The Environmental Protection Agency is going back to the drawing board on its interim review decision for glyphosate.
In a memo published Friday, the agency said it now plans to complete the registration in 2026.
EPA’s interim decision was published in Feb. 2020 and “did not identify any human health risks of concern from exposure to glyphosate but did identify potential ecological risks,” the agency’s memo stated.
That decision concluded that under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act the benefits of glyphosate outweigh the potential ecological risks when glyphosate is used in accordance with labels.
In June of this year, a federal appeals court ruled that EPA failed to make an effects determination before issuing the interim decision. The court imposed an Oct. 1, 2022 deadline for the agency to issue another interim registration review — or a final decision.
EPA said it was unable to meet that deadline, citing the need for more time to address the issues raised in the ecological portion of the review and other logistical hurdles, including a mandatory public comment period before issuing a final registration.
The agency now intends to “revisit and better explain its evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate and to consider whether to do so for other aspects of its human health analysis.”
EPA said it will also consider whether additional or different risk mitigation measures may be necessary based on the outcome of Endangered Species Act consultation for glyphosate.
“It’s important for farmers to know that label restrictions for glyphosate are not changing right now,” said Laura Campbell, senior conservation and regulatory relations specialist for Michigan Farm Bureau.
“We’ll be watching this closely and make sure that the EPA is hearing from stakeholders in agriculture about the safety of glyphosate, the protective measures we use for the environment and the devastating impacts that further restrictions would have.”
In January, more than 50 prominent ag groups issued a statement of support for glyphosate as part of the court battle over the registration of the herbicide, noting that it’s one of the most widely-studied chemistries in the world.
Many important conservation practices are supported by glyphosate, such as reductions in field tillage, which cuts greenhouse gas emissions, conserves water, and improves soil health.