Monday, June 06, 2016

EPA report says widely used herbicide atrazine is dangerous to animals; ag groups call report flawed

The widely used herbicide atrazine is dangerous to animals and fish, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a draft report released Thursday. Atrazine is primarily used on corn, sorghum and sugarcane to fight weeds and increase yields in the Midwest. "The agency's assessment of atrazine could lead to tighter regulatory limits on the product, manufactured by Swiss-based Syngenta AG. That could ultimately prevent farmers from being able to use it to control weeds, according to agricultural groups that blasted the report as flawed," Tom Polansek reports for Reuters.

EPA "said atrazine's effects exceeded its 'levels of concern' for chronic risk by 198 times for mammals and 62 times for fish," Polansek writes. "The agency will accept comments on the preliminary findings and consider whether to require label changes after it publishes a final risk assessment. EPA republished the findings after it said it inadvertently posted the same report, along with other related documents, online this spring in an error that has sparked criticism from U.S. lawmakers."

"Syngenta, which is set to be acquired by Chinese state-owned ChemChina, said atrazine is safe and that the EPA report 'contains numerous data and methodological errors and needs to be corrected,'" Polansek writes. The Iowa Corn Growers Association said if the report is finalized "it could cause label restrictions so severe that they would 'effectively ban the product from most uses.'" Gary Marshall, executive director of the Missouri Corn Growers Association, told reporters, "EPA's flawed atrazine report is stomping science into the dirt and setting farmers up for significant economic hardship."

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