Judge rules against harmful labeling for glyphosate

California’s Proposition 65 warning requirement for glyphosate ruled as misleading.

June 23, 2020

2 Min Read
Judge rules against harmful labeling for glyphosate

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), lead plaintiff of a national agricultural coalition fighting California’s misleading Proposition 65 labeling requirement for glyphosate, welcomed a ruling issued by Judge William Shubb in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. Shubb decided in favor of the coalition by granting summary judgment and issuing a permanent injunction enjoining the Prop 65 warning requirement for glyphosate.

Two years ago, Shubb noted that “virtually all … government agencies and health organizations that have reviewed studies on [glyphosate] have found there was no evidence that it caused cancer,” and on that basis, Shubb found that it would be “misleading at best” to force parties to state on glyphosate-containing products that the products were “known to the state to cause cancer.”

In his latest ruling, Shubb cemented his decision, noting that developments since then “do not change the court’s conclusion that the Proposition 65 warning requirement for glyphosate is misleading” and that, therefore, the First Amendment prohibits California from requiring glyphosate-containing products to be so labeled.

“From the beginning, we made our case based on facts and science, and this is a great win for wheat growers and farmers across the United States,” said NAWG president Dave Milligan, a Cass City, Mich., wheat farmer. “Backed by more than 40 years of safety data, glyphosate is one of the most studied and closely monitored herbicides in the world.”

In his decision, Shubb ruled that the plaintiffs prevailed on their claim under the First Amendment because a compelled false warning label does not directly advance the state’s interest. This is because “misleading statements about glyphosate’s carcinogenicity ... do not directly advance that interest [to protect citizens from truly cancerous materials].” He concluded once again that “the heavy weight of evidence in the record is that glyphosate is not known to cause cancer.”

Milligan noted, “In recent years, we have seen a drastic increase in consumer interest around climate change and the public calling on agriculture to use more environmentally friendly practices. Glyphosate is a tool that can help meet these goals. It has become very effective in protecting the soil from erosion and also improves soil fertility and water quality from increased use of conservation tillage and no-till farming practices.”

Additional plaintiffs include: Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Agricultural Retailers Assn., Associated Industries of Missouri, Iowa Soybean Assn., Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry, CropLife America, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Assn., North Dakota Grain Growers Assn., South Dakota Agri-Business Assn. and U.S. Durum Growers Assn.

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