EPA Review Likely to Indicate Glyphosate Safe

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The Washington Insider reports: 

DTN and Bloomberg are reporting this week that EPA has “formally” concluded that glyphosate, the most widely used pesticide in the world, is unlikely to cause cancer, according to documents EPA released last Friday.

Turns out, though, there are still steps to be completed. The agency is convening a meeting next month so independent scientists can review the evaluation of any of the pesticide’s threats to human health.

In advance of that meeting, the agency released a 227-page issue paper that summarizes all available research on the chemical, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. Bloomberg says the EPA’s “ultimate conclusion” in that issue paper, which the scientists will review, is that glyphosate is unlikely to be carcinogenic at “relevant doses.”

That final caveat is very important because “health advocates” frequently argue that pesticides that can cause dangers at any dose should be tagged as carcinogenic. Critics suggest that similar thinking led the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization to class it as a likely carcinogen without linking the recommendation to dosages.

Then, in a major bureaucratic blunder, EPA then “accidentally” posted online and then withdrew a report from its own cancer review committee that found that glyphosate likely does not cause cancer.

The new finding could have major financial and legal implications for all agrochemical companies, as the chemical is widely used across the industry, but especially for Monsanto. The company, which just announced a $66 billion merger with the German firm Bayer, is the subject of numerous lawsuits from plaintiffs who allege glyphosate gave them cancer.

Given the breadth of the science featured in the newest issue paper, Monsanto believes the upcoming scientific panel “is an unnecessary use of resources,” company spokeswoman Charla Lord told Bloomberg BNA. “Nonetheless, we are fully confident that if the [panel] follows sound scientific principles and reviews the overwhelming weight of evidence, it will reaffirm that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.”

The panel meeting will take place at the EPA's Arlington, Va., headquarters on Oct. 18. After the panel releases its final report early next year, the EPA will make its long-awaited determination as to whether glyphosate should stay on the market and, if so, under what conditions.

The findings of the World Health Organization are seen by some as re-igniting the food industry’s fights decades ago over the Delaney Clause, a provision by Congressman James Delaney of New York in 1958, that directed the Secretary of the Food and Drug Administration not to approve for use in food “any chemical additive found to induce cancer in man, or, after tests, found to induce cancer in animals.”

When the law was passed, neither advocates nor opponents of the policy, including FDA of???cials, believed it would have broad application, for only a handful of chemicals had then been shown to be animal carcinogens.

However, as analytical chemistry became more powerful and able to detect smaller quantities of chemicals and as chemicals became more widely used, regulatory agencies had an increasingly difficult time administering the provision as it recognizes no distinctions based on carcinogenic potency and, at least in theory, applied equally to additives used in large amounts and to those present at barely detectable levels, and thus takes no account of the actual risk a carcinogenic additive might pose.

Currently, U.S. federal agencies use highly sophisticated measurement techniques that specifically take into account many aspects of the chemicals to be evaluated including dosage and concentration, exposure period and many others. Monsanto and others point to independent tests that say glyphosate is among the safest pesticides available when used according to the label. Still, evaluations of this nature clearly take place in highly politicized worlds, and the days of the Delaney restrictions are not all that long in the past, so producers need to watch this review closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

 

Source:  DTN AgDayta 

 

 

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