Ag groups intervene in glyphosate litigation

Joint motion filed to reiterate support of science-based decisions and importance of glyphosate to agriculture.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

April 23, 2020

3 Min Read
Ag groups intervene in glyphosate litigation

A nationwide coalition of agricultural and professional stakeholders have joined together as intervenors to block a challenge that would toss out the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to reregister glyphosate. The group filed a joint motion to intervene April 20 in Rural Coalition et al. vs. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency et al. and Natural Resources Defense Council et al. vs. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to support EPA’s decision.

On Jan. 22, EPA published its interim decision for the 15-year registration review of glyphosate, as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). It included a variety of determinations about glyphosate, including revision of requirements for drift management, off-target effects, herbicide resistance management practices and a human health risk assessment in which EPA found that glyphosate posed no significant cancer or non-cancer human health risks.

The coalition’s motion makes three main points. The first is that EPA’s assessment is scientifically sound. The coalition noted: “We stand by the EPA’s interim registration review of glyphosate, which ‘did not identify any human health risks from exposure to glyphosate,’ echoing the favorable regulatory conclusions of leading health regulators worldwide. EPA’s science-based, in-depth assessment by its expert team reflects a gold standard for scientific rigor that is respected by regulators and scientists across the globe. Further, the EPA’s conclusions are supported by a body of science spanning over 40 years that has consistently confirmed that glyphosate-based products can be used safely as directed and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.”

Related:EPA sued over reapproval of glyphosate

The coalition also reiterated that glyphosate is very important to agriculture and the interests of the parties to this motion. Glyphosate-based products are among the most thoroughly studied herbicides in the world. Safety and efficacy have made glyphosate the most widely used herbicide by growers and other professionals worldwide who rely on it not only for effective weed control but also to minimize tillage farming practices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve more land for native habitats. Furthermore, the use of glyphosate-based products allows growers to achieve greater yields and provide an abundance of food to meet the needs of a growing population worldwide.

The coalition said it meets the legal standard to intervene in this case:  “We have requested the court’s approval to intervene as the EPA is not able to adequately represent our significant interests in EPA’s interim registration review decision on glyphosate, which are threatened in this matter. We are determined that regulatory decisions about glyphosate should be guided by science, not conjecture. The livelihood of farmers and growers, who have been using glyphosate safely and effectively for more than four decades, depends on it,” the court filing noted.

Related:EPA again confirms safety of glyphosate

Agricultural Retailers Assn. (ARA) president and chief executive officer Daren Coppock stated, "ARA will continue to defend glyphosate in order to ensure the product's availability in the future. We have long supported decisions based on sound science, and that has been the case with glyphosate. This is one of the safest, most versatile and widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States, and access to it continues to be vital to American agriculture."

The American Soybean Assn. (ASA) said it believes in a science- and evidence-based regulatory system for crop protection tools and relies on EPA and other federal regulators to use the best available data and sound science to make decisions regarding the safety of products in the marketplace.

Caleb Ragland, chair of the ASA Regulatory Committee and Kentucky soy grower, added, “Glyphosate is an important tool in helping farmers produce more food in a sustainable manner. ASA support EPA’s interim registration decision, which clearly defends the safety of glyphosate when used according to the label.”

The motion to intervene was made in response to a coalition’s complaints requesting that the EPA decision be vacated. Joining ASA and ARA in the motion to intervene in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenge are the National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Assn., National Cotton Council of America, American Sugarbeet Growers Assn., National Sorghum Producers, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of Landscape Professionals, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and Monsanto.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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