54 Agricultural Groups Urge Biden to Withdraw U.S.’s SCOTUS Brief in Monsanto Pesticide Labeling Case

Fifty-four agricultural groups sent a letter to President Biden on Monday expressing grave concern with the United States amicus curiae brief in a case about changes to pesticide regulation and labeling.

The amicus curiae brief is the latest action in a long line of litigation regarding Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide and whether state pesticide labels can conflict with federal labels. Specifically, the issue at hand is California’s requirement to label products containing glyphosate, a chemical contained in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, with a statement stating it may cause cancer when Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Environmental Protection Agency do not recognize glyphosate as cancer causing. 

The brief, which was previously covered by Law Street Media, argues that the Ninth Circuit correctly held that FIFRA does not preempt Monsanto’s claims on its herbicide Roundup, and that its decision does not conflict with any Supreme Court or Court of Appeals decision, and thus, the petition for a writ of certiorari should be denied. 

Conversely, in the letter submitted to President Biden, the agricultural groups argue that allowing states to require health warnings contrary to decades of sound science poses great risks to our science-based regulatory system and is not in line with federal law. The agricultural groups argue that the position taken by the United States that federal pesticide registration and labeling requirements do not preclude states from imposing additional labeling requirements is “a stunning reversal from numerous past administrations.”

The letter further argues that a science-based regulation has always been a central tenet of U.S. trade policy and that the regulation at issue is contrary to the robust scientific evaluations done on the pesticide in Monsanto’s Roundup Product. The agricultural groups state that the conclusions in the amicus curiae brief create an impractical patchwork of state pesticide labeling requirements that will undermine how herbicide tools help farmers to produce more and do so sustainably. 

Further, the letter notes that the policy position taken in the United States brief risks undermining the ability of U.S. agricultural producers to help meet global food needs at a time when the world is threatened by food shortages and insecurity that hasn’t been seen in decades. The letter argues that it is vital that we have durable, predictable, science-based policy on this matter that does not fluctuate between administrations. 

The letter ultimately urged the Biden administration to withdraw the brief and to consult with the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the implications of this decision for food production, environmental sustainability and science-based regulation.