Chicago | Reuters — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday it finished a regulatory review that found glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the United States, is not a carcinogen.
The conclusion reaffirms the agency’s stance on glyphosate, the key ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup, despite judgments by U.S. juries that have found that use of the weedkiller was responsible for plaintiffs’ cancer in some trials.
“EPA has concluded that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label and that it is not a carcinogen,” the agency said in a statement.
The EPA judgment could help bolster the case for Bayer as it faces thousands more lawsuits from Roundup users who allege it caused their cancer.
Bayer, which bought Roundup maker Monsanto for US$63 billion in 2018, welcomed the findings. The company has maintained glyphosate and Roundup are safe and not carcinogenic.
Farmers spray glyphosate on fields of soybeans and other crops. Roundup is also used on lawns, golf courses and elsewhere.
“Glyphosate-based herbicides are one of the most thoroughly studied products of their kind, which is a major reason why farmers around the world continue to rely on these products,” said Liam Condon, Bayer’s global president for crop science.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s cancer arm classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Bayer said last Friday it reached an agreement with plaintiffs’ lawyers to postpone a Missouri jury trial over allegations Roundup causes cancer to provide time for negotiations to settle the litigation.
Three consecutive juries previously found Bayer liable for causing cancer with damages of tens of millions of dollars awarded to each plaintiff. The company is appealing those verdicts.
“This administration’s troubling allegiance to Bayer/Monsanto and the pesticide industry doesn’t change the trove of peer-reviewed research by leading scientists finding troubling links between glyphosate and cancer,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of environmental health for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Bayer is considering stopping sales of glyphosate to private users who apply it in their gardens as part of settlement talks with U.S. plaintiffs, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported.
— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.