The US Environmental Protection Agency has been accused of acting as a “cheerleader for pesticides” following its decision not to approve product labels warning that glyphosate is carcinogenic.
Earlier this month the EPA announced that it would no longer approve labels warning that glyphosate is “known to cause cancer”. The chemical, marketed as a weed killer by Monsanto under the brand Roundup, is currently the focus of lawsuits from thousands of consumers alleging it caused their cancers.
The EPA’s decision relates specifically to a Californian regulation known as Proposition 65. Prop 65 requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects, including products used in the home.
Glyphosate was added to the list of chemicals identified as carcinogenic under Prop 65 in March 2017. However Monsanto challenged the California ruling and a judge temporarily blocked the state from requiring warning labels for Roundup products while the lawsuit continued.
Now, following its own evaluation of the scientific data, the EPA has issued an instruction to California to stop “false labelling” of products.
In a statement, the Agency claims that Proposition 65 “has led to misleading labelling requirements for products, like glyphosate,”… “(that) misinform the public about the risks they are facing”.
EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, said: “It is irresponsible to require labels on products that are inaccurate when EPA knows the product does not pose a cancer risk. We will not allow California’s flawed programme to dictate federal policy,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “It is critical that federal regulatory agencies like EPA relay to consumers accurate, scientific based information about risks that pesticides may pose to them. EPA’s notification to glyphosate registrants is an important step to ensuring the information shared with the public on a federal pesticide label is correct and not misleading.”
The EPA’s decision quickly drew criticism. Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, suggested the Agency wasn’t living up to its own name.
“It’s a little bit sad the EPA is the biggest cheerleader and defender of glyphosate,” Hartl told Associated Press. “It’s the Environmental Protection Agency, not the pesticide protection agency.”
Photo: Roundup, the glyphosate pesticide produced by Monsanto