Emerging Controversy Casts Doubts on EPA’s Glyphosate Cancer Assessment
PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity and U.S. Right to Know submitted Freedom of Information Act requests this week seeking public records to determine whether Monsanto inappropriately influenced the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial conclusion that glyphosate does not cause cancer.
The requests target communications between the EPA’s pesticide office and Monsanto employees regarding the agency’s cancer assessment of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup and the most popular herbicide in the world. Additional public records are sought from the EPA’s office of research and development, which raised concerns about the pesticide program’s conclusions about glyphosate.
“The public has a right to know the full extent of Monsanto’s role in this controversial decision,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center. “With many independent studies linking glyphosate to cancer, it’s vital to understand just how much influence Monsanto had in the agency that’s supposed to be protecting public health.”
Court documents released last month indicate that the chair of the EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee on glyphosate had a cozy and collaborative relationship with Monsanto and was someone the company thought might be “useful” in defending glyphosate safety. The records include discussion of how the chair of the EPA committee may be able to thwart a Department of Health and Human Services’ review of glyphosate’s safety, saying that if he was successful he deserved a medal. The department never did review glyphosate’s safety.
In 2015 the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm, widely considered to be the gold standard for cancer research, determined that glyphosate was a “probable” human carcinogen.
Court documents revealed that although the EPA’s glyphosate cancer review committee maintained it had taken the WHO’s cancer assessment into consideration, the committee came to its conclusion three months before the WHO analysis was published.
Glyphosate-based herbicides are widely used by farmers in food production, as well as by consumers on their lawns and gardens, golf course operators, schools on playgrounds, and cities and counties in parks and along roadways. The public has a right to truthful information about the EPA’s handling of the safety assessment of this chemical and any improper influence Monsanto may have had in that assessment.