EPA has issued guidance documents to companies producing glyphosate (the active ingredient in Round-Up) and the message is clear: no more glyphosate-causes-cancer labels! Here’s looking at you, California.
Let me explain.
The EPA regulates and oversees all pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), including glyphosate. And it’s taken a comprehensive review of the herbicide. EPA has concluded that glyphosate doesn’t cause cancer. That conclusion, by the way, is consistent with the findings of regulatory agencies and scientists around the world.
But over in California there’s a thing called Proposition 65. Prop 65 is a law passed by California voters that requires companies to disclose whenever there’s significant exposure to something that’s known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other fertility problems. The cancer labels are just wacky and show up on things like Disneyland and coffee.
And California wanted to enforce the labeling requirement on any product containing glyphosate. So every bottle of Round-Up would have a cancer warning on it. The decision comes after IARC’s faulty classification of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, and a number of jury verdicts. But a federal judge stopped California from doing it in early 2018.
Now the EPA is stepping in. The agency is kinda particular with its labeling requirements for pesticides regulated under FIFRA. That’s because those labels are like the law, and tell people how to safely apply the chemical. So making sure the labels are accurate is a big deal.
And EPA concluded glyphosate doesn’t cause cancer. So allowing the cancer label on glyphosate products would be untruthful. EPA’s Administrator Andrew Wheeler explained:
“It is irresponsible to require labels on products that are inaccurate when EPA knows the product does not pose a cancer risk. 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. EPA’s notification to glyphosate registrants is an important step to ensuring the information shared with the public on a federal pesticide label is correct and not misleading.”
I’m so happy EPA is stepping up and enforcing their decisions! It’s important that we have trust in our regulatory process. And that starts with requiring factual and correct information on product labeling. California’s law is wonky anyway, but it can’t overrule a federal agency.
The FDA should take note: you can and should enforce labeling laws.