Farmers win in California label case

Judge Rules in Favor of the American Farmer Over California’s Prop 65 Labeling of Glyphosate
By National Association of Wheat Growers,

Washington, D.C. (June 22) – The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), lead plaintiff of the national agriculture coalition fighting California’s false and misleading Prop 65 labeling requirement for glyphosate, welcomes today’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb for the Eastern District of California. Judge Shubb decided in favor of the Coalition by granting summary judgment and issuing a permanent injunction enjoining the warning requirement of Proposition 65 as to glyphosate. Memorandum and Order Regarding Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment, June 22, 2020 (“June 22, 2020 Order”).

Two years ago Judge Shubb recognized that “virtually all … government agencies and health organizations that have reviewed studies on [glyphosate] have found there was no evidence that it caused cancer,” and on that basis Judge Shubb found that it would be “misleading at best” to force parties to state on glyphosate-containing products that the products were “known to the state to cause cancer.” Memorandum and Order Regarding Motion for Preliminary Injunction, February 26, 2018, pg. 14 (“February 26, 2018 Order”).

In today’s ruling, Judge Shubb cemented his ruling, noting that developments since then “do not change the court’s conclusion that the Proposition 65 warning requirement for glyphosate is misleading” and that therefore the First Amendment prohibits California from requiring glyphosate-containing products to be so labeled. June 22, 2020 Order, pg. 19.

“From the beginning we made our case based on facts and science and this is a great win for wheat growers and farmers across the United States,” said Dave Milligan, NAWG President and Cass City, Michigan wheat farmer. “Backed by more than forty years of safety data, glyphosate is one of the most studied and closely monitored herbicides in the world.

In his decision, Judge Shubb ruled that the Plaintiffs prevailed on their claim under the First Amendment because a compelled false warning label does not directly advance the state’s interest. This is because “misleading statements about glyphosate’s carcinogenicity . . . do not directly advance that interest [to protect citizens from truly cancerous materials].” June 22, 2020 Order, pg. 30. He concluded once again that “the heavy weight of evidence in the record is that glyphosate is not known to cause cancer.” June 22, 2020 Order, pg. 27.

“In recent years, we have seen a drastic increase in consumer interest around climate change and the public calling on agriculture to use more environmentally friendly practices,” continued Milligan. “Glyphosate is a tool which can help meet these goals. It has become very effective in protecting the soil from erosion, and also improves soil fertility and water quality from increased use of conservation tillage and no-till farming practices.”

Additional plaintiffs include the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, the Agricultural Retailers Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Iowa Soybean Association, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CropLife America, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, South Dakota Agri-Business Association and United States Durum Growers Association.

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