Tag Archives: atrazine

EPA to Convene Scientific Advisory Panel on Atrazine

In light of the upcoming U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Panel’s reevaluation of atrazine, The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) reemphasizes the safety and importance of the herbicide in a new commentary:

“For four days, academic, industry and government experts, along with representatives of stakeholder groups, will again address the EPA committee with information on the safe and important herbicide atrazine.

The most studied herbicide in the world, with more than 6,000 studies on record, atrazine is already supported as a safe crop protectant by years of credible, scientific research. Despite the copious data on this proven tool, the EPA is carrying out this reevaluation outside of normal procedures due to unsubstantiated activist claims based upon incendiary rhetoric. The National Corn Growers Association strongly opposes the EPA’s complicity in this continued attack and urges the agency to base policy decisions in sound science.

During the public comment portion of the hearings, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 15, Triazine Network Chairman and Kansas Corn Executive Director Jere White will speak on behalf of the growers who depend upon atrazine to help fight herbicide-resistant weeds. Gary Marshall, MO Corn CEO will also be part of the Triazine Networks panel. Representatives from other stakeholder groups will also speak out during this period to stress the importance of this chemical to U.S. agriculture as a whole.

‘Currently, atrazine is applied on more than half of all U.S. corn acres, two-thirds of sorghum acres and nearly 90 percent of all U.S. sugar cane acres,’ White said.‘Mixed with another herbicide, atrazine enhances the performance of the original product and helps to control a variety of herbicide-resistant weeds. With positive safety reviews on record by the EPA, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the World Health Organization, this important chemical has a proven safety record.’

Not only is atrazine safe, it helps to protect the environment by saving soil. When using this product, farmers are more likely to turn to conservation and no-tillage systems that protect valuable top-soil. In 2008, 64 percent of the atrazine used in corn farming allowed for no-till or conservation practices. This impacts agriculture’s sustainability directly, as conservation tillage can reduce soil erosion by as much as 90 percent.

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Loss of Atrazine Would Wipe Out 21,000 to 48,000 Jobs Dependant on Agriculture

Banning the agricultural herbicide atrazine would cost between 21,000 and 48,000 jobs from corn production losses alone, according to University of Chicago economist Don L. Coursey, Ph.D.

Dr. Coursey announced his findings at a briefing sponsored by the Triazine Network today at the National Press Club in Washington.

Coursey estimates atrazine’s annual production value to corn alone to be between $2.3 billion and $5 billion. Atrazine’s additional value to sorghum, sugar cane and other uses increases these totals.

“The economic data on atrazine are very clear. As a first-order estimate, banning atrazine will erase between 21,000 and 48,000 jobs related to or dependant on corn production, with additional job losses coming from both sugar cane and sorghum production losses,” Coursey said. “The range is wide because we have never before banned a product on which so many depend and for which suitable replacements have a wide variety of prices and application regimes.”

“If all of that job loss were concentrated in the agricultural sector, its unemployment would grow by as much as 2.6 percent. Replacement costs for corn farmers could reach as high as $58 per acre,” Coursey said.

Atrazine has been a mainstay of corn, sorghum and sugar cane production for 50 years. The second most-used herbicide in the U.S., it controls a broad range of yield-robbing weeds, is safe for the crop and supports a variety of farming systems, including soil-saving conservation-till agriculture.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re-registered atrazine in 2006 based on the evidence of nearly 6,000 studies and more than 80,000 public comments. It began an additional, unscheduled review of atrazine in late 2009.

“Atrazine is essential to U.S. agriculture. We appreciate Dr. Coursey’s findings and will distribute them to our members, the EPA and to our elected representatives. With unemployment still painfully high across the nation, we can’t afford to lose as many as 50,000 jobs and the corn yield that sustains them,” said Jere White, Triazine Network chairman and executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association.

EPA cited a media report and claims by a longtime anti-atrazine group when it announced the additional, unscheduled review. It was the first time in history EPA did not cite sound science to initiate a review process.

Coursey’s statement can be viewed at http://agsense.org/.

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New Website Offers News and Information on Atrazine by the Farmers Who Have Used it for Generations

Farmers launch www.AGSense.org to fight false claims and shoddy science against atrazine use. A group of farmers who raise corn, sorghum and other crops throughout the country have launched a new website, www.AGSense.org, to bring some common sense and straight talk to the debate about atrazine.

New Website Offers News and Information on Atrazine by the Farmers Who Have Used it for Generations

“Atrazine is important to keeping our food supply plentiful and affordable, and is highly effective with a remarkable track record of success—and safety—that stretches back for decades,” said Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and chairman of the Triazine Network, the group of farmers behind the new Web site.

“EPA conducted a special review of atrazine in 1994 and gave it full approval in 2006, so activists who are suddenly labeling it with false claims are irresponsible, at best, and misleading, at worst,” White said.

Farmers, ranchers and the people who consume their products can find information on AGSense.org about the various crops atrazine is used for, why exactly it is important for land conservation, its long history of scrutiny and approval by regulators all over the world, and highlights from the latest online content that tells the story of this critical tool – and the campaign against it – from across the Web.

“If AGSense.org helps just one person learn something about atrazine that he or she didn’t know before, if it helps bring just a little bit of common sense to this critical agricultural tool, it will have been worth creating,” said White. “We hope people find it useful as we fight to keep our access to atrazine alive.”

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Center for Global Food Issues Calls for Transparency for Environmental Groups Behind Atrazine Campaign

Center for Global Food Issues unveils its new blog entry, The Big Money Behind the Environmental Scare Movement –the attack on atrazine replays the alar scare, which calls for transparency into environmental activists’ work to demonize and ban the herbicide atrazine.Center for Global Food Issues Calls for Transparency for Environmental Groups Behind Atrazine Campaign

Written by Alex Avery, director of research and education for the Center for Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute, the new blog entry questions why “activists (should) get a free ride when it comes to full disclosure,” and outlines the significant dollars behind the assault on modern agricultural technologies, particularly the safe and effective herbicide atrazine.

In his blog entry, Avery digs deeper into the public financial records of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the organizations behind the 1980’s “alar scare” and the current campaign against atrazine. Avery cites records that show that by 2004, the tax-exempt organization had received nearly $6.5 million in discretionary grants from the EPA since 1993, noting the EPA conceded all the discretionary grants awarded to the NRDC were awarded without competition. Additionally, Avery contends tax returns show NRDC received $350,000 in government money in 2007; similarly, the allied Land Stewardship Project also receives about 14 percent of its money from government grants.

Furthermore, Avery states in the entry that “according to its most recently available tax return, from 2007, the NRDC received revenues of more than $100 million and has net assets of more than $187 million. According to the Green Tracking Library, former NRDC president and founder John H. Adams had a combined 2006 income of $757,464. Just because the NRDC is officially non-profit does not mean it cannot make money from its attacks. In going after alar, the NRDC caused apple farmers to lose more than $100 million.”

Also notable, Avery highlights quote by PR strategist David Fenton in the aftermath of alar campaign: “We designed [the alar campaign] so that revenue would flow back to the National Resources Defense Council from the public, and we sold this book about pesticides through a 900 number and the (Phil) Donahue show. And to date there has been $700,000 in net revenue from it.”

Avery remarks, “I suggest that reporters, if they really want to fulfill their watchdog function, maybe ask some of these activists where their funding comes from. This is particularly important, as the activist campaign against atrazine is based largely on discrediting the ‘industry-based’ science on which regulatory approval has been at least partially based. If the default assumption is that money is the root of all evil, then transparency should be the price of being taken seriously by journalists and policymakers.”

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Backed By 6,000 Studies And 50 Years Of Use, Atrazine Can Be Used Safely

For 50 years, sound science has governed U.S. regulatory decisions on atrazine, a well-studied herbicide that farmers rely upon worldwide to produce safe, healthy and abundant crops. Syngenta, as a science-based company, looks forward to a continuing, open and transparent safety review of atrazine by the U.S. EPA in 2010 and expects a positive outcome.

Last week, two environmental activist groups escalated their attacks on Syngenta and atrazine, urging a departure from the EPA’s methodical, science-based approach to regulating crop protection products such as atrazine. Syngenta believes these claims are baseless and wrong.

These activist groups urge the removal of safe, regulated crop protection tools farmers rely on to produce safe and abundant food for the world. It is estimated forty percent of the world’s food supply would not exist without the use of such products.

Committed to the highest ethical standards
“Syngenta is committed to promoting and maintaining high standards of corporate responsibility worldwide in an industry that is essential to global agriculture and food production,” said Dr. Tim Pastoor, principal scientist for Syngenta Crop Protection. “The activist report is an irresponsible and defamatory characterization of our company’s efforts to implement high standards of stewardship for the safe, effective and environmentally responsible use of its products. Our people are committed to the highest level of ethical standards in all our business practices.”

Transparent review of the best science
EPA’s 12-year evaluation completed in 2006 found atrazine poses “no harm that would result to the general U.S. population, infants, children or other … consumers.”

To reach its conclusion, EPA required that Syngenta initiate studies defined by the EPA and conducted using internationally recognized Good Laboratory Practices.

“Syngenta is required by the EPA to conduct a long list of mandatory high-quality studies under rigorous scrutiny by the agency,” said Pastoor. “Every data point is available to verify the studies were done properly and the science can be verified by EPA scientists. Recently cited studies by activist organizations are not required to adhere to the same standards. The EPA’s recent evaluation reviewed the best science in its regulatory decision, so these activist calls for yet another review of atrazine would only be repeating the work that has been done already.”

World-renowned institutions including the World Health Organization, the National Cancer Institute, and governments in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom all have studied atrazine. WHO said atrazine is deemed “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity to humans,” placing it in the same cancer risk category as substances such as tea, rubbing alcohol and talc. The Australian government said“it is unlikely that atrazine is an endocrine disruptor in humans.”

In addition, Anne Lindsay, former Deputy Director, Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. EPA, in testimony before the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives, said “EPA has taken an especially close look at the research conducted by Dr. Tyrone Hayes which reports that atrazine adversely affects sexual development in frogs, causing a mixture of sex organs in a single animal. EPA has concluded that the existing data are insufficient to demonstrate that atrazine causes such effects. The Agency’s conclusions are supported by the independent, expert peer review of the SAP (Science Advisory Panel).”

Thousands of farmers rely on atrazine for more than half of U.S. corn
“Farmers have told us again and again to fight for atrazine, which is an important tool in growing affordable and abundant food, and we will,” Pastoor said. “Atrazine is relied on to control weeds on more than half of U.S. corn, and a 2003 EPA review said ‘the total or national economic impact resulting from the loss of atrazine to control grass and broadleaf weeds in corn, sorghum and sugar cane would be in excess of $2 billion per year if atrazine were unavailable to growers.’ That would have a devastating effect on our farm economy.”

For more information, visit www.atrazine.com.

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