Evidence continues to grow supporting safety of 2,4-D, says industry group
An industry group representing owners of the technical registrations on the active ingredient in 2,4-D herbicides has amassed a substantial body of international scientific assessments supporting the safety of 2,4-D. The various studies are consistent in concluding that the herbicide does not present a health risk to homeowners (including children and pets), farmers and pesticide applicators when product directions are followed.
The industry task force on 2,4-D research data cites expert scientific reviews by the European Commission (2001), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1988, 1997, 2004 and 2005), the World Health Organization (1996, 1997, 1998 and 2003) and Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (2005).
Following its most recent evaluation, the U.S. EPA concluded, in a decision released last August, that acute and short-term margins of exposure for homeowner applications of 2,4 D to lawns were "not of concern." This assessment reviewed both animal and human data, including epidemiology studies, i.e. the study of the incidence of disease in populations.
Based on this study, the EPA reported that "The Agency has twice recently reviewed epidemiological studies linking cancer to 2,4-D. In the first review, completed January 14, 2004, EPA concluded there is no additional evidence that would implicate 2,4-D as a cause of cancer (EPA, 2004)."
In December 2004, the EPA issued a report of its findings after a second review of available epidemiological studies. This report, written by EPA scientists Dr Jerry Blondell, concluded that "none of the more recent epidemiological studies definitively linked human cancer cases to 2,4-D."
"The EPA's assessment of the human and environmental scientific data reinforces a growing number of regulatory decisions and expert reviews that conclude the use of 2,4-D according to product instructions does not present an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment," said Jack Dutra, executive director of the Industry Task Force II on 2,4 D Research Data. "When expert panels and regulatory authorities around the world examine all the relevant scientific evidence, they consistently reach the same conclusion that 2,4-D does not present health risks of concern," he added.
Studies on 2,4-D submitted to regulatory agencies must meet the rigorous Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) standards for pesticide research. GLP standards cover the integrity, organizational process and the conditions under which laboratory, field and analytical studies are planned, performed, monitored, recorded, archived and reported. Both the EPA and Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) require 2,4-D studies to meet the GLP standards.
Since it was first registered in Canada in 1946, 2,4-D has become one of the most widely used agricultural herbicides in this country and worldwide. It is used on a wide range of grain, fruit and other crops, as well as on pasture land. It is also a component of herbicides used to protect turf grass from weeds and environmentally sensitive areas from invasive and noxious weed species.
The Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D research data provides funding for some 300 GLP research studies required to respond to the PMRA's pesticide re-evaluation program. Task Force members include companies owning the technical registrations on the active ingredient in 2,4-D herbicides: Dow AgroSciences (U.S.), Nufarm (Australia) and Agro-Gor, a U.S.-Argentinian-owned company.