Atrazine back under attack

Atrazine is a chlorinated triazine systemic herbicide used to selectively control annual grasses and broadleaf weeds before they emerge. It is primarily used on corn, sorghum and sugar­cane crops, although it is also used on macadamia nuts, guava, nursery ornamentals and turf. EPA is required to periodically re-evaluate pesticides such as atrazine to ensure that risk assess­ments and decisions reflect the best available science.

Currently at issue is atrazine’s aquatic ecosystem concentra­tion equivalent level of concern (CE-LOC), which is the level at which EPA says “organisms are adversely affected.” When EPA concluded its registration review of atrazine in 2020, the CE-LOC level was set at 15 parts per billion. Environmental activist groups retaliated with a lawsuit, opening the door for EPA to shift its tactics. On June 30, EPA proposed an CE-LOC of 3.4 parts per billion, claiming it had always intended to use the ultra-low level instead of 15 parts per billion as published in the 2020 decision. In short, a lower CE-LOC means more atrazine usage restrictions.

“To say growers are frustrated is an understatement,” Krissek said. “The science hasn’t changed since 2020. EPA is playing politics with this decision.”

The National Corn Growers Association has launched a call-to-action asking advocates to submit comments to EPA in response to the recent announcement.

“Corn growers know the value of atrazine, and it is time again that we tell EPA the value of this product to our opera­tions,” said Chris Edgington, an Iowa farmer and NCGA Presi­dent. “In 2016, we came together to submit 10,000 comments to the EPA, and we need that same momentum now.”

More information and a form to submit comments to EPA can be found on the Missouri Corn Growers website at mocorn.org/policy. The comment period closes on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

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