Carcinogen risks EPA concludes glyphosate is no risk to human health… again
Published on Feb. 8, 2020
Following a string of lawsuits drawing questions about the safety of popular herbicide glyphosate, commonly marketed as Roundup, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded the chemical is no risk to human health, provided the product is used strictly according to label.
EPA also concluded the product is not a carcinogen.
These findings are consistent with studies conducted by other agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority, the European Food Safety Authority and the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
EPA notes the product is the most widely used pesticide in the United States and is used on hundreds of crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugarbeets.
EPA, however, is requiring spray drift management labeling to reduce off-target drift and protect non-target plants and wildlife. They will also require registrants to update the label to raise awareness of potential effects to pollinator habitats.
In their findings, EPA notes trace amounts of glyphosate residue may be found in various foods due to widespread use. However, there is no risk of concern from ingesting food with residues.
In addition, there is no concern for children playing on residential areas treated with glyphosate and it is likely not a carcinogen in humans.
Despite numerous U.S. juries finding use of the weed killer responsible for cancer in some trails, EPA stands by their stance on glyphosate and consequently Roundup. Today, there are more than 42,000 cases against the product’s parent company, Bayer.
Multiple courts in California have awarded damages to plaintiffs claiming the product causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In 2019, a California jury awarded over $2 billion in compensation to a couple claiming Roundup weed killer caused their cancer.
Bayer has lost three jury trials in the ongoing Roundup litigation. Bayer has appealed, or vowed to appeal, each decision on the basis the product is non-carcinogenic.
Many plaintiff lawyers argue the company has manipulated varies studies to prove the product is safe and a non-carcinogen. Many of these lawyers insist on a cancer warning label as part of the settlement, despite continued support from the EPA claiming the product does not cause cancer.
The warning label request has been denied repeatedly by EPA. According to EPA and the U.S. Justice Department, it would be unlawful for manufacturers to make label claims that differ from EPA findings and approval.
History and use
According to EPA, glyphosate is used to control broadleaf weeds and grasses and has been registered as a pesticide in the U.S. since 1974.
“Glyphosate targets a broad range of weeds and is important in the production of fruits, vegetables, nuts and glyphosate-resistant field crops such as corn and soybeans,” says EPA. “It is effective at managing invasive and noxious weeds. In addition, glyphosate breaks down in the environment, can be used for no-till and low-till farming which can reduce soil erosion and is useful for integrated pest management.”
EPA notes agricultural uses include corn, cotton, canola, soybean, sugarbeet, alfalfa, berry crops, brassica vegetables, bulb vegetables, fruiting vegetables, leafy vegetables, legume vegetables, cucurbit vegetables, root tuber vegetables, cereal grains, grain sorghum, citrus crops, fallow, herbs and spices, orchards, tropical and subtropical fruits, stone fruits, pome fruits, nuts, vine crops, oilseed crops and sugarcane.
Non-agricultural uses include conservation land, pastures, rangeland, aquatic areas, forests, turf grass, residential areas, non-food tree crops such as pine, poplar and Christmas trees, right of ways, commercial areas, paved areas, spot treatments, ornamentals, parks and wildlife management areas.
According to EPA, in 2009 a registration review was initiated, and in 2010, the EPA required registrants to conduct additional studies to support updated human health and updated ecological risk assessments. EPA collaborated with Canada’s respective pest management agency to share information for risk assessment.
In 2015, the agency notes they began examining the carcinogen potential of glyphosate. As part of this review, EPA consulted the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP). This review found the product was “not likely to be a carcinogen to humans.”
In 2017, EPA published the 2015 risk assessment for public comment.
In April 2019, EPA released the glyphosate proposed interim decision. After reviewing public comments on the proposed interim decision, EPA released the glyphosate interim decision in January 2020.
“The interim decision required management measures on glyphosate release height, wind speed and droplet size to address pesticide spray drift,” says EPA. “It also required measures to prevent or reduce weed resistance, which includes giving farmers better information on mode of action, the need for scouting and how to report potential weed resistance issues, to maintain glyphosate as a tool for growers.”
EPA notes they anticipate completing a draft biological evaluation for glyphosate by fall 2020 for public comment. Final endangered species determinations are anticipated in 2021.
Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.