Commentary on the Prop. 65-Glyphostate Boondoggle

In 1986, California voters passed Proposition 65 requiring businesses to provide warnings to the public about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, as determined by specified state agencies.

As a result of the adulterated process surrounding glyphosate (to name just one), California now requires glyphosate-containing products to carry a Prop. 65 warning label.  The U.S. EPA responded with a statement that the California Prop. 65 mandate on glyphosate “would provide false labeling and inaccurate information” and initiated actions to provide accurate risk information to consumers and to stop false labeling on products.

“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,” stated EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a press release dated August 8, 2019.  “It is critical that federal regulatory agencies like EPA relay to consumers accurate, scientific-based information about risks that pesticides may pose to them… ensuring the information shared with the public on a federal pesticide label is correct and not misleading.

California first attempted to list glyphosate as a carcinogenic material for Prop. 65 label requirements in February 2018,  but a federal judge temporarily blocked the action stating that the warning label was misleading.

Now, Congressmen from across the country are weighing in with press releases applauding EPA’s announcement.  The chair of the House Ag Committee stated, “California’s Prop 65 labeling requirements for products containing glyphosate is misleading and interferes with EPA’s ability to communicate factual information to consumers.”

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) subsequently issued a response relying on one report as its basis for determining risk.  To be fair, the report was issued by IRAC, a worldwide panel of scientists. But, nevertheless, a single (biased and cherry-picked) report should never be sufficient justification for listing a product.

OEHHA contents that they are not trying to influence or dictate federal policy. They argue that the Prop. 65 warning label upholds California consumers’ “right to know”. It is a warning label for Californians and nothing more.

U.S. EPA has noted a myriad of studies and reports that conflict with IARC including their own internal evaluation, which is something California did not do.  So, is it labeled or is it not?

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