Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 01/03/2018

EPA Preliminarily Concludes That Glyphosate is Not Likely to be Carcinogenic to Humans

In December, the EPA released for public comment draft human health and ecological risk assessments for the pesticide glyphosate and concluded that the pesticide is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. The EPA also found no other meaningful risks to human health when the pesticide is used according to its EPA-approved product label.

Glyphosate is an herbicide that controls broadleaf weeds and grasses and has been used as a registered pesticide in the United States since the 1970s. As a registered pesticide, glyphosate is subject to periodic reviews by the EPA to ensure that it is used in a manner providing adequate protection to human health and the environment. In developing its draft assessments for glyphosate, the EPA evaluated dietary, residential/non-occupational, aggregate and occupational exposures to the pesticide and performed an in-depth review of the glyphosate cancer database, including data from epidemiological, animal carcinogenicity and genotoxicity studies. The EPA noted that its conclusions regarding glyphosate were consistent with science reviews in a number of other countries, as well as the multi-agency 2017 Agricultural Health Survey in the United States. However, the EPA’s conclusion that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans appears to directly conflict with California’s recent decision to add the pesticide to its Proposition 65 List of substances known to cause cancer (although California’s decision to add glyphosate to the Proposition 65 List is heavily disputed and subject to an ongoing legal challenge).

While the EPA’s conclusions showed no cancer or other meaningful risks to human health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its label, the EPA’s ecological risk assessment did indicate that there is potential for effects on birds, mammals and terrestrial and aquatic plants. (Full details on these potential effects, as well as the EPA’s methods for estimating them, can be found within the ecological risk assessment.) The EPA’s draft risk assessments and supporting documents can be accessed here and will be available in glyphosate’s registration review docket (EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0361) in early 2018. The EPA is scheduled to publish the proposed interim registration review decision for glyphosate in 2019, which will outline any proposed mitigation measures to reduce risk, if any are needed.

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