Sound science at the EPA: Not an oxymoron

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Following the FDA s recent decision not to ban bisphenol A (BPA), this week another governmental agency has made another scientifically sound decision in the face of unfounded claims that a given chemical poses dangers to the American public. On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to withdraw federal approval of the widely used herbicide 2,4-D.

Since it was initially approved in the 1940s, 2,4-D has become one of the world s most widely used agricultural weed-killers. But despite its long history of safe use, the NRDC filed a petition in 2008, calling for the EPA to revoke its approval. The activist group claimed 2,4-D was linked to the usual set of frightening health concerns: cancer, hormone disruption, neurotoxicity, and genetic mutations. Effectively concurring with the majority of U.S. farmers and scientists, the EPA stood by its decision to maintain approval for 2,4-D, stating that several reviews of the chemical s safety have found that it poses no risk to humans at current levels of exposure.

As ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom explains, 2,4-D is not a poison it is a mimic of one of the normal plant growth regulators in weeds. There is no comparable biochemical mechanism in mammals.

ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan applauds the EPA s decision. If this chemical were dangerous to humans, she says, we would see significant clusters of disease springing up among farmers who have been using it for all these years. But we just don t see that.

Who granted these so-called environmental groups the power to force the EPA or the FDA to spend millions of dollars investigating chemicals whose safety has already been firmly established? asks ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross. These groups need to get their priorities straight.