Farmers Nationwide Send a Strong Message to EPA on Atrazine

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MANHATTAN, KS — More than 16,000 farmers and agricultural organizations representing corn, citrus, grain sorghum, sugar cane, and other crops recently united against EPA’s proposed revision to its 2020 atrazine registration review decision, submitting comments calling for the agency to base decisions on credible scientific evidence. Efforts to help farmers speak out against the proposal were coordinated by the Triazine Network, a diverse coalition of state and national agricultural groups across the nation that rely on atrazine and other triazine herbicides to control weeds. The atrazine comment period ended October 7.

“EPA’s actions have been more like a tennis match than a product registration review,“ said Greg Krissek, Triazine Network co-chair and Kansas Corn Growers Association CEO. “In its 2020 decision, EPA finalized and published the aquatic level of concern at 15 parts per billion. Then it used an activist court case against its own decision to reconsider the level of concern. In June, EPA announced it wanted to change the level of concern to an ultra-low 3.4 parts per billion. They floated that number in a 2016 risk assessment but never implemented it. They told us this year that 3.4 ppb was always the number, but that was just their staff’s wishful thinking until they rolled out this year’s proposed revision.”

In their comments, growers expressed frustration with the EPA’s lack of transparency and its repeated efforts to implement measures that would end effective use of atrazine for weed control. In addition to the ultra-low 3.4 ppb level, EPA doubled and tripled down by creating an over-predictive model that predicted 72 percent of U.S. corn acres would be in violation.

“Instead of relying on real-world water testing, the agency would simply look at a map it made up with a questionable model to decide if a grower would be required to add between one and four mitigation practices from its problematic pick list,” said Triazine Network Co-Chair Gary Marshall, who is Missouri Corn Growers Association emeritus executive director. “If EPA would have used just a little bit of common sense, we wouldn’t be fighting this fight.”

The next step is a Scientific Advisory Panel, which EPA has committed to convening to examine the science behind its proposed 3.4 ppb level of concern.

“Our growers are frustrated with the repeated attacks on atrazine, one of the safest and most studied herbicides in history,” Krissek said. “The Triazine Network and others have been fighting this fight for over 25 years. We have science on our side, but EPA continues its attempts to rework the discredited research to reach its own conclusions. We look forward to participating in the upcoming Scientific Advisory Panel.”

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