It is known throughout the agriculture industry that what often starts in California, in terms of regulation, always seems to be a slippery slope to follow for the rest of the country. This case is no different, as trial lawyers across the country are already looking to line their pocketbooks with yet another round of litigation against U.S. farmers and ranchers. This time, however, the EPA is standing in support of U.S. agriculture.
Glyphosate, a herbicide first developed and marketed under the Roundup brand by Monsanto in the early 1970’s, is being targeted by activists for its supposed direct causation of cancer to those who use it.
The EPA recently reaffirmed its science-based position that the use of glyphosate has no direct link to cancer. However, in a case recently ruled on in California, due to outside influence and a resulting skewed public opinion, the decision was just the opposite. The plaintiff was awarded millions of dollars as a result of claiming glyphosate had caused his cancer.
With this initial ruling in California, and an additional two cases now decided, all of agriculture can expect an onslaught of lawsuits throughout the country. Glyphosate isn’t something that is only used in California. Rather, it is the most widely used herbicide in U.S. agriculture. In Montana, our company Beartooth Fertilizer provides seed, fertilizer and chemical application. Whether you live in the city or country, Roundup has a role. Roundup is used to keep parks and yards free of weeds in urban areas while maximizing the output of farming and ranching operations. By utilizing seeds that are “Roundup resistant,” farmers apply less tillage and maximize soil health all while making fewer passes through the field, which decreases the carbon footprint.
It is not a common occurrence that the EPA and U.S. agriculture industry stand side by side, but in this case, the agency’s science-based approval system must be adhered to. Products like Roundup must go through rigorous testing and approval prior to market, and in the same sense, producers must adhere to strict application protocols when using it. Even now, additional regulations are being put into place to ensure that proper application of the product does not adversely affect pollinators.
U.S. agriculture remains at the forefront of regulations and maintaining a safe and abundant food supply. As producers, we cannot continue to utilize best practices with crop protection tools when faced with an eager group of trial lawyers only looking to line their pockets at our expense.
U.S. agriculture must stand in support of EPA’s findings as they come under fire from activist groups who are leading the charge against glyphosate. A product that has been deemed safe by the EPA to apply to household backyards is now facing litigation on baseless claims. Trial lawyers are padding their pockets and recklessly attempting to set a course for how farmers and ranchers across the country manage their operations. Farmers and ranchers are committed to carrying out the work and effort it takes to feed a growing world population. Let’s keep focusing on solutions, not settlements.
Chris Skorupa manages Beartooth Fertilizer and serves as vice president of the Rural & Agriculture Council of America.