Agriculture

Fresno judge rejects Monsanto’s bid to block state from listing chemical as cancer causing

Agrochemical giant Monsanto lost a decision in Fresno County Superior Court in its fight to keep California regulators from listing the key ingredient in its popular weed killer Roundup as a carcinogen.
Agrochemical giant Monsanto lost a decision in Fresno County Superior Court in its fight to keep California regulators from listing the key ingredient in its popular weed killer Roundup as a carcinogen. AP photo

A Fresno County Superior Court judge has ruled against chemical giant Monsanto in its fight to prevent California regulators from listing the key ingredient in its popular weed killer Roundup as a carcinogen.

The tentative ruling, issued Friday by Judge Kristi Culver Kapetan, was welcomed by environmental advocates, their attorneys and those who say they got cancer from using the weed killer.

“I don’t want anyone to go through what I have gone through,” said John Barton, a Bakersfield farmer who believes the use of Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Monsanto, a multinational agrochemical company, has denied any link to cancer through the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, one of its most widely used products.

It sued the state’s Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment last January after the agency issued a notice of intent to add glyphosate to its Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

Monsanto and its lawyers have said the state is out of step with other regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority, in listing glyphosate as causing cancer.

“The agency’s flawed and baseless proposal to list glyphosate under Proposition 65 not only contradicts California’s own scientific assessment, but it also violates the California and U.S. constitutions,” said Samuel Murphey, a Monsanto spokesman. “Monsanto will continue to challenge this unfounded proposed ruling on the basis of science and the law.”

The state filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit that Kapetan ruled on Friday.

Appearing in Fresno in support of the state were attorney and environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr. and Unified Farm Worker president Arturo S. Rodriguez.

Kennedy slammed Monsanto for trying to prevent California from protecting its citizens from possible harm.

“This listing is not going to put them out of business,” Kennedy said at a press conference after Friday’s hearing. “This is a warning, to let workers know that this chemical can harm them.”

Kennedy said there is ongoing litigation involving hundreds of farmers, agricultural workers, gardeners and others who claim that exposure to Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Roundup has been used by farmers and gardeners for decades and is sold in more than 160 countries.

Robert Rodriguez: 559-441-6327, @FresnoBeeBob

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