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Daily News Blog

09
May

Contradicting Scientific Evidence, EPA Releases Interim Decision Denying Glyphosate Carcinogenicity

(Beyond Pesticides, May 9, 2019) On Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed interim decision on glyphosate’s registration review, ignoring widespread scientific consensus on the herbicide’s carcinogenicity and instead restating the agency’s firm position that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

EPA’s bold statement stands in stark contrast to scientific consensus to the contrary. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen. In response to resistance from the European Food Safety Authority, 94 expert scientists published an article in support of IARC’s methodologies and findings.

Since 2015, several more publications have added significant weight to the body of evidence supporting glyphosate’s carcinogenicity. A February 2018 meta-analysis of studies on glyphosate suggested “a compelling link between exposures to GBH [glyphosate-based herbicides] and increased risk of NHL [non-Hodgkin lymphoma]. A February 2019 University of Washington study found that glyphosate increased the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by as much as 41%.

Despite attempts by current and former EPA top officials to “kill” their report, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a agency at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released its first draft on the Toxicological Profile for Glyphosate last month, including top-line findings supporting the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.

“The EPA decision defies the preponderance of independent scientific findings on the cancer causing properties of glyphosate and Roundup, putting food consumers, gardeners, farmers, farmworkers, and groundskeepers in harms way.” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “At the same, EPA supports the use of this hazardous chemical, farmers and land managers are finding that the chemical, with its weed resistance problems and adverse impact on soil organisms, is not an effective tool and not necessary in organic systems,” Mr. Feldman continued.

Notably, scientific consensus on glyphosate’s carcinogenicity is strong enough to have supported historical wins in a set of recent court cases alleging that exposure to Roundup caused plaintiffs’ non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). In the summer of 2018, California groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson won a $289 million jury verdict against Monsanto for his development of NHL after consistent exposure to Roundup. The jury awarded him $39 million in compensatory damages, and $250 million in punitive damages, finding that Monsanto acted with “malice or oppression.” That amount was later amended by the judge to a total $78 million. Most recently, in another court case, again in California, the jury found unanimously that Edwin Hardeman’s development of NHL was substantially caused by Roundup; the case moves next to award of damages to the plaintiff.

“EPA and Monsanto continue to defy the science, and deny glyphosate’s carcinogenic threat,” said Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst at Center for Food Safety. “Trump’s EPA is apparently twisting the science in a vain attempt to help Monsanto defend itself against the many pending glyphosate-cancer lawsuits,” he added.

In defense of their stance against IARC’s conclusions, EPA claims that its cancer evaluation is more transparent than IARC’s, citing that “EPA also solicited public comment on its full human health and ecological risk assessment for glyphosate.” Simultaneously, writing with regard to the 238,290 comments received, authors note, “The comments did not result in changes to the agency’s risk assessments.”

Cancer is far from the only health impact demonstrably linked to exposure to glyphosate-based herbicide formulations. Beyond Pesticides has covered the relationship of glyphosate (and the adjuvant ingredients in formulations) to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproduction, and renal and hepatic damage, not to mention its toxicity to fish and other aquatic organisms. A December 2018 Washington State University study determined that Washington residents living nearby to areas treated with the herbicide are one-third likelier to die prematurely from Parkinson’s disease. Most recently, researchers at Washington State University found that glyphosate is linked to multi-generational adverse health effects including prostate, ovarian, and kidney diseases.

Moreover, glyphosate-based herbicides are far from the only health-threatening pesticides that EPA allows to remain on the market. EPA’s latest act in the glyphosate saga is a nod toward larger looming issues of transparency and accountability in the agency tasked with regulation so foundational to public health and well-being.

Beyond Pesticides remains determined to advance the cause of environmental protection, and looks forward to engage with community members organizing to advance local regulations and policies in the face of stubborn opposition on the federal front. Join Beyond Pesticides today and enter a network of advocates working together to build a future we can live in. Join the campaign to ban Roundup.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Center for Food Safety

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