Issue Update: Glyphosate and Ethylene Oxide
Last week the Center for Truth in Science announced the availability of research grants to analyze the findings of the most frequently cited studies on four issues at the intersection of science, justice, and the economy: glyphosate, per-and poly fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), ethylene oxide, and talc. The objectives of the Center-commissioned research projects are to assess the validity of each studies hypothesis and protocols, determine the extent to which scientific evidence demonstrates a clear causal link between exposure to these substances and an increased risk of developing chronic illnesses, and develop recommendations for additional research that would yield more accurate, reliable, and robust research results for both individual and meta-analysis.
We expect to receive proposals from qualified researchers by mid-January 2021 and award grants soon thereafter, with the results published as early as April.
This is a very exciting time for the supporters of the Center, as after many months of hard work building the organization, we are ready to begin our most essential function: seeking the independent, objective, and unbiased scientific truths that may help create a more fair regulatory and judicial environment based on the facts. Which makes this the perfect opportunity to provide brief updates on recent developments affecting those four key issues, two this week and two next. We’ll start with glyphosate and ethylene oxide.
Bayer, the manufacturer of Roundup, is reported to be making “substantial progress” toward resolving thousands of remaining claims that the weedkiller causes cancer. The out-of-court settlement is taking place despite overwhelming evidence that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is not a cancer risk. Bayer’s decision to settle is predicated on economics, not science. Simply put, it is more cost effective for the company to pay billions in settlements—most of which will go to attorneys—than to continue to defend and endless parade of lawsuits and risk losing one or more of them. Of course, the cost of those settlements is passed on to consumers as a hidden trial bar tax.
One key question remains: how will future claims against Bayer or the dozens of other companies that manufacture hundreds of products that include glyphosate be addressed? Earlier this year Judge Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco rejected a proposal supported by Bayer’s attorneys and the mass tort firms involved to appoint an independent scientific panel to determine once-and-for-all whether glyphosate was safe or dangerous. The results of the panel’s findings would be accepted by both sides in determining if future claims would be allowed to move forward or not. As of now, there is still uncertainty over how such claims will be handled.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is challenging an effort by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose stricter rules for ethylene oxide levels in the air. The ACC contends that the EPA failed to give due consideration to a Texas’ assessment of the gas that says health risks from EtO admissions are far lower than those cited by the agency. We previously examined the Texas study here. Because EtO is so vital in the sterilization of medical equipment and PPE, its role as a tool in battling the pandemic has never been more important. While that may tamp down regulation and litigation activities in the short term, we suspect interest in the issue may return once our lives return to normal.