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Federal judge rules in favor of request to halt California’s Prop 65 labeling of glyphosate

Citing harm to the nation’s agriculture economy, Judge William Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting California from implementing its “false and misleading” Prop 65 labeling requirement for the herbicide glyphosate. The preliminary injunction will halt California’s labeling requirement until a final ruling on the matter is issued by the court.

“Farmers work tirelessly to put food on America’s tables, and Glyphosate is a vital tool that growers have trusted to provide safe, affordable food,” said Chandler Goule, chief executive officer for the National Wheat Growers Association, the lead plaintiff in the case. “Every regulatory body in the world that has reviewed glyphosate has found it safe for use and no available product matches glyphosate with a comparable health and environmental safety profile. We are pleased Judge Stubb granted our request, which is the first step in our efforts to prevent California from forcing farmers, growers and manufacturers to place false and misleading labels on agricultural products. California’s erroneous Prop 65 listing of glyphosate is not based on data, facts or science and we look forward to continuing to make our case to the court.”

Judge Shubb made the following statements when issuing his ruling granting the agriculture coalition’s request for a preliminary junction:

“As applied to glyphosate, the required warnings are false and misleading. Plaintiffs have thus established a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the warning requirement violates their First Amendment rights.”

“(Given) the heavy weight of evidence in the record that glyphosate is not in fact known to cause cancer, the required warning is factually inaccurate and controversial.”

“However, a reasonable consumer would not understand that a substance is ‘known to cause cancer’ where only one health organization had found that the substance in question causes cancer and virtually all other government agencies and health organizations that have reviewed studies on the chemical had found there was no evidence that it caused cancer. Under these facts, the message that glyphosate is known to cause cancer is misleading at best.”

“It is inherently misleading for a warning to state that a chemical is known to the state of California to cause cancer based on the finding of one organization (which as noted above, only found that substance is probably carcinogenic), when apparently all other regulatory and governmental bodies have found the opposite, including the EPA, which is one of the bodies California law expressly relies on in determining whether a chemical causes cancer.”

The National Association of Wheat Growers are the lead plaintiff in the case against California filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The plaintiffs include the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, the Agricultural Retailers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CropLife America, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, South Dakota Agri-Business Association, United States Durum Growers Association, and Associated Industries of Missouri . 

“Associated Industries of Missouri is proud to be a part of this national coalition,” said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri.  “We are pleased the judge ruled the required warning for California’s Prop 65 labeling of glyphosate is ‘false and misleading’ and, based on our ‘likelihood of success’ on the merits, halted the requirement until a final ruling on the matter is issued by the court.  Every regulatory body in the world, including the EPA and National Institutes of Health have concluded glyphosate is safe for use.  California’s false Prop 65 listing of glyphosate simply is not based on facts or science.  We look forward to continuing to make our case to the court.”

Glyphosate, best known by the trade name Roundup, has been used as an herbicide for 40 years to rid farm fields of weeds. More recently, it has also been used in conjunction with a handful of genetically modified “Roundup Ready” crops that are resistant to it. This allows farmers to kill weeds without killing the crops.

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