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'Superficial' EPA report 'ignores harmful effects from herbicide ingredients'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its re-analysis of the risks from glyphosate - a main ingredient in the commonly used herbicide Roundup. [1]

The report identifies harm to people exposed to glyphosate based herbicide formulations (GBH) over a long period. The EPA says the herbicide is linked to cancers and kidney and skin problems but when used strictly as the label instructs "provides adequate protection for users".

However the report is superficial in its assessment, failing to account for secondary residual effects. Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) are sprayed almost indiscriminately across New Zealand in residential areas, home gardens, and in parks. Glyphosate is also used widely in agriculture. Sometimes farm land is saturated with the herbicide before planting of food crops. Many cereal grains and legumes are sprayed with the chemical before harvest, to dry out crops evenly. In all situations the chemical is used in combination with other ingredients, which the EPA ignores.

"To consider just one ingredient - glyphosate - without also taking into account the synergistic effects of the adjuvants that make GBH such a powerful killer, constitutes a fundamental flaw in the EPA's report," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ.

This serious omission in the report comes about because there is no source of data for the full formulations. The studies have never been done, though other studies show the adjuvant POEA is actually 30 times more toxic than glyphosate alone.[2] Other studies of pesticides confirmed earlier evidence that adjuvants increase the toxicity of glyphosate a thousand-fold. [3]

Public health is under threat because of the EPA’s failure to require safety testing of the full formulations as used in the real world.

"We ask that the EPA revise its process for decision making by requiring safety assessors to look at the health and environmental effects of the full formulation. Only this approach can genuinely protect public safety," said Claire Bleakley.


[1] Stay safe with glyphosate, EPA (NZ) 2016…

[2] Gary L. Diamond, G. (1997) Effects of Surfactants on the Toxicity of Glyphosate, with Specific Reference to RODEO. APHIS, Syracuse Research Corporation.

[3]Mesnage, R., Bernay, B. and Séralini G-E (2013) Ethoxylated adjuvants of glyphosate-based herbicides are active principles of human cell toxicity. Toxicology.16;313 (2-3):122-8.

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