SAN FRANCISCO–Center for Food Safety today blasted congressional legislation aimed at preventing states from enacting stronger-than-federal protections against pesticides that threaten environmental and human health.
The Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act is "a blatant attempt to preempt California from issuing cancer warnings on products–like Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate–that have the potential to cause cancer," said Amy van Saun, senior attorney with Center for Food Safety. Other states seeking stronger pesticide protections would also be harmed.
The bill, HR 4288, would preempt states and localities from establishing requirements affecting the use of pesticides that are more restrictive than those set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If passed, it would overturn decades of precedent and Supreme Court rulings and could prevent state governments from tailoring laws to the specific needs of their communities.
Christina Stucker-Gassi, with the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides stated: "State and local governments take very seriously their duty to protect public health. This federal preemption is a direct attack on state and local authority. It would cause significant harm by prohibiting states and localities from adopting pesticide laws that are more protective, but not contrary to, federal rules."
The measure would also target lawsuits seeking compensation for harm caused by pesticide exposures–particularly ongoing litigation against Monsanto brought by people who got cancer from exposure to the company's RoundUp products.
This federal preemption attempt comes as the EPA continues its years-long delays in protecting human health and habitats from the documented harm caused by glyphosate. "EPA unlawfully ignored the real world evidence of increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and tumors in animal studies, according to its own experts, advisory panel, other medical experts, and ultimately the Court of Appeals," said Amy van Saun.
Because EPA's "human health risk assessment" of glyphosate, including the cancer determination, was vacated, it no longer has any legal force or effect. The court ordered EPA to redo its assessments for its final registration review of glyphosate, originally due October 2022, with an extension granted by Congress to 2026.
"The Agricultural Labeling Unity Act attempts to undermine the authority of communities striving to uphold public health. We must defend the power of states and municipalities to restrict pesticides and inform their residents about potential risks, ensuring a future where transparency and health prevail over corporate interests." -Cassandra Worthington, Beyond Pesticides
The current measure builds on earlier efforts by the pesticide industry to forestall local and state control in order to curtail stronger protections. In 2018, the congressional Farm Bill conference committee rejected similar efforts by the pesticide industry. In opposing HR 4288, Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, and the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides are urging the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to produce a clean Farm Bill that does not undermine the authority of local communities wishing to protect public health and the environment.