The newest effort to get atrazine off the market was placed in the Federal Register last week. The summary states that the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on a request from the environmental advocacy group Save the Frogs that EPA ban the use and production of atrazine.
Atrazine has been reviewed and re-reviewed and Technical Herbicide Lead for Syngenta Crop Protection Gordon Vail says scientific data continues to show it is safe and not likely to cause cancer.
"The not likely to cause cancer is the best category you can get into," Vail said. "There was an ag health study that just competed, and this was a big study that was sponsored by the government, and they basically looked at ag workers from 1994 to today. Those are the guys and gals that are out there handling the atrazine and they found no correlation whatsoever between atrazine exposure and any kind of cancer."
EPA's fourth scientific advisory panel review of atrazine was completed in July and a fifth is scheduled for next year. Also, every fifteen years products must be re-registered, so with atrazine undergoing that process in 2013, even more SAP's could be on the horizon.
Vail says losing atrazine in the marketplace would be an estimated $2 billion blow to the agriculture economy.
"Atrazine is sold in roughly 60 products," Vail said. "It's one of those products that's mixed in many herbicides, it goes on the vast majority of acres, and that's really because of the effectiveness of it. So I think a lot of growers probably spray atrazine and don't even think about it because it's in the product that they are spraying, so it's very effective."
And as fighting weeds becomes more and more difficult, Vail says atrazine is an important tool for America's farmers.
"Certainly as you look at the expansive glyphosate resistant weed and we're seeing that everywhere, you've got waterhemp, you've got palmer amaranth, you've got marestail," Vail said. "As we continue to see that evolution glyphosate is becoming less effective so we need other tools and atrazine has been one of those products out there for 50 years that's very effective on those weeds."
Atrazine is primarily used on corn, sugarcane, rice, sorghum, golf courses and lawns.