The Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn an interim decision for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and says it will complete its registration review in 2026.

The agency announced its latest decision Friday in response to a June opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that vacated the human health portion of EPA’s interim decision after finding the cancer analysis was flawed. It also remanded, but did not vacate, the agency’s ecological risk assessment after finding that the interim decision should not have been issued without an “effects determination” detailing impacts on threatened and endangered species. 

EPA had been facing an Oct. 1 deadline under FIFRA to complete its registration, but the withdrawal was expected, Roundup maker Bayer said.

The Center for Food Safety, which was one of the plaintiffs in the litigation, called the announcement by EPA both a “major victory” but “also an irresponsible cop-out to try and get around the court's deadline to fix its legal violations.”

The court had ordered EPA to complete a new ecological risk analysis by Oct. 1. EPA, however, told the court it could not reach that deadline, and has now decided to withdraw that analysis and work on all aspects of the glyphosate registration review, with a 2026 target for completion.

In the meantime, “Pesticide products containing glyphosate continue to remain on the market and be used according to the product label and are unaffected by this action,” EPA said in a statement.

“EPA is letting glyphosate be sold and sprayed, despite outstanding major questions about its health and environmental safety,” the Center for Food Safety said. “What EPA should do instead is cancel glyphosate products, until and unless it re-assesses its risks and assures its safety in a lawful way. It cannot: Due to cancer concerns Monsanto/Bayer has already agreed to stop selling Roundup for consumers by 2023. EPA should now cancel its other uses as well.”

Bayer said the withdrawal “has no effect on the registration of glyphosate or Roundup products, nor does it change the conclusions the EPA has repeatedly reached regarding the safety and non-carcinogenicity of these products. The interim decision was a discretionary action taken by the agency and, as a result, EPA was free to withdraw it. The withdrawal also was expected, as the EPA indicated it was considering this action in its petition for rehearing” to the 9th Circuit. The court rejected the request last month. 

“The EPA confirmed it is conducting additional work consistent with the 9th Circuit’s June ruling,” Bayer said. “We remain confident, based on the extensive science supporting its safety, that the agency will again conclude that glyphosate is safe for use and not carcinogenic as they have for decades, consistent with the findings of other expert regulators worldwide.”

EPA said it has not sought label changes to glyphosate products to implement risk mitigation measures identified in the interim decision, “because EPA’s continued work towards completing registration review for glyphosate could affect what risk mitigation measures EPA may determine are necessary,” the agency said in its latest decision.

The agency says it continues to work on a petition from the Environmental Working Group seeking a reduction in the tolerance for oats and label changes and label changes based on concerns regarding dietary exposure and carcinogenicity.

The agency also is continuing Endangered Species Act consultation with federal wildlife agencies.

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