Glyphosate causes cancer, rules California

Is a triumph of environmentalists & farmers California declared glyphosate, as a toxic cancer-causing chemical.

Glyphosate causes cancer, rules California
Glyphosate causes cancer, rules California

All California retailers are required to add cancer warning labels to all products containing glyphosate from July 7

In a major setback to the multinational seed and chemical company, Monsanto, the US State of California declared glyphosate, the main ingredient in its weed killer Roundup, as a toxic cancer-causing chemical, effective July 7, 2017. This decision by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is a triumph of environmentalists, farmers who have long fought losing battles with the giant corporations, consumer rights activists and health activists.

Declaring glyphosate as a known, cancer-causing carcinogen, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment said it would be added to the state’s warning list under the “The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986,” also known as Proposition 65. This law protects California drinking water from toxic, cancer-causing substances and those known to cause birth defects.

Glyphosate would be added to the state’s warning list under the “The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986,”

As is well known, glyphosate was designated “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015. The ruling led to Monsanto facing increasing litigation over glyphosate.

Monsanto called the decision “unwarranted on the basis of science and the law” and said it would continue its legal fight against the designation of its product as a carcinogen. However, Monsanto failed in its attempt to block the listing of glyphosate under Proposition 65 in the trial court or to get a stay from a state appellate court and California’s Supreme Court.

In another blow to Monsanto, the Arkansas state plant board on June 23, 2017, voted to ban the chemical, dicamba, a weed killer created for the company’s next generation of biotech (genetically modified) crops. The board’s vote followed growing complaints of dicamba drift across 19 counties in the state. The vote has been forwarded to the Governor for further action.

The board’s vote will go through a detailed process of first establishing an emergency rule, a review of the proposed rule by the Governor, followed by submission to the Executive Subcommittee of the Legislative Council for approval. The Governor is said to have followed the matter closely and had directed senior officials to visit farmers in areas of heavy dicamba damage. Most damages were reported from soybean crops.

Glyphosate is a weed killer marketed under many brand names, though Monsanto’s Roundup is the most famous. The state of California used statute CAS #107-83-6 to change the designation of the weed killer to one which has cancer as a known endpoint for people exposed to it.

Following the decision, from July 7, all California retailers are required to add cancer warning labels to all products containing glyphosate. So far, however, cancer warnings are not required on foods and grocery items sprayed with the cancer-causing herbicide.

Environmentalists warn that some farmers are using glyphosate even in non-GMO crops like barley and wheat, in order to hasten drying times before harvest, unknown to the consumer.

California retailers are required to add cancer warning labels to all products containing glyphosate.

According to Natural Health and other environmental magazines, documents released from some related California lawsuits against Monsanto revealed that the company had spent millions of dollars to discredit anti-GMO activists. Previously, it had fielded high-profile scientists and science actors like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jon Entine, Keith Kloor and Bill Nye to claim that GMO foods and glyphosate are safe to consume in “unlimited quantities.”

Other documents revealed in the US suit included a letter from Marion Copley, an award-winning scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who said it was “essentially certain” that glyphosate caused cancer. Copley, who was herself dying of cancer, made several allegations regarding conflicts of interest.

Interestingly, in India, the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, that genetically modified crops are “generally safe” for human consumption.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, that genetically modified crops are “generally safe” for human consumption.

This testimony, given in May 2017, was perceived as an attempt to help the controversial GM Mustard secure permission for commercial cultivation. Swaminathan sought to distance herself from backlash by adding that the “individual GM foods” should be assessed on “case by case basis”, either by the government or an “independent credible third party”.

She claimed, “The review of available literature indicates that genetically modified crops available in the market that are intended for human consumption are generally safe and their consumption is not associated with serious health problems. However, as different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways, individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case by case basis”.

However, in the United States, environmentalists note that even CNN has questioned the safety of glyphosate and has reported documented cases of its toxicity.

Under California’s new law, warnings will be required if glyphosate is being sprayed at levels deemed unsafe by regulators. Its major users include landscapers, golf courses, orchards, vineyards and farms. Monsanto and other glyphosate producers would be given one year from the listing date to re-label products or remove them from store shelves if further legal challenges are lost.

The California decision is expected to boost efforts by activists to ban glyphosate across the European Union where, as recently as March 2017, Roundup was judged safe for public use by the European Chemical Agency (Echa). At the same time, however, the classification that glyphosate causes serious eye damage and is toxic to aquatic life remained intact.

The ruling outraged activists and Greenpeace claimed that the Echa team responsible for the study had a conflict of interest issues as several of its members had either undertaken consultancy work for chemical firms or worked for institutes that had. Greenpeace EU’s food policy director, Franziska Achterberg, said: “Echa has gone to great lengths to sweep all evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer under the carpet. The data vastly exceeds what’s legally necessary for the EU to ban glyphosate, but Echa has looked the other way.”

Agitated over the EU ruling, over a million people signed a petition, begun in February, demanding a ban on glyphosate, along with regulatory reform and mandatory targets for reducing pesticides use.

1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Follow me
Sandhya Jain is a writer of political and contemporary affairs. A post graduate in Political Science from the University of Delhi, she is a student of the myriad facets of Indian civilisation. Her published works include Adi Deo Arya Devata. A Panoramic View of Tribal-Hindu Cultural Interface, Rupa, 2004; and Evangelical Intrusions. Tripura: A Case Study, Rupa, 2009. She has contributed to other publications, including a chapter on Jain Dharma in “Why I am a Believer: Personal Reflections on Nine World Religions,” ed. Arvind Sharma, Penguin India, 2009.
Sandhya Jain
Follow me
Latest posts by Sandhya Jain (see all)


  1. Unless more people are made aware of the evil effects of GM Industry it is going to be as difficult as stopping normal Muslims from becoming jehadis. My friends in farming have all gone back to natural farming using Neem cake/ Desi Cow dung and Desi Cow urine coupled with Goat droppings to enrich and the soil and keep out pests recently came across this Ecohealth Products Pvt Ltd (who claim they are Integrating Science and Tradition) claim their Organic growth factors to boost yield is working wonders and also to treat sewage water to make it potable at a fraction of the cost of MNC’s. Over heard also that that one Co here in TN has succeeded in terminating the terminator gene Bilderberger’s Monsanto created. Let me confirm that before giving the info. Understand they are scared for their lives if they become too popular

    • That is fascinating. Actually, in some states, like Bihar, Odisha and now Madhya Pradesh, local farmers have understood and are making their own efforts to save native seeds. Per district there are sometimes even 40-50 varieties of a single crop, eg, rice.

      We need to extend support to such efforts, esp financially.

  2. There is plenty of credible independent research into the cancer-causing effects of glyphosate. Google will find it all for you. Quite apart from the empirical evidence, I have seen videos of the horrific deaths of indigenous workers in WA, Australia… before they died, they resembled skeletons with enormous bellies. All had experienced wind drift of glyphosate while spraying weeds. I myself, experienced a mild wind drift onto my shin which, two years later, precipitated a squamous cell carcinoma. My local GP cut it out. What I was not aware of was that he did not comprehend that the roots had already spread radially, and so these remained in my shin. Twenty years later I experienced another wind drift of glyphosate (Roundup) and only a few weeks later a small but hard growth appeared, about 5 MM high. This was diagnosed as the same as the first carcinoma but, coincidentally, on ABC TV the nation’s top oncologist described this growth as a commonly misdiagnosed melanoma, with an automatic fatality rate of 40%.

    Meanwhile, some of my clients urged me to research cancer treatments… conventional and unconventional… and I discovered that regardless of type of official ‘cancer cure’ the success rate was only 9% to 15%. After twenty years all bets were off. You died anyway.

    I also discovered that a 2000 year old cure, commonly known as Black Salve, permanently cured the cancer in 12 days. To make a long and scary story short, it did. I have since removed eight cancers with this, now renamed Cansema (due to a new ingredient DMSO).

    Now get this. Cansema is illegal. It used to be legal for veterinarians to use on pink skinned animals, very successfully, but now it is illegal for these professionals to use it too.

    So, we have a huge mass killer: Monsanto, owned by the same family who own EXXONMobil, Union Carbide (Killed 30,000 Indians, remember?), Xerox, ChaseManhattan Bank… the family ROCKEFELLER, who sells the cancer-causing killer Glyphosate, and also GM crops which are also organ-destroying, and protected by the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch (close ally of the Rockefeller/Rothschild investment banker conglomerate), and using science manipulated by Murdoch associate, Frank Lowy (Westfield). And, naturally, the medical establishment, long captured by the pharmaceutical and radiology corporations, looks the other way… when it is not nudging governments to make genuine cancer cures illegal… cannabis oil.

    And what do all these murderous entities have in common? All are active Zionists; the creators of the apartheid pseudo-nation of Israel, who Modi is currently sucking up to.

    If this does not make Indians feel sick, never mind, you will all be sick soon.

  3. Our Indian scientists are no doubt brilliant but are prone to flattery and gifts ,freebees education or facilities in US for their wards and a liberal allowance during their sponsored visits to places,with all comforts provided free of cost. In return all they have to do is write glories of the poisons produced by Monsanto or Bayer. It makes very little difference to Dr soumya if millons in our motherland are affected by cancer and die.

    You have done a yeoman job in bringing out the data so soon after California has acted.I do hope that Dr Nair and others would have read this write up.

    My hearty congratulations.

  4. In any of the large states there are more than 150 kinds of glyphosate products available with agri-chem inputs dealers. These are resold as powders, granules, liquids to be broadcast, pump-sprayed, combined with ammonium salts, sold by the drum or the litre as weedicides and herbicides. There is no cautionary labelling whatsoever on the containers, which are often reused. This sale of glyphosate, like all harmful pesticide in India, is counted as contributing to agricultural GDP!

  5. Thank you Bharati. I feel sad that after many of us have written so much on this issue, the Lobbyists continue to be in business.

    In June 2015, I wrote my regular The Pioneer column titled: Growing realisation of dangers of GM crops.

    I truly believed that would be the last we would hear of this subject. But the MNCs are all pervasive….

    However, the California decision should boost the strength of the activists against this poison, which is also a Kill Switch for all indigenous agriculture.

    • Sandhyaji & Bharatiji, Though this article begins with the golden words “In a major setback to the multinational seed and chemical company, Monsanto”, I am skeptical about the final outcome.
      Monsanto has the ability to bounce back with a more venomous product to be floated in the market under a different name to keep its coffers full.
      In any case, this ruling by US Court has little effect on India & this matter is INFRUCTUOUS here because the DAMAGE has already been done through MILLIONS OF HECTARES of Bt Cotton officially & several million Hectares unofficially too.

      In India almost all the Agricultural Scientists, top bureaucrats, senior Leaders of BJP & Congress are in the pockets of Monsanto & this judgement has little effect on Indian farming which is already in it brink of disaster.

      Still our corrupt Politicians are cozying with M.S. Swaminathan, the traitor who destroyed the entire Indian Agriculture in the name of Green Revolution.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here