California's latest environmental and health crackdown has Monsanto in its crosshairs: Reuters reports that as of July 7, glyphosate, the herbicide serving as the main ingredient in the agrochemical company's Roundup weed killer, will take a spot on the Golden State's list of cancer-causing chemicals, per the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The new designation falls under the umbrella of Proposition 65 (aka the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986), under which an annually updated list of chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm is required. Scott Partridge, the VP of global strategy for Monsanto, which has been battling the designation in trial court, called the decision "improper" and "unwarranted on the basis of science and the law" in an email to Newsweek.
It's not just glyphosate's new ranking that has Monsanto fuming: ABC News notes if the company doesn't win an appeal in the case, in a year's time it may have to add onto its Roundup labels that the product is carcinogenic, making California the first state to issue such a mandate. Whether that happens will depend not only on the results of Monsanto's appeal, but also on whether state health officials determine Roundup contains enough of the odorless chemical to pose a health risk. As the company defends the chemical widely used by landscapers, farms, and vineyards, as well as by individual consumers, environmental groups are applauding California's move. "[The state's] decision makes it the national leader in protecting people from cancer-causing pesticides," a senior scientist for the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity says in a statement to Newsweek. (Read more Monsanto stories.)