EPA’s reassessment of chemicals – In the News

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has released a priority chemicals list of 39 chemicals – mostly insecticides, fungicides and weed-killers, that require review and scrutiny.

However, controversial chemicals glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp), 1080, neonicotinoid and methyl bromide did not make the list.

This is in spite of Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage specifically requesting the EPA to consider adding Roundup to the reassessment list in August, following the US decision that ordered chemical giant Monsanto to pay $US289 million damages to a Californian man who claimed herbicides containing glyphosate had caused his cancer.

EPA chief executive Dr Allan Freeth told RNZ that Roundup was not considered to pose a greater risk than the 40 chemicals up for reassessment.

“…[N]o doubt we’ll have to continue I suspect to defend that position but we do so with a pretty strong robustness.”

The list is largely comprised of chemicals used in agriculture, but also included toxic agents used for killing rodents; an organic compound used to treat domestic animals for fleas; some timber treatments; and the flame retardant TBBPA, the NZ Herald reported.

The review process will involve reviewing the rules that apply to those chemicals to ensure risks to people and the environment continue to be managed effectively, providing greater confidence for New Zealanders that the EPA is properly managing their health and environmental concerns on the country’s behalf.

Freeth has been pushing the creation of a chemical map of New Zealand’s landscape and stressed the importance of industry taking a proactive approach to public acceptance, Newsroom reported.

Canterbury toxicology Professor Ian Shaw said felt the evidence that glyphosate is possibly a carcinogen in humans was “robust”, Stuff reported

“I favour categorising glyphosate as hazardous and reassessing its regulatory status in New Zealand.”

Coverage of the announcement included:

Stuff: Roundup, 1080 not on EPA’s list as it reassess chemicals for possible bans
NZ Herald: Glyphosate, methyl bromide not on EPA’s review list
Newsroom: Forty chemicals on EPA hit list
Newstalk ZB: Controversial chemicals not on EPA’s review list
RNZ: Controversial chemicals not on new safety review list