As lawsuits against Roundup—the popular weed killer some believe is linked to cancer—mount, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reaffirmed that the chemical is safe for people, the Associated Press reports.
The EPA’s draft conclusion came in a periodic review of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. The agency said it once again found that the chemical posed “no risks of concern” for people exposed to it by any means, including those using it on farms, in their yards or along roadsides or as residue left on food crops. The statement also reiterated the agency’s position that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
But legal claims are mounting against Roundup maker Monsanto and manufacturer Bayer over widespread fears that it is, in fact, linked to a variety of cancers. Two recent U.S. court verdicts have upheld those concerns, awarding multimillion-dollar settlements to plaintiffs who blamed glyphosate as a cause of their lymphoma.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” and advised nations around the world to stop using and selling it.
To be fair, most of the research done on glyphosate’s links to cancer so far has been done on animals, not humans. In fact, the EPA draft review said the agency did find potential risk to mammals and birds that feed on leaves treated with Roundup, adding that the agency is proposing adding restrictions to cut down on unintended drift of the weed killer when sprayed on crops.
Still, public health and environmental advocates are largely unhappy with the the EPA’s defense, arguing that the agency is relying mainly on industry-backed findings while ignoring research that points to increased cancer risk due to exposure to the product.
To learn more about the ongoing battle over Roundup and cancer risk, click here.