In 2004, a group of public utilities in Illinois took pesticide-giant Syngenta to court to answer for the pollution caused by its flagship herbicide atrazine. Syngenta’s response? Wage a PR campaign against the court itself. While transforming a lawsuit into a media spectacle is a common, if unfortunate, tactic these days, targeting the court itself is a new low.
The blogosphere and fringe media is full of misinformation and downright lies. If I tried to set the record straight everytime some blogger claimed that DDT is harmless to people, endosulfan is "soft on bees," or that feeding the world requires GMOs then I wouldn't have time to do anything else. And so even though it registered a strong reading on my BS detector, I decided to simply ignore the new article on the American Enterprise Institute's website claiming that triazine herbicides (the class that includes atrazine) are the only thing keeping California almonds free of deadly toxins. But then the Huffington Post reprinted it, and people actually read HuffPo (unlike aei.org), so now here I am, setting the record straight.
When I hear news of Syngenta, my ears perk up. This corporate giant has poisoned my family's water with a pesticide that wreaks havoc on our hormone systems, and is linked to cancer and reduced fertility.
Atrazine, the culprit, can't be used in Europe because it sticks around in the water far too long for European standards. Yet Swiss-based Syngenta set up their North American Syngenta Seeds headquarters in a Minneapolis suburb to make sure they keep hold of the U.S. Midwest — all the while gobbling up seed companies and positioning themselves alongside Monsanto as major players in the genetically engineered (GE) seed market.
If you've been following the budget battle that's currently being waged in Congress, then you probably already know that House Republicans are attempting to use the process to score big wins for corporate polluters. For example, they're proposing to gut the EPA and prevent it from doing anything about climate change and to cut federal conservation programs. It should come as no surprise then that the EPA's atrazine review is also targeted.
The media paid serious attention to pesticides last year. Three of PAN’s leading issues — atrazine in the Midwest, methyl iodide in California, and endosulfan everywhere — were among the “Top 10 Environmental Health Stories for 2010.” Editors of Environmental Health News selected the top stories from 68,000 newspaper and magazine articles, radio and TV broadcasts and online media coverage.