Atrazine Usage Challenged

Despite the fact that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials estimate that growing corn without atrazine could cost no-tillers as much as $28 an acre due to reduced yields and the need for more expensive herbicides, you might be in danger of losing this long-term weed control chemical product.

It’s because of a series of class-action lawsuits filed in mid-2004 against seven manufacturers, formulators and distributors of atrazine products. The firms include Syngenta, DowChemical, Drexel, Makhteshim-Agan, United Agri Products, Sip cam and Growmark.

Chemical company staffers estimate that 62 million acres out of the 81.5 million acres of U.S. corn production are treated with one or more of 140 herbicides that contain atrazine.

During the Syngenta Crop Protection-sponsored breakfast at the 2006 National No-Tillage Conference in St. Louis, attorney Kurt Reeg of Reeg & Nowogrocki alerted attendees to the concern over the future use of atrazine.

Representing Syngenta, the attorney maintains that a series of lawsuits filed by the Holiday Shores Sanitary District in Madison County, Ill., falsely claim that atrazine at any detectable level poses a health risk to humans. Seeking class-action status to include other water districts in Illinois, he says a negative judgment by the court would essentially ban the use of atrazine in Illinois. In addition, he says it would also threaten the agricultural industry by overriding the well-established federal regulatory process currently used to ensure safe use of fertilizers and crop protection products.

Legal Action Coming?

It is anticipated that a southern Illinois judge will hear…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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