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Farm groups decry change in atrazine review

Staff writer

Triazine Network representatives said advocacy groups pressured the Environmental Protection Agency to change an upcoming review of the herbicide atrazine.

Atrazine is used in corn and sorghum farming. The cities of Marion and Hillsboro are members of a class action lawsuit against the makers of the chemical; they are seeking money for removal of atrazine from the cities’ water supply.

City officials in Marion and Hillsboro said they have heard no recent news regarding the class action lawsuit.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Land Stewardship Project, and Pesticide Action Network North America are attempting to politicize what should be a scientific process, Kansas Corn and Grain Sorghum growers associations Executive Director Jere White said in a teleconference Thursday.

Those advocacy groups misrepresented themselves as the voice of the agriculture community, a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

A re-evaluation of atrazine was scheduled to begin Tuesday as part of a series of scientific advisory panels, but the EPA changed the agenda of the review following media reports questioning the safety of atrazine, White said.

If atrazine had significant safety risks, farmers would be affected the most, he said.

“I do not believe there is a threat to human health,” White said.

Joel Nelsen, California Citrus Mutual president, recalled a similar case when advocacy groups called an herbicide into question. The campaign adversely affected the apple industry, he said, and evidence presented by those groups was later proven unfounded.

“Atrazine has repeatedly been proven to be safe,” he said.

Agriculture groups will continue to participate in the review process, but they are not happy about the perceived attempt to politicize the system, White said.

Republican and democratic administrations have both determined atrazine to be safe, he said.

The Triazine Network is a coalition of agricultural associations with the purpose of defending the use of the herbicide atrazine and its derivatives.

Among the groups that signed the letter were Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers, Kansas Farm Bureau, and Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association.

Last modified Jan. 27, 2010

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