Not that it is a stranger to product liability considering it was the primary maker of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, but St. Louis-based chemical giant Monsanto may be facing a plethora of class-action lawsuits over one of its flagship products, Roundup weed killer. In March, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the herbicide in Roundup, glyphosate, a “probable human carcinogen.” The declaration was followed-up by several countries banning or severely restricting the use of glyphosate, including the Netherlands, Bermuda, and Sri Lanka, with France banning it for use in gardens in June. Glyphosate is the world’s most common herbicide, with the most recent data from the U.S. Geological Survey estimating that 280 million pounds of it was used in the U.S. in 2012. Out of the 130 countries that still permit the product; the U.S. is by far the Monsanto’s largest consumer with over 20 percent of global sales. That may change, however, as California has followed the WHO’s lead earlier in the month. The state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued a “notice of intent” that it will also list glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, which is required by the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 for any product that the WHO’s cancer division lists as a carcinogen. The OEHHA classification requires companies with 10 or more employees in the state to provide a “clear and reasonable warning” of any product on the list of its dangers.
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