GroundTruth Blog

Syngenta settles, but atrazine Kool-Aid still strong

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by Kathryn Gilje

On May 25, Syngenta settled the lawsuit brought against them by water systems across the country, agreeing to pay more than $100 million to clean up contamination with their endocrine-disrupting pesticide atrazine. Former Chief Justice Michael Wolff of the Missouri Supreme Court called the settlement a remarkable achievement that will have far-reaching impact on the safety and quality of public drinking water.

This lawsuit is a hard-fought, symbolic victory. To make it mean more, we need policy protections and we need Syngenta lobbyists to let scientists and government officials do their jobs.

We are pleased to see the world's largest pesticide company, Syngenta, finally begin to deal with the significant costs taxpayers bear due to water pollution from their dangerous pesticide, atrazine. But we're disturbed that the chemical remains on the market and in our water, and that national policy offers minimal support to farmers who ingeniously employ alternatives

Under the proposed settlement, 52 million Americans drink from the community water systems that will receive part of the $105 million to cover costs they've faced for decades due to atrazine contamination. This chemical is linked to infertility, birth defects and certain cancers in humans, as well as feminization of male gonads across different vertebrate classes. The suit was brought by the Missouri-based law firm Korein Tillery on behalf of community water systems across the Midwest.

Investigative reporting showed that Syngenta tried covert PR tactics to undermine the credibility of the case and the court hearing it. They failed, and have to pay a price that is a mere pittance for them, but meaningful to communities in harm's way and is a PR black eye.

Syngenta, for its part, still won't admit that the chemical is of concern despite handing over a hundred million dollars to make the lawsuit go away. And broken pesticide and agricultural policy keeps the chemical on the market, leaving farmers with precious few alternatives.

Take Action » Join us to build the groundswell needed right now to shine the light on the science on cancer and atrazine to fix what's broken in our nation's capitol and move us toward keeping chemical corporate feet to the fire — rather than their fingers pulling the strings.

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