FRESNO, Calif. - A battle over a popular weed killer came to head in Fresno Friday. A federal judge tentatively ruled California could require agriculture company Monsanto to label its product Roundup as a possible cancer threat. Monsanto has argued the chemical in question, glyphosate, poses no threat.
This comes after the company sued California after California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) filed a Notice of Intent to list glyphosate as a carcinogenic chemical. In their lawsuit, Monsanto said what California did was illegal, since its based on research from a French-based health organization.
During the hearing Friday, one of Monsanto's lawyers argued labeling the product as a carcinogen would hurt the company financially.
After the ruling, farmers who claim the chemical has harmed their families and well-known environmental activist and lawyer Robert Kennedy, Jr. held a press conference outside B.F. Sisk Courthouse. They spoke in support of the judge's decision.
John Barton, a third-generation cotton farmer, said how his family used Roundup for as long as he could remember. In 2015, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and blames the product-use for it.
"When Monsanto came out with the idea we could prep our cotton (with Roundup) for defoliation purposes, we would use thousands of gallons over the year," Barton said.
Kennedy, who also attended the court hearing, said the judge's decision just makes sense.
"It's not radical, it's not putting people out of business," he said. "It's simply saying, let's apply the cautionary principle and let's let individuals make informed decisions about their own lives."
In a statement, Monsanto asserts several regulators have determined glyphosate does not cause cancer. The company will also continue to challenge the tentative ruling.