EPA Won't Approve Warning Labels For Weed Killer

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Roundup products are seen for sale at a hardware store in San Rafael, California, on July 9, 2018.  (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration has instructed companies not to warn customers about products that contain glyphosate, a move aimed at California as it fights one of the world’s largest agriculture companies about the potentially cancer-causing chemical.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it "will no longer approve" labels warning glyphosate is known to cause cancer. The chemical is marketed as a weed killer by Monsanto under the brand Roundup.

California requires warning labels on glyphosate products because the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, has said it is “probably carcinogenic.”

The EPA disagrees, saying its own research shows the chemical poses no risks to public health.

Monsanto has sued to block California’s warning label requirements. A federal judge blocked California from enforcing the labels while the lawsuit continues.


"We recognize that under federal law, the Environmental Protection Agency can make decisions about what kind of warnings these labels can carry," Allan Hirsch, the chief deputy director of the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, told KQED.

But Hirsch says California stands by its 2017 listing of glyphosate under Proposition 65, which is based on the conclusions of the IARC. "EPA is free to disagree with IARC on that question, we know that they do," he said. "But it's misleading to dismiss California's warnings as false."