Court Upholds Ag Coalition Injunction in Glyphosate Case


The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California granted an agricultural coalition's petition to preliminary enjoin California's Prop. 65 requirement that companies selling glyphosate issue a warning that the product "is 'known' to cause cancer." 

The court granted the preliminary injunction because the warning requirement would be misleading to the ordinary consumer.

The court found that although the International Agency on Cancer Research classified glyphosate as "'probably carcinogenic' to humans based on evidence that it caused cancer in experimental animals and limited evidence it could cause cancer in humans,... virtually all other government agencies and health organizations that have reviewed studies on the chemical had found there was no evidence that it caused cancer." 

The labeling requirement of Prop. 65 would be inherently misleading. 

"Given the heavy weight of evidence in the record that glyphosate is not in fact known to cause cancer, the required warning is factually inaccurate and controversial," the court concluded. 

Because the warning requirement would compel companies to make false and misleading statements it would violate petitioners' First Amendment rights.

The Agricultural Retailers Association joined the National Association of Wheat Growers Association, National Corn Growers Associations, Western Plant Health Association, CropLife America, and a number of other national and state agricultural groups as plaintiffs in bringing the motion to for a preliminary injunction. The State of California will almost certainly appeal the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The plaintiff's also asked the court to enjoin California from simply listing glyphosate as a chemical known to cause cancer. However, the court decided the listing of the chemical was not commercial speech-unlike the warning-but instead it was government speech. Therefore, the listing of the chemical did not violate the plaintiff's First Amendment rights as the warning requirements did.