Glyphosate, the main ingredient used in Monsanto's weed killer Roundup, will be included in California's list of chemicals known to cause cancer. There is also possibility that the herbicide will have a warning label about its potential dangers.
The California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) revealed that it will add the compound to its state-wide list that was made under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.
Also known as Proposition 65, this law mandates California's government to maintain a list of synthetic and naturally occurring chemicals that are known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive damages. The list, which includes over 800 chemicals since it was made in 1987, is updated at least once a year.
Officials said that starting July 7, glyphosate, the main ingredient of Monsanto's popular herbicide, will be included in the list of potentially cancerous chemicals.
Officials also said that the listing may come with warning labels on the product after a year albeit it is still not certain if Roundup will ultimately have this warning label.
Monsanto has filed an appeal after it lost a court battle to block the labeling. The chemical maker argued that Roundup does not cause cancer, and the label will damage the company's business.
In March, the OEHHA said that the chemical would be added to this list pending a lawsuit from Monsanto. Now, it revealed that glyphosate will be included in the Proposition 65 list by next month.
"Monsanto's challenge was unsuccessful in the trial court. Although the case has been appealed, no stay of the listing has been granted. Therefore, glyphosate is being added to the Proposition 65 list on July 7, 2017," the OEHHA said in a statement released on June 26.
Can Roundup's Glyphosate Ingredient Cause Cancer?
In 2015, the World Health Organization's cancer research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), reported that glyphosate may most likely cause cancer but the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that the chemical is unlikely to cause cancer based on results of studies.
Views of experts from the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also appear to contradict that of the IARC since the FAO's safety review of the chemical suggests that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans.
Results of studies that looked at the safety of the pesticide, however, are also a subject of controversy. Court documents that were made public earlier this year, for instance, revealed claims of Monsanto employees ghostwriting the scientific reports that federal regulators used to determine if the weed killer causes cancer. Monsanto denied the allegations though.
Used In More Than 160 Countries
The safety of the weed killer is a matter of concern since the product is sold in more than 160 countries. Farmers in California, the leading farming state in the United States, use it on 250 types of crops.
Despite Monsanto attesting the safety of the weed killer, hundreds of people claim of the dangers of exposure to Roundup, which include risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that starts in the lymphocytes.