EPA reconfigures, reschedules glyphosate panel

By Stephen Davies

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2016 - EPA has added epidemiological expertise to a scientific advisory panel (SAP) that will meet next month to consider the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate. The previously postponed meeting is now scheduled to take place Dec. 13-16 in Arlington, Virginia.

The agency added four new members to the SAP and subtracted one. Peter Infante, an epidemiologist whose appointment sparked criticism from CropLife America (CLA), is no longer on the panel.

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Infante served in the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 24 years, rising to become director of the Office of Standards Review in the Health Standards Program. He was also director of the Office of Carcinogen Identification and Classification. He now has his own consulting company, Peter F. Infante Consulting, which is “dedicated to research and analysis of occupational and environmental health issues,” according to the “biosketch” EPA released when it announced its initial slate of SAP members Oct. 4.

Just 10 days later, however, EPA postponed the scheduled Oct. 18-21 meeting, saying a member had left voluntarily and that the panel needed “broad coverage and balance of experience for epidemiological expertise.”

CLA called for Infante's removal from the panel in an Oct. 12 letter, claiming he could not be unbiased because he has testified for plaintiffs in chemical exposure cases against Monsanto, the original registrant of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the company's Roundup formulations, and the most widely used herbicide in the world. 

Kenneth Portier, a statistician with the American Cancer Society, will remain on the panel. Portier's brother, Christopher, has been the lead defender of last year's International Agency for Research on Cancer monograph, which concluded glyphosate is probably a human carcinogen.

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CLA had asked EPA to confirm that Kenneth Portier did not have “pre-formed conclusions” about glyphosate but did not ask that he be removed from the panel.

The SAP includes an additional member from the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Scientific Advisory Panel, along with 12 members appointed specifically for the glyphosate SAP. Those 12 people comprise what's known as the Science Review Board.

The full list follows, with new members in bold:

  • Kenny Crump, private consultant, Ruston, Louisiana.
  • Laura C. Green, president and senior toxicologist, Green Toxicology LLC, Brookline, Massachusetts.
  • Kristi Muldoon Jacobs, acting director, Regulations Implementation Staff, Office of Dietary Supplement Programs with the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
  • Eric S. Johnson, professor in the Department of Epidemiology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock.
  • Barbara L. Parsons, research microbiologist, Division of Genetic and Molecular Toxicology, with the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas.
  • Kenneth Portier, vice president, Statistics and Evaluation Center, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Aramandla Ramesh, associate professor, Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Lianne Sheppard, professor and assistant chair of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Emanuela Taioli, director, Institute for Translational Epidemiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.
  • Heather Young, professor and vice chair, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
  • Daniel Zelterman, professor of Public Health (Biostatistics), Department of Biostatistics, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
  • Luoping Zhang, professor in toxicology, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. 

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