The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is no stranger to controversy. From its dubious support of untenable cap-and-trade policies that put profits before people, to the study it released last year arguing that fracking posed no threat to our drinking water, the agency has made one thing clear: it’s letting corporate pressure stop it from doing its job, which is protecting us and the environment.
So while it’s upsetting, it should come as little surprise that after the World Health Organization found last year that glyphosate, the main ingredient in the weed killer known as Roundup, is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” the EPA shirked the science. EPA’s assessment instead concludes that glyphosate—the most widely used herbicide in the U.S.—is unlikely to cause cancer.
But the majority of the studies in EPA’s assessment of glyphosate are funded by industry. Of the 131 studies used in the EPA’s assessment, only 58 are peer-reviewed and accessible in the open literature; 71 of the others are unpublished studies submitted by the industry. Many peer-reviewed studies, including one that links glyphosate with breast cancer cell growth, are labeled “not relevant”—without a sufficient explanation for their exclusion from the assessment.
Let’s be clear here: trustworthy, rigorous science is, by definition, transparent. The process the EPA used to declare Roundup an unlikely carcinogen is certainly not. And when corporations like Monsanto—the producer of Roundup—have the most to gain from agenda-driven studies, we have even more reason to demand that our government agencies are forthcoming about what data they use, and why.
Right now, the EPA is reconsidering its approval of Roundup and has opened a public comment period. It’s our chance to make sure the EPA corrects its mistakes and starts doing its job. When millions of Americans are exposed to a probable human carcinogen every day we can’t afford to trust studies that might not have our best interest at heart.
It’s time that we tell the EPA to do a real, unbiased assessment and get rid of Roundup.