May. 28, 2018
U.S. Right to Know, a consumer advocacy organization, filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Public Citizen Litigation Group, a public interest law firm in Washington, D.C., is representing U.S. Right to Know in the action.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeks documents related to the EPA’s interactions with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding testing food samples for residues of the weed killing chemical called glyphosate
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world and is the key ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s branded Roundup herbicides as well as other weed-killing products. Concerns about the chemical have grown since the World Health Organization in 2015 said its cancer experts classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen.
For decades, the FDA has annually tested thousands of food samples for different pesticides to determine compliance with legal tolerance levels established by the EPA. But it was only in 2016 that the FDA started some limited testing for glyphosate residues in food, and the agency has yet to report official results from those tests. Documents obtained from within the FDA indicate residues of the weed killer have been found in many food samples, including honey and oats.
U.S. Right to Know is suing to require EPA to comply with a FOIA request made in July 2016 that seeks release of documents pertaining to the EPA’s communications with the FDA regarding the residue testing for glyphosate, as well as any communications EPA has had with Monsanto regarding the same.
The lawsuit also requests that EPA comply with a FOIA filed in February 2017 seeking records between EPA employees and CropLife America, a trade association for the agrochemical industry.
The lawsuit specifically claims that U.S. Right to Know has a statutory right under FOIA to the requested records and that EPA has no legal basis for refusing to produce these records. The complaint asks the court to order EPA to make the requested records promptly available.