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Atrazine article is advocacy, not journalism

[ 0 ] June 18, 2013 |

An article about Syngenta’s defense of atrazine was recently posted on the Environmental Health News website. It’s important to understand this story is a work of advocacy, not journalism. It was written as part of a new effort on the part of plaintiffs’ attorneys reported to be planning future litigation.

The story repeats a lot of old allegations, contains a significant number of factual errors and omits information that has been widely accepted by regulatory bodies and the scientific community. Syngenta tried to correct these errors, but the writer chose to ignore the information we provided.

The following are just a few examples of how the author failed the most basic standards of thoroughness and accuracy, let alone balance.

  • The article incorrectly claims Syngenta once filed a formal complaint against attorney Stephen Tillery with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. This never happened.
  • The article falsely claims a communications consulting firm engaged by Syngenta violated the law by taping a telephone conversation. This never happened.
  • The article alleges Syngenta gave an independent economist data he was to cite. This never happened.
  • The article suggests EPA has paid little or no attention to atrazine since re-registration in “2003.”  This is not true. Atrazine was last re-registered in 2006 and begins registration review again this year. In other words, it has been under almost constant EPA study for years.
  • The article ignores the definitive study on the impact of atrazine on frogs, supervised and accepted by the EPA. This study (Kloas et al.) found no effect on frogs and determined that atrazine is safe at levels found in the environment. Instead, the article relies heavily on one study by Dr. Tyrone Hayes of the University of California, Berkeley, that has been repeatedly dismissed by EPA and which other scientists have tried and failed to replicate the results of his findings.

The scientific evidence is clear. No one ever has or ever could be exposed to enough atrazine in the real world to do them any harm. The story focuses instead on questionable studies that have been repeatedly rejected by the EPA and other regulatory agencies.

Atrazine has been used safely for more than 50 years. The EPA has registered and re-registered the product and regularly reviews this registration and the extensive scientific data on which it is based. Farmers continue to use atrazine because they know it is effective and safe.

Syngenta is a responsible company. We’re invested in the safety of our products and we’ll continue to exercise our right to communicate truthfully about them.

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