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By Maggie Strathman, Axtell, Kansas.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Aug. 8 that it will no longer approve any labels to products that contain glyphosate that warn that the weed killer causes cancer.

“EPA is issuing guidance to registrants of glyphosate to ensure clarity on labeling of the chemical on their products. EPA will no longer approve product labels claiming glyphosate is known to cause cancer—a false claim that does not meet the labeling requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act),” according to a press release on the EPA’s website.

The move is a direct response to California, which wants to add the warning to labels. It has been unable to do so because a court order obtained by Bayer, formerly Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, halted the state effort until lawsuits against Bayer over the chemical are resolved. So far, juries have awarded damages in three cases against Bayer to plaintiffs alleging injuries because of Roundup.

The EPA statement continues, “The State of California’s much criticized Proposition 65 has led to misleading labeling requirements for products, like glyphosate, because it misinforms the public about the risks they are facing. This action will ensure consumers have correct information and is based on EPA’s comprehensive evaluation of glyphosate.”

EPA has consistently maintained that glyphosate is not a carcinogen, and that saying it is in a label would constitute a false and misleading statement, prohibited by federal law.

Products containing glyphosate are widely used for weed control in the production of many crops including corn, cotton, canola, soybean, sugar beet, oilseed crops, and sugarcane.

“If we are going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, we are going to need all the tools at our disposal, which includes the use of glyphosate,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “USDA applauds EPA’s proposed registration decision as it is science-based and consistent with the findings of other regulatory authorities that glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”

David Murray can be reached at journal@hpj.com.

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