Officials in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew a 2020 risk assessment that concluded there is no evidence that glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup weed killer, is carcinogenic.
The move comes after the agency said it would no longer fight a lawsuit filed by consumer advocacy groups after the 2020 risk assessment was issued and after a June 2022 order by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that EPA updates its risk assessment of glyphosate by Oct 1.
Roundup has been at the center of approximately 125,000 personal injury lawsuits. Plaintiffs allege that long-term usage of Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer.
EPA told the court that it would be unable to meet the Oct. 1 deadline to complete a new risk assessment, including an Endangered Species Act review. The agency told the Court that the process would take years to reevaluate.
The agency informed the Ninth Circuit that it will focus on the next registration review for Roundup, which is expected to be completed in 2026, according to DTN.
The EPA’s 2020 interim decision on glyphosate concluded that the chemical poses no risks to human health, and the agency allowed the controversial chemical compound to stay on the market. Following that decision, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Food Safety, and a group representing agricultural workers, the Rural Coalition, filed suit against EPA.
Judge Michelle Friedland said the EPA did not properly justify its findings that glyphosate does not threaten human health and was unlikely to be carcinogenic to humans, and criticized the agency's approval process, according to Reuters.
EPA officials still maintain that glyphosate does not pose a health risk to humans.
Bayer AG, which acquired the Roundup brand when it purchased Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, has settled approximately 95,000 Roundup personal injury claims for $11 billion. Starting in 2023, glyphosate will no longer be used in Roundup sold to regular consumers, but will still be available for farmers and agricultural enterprises.