Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Appeals court: EPA didn't have enough proof to conclude Roundup doesn't cause cancer, needs new risk assessment

The Environmental Protection Agency didn't have enough facts in 2020 to rule that glyphosate, the key ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, doesn't cause cancer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled last week. "The three-judge panel also said the EPA violated federal law by failing to consult with wildlife agencies on how to limit the impact of the herbicide on threatened and endangered species," Chuck Abbott reports for the Food & Environment Reporting Network.

In the decision, Judge Michelle Friedland ordered the EPA to review its conclusion that glyphosate doesn't pose "any unreasonable risk to man or the environment" and issue a new ecological risk assessment by Oct. 1. The opinion said EPA's conclusion was inconsistent with previous agency analyses: "EPA could not reasonably treat its inability to reach a conclusion about NHL (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) risk as consistent with a conclusion that glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer within the meanings of its Cancer Guidelines." Roundup manufacturer Bayer AG announced in 2020 that it would pay more than $10 billion to settle tens of thousands of lawsuits about the product, many of which claimed it caused cancer.

Meanwhile, Bayer "has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a $25 million award to Edwin Hardeman, diagnosed with cancer after using Roundup on his San Francisco Bay area property for years. It says the EPA label for containers of glyphosate, which doesn’t mention of cancer, pre-empted claims that it should have warned purchasers of the risk. The Supreme Court could decide as soon as this week whether to hear the case," Abbott reports. "The appeal to the Supreme Court was part of Bayer’s five-point plan, announced in May 2021, to resolve thousands of lawsuits against Roundup. Bayer has set aside $4.5 billion for litigation and settlement expenses for more than 30,000 cases. The plan also calls for ending sale of glyphosate for lawn and garden use, beginning in 2023."

Amy van Saun of the Center for Food Safety said in a statement that the ruling was "a major victory for farmworkers and others exposed to glyphosate ... Imperiled wildlife also won today, as the court agreed that EPA needed to ensure the safety of endangered species before greenlighting glyphosate." CFS led a coalition of groups in filing the lawsuit in May 2020. Several studies have found that glyphosate can hurt endangered species and habitats. Another study linked fetal glyphosate exposure to shorter pregnancies, which is strongly correlated with lifelong adverse health effects.

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