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U.S. EPA says glyphosate likely not carcinogenic

Agency's final assessment due out in spring

(Dave Bedard photo)

Chicago | Reuters — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday said its current position on glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is that the chemical is not likely carcinogenic to humans.

The agency’s “proposed” position on the controversial chemical was outlined in a 227-page paper it published on the website, which the EPA manages.

After reviewing the available data, the paper states, “The strongest support is for ‘not likely to be carcinogenic to humans’ at doses relevant to human health risk assessment.”

EPA officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

The paper was among 86 documents, which included dozens of research studies about glyphosate. All the material is to be reviewed next month by an advisory group of scientists known as the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel.

The panel is tasked with reviewing scientific issues related to the agency’s ongoing evaluation of whether the herbicide does — or does not — have the potential of causing cancer in humans. It will also comment on the agency’s review and evaluation process in how it reached its conclusions.

This meeting is the latest step in what has been a decades-long process by the federal agency to assess human and animal health risks, as well as ecological risks, of glyphosate. The chemical has long been the subject of controversy over whether it causes cancer.

Last year, the World Health Organization’s cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Other government authorities have issued a variety of opinions. The European Food Safety Authority last November said glyphosate was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”

The EPA also republished a paper from the agency’s cancer assessment review committee, which found that glyphosate was “not likely carcinogenic” to humans. In May, the agency published the CARC paper online, but then removed it and other related documents, saying it had inadvertently published the document prior to finishing its review of the controversial chemical.

The EPA said on Friday that it expects to publish its final assessment of glyphosate in the spring of 2017. Previously, the agency had said the review could be done by the end of this year.

P.J. Huffstutter reports on agriculture and agribusiness for Reuters from Chicago.

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