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California to Officially List Key Ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup as Cancer-Causing
Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's widely used herbicide Roundup, will be added July 7 to California's list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer, according to a Reuters report Tuesday. This news comes after the company's unsuccessful attempt to block the listing in trial court and requests for stay were denied by a state appellate court and California's Supreme Court.
California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced the designation on Monday under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, or Proposition 65.
Citing figures from the state's pesticide regulation department, the Los Angeles Times noted that glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in California and is sprayed on more than 200 crops across 4 million acres across the Golden State.
The St. Louis-based agrochemical maker adamantly defended its star product, telling Reuters the OEHHA listing was "unwarranted on the basis of science and the law."
The company's appeal of the trial court's ruling is pending. "This is not the final step in the process, and it has no bearing on the merits of the case," Scott Partridge, Monsanto's vice president of global strategy, said. "We will continue to aggressively challenge this improper decision."
Under Prop 65, Monsanto and other companies that sell the chemical in the state will be required to add warning labels to packaging within one year from the listing date. Furthermore, warnings would also be required if glyphosate is sprayed at levels deemed unsafe by regulators, Reuters reported.
California's decision to add the substance on its cancer list was prompted by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) finding in 2015 that the chemical is a "probable" human carcinogen.
Environmental groups welcomed the OEHHA's decision.
"California's decision makes it the national leader in protecting people from cancer-causing pesticides," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The U.S. EPA now needs to step up and acknowledge that the world's most transparent and science-based assessment has linked glyphosate to cancer."
In another blow to Monsanto, Olga V. Naidenko, a senior science advisor for children's environmental health at the Environmental Working Group, commented last week that OEHHA is preparing to issue a "No Significant Risk Level" of 1,100 micrograms per day for exposure to glyphosate—marking the first time any agency in the world has issued a health guideline for glyphosate based on cancer risk.
"The state's proposed safe level is more than 100 times lower than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's legal allowance for the average-sized American," Naidenko said. "By itself, that listing would be a big blow to Monsanto, because it would require cancer warning labels on containers of Roundup and on foods that have high residues of glyphosate. Monsanto is appealing the decision in state court, but in the meantime the OEHHA has moved forward in setting a so-called No Significant Risk Level of the amount of glyphosate people could safely consume each day."
Glyphosate has been at the center of a number of controversies in recent years, including a wave of lawsuits in which plaintiffs across the U.S. claim that they or their loved ones developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma due to exposure to Monsanto's Roundup, pointing in part to the IARC's cancer classification.
A recent Reuters investigation, published earlier this month, raised questions about the IARC's assessment. The piece accused Dr. Aaron Blair, a top epidemiologist from the U.S. National Cancer Institute and a lead researcher on the IARC committee, for failing to share unpublished scientific data from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) suggesting that the weedkiller was not linked to cancer.
Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, said the Reuters report "omits the fact that the data from the other epidemiology studies (all case control studies), and the meta-analyses, clearly show a statistically significant increase in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma with glyphosate exposure." Other concerns of the study include the failure to use an appropriate latency period for cancers, the control group having an elevated risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and exposure misclassification.
The IARC also said it is sticking with its classification.
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By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.
Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.