The National Corn Growers Association this week urged farmers to submit comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, following publication of the Agency’s draft Ecological Risk Assessment for atrazine, an herbicide used for weed control in growing corn and other crops. If it stands, EPA’s recommendation would effectively ban the use of atrazine in most farming areas in the U.S.
“Atrazine is a safe and effect crop management tool. If EPA succeeds in taking away this option, it will be sending farming practices back decades – and hurt the environment in the process,” said Maryland farmer Chip Bowling, President of NCGA. “As a farmer and a conservationist, I can’t let this go unanswered. That’s why I’m urging farmers to contact the EPA and make their voices heard.”
Atrazine is a widely used herbicide proven to combat the spread of resistant weeds, while also reducing soil erosion and improving wildlife habitats. When farmers have access to atrazine, they do not have to do as much tilling, or turning up of the soil – a practice that erodes soil and leads to water and nutrient loss. Studies suggest farming without atrazine could cost corn farmers up to $59 per acre.
As part of the assessment, EPA recommends reducing the aquatic life level of concern (LOC) from 10 parts per billion (ppb) on a 60-day average, to 3.4 ppb. Scientific evidence points to a safe aquatic life LOC at 25 ppb or greater.