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EPA Says Roundup Ingredient Is Safe Despite Lawsuits

By Rebecca Thiele, IPB News | Published on in Agriculture, Environment, Government
Roundup weed killer contains glyphosate (Mike Mozart, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
Roundup weed killer contains glyphosate (Mike Mozart, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

The Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate — the main ingredient in Roundup weedkiller — is safe when used correctly. The EPA’s review comes amidst lawsuits claiming the chemical causes cancer.

Two recent court cases in San Francisco awarded millions of dollars to plaintiffs who say the weedkiller caused their cancer. The World Health Organization lists glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” — the same classification as the toxic pesticide DDT.

Though the EPA says glyphosate doesn’t harm people, it does say it poses a health risk to animals. Dr. Paul Winchester co-authored a report that correlated glyphosate exposure in pregnant women studied in Central Indiana with shorter pregnancies.

“We’re asking the EPA if they’ve been able to demonstrate that Roundup doesn’t do the same thing in humans that it does in animals,” Winchester says.

Winchester says while he respects the agency’s work, it also needs to look into whether health effects span multiple generations before deciding the product is safe. He points to a study published just last week showing how rats exposed to glyphosate may not have health issues, but those issues can show up in second and third generations of their offspring.

The public has 60 days to comment on the EPA’s review of the chemical once it’s posted to the federal register.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.