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Growers support continued atrazine use

[ 0 ] October 6, 2009 |

From Brownfield Ag News For America:

Corn and sorghum growers say they need the popular herbicide atrazine to enhance other weed killing chemistry. Atrazine, on the market now for a half-century, has come under fire from researchers and activists who say it gets into surface water and affects fish and frogs.

Kansas corn grower Ken McCauley maintains, however, that it would take more chemical applications to do what atrazine has done for decades.

“If you take away atrazine and put something else on our farm you’d be looking at using more chemicals at a higher cost and less profit,” says McCauley, a past president of the National Corn Growers Association. “Really, you’d be looking at a poorer environmental situation,” he said.

“Even though at a lower rate than it was in the past, it’s still very, very widely used,” says Ron Litterer, referring to the method of use employed by many corn growers. Atrazine is commonly mixed at a lower rate to enhance other herbicides to which some weeds are resistant.

“[Being without atrazine] would really increase the cost of production for growers,” says Litterer, a corn grower from Iowa who is also a past president of the NCGA. “We’d have to do a lot of different things; probably use heavier rates of other herbicides as well, to have the same kind of weed control that we currently have.”

Atrazine maker Syngenta Crop Protection has dealt with litigation over the compound’s tendency to get into water supplies. Tim Pastoor, a toxicologist for Syngenta, defends past conclusions by the Environmental Protection Agency that atrazine is safe in the amounts it’s being detected.

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