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Court rejects Trump-era EPA finding that Roundup weed killer is safe

ASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Friday rejected a Trump administration finding that the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup does not pose a serious health risk and is “not likely” to cause cancer in humans.

The California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reexamine its 2020 finding that glyphosate did not pose a health risk for people exposed to it by any means — on farms, yards or roadsides or as residue left on food crops.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world. Pharmaceutical giant Bayer, which acquired the herbicide’s original producer Monsanto in 2018, is facing thousands of claims from people who say Roundup exposure caused their cancer.

READ MORE: Jury orders Monsanto to pay $2 billion in weed killer cancer case

Roundup will remain available for sale. According to an agency spokesman, EPA officials are reviewing the 54-page ruling “and will decide next steps.″ The Supreme Court is also considering whether to hear an appeal from Bayer that could shut down thousands of lawsuits on the cancer claims.

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Judge Michelle Friedland said EPA’s finding of no risk to human health “was not supported by substantial evidence.” She also ruled that EPA fell short of its obligations under the Endangered Species Act by inadequately examining glyphosate’s impact on animal species and vegetation.

Legal critics said EPA “shirked its duties under the Endangered Species Act. We agree and remand to the agency for further consideration,″ wrote Friedland, a nominee of former President Barack Obama.

The Center for Food Safety, one of the groups that challenged the decision, called Friday’s ruling “a historic victory for farmworkers and the environment.”

The decision “gives voice to those who suffer from glyphosate’s cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney with the center.

“EPA’s ‘no cancer’ risk conclusion did not stand up to scrutiny,” she said. “The court agreed that EPA needed to ensure the safety of endangered species before greenlighting glyphosate.”

READ MORE: What you need to know about a popular weed killer’s alleged link to cancer

While EPA has said it has not found evidence of cancer risk from glyphosate, California and other states have listed it as a cancer risk and local governments across the country have restricted its use. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the chemical as “probably carcinogenic.”

Bayer announced last year it is removing glyphosate from the U.S. residential lawn-and-garden marketplace, effective as early as 2023.

Bayer said in a statement Friday night that EPA’s 2020 conclusion “was based on a rigorous assessment of the extensive body of science spanning more than 40 years.” The company believes that EPA “will continue to conclude, as it and other regulators have consistently concluded for more than four decades, that glyphosate-based herbicides can be used safely and are not carcinogenic,” the statement said.

Last year, Bayer set aside $4.5 billion to deal with the claims that glyphosate causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. The company had previously taken a charge of nearly $10 billion for earlier rounds of litigation.

“EPA’s failure to act on the science, as detailed in the litigation, has real-world adverse health consequences for farmworkers, the public and ecosystems,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a plaintiff in the case. “Because of this lawsuit, the agency’s obstruction of the regulatory process will not be allowed to stand.”

Left: Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller atomizers are displayed for sale at a garden shop near Brussels, Belgium, November 27, 2017. Photo by Yves Herman/Reuters.

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Ynotisay · M
I'm glad to see this getting some federal muscle behind it. It's banned in a lot of place in California. And some other states that have decided that cancer is more important than weeds. It's bad, bad stuff and Monsanto is a bad, bad company.
Cabernetfranc · 80-89, M
9th Circuit attempting to do science….again
Ynotisay · M
@Cabernetfranc Fair enough. And I agree that "modern farming practices" have become reliant on it. But what I see is Glysophate going hand in hand with massive corporate farming practices. Hasn't been on the market that long comparatively. There are alternatives available for consumers and they're clearly being developed for large-scale farming too. And while the corporate farms aren't there yet, organic farming has found a way to do it. It's only a matter of time before it's "weeded" out. The risk/reward, not just to people, is in the spotlight. There's a reason Monsanto has been hit with around 100,000 lawsuits to the tune of something like $10 Billion. Roundup kills people.
Cabernetfranc · 80-89, M
@Ynotisay Perhaps a minor point, but Monsanto as a company ceased to exist in 2018 when it’s assets were acquired by the German company Bayer. Bayer still makes Roundup and assumed the liability. The patent for glyphosate has expired so hundreds of products now contain the chemical. I just reviewed the latest EPA finding on glyphosate where they repeated their finding that there is no human danger from the chemical. The 9th Circuit ruling did not change that finding, but will require a new review.
Ynotisay · M
@Cabernetfranc Thanks for that. It's a good point. I was aware Monsanto was acquired. But the lawsuits were against Monsanto. I believe Bayer settled them. I'm sure it was baked in to the money cake.
And yeah. There's a lot of studies that say it's not a danger. There's also studies that say it is. The support tends to come from government and business. The medical profession often sees it differently.
Someone MUST be working on a viable alternative that can extend to large farms. I trust it will happen.
But we use it Coast to coast, on every waterway and roadway that can be reached. That's the law.
What else should we question-. Everything,?
People have JOBS spraying herbicide!
Ynotisay · M
@Roundandroundwego But that's not true. It's banned in a lot of places. But what I don't get is why you'd fight for the right to put cancer-causing agents in to the food chain. Let alone what it does to the people working with it on a large scale which, I'm sure, isn't you. Maybe you're just pro-cancer. That's a new one for me. If you were being sarcastic it was a bit subtle.
RedBaron · M
How did you learn to copy and paste like that? Good for you!

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