AGRICULTURE GROUPS DEFEND ATRAZINE AGAINST AGENDA-DRIVEN ATTACKS 53 groups representing tens of thousands of farmers in nearly every state and commodity call for decisions based on science, not politics

Friday, January 22, 2010 0 comments
 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                Contact:  Sue Schulte
Date:    1/21/10                        Phone: 785-448-6922

AGRICULTURE GROUPS DEFEND ATRAZINE AGAINST AGENDA-DRIVEN ATTACKS
53 groups representing tens of thousands of farmers in nearly every state and commodity call for decisions based on science, not politics

Washington, D.C. – A broad coalition of agriculture groups have written to Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, in defense of the herbicide atrazine, which has become the target of a coordinated attack by environmental groups seeking to eliminate its use.  See copy of the letter to the EPA here.  Atrazine, a critical tool in growing crops as diverse as corn, sorghum, sugar cane, and citrus, has been used safely in over 60 countries for 50 years.

The EPA will begin a re-re-evaluation of atrazine as part of a series of Scientific Advisory Panels, which will begin on February 2nd.  Recent media events by agenda-driven organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Land Stewardship Project and Pesticide Action Network North America suggest a coordinated campaign to call atrazine’s safety into question and politicize what should be a scientific process.  In fact, in an unprecedented move, the EPA itself identified NRDC material as part of its justification to launch the new review.

“We want to set the record straight on the agriculture community’s broad support of this very effective herbicide that has been used by farmers for more than 50 years,” said Jere White, executive director of the Kansas corn and grain sorghum growers associations. “Atrazine is used on more than one-half of all U.S. corn and two-thirds of sorghum.  It is one of the primary elements that make American agriculture so phenomenally productive.  Every EPA Administration since the EPA was founded – Republican and Democrat – has endorsed atrazine’s safety and that is why we join together to pledge our support and confidence in this product.”

“Atrazine is the foundation for weed control programs in Florida sugarcane and has withstood thorough scientific testing in the U.S. and around the world,” said James M. Shine, Jr., Agriculture Division Vice President for Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida.  “Extensive research conducted by scientists inside and outside the government have weighed all the data and concluded that it is safe for the environment, human health, and crop protection.  Our communities should feel confident that rigorous science has determined its safety.”  It is estimated that atrazine is used in 90 percent of U.S. sugar cane production.

"The use of atrazine and the triazine family herbicides in citrus production have dramatically reduced the need for cultivation and water applications, provided protection against freeze damage, and created a better quality product," said Joel Nelsen, President of California Citrus Mutual.  "Their loss would have a devastating impact on our growers."

The coalition of agriculture groups will be actively involved in the EPA re-evaluation of atrazine and will insist that transparent, peer-reviewed science utilizing accepted practices govern regulatory decision-making.

For more information on this coalition or on atrazine, please contact Sue Schulte at sschulte@ksgrains.com or 785-448-6922.

Read Ag Groups' Letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Friday, January 15, 2010 1 comments
Ag Groups' Letter to EPA

Over 50 Ag Groups Call on EPA to Continue to Use Science, Not Politics in Atrazine Review

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Jan. 15, 2010--Agricultural groups from Kansas and across the nation signed onto a letter to EPA clarifying growers’ support for atrazine. The letter was sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today. Earlier this month, environmental activist groups submitted a letter to EPA saying growers oppose the use of atrazine.

“It is truly disheartening when political agendas attempt to overturn scientific process,” the letter states. “Such is the case in the January 5th letter submitted to the EPA by a handful of special interest groups misrepresenting themselves as the voice of the agriculture community in an attempt to negate the overwhelming support and confidence in the herbicide atrazine and to gain media attention for themselves.”

Jere White, executive director of the Kansas corn and grain sorghum growers associations said farmers have been involved in EPA’s reviews of atrazine since the mid-1990s. The groups that signed the letter in support of atrazine represent a very large number of farmers and agricultural producers.

“Over 50 national, state, and local grower and agricultural groups signed on to this letter which reaffirms their support of the use of atrazine. These groups represent hundreds of thousands of farmers from Hawaii to Pennsylvania,” White said. “Many of these grower groups have been involved in the EPA’s repeated studies and reviews of atrazine for more than 15 years. I don’t think the environmental activist groups understand that there are trade-offs. For example, removing atrazine would actually hinder many of our row crop farmers’ efforts to use conservation no-till and reduced-till practices. Without atrazine, many would have to return to tilling their land, increasing the risk of erosion and runoff.”

The groups signing the letter asked EPA to understand that the majority of farmers support the use of atrazine and asked EPA to use science, not politics, to arrive at a decision on the safety of atrazine.

The letter states: “Our growers have actively participated in the process and supported the safety and scientific approval of atrazine by the EPA over the last fifteen years and three White House Administrations. Mainstream agriculture has participated in every Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) concerning atrazine since the beginning of the Special Review in 1994. As stated clearly to the November 3, 2009 SAP, we strongly believe the scientific weight of evidence, based on EPA's own analysis for decades, shows atrazine to be both safe and effective and that it is the best kind of tool that farmers can have.

We are troubled by the activist forces that seem to be guiding the very intensive and urgent re-evaluation (actually a re-re-evaluation) of atrazine despite its recently completed re-registration, which provided for its continued safe use.

. . . The benefits of atrazine use to agriculture are well documented and part of existing EPA record. Recent efforts to downplay these benefits in the media are simply the wishes of activists who suggest they have better insight on producing abundant food, fuel and fiber from their comfortable desk than the farmer who has been doing it all his life. It should be noted that our farmers consider themselves the ultimate conservationists, for without the careful cultivation of their land...their own livelihoods are at risk.”

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