Ag Policy Blog

Enviros Push EPA to Take Second Look at Glyphosate

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A number of environmental groups are pressing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consider in its review of glyphosate the conclusion reached by an international group this past week that there is a "probable" link to cancer.

On Thursday the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Environmental Working Group, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, "Just Label It," Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a letter "to weigh heavily" the re-classification of glyphosate by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer.

In addition, the groups urge McCarthy to revisit EPA's registration of the herbicide Enlist Duo by Dow AgroSciences, and not register the herbicide in six states or consider registration in 10 additional states.

"The EPA should also revisit its October 2014 registration of Enlist Duo for use in six states because the agency considered 2,4-D and not glyphosate before finalizing its decision to allow Enlist Duo to be used in those initial six states," the letter said.

Last year the IARC concluded there was a link between exposure to 2,4-D and the cancer non-Hodgkin lymphoma. "The fact that the two main ingredients in Enlist Duo are both associated with the same cancer should only elevate concerns at EPA over the risks the herbicide poses to human health," the letter said.

"...As a result of WHO's rigorous and independent review, the link between glyphosate and cancer has now been greatly strengthened. No argument by the manufacturers and users of glyphosate should trump the conclusion that this toxic herbicide probably causes cancer in people."

In a news conference Friday, Scott Faber, executive director of the "Just Label It" campaign pressing for labeling of GMO products across the country, said the IARC's re-assessment of glyphosate is "a big development. It also changes dramatically the complexion of the debate about whether people should know what's in their food."

Leading up to the IARC working group's conclusion of a probable link between glyphosate and cancer, industry representatives were invited to attend a working group session and offer input on the question, the head of the IARC's cancer monographs, Dana Loomis, told DTN Friday. Monographs are detailed written studies of a specialized subject.

In an earlier interview with DTN this week Loomis was critical of industry's involvement in EPA decisions on glyphosate. In a follow-up interview Friday, Loomis said he stands by previous statements.

"IARC working groups do not review or evaluate assessments by other agencies," Loomis said in an email. "That some agencies allow interested parties to participate in scientific evaluations and regulatory decisions is simply a statement of fact.

"IARC evaluations of carcinogenicity follow transparent, internationally-respected procedures established more than 40 years ago. Over 1,000 scientists from many countries have participated in IARC working groups. Their findings are considered to be the most authoritative scientific basis for cancer control decisions by national and international organizations around the world. To ensure that working groups' decisions are not influenced by conflict of interest, members must declare not only financial interests, but research support, consulting fees, and other engagements with industry, advocacy groups or other interested parties.

"Perceived or actual conflicts of interest that are relevant to the evaluation topic are publicly disclosed. In the case of the recent evaluation of glyphosate, two representatives of glyphosate manufacturing industries attended the meeting as observers and had opportunities to present their views of the evidence."

The IARC cancer monographs group has published more than 100 volumes detailing similar conclusions on other cancer-link issues.

The IARC's cancer monographs don't just subject chemicals such as glyphosate for review by picking and choosing out of thin air.

According to the IARC's preamble, agents are selected for review based on two criteria: whether there is evidence of human exposure and whether there is some evidence or suspicion of carcinogenicity.

The group surveys scientific literature for published data that is relevant to an assessment of carcinogenicity.

"IARC may schedule other agents for review as it becomes aware of new scientific information or as national health agencies identify an urgent public health need related to cancer," the IARC preamble says.

Read the letter to McCarthy here,…

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RJZ Peterson
4/9/2015 | 4:24 PM CDT
These people do not realize they are causing their own food prices to rise first handedly. I for one, enjoy having the safest, cheapest, and most abundant food supply in the world. Their life is simply just too easy when they need to start persecuting the people who grow and raise their "safe" food. There is a direct correlation between the Non-GMOers and gun controllers, anti-corporation activists, tree huggers, animal rights activists, and spreading the wealth promoters etc. etc. Of course there are always exceptions, but, It is pretty safe to say that they are mostly intertwined. They can be described as conspiracy theorists, there is always somebody out to kill them, so to speak. By the way, the two comments above also make a great point.
3/30/2015 | 2:43 PM CDT
These 'Zealots' are not going to stop persecuting agriculture until we go back to doing things like they did in the 1700's. Every person or family grow their own food. That's fine with me - I know I'd survive and I'd take much enjoyment watching these crusading idiots starve to death at their own hands.
Curt Zingula
3/29/2015 | 7:21 AM CDT
The Universities of Iowa and North Carolina have been observing nearly 90,000 farmers, their spouses and commercial pesticide applicators for the last quarter of a century for any connection of pesticides to disease. We are ground zero. We are not lab rats or theories. We are, however, the canaries of disease caused by pesticides. The study has revealed no connection of synthetic pesticides to any disease. NONE. As a matter of fact, the study has determined that their study group is healthier than the average American which is attributed to above average physical activity and below average smoking. There is a connection of the natural pesticide Rotenone, approved by organic farming, and Parkinson's disease. Because its 'natural' it doesn't get reviewed by EPA, its just assumed by the earth first zealots to be good for you.