Atrazine Campaign | Pesticide Action Network
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Atrazine Campaign

Lex Horan's picture

Spinning the science on atrazine

The last of the late spring snowstorms are winding down here in the Midwest, and it won’t be long before corn goes into the ground. With corn-planting, of course, comes atrazine applications. And though atrazine doesn’t get much use in the colder months, this winter hasn’t been a quiet one for the notorious herbicide and its manufacturer, the Syngenta Corporation.

In the last few months, investigative reporters in the U.S. and Canada have highlighted Syngenta’s desperate scrambling to discredit atrazine’s critics. Recent pieces in major outlets like the New Yorker and Canada’s 16 x 9, building on important findings first published in 100Reporters, have pulled back the curtain on Syngenta’s PR machine for a broader audience. The message? In the pesticide industry, spin is half the business.

Lex Horan
Pesticide Action Network's picture

The economics of atrazine don't add up

The health harms of atrazine are no secret. A widely used herbicide — particularly on corn — it is a known endocrine disruptor that can cause birth defects and reproductive harm at very low levels. It's also a suspected carcinogen. Still, atrazine’s defenders, especially its manufacturer, Syngenta, return time and again to economics to rationalize the chemical's continued use.

Industry-funded studies claim that without atrazine, our agricultural economy would suffer devastating consequences. But a report released yesterday — Atrazine: Consider the Alternative — tells a different story. Taking a close look at the economics of atrazine, report authors conclude that Syngenta’s defense of the herbicide is full of holes.

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EPA, stop downplaying the atrazine/cancer link

It’s been more than two years since EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel reprimanded the agency for lowballing the cancer risks of atrazine — including risks of childhood cancer. Now EPA is finally taking another look at this widely used herbicide.

Atrazine is found in most of our drinking water — about 94%, according to government sampling. And this month, EPA officials start taking another look at the health and environmental harms of Syngenta’s flagship herbicide. With exposure so widespread, it’s hugely important that they get it right.

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Atrazine in water costs Syngenta

Pesticide giant Syngenta kicked off 2013 by writing checks to communities whose water supplies have been contaminated with their endocrine-disrupting herbicide, atrazine.

According to the Associated Press, the money will go to community water systems that serve more than 37 million Americans in all, mostly in farming states — including Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and Ohio — where atrazine has been commonly used to control weeds in corn fields.

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Kathryn Gilje's picture

Turns out, women come home from work with breast cancer

A critical and devastating new study confirms a link between certain work — farming and vegetable canning included — and an elevated risk of breast cancer. The research was conducted in southern Ontario, and for me, this news hits close to home.

I was raised in Minnesota, and lived on a small farm just fifteen miles from a vegetable canning factory. When reading this study, I immediately thought of Lily, a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer in her late twenties. She and her mother Lidia spent over a decade working in the vegetable canning factory after coming to Minnesota as migrant farmworkers. I vividly remember the desperation and grief in Lidia's voice when she told me the news of Lily's cancer.

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Atrazine & birth defects, another link

A new study this week adds more weight to the case against atrazine. A rare birth defect that requires surgical correction to avoid life-threatening airway obstruction was associated with counties in Texas known to have high rates of atrazine use. The defect, known as choanal atresia and stenosis, is characterized by complete blockage and narrowing of regions of the airway, and often requires multiple surgeries to be corrected.

Mothers living in areas with high use rates of the common herbicide had a nearly two-fold increase in risk. 

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Kathryn Gilje's picture

Hands off my ovaries, chemical industry

When it comes to ovaries, I get protective. Infertility, endometriosis, and fibroids aren't words I should have to use as frequently as I do. And I'm not the only one noticing this disturbing trend. Women around me agree that something is definitely wrong.

Science is increasingly pointing to chemicals in our lives that act as endocrine disruptors, causing problems associated with reproductive health. According to an article in Environmental Health News last week, "Several new studies are adding to the evidence that some estrogen-mimicking pesticides and industrial chemicals may increase women's risk of uterine and ovarian diseases — helping to solidify a theory that emerged two decades ago."

Kathryn Gilje