How Is Glyphosate Regulated in Massachusetts?

Scientific Equation for the Chemical GlyphosateRoundup® is used on commercial farms, public land, and private lawns throughout the world and here in Massachusetts to keep unwanted weeds away.

Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup®, is not a new product. Monsanto has used glyphosate since the mid-1970s. However, in recent years there has been conflicting information about glyphosate safety.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer found that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Since then, people who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from Roundup® use have brought successful lawsuits against Monsanto, and several large jury verdicts have been awarded after courts found that glyphosate caused the plaintiffs’ cancer.

As of August 2019, the United States government maintains that glyphosate “doesn’t represent a cancer risk” and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not approve labels that warn people that glyphosate may be carcinogenic.

Glyphosate Regulation in Massachusetts

The EPA is not the only agency to regulate glyphosate. Individual states may also review and regulate the weed killer. In Massachusetts, the responsibility for reviewing and regulating glyphosate falls to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR).

MDAR’s Pesticide Subcommittee review chemicals, like glyphosate, when they are first registered with the EPA. After the initial review, glyphosate and other pesticides are not routinely reviewed. However, the MDAR Pesticide Subcommittee can choose to reevaluate it if the subcommittee decides that it is necessary.

In July 2019, state lawmakers suggested that the MDAR Pesticide Subcommittee re-examine glyphosate safety after hearing from concerned citizens.

Additionally, two bills were introduced in the Massachusetts legislature this year. One bill would ban glyphosate use in the Commonwealth and the other would prohibit glyphosate use on public lands without a license.

Massachusetts Municipalities Take Action Against Glyphosate

While the United States and Massachusetts governments have not limited glyphosate use as of August 2019, individual Massachusetts towns and cities have taken action. For example, on Cape Cod:

  • Chatham decided in December 2018 to stop using glyphosate products, such as Roundup®, on town-owned land.
  • Falmouth’s Board of Health issued a one-year moratorium on using glyphosate on town-owned land. The year-long break in glyphosate use began in April 2019 and will give the town time to consider whether further action is necessary.

Elsewhere in Massachusetts:

  • Marblehead took action more than a decade ago. In 2005, the town eliminated all toxic pesticides on town land and encouraged the reduction or elimination of toxic pesticides on private land.
  • Newburyport decided to stop using glyphosate in city parks. Further action may be considered.
  • Warwick passed an ordinance banning the use of glyphosate in 2017.
  • Wellesley took action in 2011 to ban all pesticides, including glyphosate, unless they are needed as a last resort.

Other municipalities have also taken action. However, Massachusetts law prevents individual towns and cities from regulating how pesticides are used on private property.

Glyphosate Regulation Elsewhere

Around the world and close to home, glyphosate regulation continues to be considered by municipalities, states, and countries. For example:

  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire stopped using Roundup® in 2015 and adopted an ordinance in 2017 to eliminate toxic pesticides on City land and to encourage residents to stop using toxic pesticides on private property.
  • Austria’s lawmakers voted to ban all use of glyphosate in the country beginning on January 1, 2020.

Glyphosate use continues to be controversial and local, state, and federal governments continue to grapple with regulating this potentially dangerous substance.

Do You Have Roundup®-Related Cancer in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire?

If you were exposed to Roundup® and you have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, then now is the time to take action. You may be able to pursue mass tort litigation and recover damages for all of your Roundup® related injuries. Damages may include compensation for past and future medical costs, lost income, pain, suffering, and other losses. In some cases, punitive damages may also be possible.

Contact the experienced attorneys at Keefe Disability Law online or by phone today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation and to learn more about your rights and possible recovery.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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