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Daily News Blog

12
Aug

EPA Refuses to Approve Labeling that Discloses Roundup (Glyphosate) as a Carcinogen

(Beyond Pesticides, August 13, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is refusing to approve product labels that disclose that the herbicide glyphosate may cause cancer, according to a press release published last week. The move comes after the state of California listed glyphosate on its Prop 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Health advocates are condemning the decision as the latest in a long string of EPA actions aimed at benefiting industry at the expense of consumer and public health. Many are concerned that the incessant stream of industry-friendly decisions is eroding public trust in the agency and its ability to act as an independent regulator.

While a state judge gave the Prop 65 warning labels the go-ahead, a prior ruling from U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb in Sacramento placed a preliminary injunction on the California requirement that remains in place today. The state added glyphosate to its Prop 65 list after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) designated the chemical as a group 2A carcinogen.  Under Prop 65, California regulators are required to provide “clear and reasonable” warning labels when any one of four requirements in the law are triggered. IARC’s designation by the state as an “authoritative body” thus prompted the listing.

In the agency’s press release, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler blasted the California law. “It is irresponsible to require labels on products that are inaccurate when EPA knows the product does not pose a cancer risk,” he said. “We will not allow California’s flawed program to dictate federal policy.”

The EPA statement also included a refrain of attacks on IARC, which it has used during the agency’s registration review for glyphosate-based products. It states, “EPA’s independent evaluation of available scientific data included a more extensive and relevant dataset than IARC considered during its evaluation of glyphosate, from which the agency concluded that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

However, the bulk of the “more extensive and relevant dataset” analyzed by the agency were studies funded and produced by industry and not available to the public. IARC, for its part, has responded in detail to the criticisms from the agrichemical industry and EPA. IARC indicates that because its review is limited to studies in the public domain, its process “specifically excludes studies conducted by industry when these are publicly unavailable.”

However, industry studies that are published in scientific journals are considered by IARC, and the agency points to existing and developing policies on the international stage that are beginning to require industry-published studies be publicly accessible. Although EPA indicates these studies are available via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), manufacturers are reserved the right to significantly redact or refuse disclosure of this data, as often occurs. Further, EPA does not permit this information to be obtained through FOIA until a pesticide is already registered, making it impossible for the public to obtain potentially important health end-point information until after pesticide exposure could occur.

IARC makes a specific point to note that it “follows its current practice in order to enable others to scrutinize the basis of its decisions rather than relying on appeals to authority or trust.” Despite criticism from former coal industry lobbyist and current EPA Administrator Wheeler, IARC research is still seen as a highly credible source of cancer information, and IARC continues to stand by its findings on glyphosate.

“The company has the responsibility for maintaining the accuracy of its label,”  Michael Baum, managing partner of the Los Angeles law firm Baum Hedlund, which has successfully litigated cancer claims against glyphosate manufacturer Bayer Monsanto, told the San Francisco Chronicle. He told the paper that “Trump is ‘ignoring what the law says and neither he nor the EPA can override what Congress said is the company’s responsibility in the code of regulations for labeling. We can hold Monsanto accountable for anything that’s false, misleading or negligent … and failing to notify consumers that the active ingredients in Roundup is a carcinogen would be negligent.’”

EPA is providing glyphosate registrants 90 days from August 7 to remove Prop 65 warning labels from their products. But ultimately, EPA’s overzealous attempts to protect the pesticide industry may be setting manufacturers up for even more legal problems down the line.

If you are frustrated by EPA’s inaction on glyphosate and other toxic pesticides, take it to your state and local lawmakers.  Contact your local government now to stop the use of hazardous chemicals in favor of safer, organic practices. Click based on your region of the country below:

WEST

  • Mountain West: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming
  • Pacific West: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington

MIDWEST

SOUTH

  • South Atlantic: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, District of Columbia, and West Virginia
  • East South Central: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee
  • West South Central: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas

NORTH EAST

  • North East: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania

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

Source: EPA Press Release, San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

 

 

 

 

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