A recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draft report on atrazine ignores a large body of scientific evidence affirming the herbicide’s safety, setting a dangerous precedent for all crop protection tools, says Brent Hostetler, a farmer from Plain City, Ohio, and chair of National Corn Growers Association’s Production and Stewardship Action Team.
“Federal law requires the EPA to base its decisions on science. And the science on this is pretty clear,” said Hostetler. “Atrazine is one of the safest and most effective crop management tools farmers have. It’s also one of the most studied pesticides in history—and more than 50 years’ worth of data show it is safe.”
EPA released its draft ecological risk assessment for atrazine in June 2016. All pesticides sold or distributed in the U.S. must be registered by EPA, and re-registered every 15 years. Ecological risk assessments are one step of that registration process. EPA is accepting public comments on the ecological assessment through October 4.
In the report, EPA recommends an aquatic life level of concern (LOC) be set at 3.4 parts per billion (ppb) on a 60-day average. EPA’s current LOC for atrazine is 10 ppb; however, scientific evidence points to a safe aquatic life LOC at 25 ppb or greater.
In drafting this assessment, EPA discounted several high-quality studies showing atrazine to be safe, relying instead on studies its own Science Advisory Panel deemed “flawed” in 2012.
“This sets a dangerous precedent for all crop protection tools,” said Hostetler. “Atrazine deserves a thorough review based on sound science. This report does not meet that standard.”
Farmers are urged to contact the EPA to voice their concerns at www.FightEPA.com.