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EPA withdraws interim decision on glyphosate in response to court decision

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Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn its interim registration review decision for glyphosate, a commonly used herbicide.

The Sept. 23 announcement comes after a federal appellate court in June rejected a previous finding that the substance likely is noncarcinogenic to humans and poses no significant risks when used in accordance with pesticide labels.

Published in February 2020, EPA’s Glyphosate Interim Registration Review Decision “did not identify any human health risks of concern from exposure to glyphosate but did identify potential ecological risks,” the agency says in a press release. EPA also found that “the benefits of glyphosate outweigh the potential ecological risks when glyphosate is used in accordance with the labels.”

A month after the decision was published, a coalition of petitioners, including the Center for Food Safety, filed a lawsuit challenging the findings. The petitioners say that EPA’s analysis ignored existing research into the substance. In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer said glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

On June 17, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found fault with EPA’s cancer analysis, ordering the agency to vacate the human health portion of the review decision. “EPA did not adequately consider whether glyphosate causes cancer” and violated the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the court opinion states.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, EPA was required to complete an initial registration review of glyphosate by Oct. 1. The court denied an EPA request to extend the deadline.

The agency says: “EPA’s underlying scientific findings regarding glyphosate, including its finding that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans, remain the same. In accordance with the court’s decision, the agency intends to revisit and better explain its evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate and to consider whether to do so for other aspects of its human health analysis.”

 

In a letter sent Sept. 23 to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) calls on the agency to take more diligent action.

“Given the serious risks associated with glyphosate, the agency’s pattern of failing to adhere to its cancer assessment guidelines and the court’s vacatur of the human health portion of the agency’s most recent human health assessment, EPA must ensure the most rigorous final assessment possible,” Booker writes. “It is unacceptable for the agency to continue to reassert conclusions built on inconsistent findings.

“I urge the EPA to closely follow its Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment in its current review of glyphosate in order to protect our nation’s public health from this dangerous chemical.”

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