Farmer and Eco Groups Sue EPA over Re-Approval of Glyphosate Herbicides

Posted on Mar 20 2020 - 11:57pm by Sustainable Pulse

On Friday, Center for Food Safety (CFS) on behalf of a broad coalition of farmworkers, farmers, and conservationists, filed a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its January 2020 re-approval of the herbicide glyphosate, best known as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. The suing organizations are CFS, Beyond Pesticides, the Rural Coalition, Organización en California de Lideres Campesinas, and the Farmworker Association of Florida.

While EPA defends glyphosate, juries in several cases have found it to cause cancer, ruling in favor of those impacted by exposure. Glyphosate formulations like Roundup are also well-established as having numerous damaging environmental impacts. After a registration review process spanning over a decade, EPA allowed the continued marketing of the pesticide despite the agency’s failure to fully assess glyphosate’s hormone-disrupting potential or its effects on threatened and endangered species. The review began in 2009, has already taken 11 years, without a full assessment of the widespread harmful impacts on people and the environment in that time period.

“EPA’s half-completed, biased, and unlawful approval sacrifices the health of farmworkers and endangered species at the altar of Monsanto profits,” said George Kimbrell, legal director for CFS and counsel for the coalition. “The reckoning for Roundup is coming.”

While EPA has declared that glyphosate does not cause cancer, the world’s foremost cancer authorities with the World Health Organization declared glyphosate to be ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ in 2015. Over 40,000 lawsuits have been filed against the Monsanto (recently acquired by Bayer) by cancer victims asserting that exposure to Roundup caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including many farmworkers. Plaintiffs have prevailed in the three cases decided thus far, with victims awarded roughly $80 million in each case.

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“Contrary to the Trump EPA’s claims, both regulatory and independent scientific studies demonstrate that glyphosate herbicides are carcinogenic and have adverse effects on internal organs,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at CFS. “Far from consulting the ‘best available science,’ as EPA claims, the agency has relied almost entirely on Monsanto studies, cherry-picking the data that suits its purpose and dismissing the rest,” added Freese. “EPA’s glyphosate decision shows the same hostility to science that we’ve come to expect from this administration, whether the issue is climate change or environmental health.”

EPA judged glyphosate far more critically in the 1980s, when the agency designated it a possible carcinogen and identified harmful effects on the liver, kidney, and reproductive systems. Thanks to pressure from Monsanto/Bayer, EPA has since dismissed these harms and illegitimately raised the safety threshold – the daily amount of glyphosate regarded as safe over a lifetime – by 20 times.

“The farmworkers and farmers we serve are the backbone of our food system. Their families are the first – but are not the last – to bear the huge costs of EPA’s irresponsible decision, while corporate shareholders of Monsanto-Bayer benefit,” said Lorette Picciano, executive director of the Rural Coalition.

EPA has also failed to collect basic data on how much glyphosate is taken into human bodies via skin contact or inhalation of spray droplets. These exposure routes are particularly significant for farmworkers and others who work around and/or use Roundup, the very people who are at greatest risk of cancer and other health harms.

“How many more farmworkers have to suffer health impacts to themselves and their families before EPA “sees” them – the “invisible people” – and takes action?” said Jeannie Economos of the Farmworker Association of Florida. “EPA must protect human health before one more person suffers acute or chronic illness from exposure.”

“Farmworkers are on the front lines of the pesticide exposure crisis providing vital food for American families,” said Suguet Lopez of the Organización en California de Lideres Campesinas. “They deserve a duty of care from the government which it has failed to provide.”

Glyphosate herbicides also threaten numerous species, including fish, amphibians, and aquatic as well as terrestrial plants. EPA discounts these risks by low-balling exposure estimates and ignoring critical studies showing glyphosate’s potency, and by relying on ineffective and toothless changes to the language on glyphosate herbicide product labels to “mitigate” risks. Even worse, despite again registering the pesticide, EPA failed to complete any assessment of its impacts on thousands of potentially harmed endangered species, delaying it until a future decision.

“EPA failed to consider if Roundup disrupts the balance of nature and ecosystem health, critical to the survival of a vast number of organisms on which life depends – from beneficial insects, such as parasitoid wasps, lacewings, ladybugs, and endangered bumblebees, monarch butterflies, to fish, small mammals, and amphibians,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

To give just one example, the massive use of glyphosate has nearly eradicated milkweed, the monarch butterfly’s host plant, from Midwest farmers’ fields, a major factor in the catastrophic decline in monarchs over the past two decades. Even though monarchs are under consideration for protection under the Endangered Species Act, EPA’s registration decision contains no effective measures to protect milkweed and monarchs from still more glyphosate damage.

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3 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. nancy March 22, 2020 at 23:06 - Reply

    Go to the doctor with a condition desperately needing help. Looking for Wisdom. After several years of my body crashing, with all being named idiopathic, I ended up in the hospital with way too many issues to name. I was very sick and no one could or would help me. In 2013, I was rollerblading 8 to 10 miles a week. My blood pressure went from 115/76 to 195/90 in a matter of a couple of years. I had vascular and neuropathic disease. I had a constant head ache. I could NOT connect my everyday living dots. All I wanted to do was sleep.

    The weekend before I was rushed to the hospital, in June 2018, I had such a huge inflammatory response, I went blind from extreme pressure in my eyes. After 4 days of intensive hospital testing I was sent home with no answer. I kept insisting I was being poisoned. No one would listen. I called my general care doctor for a follow up visit. She sadly told me there was nothing she could do for me as the science that she was taught 7 years ago in college didn’t cover what I was professing. I insisted I was sick from the environment. You see, every time the neighbors had their lawn sprayed, I got sick. Every time I went to a hardware store and went by the lawn and garden dept my feet would catch on fire and my head would pound and my blood pressure would rise. Paint mixing made me sick. I looked like a freak. I felt like a freak. The smells caused my blood to boil and I became very agitated. Let’s take a few minutes and look at all of the children with anger and social issues? I see them with totally different eyes now. Depression? Yes I had that. Concentration issues? Yes I had that. Forgetting? Yes I had that and still do. Children are now born with Glyphosate poisoning.

    Next time you go into Home Depo or Lowes, smell the air. That smell is hurting your liver. If you liver is still functioning–great. When it’s not from over body burden-not so great.

    After 5 moves in 1 year, I now live in the middle of nowhere. No spray no green weedless lawns. My dog’s feet no longer turn red as she licks them to death. My blood pressure is back for where it was in 2013. My slow reactive kidneys are responding. MY LIVER is finally beginning to heal. My vision has mostly returned to where it was. I can think again. My feeling of anger at every single little life event has mostly gone away. I CAN think again. WOW.

    Much money and much recovery time was taken. I only eat organic food and contemplate every decision I make. I DO NOT go to public parks to watch little league or listen to concerts. SPRAY of poison is everywhere for me and YOU. You just don’t know it. You have not absorbed enough to be severally allergic to it. YOUR children are absorbing huge amounts every single day. I know –because I know. My over active immune system tells me.

    I still suffer from chronic environmental neuropathy and most likely always will. My feet up to my knees are damaged. My hands to my elbows tingle and burn just like my feet when I accidentally come in contact with toxins.

    Candles, plug ins and most household cleaners make me sick. These contain the same products that are in the insecticides that are sprayed like water all over this planet

    Western physicians wanted to prescribe medications to mask my pain and symptoms. Pain meds that would lead to more. I said NO. Let me feel the pain. Let me heal my broken body. They may not know any better–but they could stop for 5 minutes and listen. If they did, they would have to join the force to stop killing the earth. Trust me they still don’t want to hear from me. I refused their added toxic prescriptions that would have killed the remaining liver I had.

    I didn’t get cancer. It’s not in my genetics. What is in my genetics is vascular and neuropathic type issues from auto immune disease. The glyphosates and insecticides turned that on. I am working to turn it off. I have auto immune disease now.

    I ONLY eat organic food. It’s not always possible to do, but I try. When my family goes out to celebrate at a restaurant, I bring my own food. YES I am weird. BUT, I’m alive. I should not be.

    I was misdiagnosed and undiagnosed for years. Now I have chronic life long issues to deal with. CANCER is not the only thing that these poisons cause. Please wake up and smell the roses before they are all dead.

    Diseases today are not the diseases of yesterday, they are just being diagnosed and treated the same. PROBLEM it’s not working. Ask me I can tell you a story or two.

    Please post my story. I can back all of this up with medical tests. I am a warrior.

  2. Susan Morrison March 28, 2020 at 15:28 - Reply

    RE: Nancy’s personal experience
    Unfortunately, many people will read your story and simply consider you a rare person with extreme physical and mental reactions to chemicals that most of us will never experience. What the general public MUST come to understand is that the constant chemical exposures we are all subjected to WILL take its toll over time and ALL of us are at risk!

    Humans are now exposed to harmful chemicals on a daily basis, from conception onward. At this rate we cannot sustain human health, and an unhealthy population cannot survive physically or economically (I’ve always wondered why a country that is so obsessed with being Number One in the world doesn’t want to have the best health, best education and best environment in the world – and there’s certainly money to be made in organics as even Monsanto knows!)

    Yet, I believe our biggest problems are ignorance and complacency: our medical professionals don’t understand basic physiology and how it’s affected by nutrition and environmental factors; the general population has a total deficit of knowledge and understanding of nutrition and health related issues; and our government supports the businesses that create the products that are killing us! Most of us cannot relocate to healthier locations and I do believe trying to tackle the federal government is futile as it’s too big to deal with and too easily influenced by big business and big money interests. We have to ‘work from home’ so to speak – within our families, our neighborhoods and our communities to make real changes in our lives and that means we have to educate ourselves, get involved and get to work locally. Hope lies within the individuals who are willing to care enough to work for it, not an outside source.

    I wish you all the best and a full recovery.

  3. Melvin Martin April 25, 2020 at 00:39 - Reply

    Perhaps here I was reading an article the suicide rate of Ohio farmers. Strange suicides. Being from Kansas I search the same on Kansas farmers. If memory serves as it was a while ago, in one decade the rate increased by 40%.

    When staying at a cancer center in Kansas, mom was dying, I spoke with one of the doctors and ask him what the cancer rate was there. He said one out of two but probably higher as those who lived closer to other states often went there for treatment. The young people are not going into farming and the average age was of last year was 70. This leaves our food in the hands of big business and they spray everything.
    Big business poisons our lands and water with growing pigs, the stench of a cattle yard is awful. The chicken today is awful smelling. If people realized how the animals are raised no one, in my opinion, would buy them. Studies show farm raised fish have a 30% less nutritional value and many are raised in countries still using some pretty toxic things. I have a lot of allergies as well but I don’t think I am in this persons category.

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