California will list the most widely used pesticide in the world, glyphosate as cancer causing. The state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) determined that glyphosate will be added to the list of chemicals known to cause cancer under Proposition 65. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Roundup.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015.
“When it comes to Roundup, California has become a national leader in flagging the very real danger posed by this vastly over-used pesticide,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity and a former cancer researcher, in a statement. “The state based its decision on the findings of the world’s most reliable, transparent and science-based assessment of glyphosate.”
Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in California. In 2013, over half of the glyphosate used in California (54 percent) was applied in the eight most impoverished counties in the state, a report by the Center for Biological Diversity found. The eight counties had 22.7 percent to 29. 6 percent of their populations living below the federal poverty line in 2013. The state average for the same year was 16.8 percent.
Half of those counties are in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley: Tulare, Fresno, Madera, and Merced. The U.S. Geological Survey found that 65 percent of lake, river and stream samples in the San Joaquin-Tulare basin had detectable levels of glyphosate or its metabolites. Over half (53 percent) of the residents in those eight counties are Hispanic, compared to 38 percent in the state as a whole.
“It’s become painfully clear that we can no longer ignore the risk that this pesticide poses to people and wildlife,” Donley said.
A report released this month found that the pesticides office at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not follow its own guidelines when it concluded last year that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.