Multiple committees in the U.S. House of Representatives have written letters to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking why it published—then quickly withdrew—documents that included its long awaited review on glyphosate, the chemical compound that is the active ingredient in Monsanto Roundup weed killer. The EPA posted the documents, along with its glyphosate review, on a website the agency manages on April 29. Five days later, it was removed from the website.
The posted documents were obtained by Reuters and circulated on the internet before the EPA pulled the glyphosate review from its website. The agency said at the time that the documents were taken off of the website because the findings were “preliminary” and the documents themselves were “inadvertently” posted. However, the glyphosate report itself was described as a “final Cancer Assessment Document,” and each page of the report was printed with the word “FINAL” on it.
Included in the documents was a report by the agency’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC), which found that glyphosate was not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. This finding came as a surprise for many, as it runs counter to what the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found last year. In that report issued in March of 2015, the IARC stated that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.
Congress: Mishandling of Glyphosate Review May Point to Systemic Problems at EPA
In a letter recently sent to the EPA by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, lawmakers inquired about recent actions related to the agency’s multi-year glyphosate review, which is supposed to analyze any potential risks linked to glyphosate and atrazine, another chemical widely used in herbicides. This long-awaited EPA glyphosate review is especially important in the wake of the IARC findings.
A second letter to the EPA from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology—which oversees environmental and scientific programs—cited concerns over the agency’s “apparent mishandling” of the glyphosate review. Specifically, the Committee on Science, Space and Technology letter questioned whether or not the EPA’s move to pull the report and other documents was motivated by reasons other than science.
The letters from both committees asked what steps still need to be taken in order to finalize and publish the EPA glyphosate review, which was supposed to be issued back in July of last year. Both letters further ask the EPA to clarify who at the agency is charged with oversight of the risk assessment process for chemicals and what the step-by-step process is for the publication of the said risk assessments.
“EPA’s removal of this report and the subsequent backtracking on its finality raises questions about the agency’s motivation in providing a fair assessment of glyphosate – an assessment based on the scientific analysis conducted by CARC,” the letter from the Committee on Agriculture stated.
Both letters added that the mishandling of the glyphosate review may highlight larger systemic problems within the EPA, specifically when it comes to the agency’s management of chemical reviews.
The EPA said it has received the letters from both committees and will respond appropriately.
Join the Organic Consumers Association and Tell the EPA to Ban Glyphosate
Many people are rightfully concerned about the reported dangers of glyphosate, as it is so widely used in the food we eat and in the parks our kids play in. When people see the EPA’s delay in releasing its glyphosate review, as well as the mismanagement associated with releasing the glyphosate documents only to withdraw them, it does not inspire the confidence we need from a government agency that is supposed to protect us from dangerous chemicals.
With this in mind, the Organic Consumers Association has mounted a campaign where individuals can take matters into their own hands by telling the EPA to ban glyphosate.
According to the OCA, the EPA should defer to the World Health Organization’s conclusion that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. The EPA’s determination—that glyphosate is “Not Likely to be Carcinogenic to Humans”—is based largely on unpublished, industry-funded glyphosate studies, the OCA says. Furthermore, these studies tested glyphosate as a single ingredient, when most weed killers that contain glyphosate use other ingredients that make the herbicide all the more dangerous.
Now is the time to tell the EPA that we can no longer tolerate the widespread use of glyphosate. As of today, over 100,000 people have signed the petition to ban glyphosate. You should join them. Be sure to add your own comments to the petition, especially if you or a loved one has been sickened as a result of glyphosate exposure.