EPA to Reject Cancer Warning Labels on Glyphosate

For several years now, glyphosate has been taking a very public beating regarding its safety in the courtrooms of the U.S. as well as the court of public opinion. Through this all, many observers have wondered if anyone (besides glyphosate owner Bayer) would stand up for the popular herbicide. Now, someone has – the EPA itself.


In an August 7 letter, the agency said it would no longer approve product labels claiming that glyphosate is a known to cause cancer, claiming such a destination is “a false claim that does not meet the labeling requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act.” EPA went on the say that this action is based upon its comprehensive evaluation of glyphosate.

Is EPA Label Decision a Turning Point for the Glyphosate Fight?

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According to observers, this declaration by EPA is a challenge to the state of California’s Proposition 65 requirement that glyphosate be labeled with the warning it “may cause cancer,” based upon the International Agency on the Research for Cancer classification that the herbicide is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” (Although a U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of California did issue a preliminary injunction stopping the state from enforcing this law back in early 2018.)

“It is irresponsible to require labels on products that are inaccurate when EPA knows the product does not pose a cancer risk,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in the August 7 letter. “We will not allow California’s flawed program to dictate federal policy. It is critical that federal regulatory agencies like EPA relay to consumers accurate, scientific-based information about risks that pesticides may pose to them.”

Industry associations were quick to support EPA’s view on glyphosate labeling. “This is a significant victory for science-based regulation,” said Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock. “Our members, their farmer-customers, and the public rely on EPA’s scientific expertise to evaluate pesticides for human health and environmental effects. It would be irresponsible and misleading to require or allow language on a label that conflicts with the conclusions of the scientific review.”

According to the EPA letter, registrants with glyphosate products currently bearing Proposition 65 warning language will be required to submit draft amended labeling to remove these warnings within the next three months.