WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2016 - The “voluntary departure” of one of the scientists appointed to EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) on the carcinogenic potential of the pesticide glyphosate has forced the agency to postpone the SAP meeting that was supposed to take place from Oct. 18-21, until later this year.
In its initial announcement on Oct. 14, EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs said the delay was “due to recent changes in the availability of experts for the peer review panel” and that “given the importance of epidemiology in the review of glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential, the agency believes that additional expertise in epidemiology will benefit the panel and allow for a more robust review of the data.”
The timing of the announcement raised questions about whether the delay had been prompted by concerns raised in an Oct. 12 letter from CropLife America (CLA). In the letter, the crop protection association objected to the appointment of the lone epidemiologist on the panel, Peter Infante. CLA wants clearer guidelines on how epidemiology – the study and analysis of the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations – should be used in evaluations of crop-protection products.
Last month, CropLife America (CLA) submitted a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Regina McCarthy requesting that the Agency publish its proposed framework for the use of epidemiological studies in human health risk assessments for the regulation of crop protection products in the Federal Register. The letter is a follow-up to a 2010 CLA petition to EPA – which the agency later denied - asking that the Agency “promulgate a rule establishing clear and scientifically-sound criteria for selection of epidemiological studies to be incorporated into the Office of Pesticide Programs (“OPP”) risk assessment for a given pesticide product.”
“As we look back at the landscape of the past 6-plus years since our petition and EPA’s denial of that petition, it is our belief that much, much more has been said about the use of epi data, how it is evaluated for scientific veracity, and whether epidemiological information has had consistent and meaningful impacts on risk assessments. In fact, looking at two recent EPA risk assessment approaches on two different chemicals, it seems there is significant inconsistency in the EPA approach,” wrote CLA President and CEO Jay Vroom
EPA, however, insisted that the delay on the glyphosate review and the CLA’s most recent letter were unrelated.
“The meeting is being postponed due to the voluntary departure of a panel member, and the agency was not able to backfill in a way that would provide broad coverage and balance of experience for epidemiological expertise,” EPA said in a statement. “The letter is a separate issue from (the) decision to postpone. We will review the letter and respond appropriately.”
Ironically, EPA would not say which member had “voluntary” left. Attempts to reach Infante for comment, by both phone and email, were not successful.
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