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Judge Rejects Monsanto Bid To Block Herbicide From California Cancer List

SAN FRANCISCO ( – A California judge has rejected a legal challenge from chemical maker Monsanto to prevent California from adding glyphosate, the herbicide found in the company's Roundup products, to the state's cancer list.

The challenge stems from a provision of Proposition 65, the 1986 voter initiative that requires California's Governor to maintain a public list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan ruled Friday that none of Monsanto's attacks on the provision were viable and dismissed the case.

California would be the first state to order such labeling if it carries out the proposal.

According to the court order, under Prop. 65, "voters determined that there should be a list of cancer-causing chemicals and substances". The court also stated "there does not appear to be any chance that Monsanto or [its co-plaintiffs] can amend their complaints to state valid claims under any of the theories they can rely upon."

Critics have long targeted the use of glyphosate, which has no color or smell. Monsanto introduced it in 1974 as an effective way of killing weeds while leaving crops and plants intact.

It's sold in more than 160 countries, and farmers in California use it on 250 types of crops.

"Monsanto may prefer to keep glyphosate off the Prop 65 list, but that does not empower them to override the choice of California's voters," said Selena Kyle, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

A statement from a Monsanto spokesperson was not immediately available.

The multinational biotechnology giant challenged the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's proposal to add glyphosate to the Proposition 65 list in response to a 2015 report by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifying glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.

Monsanto disagreed with California voters' choice to make IARC findings an independent ground for adding carcinogens to the Proposition 65 list and argued it was unconstitutional. The court rejected Monsanto's arguments.

State regulators were waiting for the formal ruling before moving forward with the warnings, said Sam Delson, a spokesman for the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Once a chemical is added to a list of probable carcinogens, the manufacturer has a year before it must attach the label, he said.

Several groups including NRDC, Sierra Club, AFL-CIO, and the Environmental Law Foundation joined the state and intervened in Monsanto's lawsuit, and filed a successful companion motion to dismiss.

"For thirty years, Proposition 65 has helped inform Californians about their exposure to harmful chemicals. The court's decision upholds that right and will ensure that California continues to promptly list chemicals classified as carcinogens by respected scientific entities," said Katie Schaefer, a Sierra Club staff attorney.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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