by | Aug 31, 2023

Agriculture to EPA: Get the Science Right

Independent Scientific Panel Takes Another Look At Atrazine 

Kentucky corn and sorghum growers took time away from their farms to testify last week before an Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) about the importance of Atrazine. The purpose of the three-day virtual meeting was to provide independent scientific feedback on EPA’s draft white paper, Examination of the Microcosm/Mesocosm Studies for Evaluating the Effects of Atrazine on Aquatic Plant Communities, submitted to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) SAP for peer review.

Kentucky corn grower Joseph Sisk of Hopkinsville advocated for the continued use and benefits of Artazine, highlighting the positive impacts on his farming practices and its contributions to water quality, soil health, conservation, and sustainable farming.

“The EPA has revisited this issue countless times and in the absence of the efforts of state corn associations and NCGA, farmers could’ve lost Atrazine as a tool,” said Sisk. “It is imperative that we stay in front of this. If the non-agricultural influence is able to take Atrazine away from us then they can take all the chemistry away. Atrazine is incredibly safe and it allows for good stewardship and less tillage. Agriculture will continue to fight off these attacks or we will go the way of our European farmer colleagues and have our abilities diminished by people who have no idea how to preserve and maintain the environment.”

Sisk was joined by growers from Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan, as well as industry representatives from the National Corn Growers Association, National Sorghum Producers, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, and leaders of the Triazine Network, a diverse coalition of more than 40 state and national agricultural groups actively involved in Atrazine regulatory actions. Kentucky Corn worked closely with the Triazine Network and industry partners to advocate for last week’s SAP to clarify the science behind EPA’s dramatic shifts in the 2022 “Proposed Revisions to the Atrazine Interim Registration Review Decision.”

When the Atrazine comment period closed last October, more than 16,000 farmers and agricultural organizations representing corn, sorghum, citrus, sugar cane, and other crops across the country united against EPA’s flawed proposed revision, calling for the agency to base decisions on credible scientific evidence. During last week’s SAP, speakers shared real-world implications of EPA’s actions on today’s sustainable farming practices.

Joseph Sisk testifies live from his cornfield in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

“I was surprised and pleased that the tone of the SAP was positive,” said Laura Knoth, Kentucky Corn Growers Association Executive Director. “In its white paper, EPA had recommended that poor quality studies be excluded, and we agreed with that position. But, EPA has the final say after the SAP makes its determination and we will definitely need to remain engaged as EPA moves forward with decisions on atrazine.”

EPA expects to receive the SAP’s recommendations in late November. According to an EPA official advising the SAP, the agency will consider the panel’s suggestions in recalculating the proposed revisions before moving into a court-ordered review required under the Endangered Species Act.

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