Environmental groups have been calling for a federal ban on the use and production of Atrazine, and the EPA is now poised to listen. The deleterious chemical, made by Swiss company Syngenta (the world’s largest pesticide company, who reported over $11 billion in revenues in 2010) has been banned in the European Union since 2004. Yet 80 million pounds of it are applied in the United States annually, primarily on corn, sugarcane, rice, sorghum and on golf courses and lawns.
The widely-used compound is a potent endocrine disruptor that has been shown to cause immunosuppression, hermaphroditism and complete sex reversal in male frogs at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion. The chemical has been linked to reproductive defects in fish and prostate and breast cancer in laboratory rodents -- studies suggest it is carcinogenic to humans.
It's a nasty and enduring chemical: It is still detectable in France a decade and a half after its ban there. An excess of half a million pounds of Atrazine return to the planet each year in the form of rain and snow after it is swept up in the airstream following crop spraying.
Now that we have the EPA’s attention, we are a large step closer towards protecting our food supply, our drinking water and our wildlife from this known endocrine-disruptor. However, only a few percent of Americans have ever heard of Atrazine, so raising awareness of the issue is critical if we are to overcome the lobbying power of the billion-dollar agro-chemical giants.
The three-day Scientific Advisory Panel meeting will be held on June 12th at the Environmental Protection Agency in Arlington, VA. It is free and open to the public, all ages are welcome.