California’s EPA intends to list glyphosate as a carcinogenic chemical

California’s Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) intends to list the herbicide glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp – as a carcinogenic chemical under the Proposition 65, which requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. The announcement came on 4 September, following a conclusion by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in March that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.

Sales of the product are not restricted by the Cal/EPA listing, but adding glysophate to the Prop 65 list would mean that businesses will be required to provide a ‘clear and reasonable’ health warning on Roundup and other glyphosate products. World usage of glyphosate is at an all-time high, with its use increasing more than 20-fold since 1990, according to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). The conservation advocacy group says this upsurge is largely due to the widespread adoption of crops, particularly corn and soy, which are genetically engineered to withstand what would otherwise be fatal doses of glyphosate. Recent research also indicates that chronic, low-dose exposure to glyphosate can cause liver and kidney damage, and studies have pointed to glyphosate as a leading cause of the decline in monarch butterflies.