The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its comprehensive assessment of the herbicide, 2,4-Dichloro-phenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), under the agency's reregistration program. EPA's decision document concluded that 2,4-D does not present risks of concern to human health when users follow 2,4-D product instructions as outlined in EPA's 2,4-D Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) document.

The agency's announcement and release of the RED on 2,4-D completed a 17-year EPA review process. 2,4-D is a phenoxy herbicide discovered 60 years ago and is used worldwide for a wide variety of applications in agricultural, non-crop, residential and aquatic settings. The agency concluded that acute and short-term margins of exposure for homeowner applications of 2,4-D to lawns were “not of concern.”

Over the course of 17 years, the Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D Research Data developed and submitted to the EPA more than 300 Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) toxicology, environmental and residue studies that EPA scientists reviewed to assess the herbicide's safety under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA).

Task Force members hold technical 2,4-D FIFRA registrations and include Dow AgroSciences (U.S.), Nufarm, Ltd. (Australia), Agro-Gor Corp., a U.S. corporation jointly owned by Atanor, S.A. (Argentina) and PBI Gordon Corp. (U.S.).

“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 Don Page, assistant executive director of the Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D Research Data.

“EPA's comprehensive findings are consistent with decisions of other authorities such as the World Health Organization, Health Canada, European Commission and recent studies by the U.S. National Cancer Institute on 2,4-D,” added Page.

EPA's RED assessment included a review of animal and human data, the latter in the form of epidemiology studies (the study of the incidence of disease in populations). EPA stated, “The agency has twice recently reviewed epidemiological studies linking cancer to 2,4-D. In the first review, completed Jan. 14, 2004, EPA concluded there is no additional evidence that would implicate 2,4-D as a cause of cancer (EPA, 2004). The second review of available epidemiological studies occurred in response to comments received during the Phase 3 Public Comment Period for the 2,4-D RED. EPA's report, dated Dec. 8, 2004, and authored by EPA Scientist Jerry Blondell, Ph.D., found that none of the more recent epidemiological studies definitively linked human cancer cases to 2,4-D.”

2,4-D, one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States and worldwide, is applied to crops such as wheat, corn, rice, soybeans, potatoes, sugar cane, pome fruits, stone fruits and nuts. It controls invasive species in aquatic areas and federally protected areas and broadleaf weeds in turf grass.

An economic evaluation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (NAPIAP Report 1-PA-96) concluded that the loss of 2,4-D would cost the U.S. economy $1.7 billion annually in higher food production and weed control expenses.

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