AmericanFarm.com

Cultural war has ag in crosshairs (Editorial)

(Feb. 14, 2015) First, some background: The agricultural chemical is known as glyphosate, its main ingredient. Created by Monsanto, it is marketed as “Roundup.”
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 use it on 250 types of crops.
Some crops have been inbred to assure their continued resistance to the chemical. They are known as Roundup-Ready.
The first batch of Roundup-Ready soybeans came off a field on a research farm near Queenstown, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Now, look at a map of the United States.
On the “far left” is California. It is there where the most recent court challenge of Monsanto and Roundup has emerged. (Does all this sound familiar?)
A ruling by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan may require Monsanto to label Roundup as a possible cancer threat for its main ingredient, glyphosate, despite the company insisting that it poses no risk to people.
California would be the first state to order such labeling if Kapetan issues a formal decision in favor of the proposed labeling, a decision she says will come soon.
Monsanto has sued California, saying its officials illegally based their decision on the France-based branch of the United Nations’ World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and classifying glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.”
Monsanto, of course, said that it will challenge the tentative ruling.
Glyphosate is not restricted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA says it has “low toxicity” and recommends only that people avoid entering a field for 12 hours after it has been applied.
The United States is engaged in a cultural war. One front of that conflict is food — how it is planted and grown, how it is harvested and packaged, and how much the consumer needs to know about it.
California, the nation’s leading agricultural state, has become the banner state of that revolution, despite the fact that glyphosate is used in growing many of the state’s crops.
In California’s cultural climate, it is unlikely that Kapetan will not put her signature on a formal document requiring the labels.
Monsanto’s appeal would go the Ninth Circuit, acknowledged as the most liberal court in the nation.
In light of the vast Roundup market, formally labeling it a human cancer threat could have a devastating impact on the nation’s agricultural industry — and that’s not even considering the potential of skyrocketing food prices.
Stay tuned.