Food and farming groups on Friday filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the agency’s finding that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, likely does not cause cancer.
The EPA in January granted its re-approval of the pesticide glyphosate, the world’s most widely used pesticide, mainly as a weedkiller on genetically modified corn and soybeans, which was classified as a probable human carcinogen in 2015 by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The EPA’s re-approval of glyphosate came after it completed an 11-year regulatory review to assess the chemical’s impact on human health, and concluded in an interim decision that glyphosate is “not a carcinogen.”
“EPA’s half-completed, biased, and unlawful approval sacrifices the health of farmworkers and endangered species at the altar of Monsanto profits,” said George Kimbrell, legal director for the nonprofit and lead plaintiff, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and counsel for the coalition. “The reckoning for Roundup is coming.”
The other groups listed as plaintiffs include Beyond Pesticides, the Rural Coalition, Organización en California de Lideres Campesinas, and the Farmworker Association of Florida.
In May 2019, a California jury awarded $2.1 billion in damages to a couple that blamed Roundup as the likely culprit for causing their cancer. The ruling was the third consecutive loss for Monsanto parent company, Germany-based Bayer AG, which still faces nearly 40,000 trials based on allegations that Roundup causes cancer. Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in June 2018 for $63 billion, said it will appeal the verdict.
“Contrary to the Trump EPA’s claims, both regulatory and independent scientific studies demonstrate that glyphosate herbicides are carcinogenic and have adverse effects on internal organs,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at CFS. “Far from consulting the ‘best available science,’ as EPA claims, the agency has relied almost entirely on Monsanto studies, cherry-picking the data that suits its purpose and dismissing the rest. EPA’s glyphosate decision shows the same hostility to science that we’ve come to expect from this administration, whether the issue is climate change or environmental health.”