A win for farmers: EPA allowing continued use of three herbicides

Atrazine, propazine, and simazine once again found safe.
Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 5:13 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2020 at 5:57 PM CDT
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NIANGUA, Mo. (KY3) - During an agriculture roundtable meeting this morning in Niangua, Mo., the Environmental Protection Agency announced the interim re-registration of widely used herbicide, atrazine, propazine, and simazine.

“Today’s decision is another example of the Trump Administration taking action in support of America’s farmers, one of our strongest allies in our mission to protect public health and the environment,” Andrew Wheeler, the EPA Administrator said.

Atrazine is a popular herbicide used to kill weeds.

“The benefits of atrazine in agriculture are high,” Wheeler said, “We spent a lot of time going over the science of pesticides to make sure they are safe.”

Atrazine is used on over 75 million acres in the US, mostly corn.

“If we were to loose that it would cost the corn growers between $475 and $775 million annually,” Wheeler said.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, from Missouri’s District 8, said having these affordable products are essential for farmers, especially during this global pandemic.

“The cheapest next product would be an additional 60 dollars an acre, and that is money that they don’t have,” Rep. Hartzler said.

Rep. Hartzler said if these more expensive products were used, more farmers would be put out of business.

The review process for atrazine’s registration has been ongoing since 2013.

Jim Gulliford, the EPA Regional Administrator, said, “Every several years we look at the products and we look at new science.”

These studies looked at the health effects and environmental impacts of herbicides.

Gary Marshall, the CEO of Missouri Farm Growers Association said, “They’ve determined the safety of consumers, the safety to the farmers who apply it, to the workers, to plants, and to animals.”

Atrazine, propazine, and simazine are in the final stage of review. They still need to undergo the biological review under the Endangered Species Act.

“Everything is looking positive at this point,” Wheeler said.

There are new regulations for the product. In a press release sent to KY3, these regulations and changes to the labeling are listed below.

  • Reducing the maximum application rate for atrazine and simazine when used on residential turf in order to protect children who crawl or play on treated grass;
  • Adding a requirement for irrigation immediately after simazine application to residential turf;
  • Requiring additional personal protective equipment for workers who apply atrazine and simazine to reduce occupational risks associated with certain uses;
  • Finalizing label requirements for all three triazines to include mandatory spray drift control measures, to minimize pesticide drift into non-target areas, including water bodies;
  • Finalizing label directions for herbicide resistance to reduce the problem of weeds becoming resistant to atrazine.

“It’s a win for farmers all across the US,” Marshall said.

In addition to making the announcement on atrazine, Wheeler also discussed the impacts of the Trump Administration’s decision to increase ethanol content in gasoline.

“It’s a product that’s primarily made from corn, can also be made from sugar, that helps to clean up the air. So it adds more oxygen into the gasoline, which means a cleaner burn as it goes through the automobile,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler also said ethanol gas is domestic, and will not harm your car’s gas mileage. Ethanol provides cleaner emissions into the air.

Administrator Wheeler also discussed how under the Trump Administration, air pollution is now down 7 percent.

U.S. Congressman Jason Smith was also present at the roundtable meeting, as well as Arkansas Department of Energy & Environment Secretary Becky W. Keogh.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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