Glyphosate Update

On Tuesday, April 30th the EPA released their Proposed Interim Registration Review Decision for glyphosate, an important step in the registration review process. The EPA responses contains several key comments, including:

“The EPA conducted an independent evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate and has determined that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” The agency’s cancer classification is based on a thorough weight-of-evidence review of all relevant data and is in accordance with the agency’s 2005 Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment.”

“EPA’s cancer evaluation is more robust than IARC’s evaluation. IARC’s evaluation only considers data that have been published or accepted for publication in the openly available scientific literature. As a result, IARC only considered a subset of the studies included in the EPA’s evaluation.”

“The Agency’s cancer evaluation for glyphosate is also more transparent. EPA’s draft cancer evaluation was presented to a FIFRA SAP for external peer review. EPA solicited public comment on the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate as part of the SAP process, which is well-documented with an agenda, transcript, meeting notes, and final SAP report. EPA responded to the SAP report, addressed panel recommendations, and made revisions to its cancer assessment that were transparent and provided to the public. EPA also solicited public comment on its full human health and ecological risk assessment for glyphosate in February 2018. In contrast, IARC meetings are not accessible to the public. Its deliberations are closed, its process does not allow for public comments to be submitted for consideration, there are no materials provided in advance of the meeting, and IARC’s reports are final without an external peer review.”

"The EPA has not identified any new information received during the public comment period which ended on April 30, 2018 that would result in changes to the conclusion of its cancer assessment. The agency’s cancer conclusion is consistent with other regulatory authorities and international organizations, including the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary medicines Authority, the European Food Safety Authority, the European Chemicals Agency, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticides Residues, the New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority, and the Food Safety Commission of Japan.” 

In addition to the posting of the proposed decision, the EPA also issued strong comments in an interview with the Des Moines Register and in an official press release. The press release includes comments from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

A 60-day public comment period will follow as a next step and then EPA will respond to the comments and issue the Interim Review Decision. That decision will not become final until EPA conducts an Endangered Species Act assessment. There is no set timeline for the final decision. 

Tuesday’s comments by the EPA are important and consistent with the findings of regulatory authorities around the world for more than 40 years. Bayer’s official statement can be found online here: https://www.bayer.us/en/newsroom/press-releases/article/?id=123301

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Governor Signs Ag Overtime Bill

Ignoring the pleas of real farmworkers and the agricultural industry, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed AB 1066, the ag overtime legislation. This means that California will have the most stringent trigger of any state in the country for overtime for farmworkers, with 45 states having no overtime protection at all. The Governor signed this bill, supposedly to bring “equality to all workers”, yet taxi cab drivers, commercial fishermen, car salesmen, student nurses, computer programmers, and carnival workers all work without any overtime provisions whatsoever. The Governor signed this ag overtime bill in the same year that minimum wage legislation was also passed that will take California to the highest minimum wage as well as legislation forcing California to adopt additional greenhouse gas regulations for businesses in California. California is the only state in the country subject to such regulations. Today’s signing occurred despite numerous requests by the agricultural industry to meet with the Governor to discuss our concerns. The message is clear. California simply doesn’t care. These provisions will be phased in over the next few years ending with the overtime provisions to be triggered at 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.

In the Beginning As folks transitioned out of cotton and into tree nuts, the industry recognized the need to have active and effective representation at the local, state and national levels. Having enjoyed such effective representation over the years from the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, these folks yearned for the same representation in the tree nut processing industry. Issues such as air quality, food safety, labor, taxes, employee safety, and environmental concerns are at the forefront, and there is a significant need for an aggressive and dynamic Association to lead the industry into the next decade and beyond. In recognition of this, the Western Agricultural Processors Association was created in 2009. The Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) shares staff and office space with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations taking advantage of a unique and opportunistic situation. WAPA is a voluntary dues organization with four shared staff and one dedicated staff person. Regulatory, legislative and legal issues fall under the purview of this new organization for the tree nut processing industry, which includes almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. From air quality permits to conditional use permits, from regulatory hearings on greenhouse gases to federal legislation on food safety, and from OSHA violations to assisting members on hazardous materials business plans, no issue is too small or too large for WAPA. WAPA has assembled one of the best and most capable staffs in the industry, and the results are already starting to show Membership The Western Agricultural Processors Association represents facilities involved in the processing of almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.Membership in the Association is classified as Regular memberships are limited to almond hullers or processors, pecan and pistachio processors, and walnut dehydrators and processors. Associate memberships are limited to any individual or business entity which is not engaged in agricultural processing, but which provides products or services directly related to the agricultural processing industry. WAPA Associate members include, but are not limited to, commodity brokers, accounting firms, and insurance brokers. Organization The Western Agricultural Processors Association is governed by a Board of Directors, elected by its membership.The Board consists of up to 15 members from throughout the state, and throughout the industry.The Board meets on a quarterly basis and conducts an Annual Meeting in the spring of each year.WAPA, in conjunction with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, conducts a special training school for its members focused on safety.In combination with the school, the Association holds a Labor Management Seminar for all of the managers. Consulting Services In researching and considering the concept of forming a new organization, the Boards of Directors for the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations instructed staff to perform some of the work on a consulting basis first. The point was to determine the workload from consulting and to determine if there was sufficient interest. In November of 2007, the Association began conducting services under consulting contracts for such services as air quality permits and safety plans.The effort has been so successful that demand has progressed outside the tree nut industry into other agricultural processing facilities, including vegetable dehydration facilities, tomato processing facilities, and wheat mills, as well as cotton gins in Arizona.It was determined by the new Board of Directors of WAPA, that WAPA would maintain the consulting services to provide offsetting income to help with the expenses of getting the new organization up and running.Today, WAPA provides for a long list of satisfied clients in the agricultural processing industry, by providing critical services such as air quality, safety, food safety, and environmental issues (Hazardous Materials Business Plan, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans, etc.).