Last month, we exposed industry influence over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) cancer review of glyphosate, the main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup. Last week saw another blow to the integrity of the review: An epidemiologist who has spoken out against Roundup is no longer on EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel for glyphosate.
Here's a quick recap: Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA must review registered pesticides at least every 15 years. This includes evaluating any new science and potentially undertaking a new risk assessment. Roundup was last reregistered in 1993 and EPA initiated the latest reregistration process in 2009.
Fast-forward seven years. EPA finally released a cancer risk assessment for Roundup in September and scheduled a Scientific Advisory Panel meeting for October. The panel is supposed to convene independent scientists who offer technical feedback on the assessment. I was scheduled to comment at the meeting and hand deliver a petition signed by more than 44,000 Food & Water Watch supporters asking EPA to ban Roundup until it completes an unbiased review. But with just four days to go, EPA announced that it was postponing the meeting.
EPA’s initial announcement stated the delay was due to “changes in the availability of experts” and a need for additional epidemiological expertise. But just two days prior to the postponement, CropLife America, a lobbying arm for the pesticide industry, sent a letter to EPA opposing the inclusion of epidemiologist Dr. Peter Infante as a member. Its reasoning? Dr. Infante has a “conflict of interest” due in part to his criticism of industry studies and his previous testimonies against Monsanto in chemical exposure cases.
Let’s be clear: Expressing concern over the potential harmful health effects of a pesticide should not be considered a conflict of interest. This is yet another example of the industry fighting to manipulate the science concerning Roundup. CropLife America urged EPA in July not to hold the Scientific Advisory Panel in the first place. And Monsanto commissioned a separate review of Roundup that was published just two weeks after EPA’s was released that concludes, unsurprisingly, that Roundup does not cause cancer. A bit of digging revealed that most of the “independent” scientists on the company’s panel have been employed by or have contracted for Monsanto in the past. Some have even been paid big money to intervene on behalf of corporations like Dow and DuPont in major legal settlements.
We need an unbiased, scientifically-sound review of Roundup. EPA must stop bowing to industry pressure and ensure that the panel makes a determination that prioritizes public health – not industry pocketbooks.