Glyphosate, one of the most popular herbicides, has generated significant attention as a result of allegations that it causes cancer. The controversy stems, in part, from conflicting reports about the chemical's risks to humans and its detection in various food products, compounded by a 2015 decision of the World Health Organization's International Agency to label the product as a "probable carcinogen." This dispute led to the filing of several lawsuits against agricultural manufacturers asserting a failure to warn consumers about the chemical's risks.
Recently, on December 18, 2017, the US Environmental Protection Agency clarified its opinion on glyphosate in releasing for public comment its draft health and ecological risk assessment. The EPA concluded that glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer in humans.
The EPA's findings are consistent with the scientific conclusions of a number of other countries and the 2017 National Institute of Health Agricultural Survey.
The EPA's decision, albeit only in draft form and still subject to public comment, will likely provide strong evidence to support the agricultural industry's efforts to challenge glyphosate's listing as a carcinogen by certain state agencies, and will likely significantly impact the future of the coordinated lawsuits. EPA is scheduled to publish the proposed interim registration review decision for glyphosate in 2019. EPA's recent press release can be found here.
Find out more about this decision and other developments around glyphosate by contacting any of the authors, and please see our related alert, Six things to know about glyphosate.