California EPA Becomes First U.S. Agency to Declare That Roundup Causes Cancer

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Nathan Donley, (971) 717-6406, ndonley@biologicaldiversity.org  

California EPA Becomes First U.S. Agency to Declare That Roundup Causes Cancer

SACRAMENTO, CA - The state of California announced today that as of July 7 it will list glyphosate, the main ingredient in the pesticide Roundup and the most common pesticide in the world, as a known human carcinogen under the state’s Proposition 65.

Today’s decision by the California Environmental Protection Agency was prompted by the World Health Organization’s finding that glyphosate is a “probable” human carcinogen. The WHO’s cancer research agency is widely considered to be the gold standard for research on cancer.

“California’s decision makes it the national leader in protecting people from cancer-causing pesticides,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity and a former cancer researcher. “The U.S. EPA now needs to step up and acknowledge that the world’s most transparent and science-based assessment has linked glyphosate to cancer.”

The state was cleared to move forward with its decision earlier this year to list glyphosate after a court denied Monsanto’s efforts to postpone the listing pending the outcome of the pesticide company’s legal challenge of the decision.

Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in the United States as well as the world, and is the most widely used pesticide in California, as measured by area of treated land.

An analysis by the Center, available in English and Spanish, found that more than half of the glyphosate sprayed in California is applied in the state’s eight most-impoverished counties. The analysis also found that the populations in these counties are predominantly Hispanic or Latino, indicating that glyphosate use in California is distributed unequally along both socioeconomic and racial lines.

Earlier this year a report released by a federal scientific advisory panel concluded that the pesticides office at the U.S. EPA failed to follow its own guidelines when it found last year that glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship pesticide Roundup — is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

Recent court documents revealed that the chair of the federal EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee on glyphosate was in contact with Monsanto, providing insider information on the potential carcinogen listing, allowing the company to launch a campaign against it.

The committee chair promised to thwart the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ review of glyphosate’s safety, saying that if he was successful he deserved a medal. The department never did review glyphosate’s safety, and the U.S. EPA continues to dispute the WHO’s cancer research agency’s findings.

“This is a remarkable day for California, which forged ahead and did the right thing on glyphosate even while special-interest politics hamstring our federal government from taking action to protect people from this dangerous pesticide,” Donley said.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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