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Ag groups defend safety of glyphosate

Getty Images Roundup glyphosate GettyImages-978836532.jpg
Oral arguments held in environmental group’s lawsuit challenging EPA approval of glyphosate.

Groups representing agricultural growers, retailers, landscaping, and golf course professionals responded with strong support for continued access to glyphosate following oral arguments earlier in the week for litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding the registration of glyphosate. Environmental groups urged justices to vacate the interim decision by EPA that found glyphosate safe for use, arguing that the agency ignored evidence when making the decision and that vacating the move would rescind administrative approval for the ingredient in Roundup.

The American Soybean Association, Agricultural Retailers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sugarbeet Growers Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, National Association of Landscape Professionals, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council and National Sorghum Producers are all parties in the case supporting glyphosate’s continued registration.

They state glyphosate remains one of the “safest, most effective tools growers, landscapers, golf course professionals and other users have to manage economically-damaging weeds and maintain important conservation practices,” according to a statement from the agricultural groups.

The groups remind the court that nearly every pesticide regulatory body in the world that has studied glyphosate—including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency itself—has found that the herbicide is non-carcinogenic and can be used safely.

“As one of the most widely-studied chemistries in the world, the body of scientific literature on glyphosate is robust and in strong consensus regarding its safety,” they say. The groups strongly agree with EPA’s finding that, when used according to the label, glyphosate does not pose a risk of concern to human health.

Glyphosate is an essential tool for agricultural, landscaping, recreational and other professionals around the world that must contend with weeds. In agriculture, weeds left unchecked can rob up to half of a farmer’s crop yield. In landscaping and recreational purposes, weeds can destroy important infrastructure and ruin greenspaces, they add.

Further, many important conservation practices are supported by glyphosate, such as reductions in field tillage, which cuts greenhouse gas emissions, conserves water, and improves soil health. In addition, creating wildlife habitat and watershed buffers can be enhanced by having access to safe and effective herbicides like glyphosate. The groups look forward to continuing their support for continued access to glyphosate as the case progresses.

The Center for Food Safety and its allies, including farmworker organizations, originally filed the lawsuit in 2020, incorporating volumes of evidence showing how EPA ignored glyphosate's health risks, including cancer risks, to farmworkers and farmers exposed during spraying. Petitioners also challenged EPA's decision based on risks to the environment and imperiled species, such as the Monarch butterfly. The petitioners are asking the court to revoke glyphosate's current registration and remove Roundup products from the market.

In an "interim registration review" decision for glyphosate issued in January 2020, EPA finalized its human health and ecological risk assessments and adopted "mitigation measures" in the form of label changes. CFS claims, “EPA unlawfully concluded there is no cancer risk from glyphosate, despite major gaps in its review, including coming to "no conclusion" as to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the most well-known cancer linked to glyphosate. EPA also failed to do any assessment of how much glyphosate gets into a user's bloodstream after skin contact, a major route of occupational exposure.”

In July 2021, Bayer announced it will end the sales of its glyphosate-based herbicides (including Roundup) in the U.S. residential lawn and garden market in 2023 in order to "manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns." 

TAGS: Regulatory EPA
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