At South Dakota Corn, we’re focused on promoting South Dakota agriculture and on helping our members increase and protect their productivity and profitability. One of our goals is to work toward ensuring that farmers have the tools they need to solve their own problems and make their decisions.
We know our state’s growers will be impacted by any changes to the glyphosate label, so we’re watching the registration review process closely.
Essentially, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is performing a regular registration review that is required for pesticides. This action is not related to the high-profile lawsuits you may have seen in the news.
We visited with Nasser Dean, Industry Affairs Lead, Western U.S. Region, Bayer CropScience. “The EPA routinely reviews all approved pesticides every 15 years or so to ensure these products can continue to be used safely according to the products labels,” he says.
“The agency considers new studies that have been published since the last registration review, and, when necessary, also requests new data from the registrant companies.”
Review began in 2009
The EPA’s review process is rigorous. “The current registration review for glyphosate in the U.S. started in 2009, which shows how robust and comprehensive the EPA’s process for evaluating pesticides is,” says Dean.
Dean explains that after 10 years of study, the EPA has released a proposed decision, which was originally open for public comment through July 5, 2019. The comment period has now been extended until September 3, 2019; those wishing to provide comments can do so here.
“In April 2019, as part of the current registration review process for glyphosate, the EPA issued its proposed decision,” he says. “They stated that the ‘EPA continues to find that there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.”
No risks to human health found
Despite the controversies around glyphosate, the EPA’s human health risk assessment did not identify any problems in that area. We know that the EPA can be aggressive on some issues, so farmers and consumers can feel comfortable with the outcome of this assessment.
Weed management products containing glyphosate have been on the market for more than 40 years and are frequently the subject of research. For the human health risk portion of the EPA re-registration review, 855 studies were submitted to regulators.
Dean says, “The agency’s scientific findings on human health risks are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by many other countries and other federal agencies. This is also consistent with the EPA’s conclusions on glyphosate for the past 40-plus years.”
New management measures proposed
In addition to looking at human health risks, the EPA also reviewed the ecological risks of glyphosate and found some areas of concern.
“The EPA is proposing some management measures to further protect the environment,” Dean continues. “Specifically, the agency is proposing some required labeling to reduce off-target spray drift and protect non-target plants and wildlife.”
“And, as with all other approved pesticides, the EPA has updated the label language to raise awareness about potential effects to pollinator habitat and direct users to instructions on minimizing spray drift,” he says.
Dean concludes, “As always, farmers and applicators should read and follow label requirements. Since there will be some new management measures, farmers and applicators should familiarize themselves with the updates.”