “It will absolutely be used in ways that will harm Monsanto.” After the hearing, the firm indicated it will challenge the tentative ruling, according to MintPressNews.com. Monsanto contends that California has delegated its authority to an unelected foreign body with no accountability to United States or state officials, a violation of the California Constitution. Meanwhile, attorneys for California disagree.
Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan must issue a formal decision, which she said is coming shortly. Meanwhile, California regulators are awaiting the formal ruling before moving forward with warnings, said Sam Delson, a spokesman for the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment., MintPressNews.com reported. Once a chemical is added as a probable carcinogens, the manufacturer has one year to attach the label, he said.
Monsanto’s Roundup’s main ingredient is glyphosate; Monsanto introduced glyphosate in 1974 to kill weeds and leave crops and plants intact. Monsanto is sold in over 160 countries and used by farmers in California on 250 types of crops.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) issued a 227-page evaluation on September 12, 2016 of glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential and concluded that “[t]he strongest support is for [the description] ‘not likely to be carcinogenic to humans’ at doses relevant to human health risk assessment.” Also, the chemical is not restricted by the EPA, which indicates that Roundup has “low toxicity” and simply recommends people avoid entering a field for 12 hours after it has been applied.
The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are closely monitoring events in the Monsanto Roundup herbicide litigation. The firm has decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits over environmental health risks and continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a Roundup cancer lawsuit.
EPA Accused of Protecting Monsanto
In a separate action, United States District Judge Vince Chhabria is overseeing the Roundup Products Liability Litigation, multidistrict litigation (MDL) No. 2741 in San Francisco. The MDL was created in October and, to date, contains dozens of lawsuits, Case No. Case 3:16-md-02741-VC. According to court records, plaintiffs allege that EPA conclusions were based on flawed research. Monsanto has argued similarly concerning the IARC findings. Judge Chhabria has ordered the parties to submit briefs on alleged flaws and biases in federal and UN research tying the glyphosate to cancer. In pretrial order No. 8, the judge wrote, “It appears the plaintiffs are preparing to argue that the EPA’s conclusions about the carcinogenicity of glyphosate are flawed and/or biased. It appears Monsanto is preparing to argue the same with respect to IARC. It’s not obvious how directly relevant these arguments are to the questions the Court must consider during the general-causation phase of this case.”
A new court filing brought on behalf of dozens of plaintiffs includes data involving alleged efforts within the EPA to protect Monsanto’s interests and unfairly aid the agrichemical industry. The filing includes what plaintiffs’ attorneys describe as correspondence from a 30-year career EPA scientist who accused high-ranking EPA official, Jess Rowland, of playing “your political conniving games with the science” to favor pesticide manufacturers, including Monsanto. Up until 2016, Rowland was deputy division director within the health effects division of the OPP; managed the work of scientists who assessed human health effects of exposures to pesticides, including glyphosate; chaired the EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC) that determined glyphosate was “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”; was a key author of a report that found glyphosate was not likely to be carcinogenic; and left the EPA in 2016 soon after a copy of the CARC report was leaked and cited by Monsanto as evidence that IARCs classification was flawed, The Huffington reported.
In the correspondence, from March 2013, longtime EPA toxicologist Marion Copley cites evidence from animal studies. “It is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer,” she wrote, according to The Huffington Post. The letter is dated after Copley left the EPA in 2012 and just prior to her dying from breast cancer at age 66 in January 2014. She accused Rowland of having “intimidated staff” to change reports to favor industry and wrote that the research on glyphosate reveals that the pesticide should be categorized as a “probable human carcinogen.”
Plaintiffs’ lawyers want the federal judge to lift a seal on documents that detail Monsanto’s interactions with Rowland, During discovery, Monsanto marked the documents as “confidential,” which plaintiffs’ attorneys say is improper. Plaintiffs’ attorneys seek to depose Rowland; Monsanto and the EPA object, court documents show. “The Plaintiffs have a pressing need for Mr. Rowland’s testimony to confirm his relationship with Monsanto and EPA’s substantial role in protecting the Defendant’s business,” plaintiff’s attorneys wrote in a February 10 filing in the MDL, which has been consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. “Mr. Rowland operated under Monsanto’s influence to cause EPA’s position and publications to support Monsanto’s business.” Monsanto asked Judge Vince Chhabria to order discovery materials not be filed as exhibits or other types of filings visible to the public, The Huffington Post reported.
Plaintiffs nationwide allege Monsanto covered up evidence that Roundup could cause cancer. All of the plaintiffs are suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) or lost a loved one to NHL and all allege in court filings that Monsanto exerted considerable influence within the EPA’s OPP and had close ties to Rowland.
Filing a Monsanto Roundup Herbicide Lawsuit
Parker Waichman has spent years representing clients in lawsuits over alleged environmental health risks. If you or someone you know is interested in filing a Monsanto Roundup Herbicide lawsuit, speak with one of our environmental attorneys today. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).