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Originally published September 11 2015

California to put glyphosate and three other pesticides on cancer list, restricting their use to protect health

by Daniel Barker

(NaturalNews) Those involved in the fight against Monsanto and companies like it can claim another victory as the state of California moves toward adding the chemical glyphosate to its list of restricted carcinogenic substances.

Although it is still uncertain just how far-reaching the restrictions will be, it is almost certain that glyphosate, along with three other pesticides - malathion, parathion and tetrachlorvinphos - will soon be officially classified as carcinogenic by the state's environmental protection agency.

Bloomberg's reports:

If the state's Environmental Protection Agency, also known as CalEPA, places the four pesticides on its list, any knowing discharges of the chemicals into drinking water would become illegal. Also, farmers, pest control companies and any other businesses that want to use the pesticides would first have to provide 'clear and reasonable warnings' to the public, according to state law.

The agency's decision to list glyphosate as a cancer-causing substance was based on studies conducted by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which determined that the pesticide is "probably carcinogenic to humans."

The public is invited to comment on the proposal, but according to the rules set up by California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, the process of classifying the substances is "almost automatic." states:

Earlier this year, the IARC issued a finding that the four pesticides at issue here are probably carcinogenic to humans based off of several studies of lab animals exposed to the chemicals.

As a result, the IARC's findings triggered an almost automatic decision by California to place the four pesticides on its list. In a sign of just how automatic this decision is for the state, Delson said CalEPA will only consider comments on whether the IARC did or didn't find the pesticides to be carcinogenic, not on whether the IARC's findings are correct.

Under California state law, chemicals listed as carcinogenic are "subject to drinking water restrictions and use notification requirements."

Thresholds to be determined

The agency's decision is certainly good news and reinforces what appears to be a widespread turning of the tide regarding the attitudes towards Monsanto, GM agriculture and pesticide usage.

However, depending on thresholds of "safe" usage of glyphosate and the other three pesticides which have yet to be determined, the official listing could either have a huge impact on their legal usage or almost no impact at all.

The limits applied by the agency are called "safe harbor" thresholds. Under the law, if no safe harbor thresholds are set within one year of the official listing, no amount of the chemicals would be allowed in drinking water, and the public notification requirements would be automatically triggered.

Deputy director Sam Delson of CalEPA's scientific review office said he is "unsure" whether the restrictions would apply to pesticide runoff from farms, but he is certain that safe harbor thresholds will be established.

Depending on the levels determined to be safe, a small minority or a large percentage of farms could be affected.

Time will tell

It remains to be seen how far-reaching the restrictions will be. Although it is possible that the listings will make little difference in the way glyphosate and the other pesticides are used - glyphosate is the main ingredient in the weed-killer Roundup and many other herbicides - most environmentalists are hailing California's decision to list these substances as a very positive development.

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich said in a Facebook post: "Monsanto had a bad day yesterday... it's finally the beginning of the end."

With anti-Monsanto and anti-GMO sentiments on the rise around the world, such as Germany's recent move towards banning GMO crops, perhaps Brockovich is correct in calling it the "beginning of the end."

One can certainly hope.


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