Glyphosate concerns continue, despite EPA assurances of safety
By Top Crop Manager
At the end of January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded, in its Interim Registration Review Decision, that it “did not identify any human health risks from exposure to glyphosate.”
The EPA stated that they used the most current science policies and risk assessment methodologies to assess the risk posed to humans by glyphosate exposure from all registered uses and routes of exposure. They concluded that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans – the agency’s most favourable rating – and did not identify any risks of concern.
In August 2019 the EPA sent a letter to glyphosate registrants, which stated respectively that a cancer warning on products containing this active ingredient would be inconsistent with the agency’s scientific assessment of the carcinogenic potential of the product and would be a false and misleading statement.
Glyphosate-based products are the most widely used herbicides in the world, and the EPA’s announcement reaffirming that glyphosate is not carcinogenic follows similar statements from a slew of worldwide chemical and food safety organizations coming to the same conclusion.
In January 2019, Health Canada concluded that, after a thorough scientific review, concerns about glyphosate safety could not be scientifically supported when considering the entire body of relevant data. Health Canada also noted that the 20 scientists who conducted the review, who had not been involved in its 2017 re-evaluation of glyphosate, “left no stone unturned and had access to all relevant data and information from federal and provincial governments, international regulatory agencies, published scientific reports and multiple pesticide manufacturers.”
The EPA’s statement about the safety of glyphosate comes just days after Kellogg’s announced their intention to phase out glyphosate use on the wheat and oats they purchase for use in their cereals and other food products. Consumer concerns regarding glyphosate translated to investor pressure on Kellogg’s, which resulted in the decision to eliminate pre-harvest glyphosate use. While the EPA’s statement might have given hope to farmers and herbicide companies that Kellogg’s would change their stance, no such change has occurred in the ensuing weeks.