Friday, July 1, 2022

Court corrals Bayer again on Roundup


The debate on glyphosate safety has intensified following a United States court ordering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to re-examine the spray’s risk to human health.

The United States circuit court supported environmental groups, farm worker and safety advocacy bodies that maintained the EPA did not consider Bayer’s Roundup glyphosate product’s impact on cancer risk and endangered species.

The decision came only a week after a jury in Kansas City ruled in favour of Bayer over glyphosate litigation, the sixth litigation ruling on the crop treatment and the third consecutive ruling that has fallen in Bayer’s favour. 

Of the three trials Bayer has lost, it has been required to pay tens of millions of dollars in settlements.

Meantime, globally the agricultural industry is closely watching whether the US Supreme Court takes up Bayer’s appeal against a $25 million damages claim awarded to a California man who claimed his cancer was the result of the company’s weed killer. 

The worker had regularly used Roundup for 26 years at his home before being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

The Biden administration has since urged the court not to hear Bayer’s appeal on the case, a reversal of the view taken by Trump’s government.

“Glyphosate-based herbicides are among the most thoroughly studied products of their kind, which is a major reason why farmers around the world continue to rely on these products.”

Mark Ross

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross said discussion on the use of treatments like glyphosate were healthy, given the many differing views on product use.

But in this instance he said Agcarm believes the US EPA will continue to conclude as it has for the past 40 years that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and are not carcinogenic. 

Back in 2020 the EPA’s interim review stated the agency had thoroughly evaluated potential human health risk associated with glyphosate exposure and determined there were no risks to human health from current registered uses of the product.

This was echoed last month after the European Chemicals Agency committee for risk assessment found that classifying glyphosate as a carcinogen was not justified. 

The assessment included data from over 1500 studies and 12,000 new articles.

Ross said due to the lack of alternatives it was important the current product registrations remain in place in the United States and growers and other users can continue to use the product, based on label instructions.

“Glyphosate-based herbicides are among the most thoroughly studied products of their kind, which is a major reason why farmers around the world continue to rely on these products not only for effective weed control but also to minimize tillage farming practices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve more land for native habitats, and provide enough food to meet the needs of a growing population worldwide,” he said.

In the European Union glyphosate has gained approval for use until mid-December this year. 

Austria banned its use outright in 2019, and Germany intends to phase it out by 2023. 

The United Kingdom has pushed out approval for its use until 2025.

After mid-December if there is a qualified majority among member EU states in favour of a renewal, or a qualified majority against it, the EU’s commission will follow the vote. 

Bayer has undertaken to work with the EPA in the US on its decision making.

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