A proposed class action alleges Weed Slayer and Agro Gold WS are falsely advertised in that the purportedly natural herbicide-and-fertilizer products contain synthetic glyphosate and diquat, both of which are prohibited for use in organic production.
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The 19-page lawsuit alleges Weed Slayer manufacturer Agro Research International, Agro Gold WS maker Sentinel Biologics and retailer Amazon.com have misrepresented the products as part herbicide and part “biological soap” that enables the supposedly organic herbicide to penetrate through the leaf. Further, the companies touted Weed Slayer and Agro Gold WS, which must be mixed together and diluted with water before being sprayed on the desired area, as suitable for use on organic plants and containing “clove essential oil” as their only active ingredient, the suit says.
“These representations were false,” the complaint alleges, claiming that consumers were induced into buying a non-organic, synthetic herbicide that was “far inferior in value than that which had been promised.”
According to the filing, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 classified glyphosate as potentially carcinogenic to humans. The case notes that the chemical was front and center in several Roundup cancer lawsuits filed in 2018 and 2019, which broadly alleged the product’s manufacturer, Monsanto (then Bayer), failed to warn the public of the risks posed by the weed killer. Bayer agreed in 2020 to pay more than $10 billion to settle roughly 100,000 lawsuits it faced over the health concerns linked to the use of Roundup, the suit adds.
Per the case, Agro Research International advertises its herbicides as “products for organic crops,” and the labels for Weed Slayer and Agro Gold WS state that the items are certified organic. Contrary to their labeling, each product contains the chemicals glyphosate and diquat, a herbicide/algicide used to control broadleaf and grassy weeds, in addition to Eugenol, i.e., clove essential oil, as their active ingredients, the filing says.
The lawsuit relays that a Jamaican study compared the efficacy of Weed Slayer in treating weeds to that of two conventional broad-spectrum herbicides commonly used in the country. The case shares that weed growth over the course of the five-week trial shows that the broad-spectrum herbicide containing glyphosate and Weed Slayer “followed almost identical patterns in preventing the growth of weeds,” while the herbicide that did not contain glyphosate “did not match these patterns.”
According to the case, glyphosate and diquat are present in Weed Slayer in amounts “consistent with” commercial, non-organic herbicide concentrates, such as Roundup.
Lastly, the filing notes that the California Department of Food and Agriculture in 2020 issued a Stop Use Notice and statewide quarantine and removal from sale order for Agro Gold WS to all organic operations in the state after lab analysis showed that the presence of diquat and glyphosate were detected in the product.
The lawsuit looks to cover any consumer who bought Weed Slayer, Agro Gold WS or both through Amazon.com in California at any time between April 28, 2019 and the present.
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