Dem senator urges EPA to test 'probably carcinogenic' pesticides

Dem senator urges EPA to test 'probably carcinogenic' pesticides
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyMartin Luther King III endorses Kennedy in Senate primary Overnight Energy: EPA finalizes rollback of Obama-era oil and gas methane emissions standards | Democratic lawmakers ask Interior to require masks indoors at national parks | Harris climate agenda stresses need for justice Markey riffs on JFK quote in new ad touting progressive bona fides 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 McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Energy Department proposes showerhead standards rollback after Trump complaints | Interior memo scaling back bird protections is 'contrary to law,' court rules | Former EPA chiefs call for agency 'reset' Former EPA chiefs call for agency 'reset' Azar arrives in Taiwan amid tensions with China 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.