Citing new science, groups petition EPA to suspend glyphosate weed killer

By Carey Gillam

Citing new scientific research, a coalition of farmworker, public health and environmental advocates on Wednesday filed a legal petition with US regulators demanding they immediately suspend authorization for the controversial weed killing chemical called glyphosate.

The petition, filed with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alleges that the chemical does not meet the required safety standard set by federal law and the EPA has “no valid assessment demonstrating otherwise.”

If the EPA fails to address the petition, the groups said they will take the agency back to court, where the groups last year successfully garnered a judicial finding that the EPA’s most recent assessment of glyphosate was deeply flawed.

The legal petition comes less than 10 days after the publication of a new scientific study that lends fuel to critics who say glyphosate herbicide products can cause cancer.

In a paper published Dec. 6, National Institutes of Health cancer scientists said they found markers of genotoxicity in male farmers with high uses of glyphosate. The authors said their work suggested glyphosate ‘could confer genotoxic” effects, and amount to “novel evidence regarding the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate.” The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The journal also published an accompanying opinion article from environmental and occupational health researchers who called the new study “important new evidence” that should be considered in evaluating glyphosate safety. The study was the largest of its kind and provides “mechanistic support for genotoxicity of glyphosate,” the researchers wrote.

“There is really compelling new science out there,” said Bill Freese, science director with the Center for Food Safety, the group leading the legal petition. “It’s becoming increasingly untenable for the agency to deny the cancer hazard.”

In addition to multiple studies cited as evidence of a cancer connection, “numerous studies” show glyphosate has harmful impacts on the liver, kidney and reproductive system, according to the petition.