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EPA approves 'probably carcinogenic' pesticide for use in 9 more states

Environmentalists are outraged that the Environmental Protection Agency is allowing an herbicide that contains glyphosate to be used in nine more states, despite growing concerns that the chemical probably causes cancer.

Last week, the United Nations World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer elevated its risk assessment of glyphosate to “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

On Tuesday, the EPA approved the glyphosate-containing herbicide Enlist Duo for agricultural use in nine states ­— Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma and North Dakota — in addition to the six states in which it had previously been approved for use on genetically engineered crops.

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“EPA’s original registration of Enlist Duo in October 2014 applied to six states – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin,” the agency said in a statement Thursday. “At that time the agency committed to phasing in additional states to the registration as endangered species risk assessments concerning the additional states were completed. “

The Environmental Work Group blasted the EPA for making what it said was a “poor decision” that will likely put farmers, farm workers and rural residents at risk.

“The agency simply ignored a game-changing new finding from the world leading cancer experts, and has instead decided the interests of biotech giants like Dow and Monsanto come first,” Scott Faber, the group's senior vice president for government affairs, said in a news release.

Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally MORE (D-Mass.) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyEPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump replaces head of energy regulatory commission | Biden climate agenda would slam into Senate GOP roadblocks | Emails show Park Police reliance on pepper balls, outside police forces during Lafayette protests MORE this week asking the agency to evaluate glyphosate, which is in more than 750 different products including Monsanto’s popular weed killer Roundup. The chemical has been detected in the air during spraying, in water and food.

In a news release, Dow AgroSciences, which makes Enlist Duo, said it will continue to work closely with state regulatory authorities t obtain local approval. 

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“More than 84 million acres of farmland are infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds. And that number continues to climb each year, making the EPA’s decision critical,” Susanne Wasson, Dow AgroSciences’ U.S. crop protection commercial leader, said in the release. “Growers need access to this much-needed, effective weed control solution."

As for Monsanto and its weed killer Roundup, the company said its products are “safe for human health.”

“As recently as January, the German government completed a rigorous, four-year evaluation of glyphosate for the European Union,” Monsanto said in a news release. “They reviewed all the data IARC considered, plus significantly more, and concluded ‘glyphosate was unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk in humans.’"

Monsanto went on to say it does not know how IARC could reach a conclusion that is “such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe.”

Monsanto has requested the World Health Organization meet with the global glyphosate taskforces and other regulatory agencies to account for the scientific studies used in their analysis and those that were disregarded.

This story has been updated to reflect the comments of Dow AgroSciences.