Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, June 6, 2017

Contact:  Nathan Donley, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6406,
Caroline Cox, Center for Environmental Health, (510) 655-3900 x 308,

California Hearing on Wednesday to Detail Cancer Risk of Glyphosate

State First to Propose Safety Standard for Main Ingredient in Roundup

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— California regulators will hold a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Sacramento to hear comments on the state's proposal to set a safe level for exposure to glyphosate, the main ingredient in the pesticide Roundup.

The California Environmental Protection Agency decided in March to designate glyphosate as a known carcinogen under Proposition 65. Wednesday's hearing will focus on what level of exposure to the pesticide will put people at an increased risk of developing cancer.

“This marks the first time any agency in the world has identified the dose of glyphosate that gives people an unacceptable cancer risk,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Given that glyphosate is now routinely showing up even in organic foods, this is a critical step toward protecting the health of Californians.”

The California EPA has proposed what's known as a “no significant risk level” of 1.1 milligrams of glyphosate per person per day. Products that potentially will expose people to a dose of glyphosate above that limit will require labels to identify the cancer risk. A product will be exempt if exposure falls below the limit.

According to a 2016 federal EPA analysis, the typical adult may be exposed to up to 5.3 milligrams of glyphosate per day just through diet, depending on what she or he eats — nearly five times greater than the acceptable risk level now being proposed. Farmworkers and gardeners who use the pesticide, along with their families, are exposed to even greater amounts of the pesticide.

“As someone who has studied the health and safety issues around glyphosate for more than 25 years, I am hopeful this important step by California will alert consumers about the real dangers of this toxic herbicide,” said Caroline Cox of the Center for Environmental Health. “The massive increase in the use of Roundup means more of this toxic chemical on our food. Americans have the right to know when food puts us at a greater risk for cancer.”

“Labeling Roundup to warn people about its cancer risks is essential to protect public health,” said Donley. “This hearing will help make sure the California EPA is weighing all the available evidence before setting this critical safety threshold.”

California's decision to list glyphosate as a carcinogen earlier this year was prompted by the World Health Organization's finding in 2015 that it is a “probable” human carcinogen. The WHO's cancer research agency is widely considered to be the gold standard for research on cancer.

The U.S. EPA has been embroiled in controversies surrounding evidence that Monsanto, the major manufacturer of glyphosate, unduly influenced the agency's conclusion discounting the pesticide's cancer risks.

What: Public hearing on safety threshold level for the carcinogen glyphosate.

When: 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 7.

Where: California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters building, Byron Sher Auditorium, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, Calif.

Expert availability: Dr. Nathan Donley, a former cancer researcher, and pesticide expert Caroline Cox will testify at the hearing and are available for media interviews.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Center for Environmental Health works with parents, communities, businesses, workers and government to protect children and families from toxic chemicals in homes, workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods.

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