According to BeyondPesticides.org, a coalition of farmworkers, farmers, and conservationists presented opening arguments and statements for a lawsuit filed in March against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The lawsuit stems from EPA’s decision in January to re-approve glyphosate as a pesticide. The coalition accuses the Trump Administration of unlawfully ignoring the cancer risks and ecological damage of glyphosate, which is the main active chemical compound in Roundup Weed Killer products.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are represented by the Center for Food Safety, and include the Rural Coalition; Farmworker Association of Florida; Organización en California de Lideres Campesinas (a farmworker organization); and Beyond Pesticides. The groups seek to have glyphosate prohibited from use and pulled from the market because of its unlawful approval.
Glyphosate Harms Frontline Farmworkers
A senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety told BeyondPesticides.com, “Farmworkers are on the frontlines of nearly every health and environmental crisis, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, and are particularly at risk of health impacts from pesticide spraying.”
A member of the Farmworker Association of Florida said in the opening statement, “Farmworkers cannot wait any longer for EPA to ban glyphosate—a pesticide that risks their health and the health of their children … The public now knows that farmworkers are ‘essential workers,’ but they have always been essential. Their work feeds the people of this country and they deserve to be protected from a pesticide known to cause chronic diseases.”
The attorney accuses the EPA of failing to protect the health of these essential workers. “It rejected evidence that glyphosate causes cancer and entirely failed to assess the main way people are exposed at work, through their skin,” the attorney added.
A plethora of evidence in the court filing suggests the EPA ignored the potential of glyphosate to harm human health, including causing cancer. This risk is higher among farmworkers and farmers exposed during spraying.
An executive with the Rural Coalition, which is the lead petitioner (the party that filed the lawsuit) in the case said, “Farmworkers and farmers are the backbone of our food system. As we demonstrate in this filing, they are the first—but not the last—to bear the huge costs of EPA’s deeply flawed and unlawful re-approval of glyphosate, while corporate shareholders of Monsanto-Bayer benefit.”
Lawsuit Focuses On Glyphosate’s Toxic Effects On Crops and Wildlife
In addition, the evidence points to the EPA’s disregard for glyphosate’s harmful environmental impact. Furthermore, the evidence shows that the EPA “failed to account for the costs to farmers from glyphosate-resistant ‘superweeds’ and off-field drift damage.”
Another failure of the EPA, alleges the lawsuit, is that the agency failed to account for glyphosate’s toxic effects on the honey bee population, as well as other pollinators that are vital to the successful cultivation of over 100 crops.
BeyondPesticides.org says that On December 15th, in response to a 2014 CFS petition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife confirmed the Monarchs’ precarious state, concluding that Monarchs warrant protected status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), though formal listing was postponed to 2024 due to the Service’s backlog of other ESA cases.
The re-approval of glyphosate was executed without any consideration of the dire risks the chemical compound poses to threatened and endangered species. For example, the lawsuit blames glyphosate for the eradication of the iconic Monarch butterfly. Monarch butterflies face possible extinction because of the harmful effects of glyphosate on their critical host plant, common milkweed, the opening statement and evidence alleges.
By law, an Endangered Species Act assessment is required of the EPA before the re-approval. However, the lawsuit accuses the agency of conducting the assessment after the reapproval, which ultimately confirmed the risks to endangered species of animals and plants.
The assessment found that glyphosate will likely have adverse effects on at least 1,676 different species protected by the Endangered Species Act (93% of those exposed) and on 96% of their critical habitats. Instead of ensuring this pesticide will not cause the extinction of these species, EPA’s decision allows it to be sprayed on 285 million acres of farmland a year, with 21 million pounds applied to forests, parks, lawns, schoolyards, and roadways, says BeyondPesticides.org.
Regulators Ignoring The Facts on Glyphosate
An executive with Beyond Pesticides, a plaintiff in the case said that glyphosate is a serious threat to the safety of people and the environment, including many hundreds of endangered species—facts astonishingly ignored by regulators.” The executive added, “It is unfortunate that it takes a lawsuit like this to force EPA to carry out its responsibility in the face of a mountain of scientific findings that document glyphosate’s harm.
Over 125,000 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against Bayer AG, the pharmaceutical and life-sciences giant that acquired Monsanto’s product line for $62 billion two years ago. Plaintiffs in Roundup Weed Killer lawsuits allege they developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that develops in the lymph nodes, because of glyphosate and other ingredients in the herbicide/pesticide. In June, Bayer announced it would settle the vast majority of the 125,000 lawsuits for $10.9 billion. The company more recently announced it would settle future Roundup lawsuits for an additional $2 billion.