Green Groups Split Over EPA’s Request To Review Glyphosate

Environmental groups are divided on whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should get a chance to reexamine the impacts of glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp. 

In briefs to the 9th Circ, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network of North America backed the EPA’s request for some breathing room to let it reexamine the ecological risks of glyphosate, a chemical that the agency has said is not a significant public health risk. The groups had one caveat and recommended that the court set a 90-day time limit for the EPA to decide how to list glyphosate and whether it is consistent with the Endangered Species Act and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

But a different coalition of environmental groups, including the Center for Food Safety, told the Ninth Circuit that the EPA has had long enough to review the herbicide approvals and said a voluntary remand would only kick the can down the road further. Those groups say the EPA registration review has already taken nearly twice as long as the six years the agency originally planned, and that even the interim registrations at issue in the case don’t address the wide range of uses for the herbicide.

The EPA asked the 9th Circ. last month for a voluntary remand of the interim decision that examined risks associated with glyphosate, arguing that it should be given a chance to take a new look at the substance’s ecological risks and weigh those “risks against the benefits.” The agency contended that a change in administration and new reviews of the herbicide’s impact on species has changed the game and so a review of its work is in order.

A final review of the registration for the chemical — analyzing the substance’s uses and benefits versus the costs and any needed restrictions — is still forthcoming, consistent with FIFRA, the agency said.

The interim decision at issue in the case examined the risks to human health as well as the ecological risks of glyphosate. The agency determined that glyphosate isn’t a human carcinogen and that the commonly used herbicide should continue to be used, albeit with some labeling and usage tweaks.


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