Minnesota Affirms Atrazine Regulation Is Protective

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) this month completed a special registration review of the corn herbicide atrazine for the state of Minnesota.

According to the MDA, “The review finds that atrazine regulations protect human health and the environment in Minnesota.”

“Minnesota’s independent and exhaustive evaluation determined that atrazine use, as currently managed and regulated, is not harmful to humans or aquatic life and that it is rarely detected in Minnesota’s public water systems,” says Dr. Tim Pastoor, principal scientist at Syngenta Crop Protection. “Minnesota’s findings affirm what 6,000 scientific studies and 50 years of experience have told us. When the science does the talking, atrazine is found safe to use.”

Atrazine is a well-studied herbicide applied to corn, grain sorghum, sugarcane, and other crops in the U.S. that farmers rely upon worldwide to produce safe, affordable, and abundant food. In addition, atrazine is a key component of soil conservation programs.

Small amounts of atrazine may run off certain fields during heavy rains following its application. But the Minnesota review states that “Detections of atrazine in public water supply systems in Minnesota are rare.” State scientists also monitored private water wells. The review states “atrazine concentrations in private wells are expected to be absent or below established health benchmarks.”

MPCA work is cited in the review stating “existing state standards for atrazine are protective of surface water aquatic life uses. Surface water monitoring since 1993 has not shown any waters with atrazine concentrations that violated the state’s water quality standards resulting in any impaired waters determinations.” Data from monitoring programs suggest that atrazine concentrations may be declining over time.

Benefits To Farmers

Farmers rely on atrazine to control weeds on more than half of U.S. corn, and a 2003 EPA review said “the total or national economic impact resulting from the loss of atrazine to control grass and broadleaf weeds in corn, sorghum and sugar cane would be in excess of $2 billion per year if atrazine were unavailable to growers.”

The Minnesota review also discusses the importance of atrazine to farmers. It states, “Atrazine continues to be an important weed-control tool in Minnesota corn production.” University of Minnesota weed scientists are quoted as saying “there are no direct replacements for atrazine in preemergent weed control that are currently registered for use in Minnesota.”

“Syngenta is an active steward of all its products including atrazine,” Pastoor said. “We work closely with farmers and farm groups to help promote agricultural best-management practices to minimize runoff and to inform applicators about products containing atrazine and the label requirements of those products.”

The review incorporated public comments at the beginning of the review process and is in the midst of a 60-day public comment period which ends March 19.

For more information, visit www.atrazine.com.

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