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Farm Groups Reject Proposed Atrazine Rules

Farmers’ associations are fighting proposed EPA restrictions on the herbicide atrazine, saying new rules would drive up costs and reduce yields.

The EPA estimates about 80 million pounds of atrazine is used in the US each year, mostly on corn crops in the Midwest.

A coalition of farm groups is trying to scuttle a proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would increase restrictions on the herbicide atrazine.

Some research indicates that atrazine could be more dangerous at low levels than previously thought, with links to birth defects and cancer.

The American Farm Bureau Federation argues that lowering allowable levels of atrazine would hurt the environment – because it’s needed for so-called conservation tillage, where farmers plow the previous year’s crop residue, like corn stalks or wheat stubble, into the fields to prevent soil erosion and runoff.

But environmental groups have long been pushing for a ban on the weed killer.

Atrazine in runoff has been linked to other environmental damage, like stunted development and disrupted hormones in animals.

The EPA has not evaluated the chemical since the last time it was up for review in 2003.

Public comment on the proposed atrazine risk assessment closed on Wednesday this week.

Another report is due out later this year that will focus on atrazine’s effect on human health.

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Chad Bouchard

Chad Bouchard is a veteran reporter and WFIU alum who has covered wild and wooly beats from Indonesia to Capitol Hill. His radio work has aired on NPR, PRI and Voice of America, and his writing has appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and Scientific American’s health magazine, Lives. He has also spent a lifetime gardening, foraging and eating weird stuff.

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