Dem senator urges EPA to test 'probably carcinogenic' pesticides

Greg Nash

Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyFCC chief pushes phone companies to offer free robocall blocking Markey floats bill bringing internet to developing world Overnight Tech: First on The Hill – Key senators team up against robocalls | Social media giants back revenge porn bill | Facebook's diversity numbers MORE (D-Mass.) is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate the herbicide glyphosate, amidst growing concerns that the chemical in one of the world’s most widely used weed killers “probably” causes cancer.

The United Nations World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a scientific assessment of five organophosphate pesticides last week that found that the insecticides malathion and diazinon, and herbicide glyphosate are “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Glyphosate is one of the key ingredient’s of Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup.

IARC also found that parathion and tetrachlorvinphos, found in pet flea treatments, are “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” 

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In a letter to the EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyConvention shows Democrats support fracking, activists on the fringe Overnight Energy: Officials close in on new global emissions deal EPA chief: US, negotiators nearing new emissions deal MORE this week, Markey requested the agency “quickly complete its pesticide registration review of these substances and consider the new information when determining whether additional labeling or restrictions may be needed to protect public health from these cancer-causing chemicals.”

According to IRAC, Markey said glyphosate is in more than 750 different products and has been detected in the air during spraying, in water and food.

“Additionally, research has noted glyphosate absorption in the body, as it has been found in the blood and urine of agriculture workers who handle glyphosate-containing products,” he said.

Markey asked McCarthy to respond to his letter with a specific timeline for EPA’s review of these substances that addresses whether EPA will incorporate IARC's findings into its analysis by April 24.

His letter comes about a week after public interest organizations including Just Label It, the Center for Food Safety, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Natural Resources Defense Council sent a similar letter to the EPA.

In a news release, Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It and EWG senior vice president of government affairs, said the new evidence that the main pesticide used on genetically modified crops is a “probable human carcinogen” is even more reason consumers should have the right to know what’s in their food.

In an email Wednesday, EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn said the agency plans to publish a proposed weed resistance management document for a 60-day public comment period at the time the preliminary risk assessment on glyphosate is released later this year.