OMAHA (DTN) -- Leaders of the House Committee on Agriculture are now joining the fray in questioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on its handling of the ongoing review of the herbicide glyphosate and the ecological risks of atrazine. The committee pushed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for answers in a letter Wednesday.
EPA says it inadvertently posted what was labeled as a "final report" on an agency cancer assessment of glyphosate, then pulled the report from its website.
The committee is conducting oversight on the EPA actions that also include removing 13 additional documents from the glyphosate review docket, "including summaries of meetings with industry and a report on possible labeling amendments," according to a committee letter to McCarthy.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and many other products on the market.
In the letter from K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture; Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member on the committee; and Rodney Davis, R-Ill., chairman of the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research, the lawmakers said they were told the glyphosate review would be completed last summer.
"(Assistant) Administrator (Jim) Jones assured this committee that EPA's review would be final in July 2015, and the agency would continue to stand behind its previous conclusions," the letter said. "Despite these assurances, no report was issued until the one posted on April 29, 2016, and removed on May 2, 2016.
"The same day EPA posted its glyphosate report, it also published a report on atrazine, which was also removed at a later date. While this report was marked as a 'preliminary risk assessment' rather than a final report, we are troubled that EPA mistakenly posted and later removed documents related to assessments of two different chemicals within one week.
"These mistakes indicate systemic problems with EPA's management of its chemical review and publication processes."
The lawmakers asked McCarthy to provide a "narrative" explaining EPA's decision to post then remove the documents.
In the letter, they asked EPA who oversees the risk assessment process for chemicals, to provide a step-by-step description of the agency's approval process for the publication of chemical risk assessments, registration reviews and other documents.
The lawmakers asked McCarthy for details on the remaining steps for finalizing the glyphosate reviews, including dates for completion of the final glyphosate report -- asking for a response by May 25.
The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology also launched an oversight investigation into the release of the cancer risk assessment final report on glyphosate.
EPA posted the final report of the agency's Cancer Assessment Review Committee at the end of April but pulled it from the agency's website May 2, saying a full review would not be completed until the end of the year.
That report, dated October 2015, concludes glyphosate likely is not carcinogenic to humans. It was signed by 13 scientists and titled "Final Report."
The final report was signed last fall by 13 EPA Cancer Assessment Review Committee members consisting of doctors and other scientists. The report concludes glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.
The CARC report had yet to be reviewed by a scientific advisory board. EPA said the advisory board is slated to complete its review by year's end, when an EPA assessment is finalized or released.
Read the EPA assessment on glyphosate here: http://www.dtn.com/…
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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