Iowa Corn Growers File Comments On Atrazine

Iowa Corn Growers File Comments On Atrazine

An environmental group has filed a petition asking the federal EPA to ban production and use of the herbicide atrazine. In late October the Iowa Corn Growers Association filed comments asking EPA to reject the petition.

On May 6, 2011 the group "Save the Frogs" filed a citizen's petition with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking for a ban on the production and use of atrazine herbicide. On October 28, the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) filed comments to EPA in response to that petition asking that it be rejected.

ICGA officials, in their letter to EPA, point out that atrazine has been safely used by corn growers for more than 50 years, and over 6,000 scientific studies have been conducted with no credible evidence suggesting atrazine is harmful to human health or the environment. In 2006, EPA concluded a 12 year investigation that culminated in the EPA's re-registration of atrazine. The EPA upheld again in 2007 that triazine herbicides posed "no harm that would result to the general U.S. population, infants, children or other…consumers."  The comment period on this current petition filed by the "Save the Frogs" group will close on November 14, 2011.

If you oppose the petition, let EPA know before public comment period closes

On November 3, the National Corn Growers Association asked farmers and allies to speak out against the petition seeking a ban on atrazine. NCGA is reminding its members and others who are interested to submit comments opposing the petition filed with the EPA that would ban atrazine use and production before the public comment period closes on November 14.

The petition, originally submitted this spring by the activist organization named Save the Frogs, asks for both further review of this proven herbicide and for regulatory changes. The EPA posted this petition on its website for public comment, remaining consistent with its goal of openness and transparency in the regulatory and scientific processes.

"Growers must speak out right now in support of the current policies regulating atrazine use," says Iowa farmer Dean Taylor, who is 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."

Current, reputable research indicates no effects by atrazine on amphibians

The information submitted by Save the Frogs in this petition does not justify a change in regulations, Taylor says. 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 scientific literature." In its 2010 update, 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.

Properly managed, atrazine is an economical and environmentally safe tool

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, atrazine is also used by U.S. farmers on more than half of all U.S. corn acreage, on two-thirds of sorghum acreage, and up to 90% 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.
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