This spring, a group seeking to ban the use and production of atrazine submitted a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency. Consistent with its goal of openness and transparency in the regulatory and scientific processes, the EPA posted this petition on its website for public comment. The National Corn Growers Association asks that farmers and their allies take advantage of this opportunity before the window for submission closes on November 14.
“It is imperative that we speak out in support of the current policies regulating atrazine use,” said Dean Taylor, chair of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team. “This herbicide has played a vital role in farming for more than five decades, both increasing corn productivity and allowing for the use of practices that protect our environment.”
The information submitted by Save the Frogs in this petition does not justify a change in regulations, Taylor said. Current, reputable research indicates no effects by atrazine on amphibians. Following an agency review in 2007, the EPA itself addressed one of the most common charges leveled by critics, stating “that atrazine does not adversely affect amphibian gonadal development based on a review of laboratory and field studies, including studies submitted by the registrant and studies published in the scientific literature.” In its 2010 update, the EPA found that no additional testing was warranted to address this issue at this time.
Independent groups conducting research into possible effects of atrazine on amphibians corroborate the EPA’s conclusions. As recently as last year, scientists from respected institutions such as the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, the World Health Authority and Yale University have issued multitudinous reports confirming that the proper use of atrazine has not been shown to have negative health effects on either humans or amphibians despite decades of extensive research.
Conversely, atrazine has a long-standing record of allowing growers to increase corn productivity by an average of 5.7 bushels per acre while implementing environmentally-friendly practices such as no-till farming, which helps reduce soil erosion and protect wildlife habitats. Utilized in more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and the Middle East, U.S. farmers use atrazine on more than half of all corn acreage, on two-thirds of sorghum acreage, and up to 90 percent of sugar cane acreage in some states.
Additionally, atrazine fights weed resistance by maximizing the performance of many other herbicides. In doing so, it minimizes the pressure of herbicide selection for resistant weeds. According to a 2003 EPA estimate, farming without atrazine would cost corn growers as much as $28 per acre in alternative herbicide costs and reduced yields. The impact today would be even greater due to the current price of corn.
Click here for additional information on the safety and importance of atrazine.
To submit comments to the EPA asking for dismissal of this petition through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, click here and enter the keyword “EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0586.” Then, open the docket folder and follow the simple comment submission instructions. Written comments may also be sent via U.S. post to the Office of Pesticide Programs (Regulatory Public Docket (7502P), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460-0001. Again, please be sure to include docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0586.