Forbes: Activists Seek To Derail Agriculture

by Jeff Stier,

A lawsuit in the "judicial hellhole" that is Madison County, IL, against the makers of the world’s most widely used herbicide threatens to undermine our way of evaluating risks in this country. If the lawyers — and the anti-chemical, anti-business activists — get their way, American agriculture will be forced back to practices of the pre-industrial age. And that will be only the first step in the "environmentalist" agenda to roll back progress.

If you think that’s an exaggeration, think again. A finding against Syngenta, which manufacturers atrazine, would set a very dangerous precedent, with repercussions for farmers and anyone who enjoys their bounty. The EPA, unfortunately, has now loaned its weight to the activists’ Luddite effort to restrict or ban a number of safe and useful agricultural chemicals in common use — with atrazine, the most effective weed-killer available, only one of the targets.

Atrazine has been widely used for over 50 years and is credited with dramatically increasing yields of corn and sugar cane (among other crops) while reducing the need for other, cruder weed-killers, saving embattled farmers precious money. There has never been a single instance of adverse health effects in humans reliably attributed to exposure to atrazine when used as licensed.

Nevertheless, lawyers specializing in working with anti-business activists recruited a few local water systems to sue Syngenta in Illinois beginning in 2004, alleging that there was too much atrazine in their drinking water. The litigants demanded expensive water filtration systems, paid for by the chemical company. This, despite the fact that the monitored atrazine levels, including some occasional spikes, did not violate EPA guidelines for average concentrations. They were permissible and posed no health risk for anyone drinking the water.

However, the plaintiffs do not accept even the hyper-stringent guidelines of the EPA and asked the court to accept only a "zero tolerance" standard for chemical contaminants. Now, perhaps sensing increasing anti-chemical sentiment in Washington, the same groups have filed a similar lawsuit in federal court. The water system litigants plead for funding for expensive filtration systems to filter atrazine from their drinking water.

If, as the plaintiffs allege, their only concern were atrazine, they could stop worrying about drinking-water filtration and rest easy. However, if this case is upheld, lawyers and activists will have manipulated scientifically unsophisticated juries into rejecting the basic toxicological precept that "the dose makes the poison." Everything is toxic at some level but harmless in small enough amounts. Since scientists can now detect substances at parts per trillion, an amount smaller than a drop in an Olympic-sized pool, and thus can find at least some trace of almost any chemical in almost any location, a zero-tolerance approach would essentially bar the use of any chemical pesticide (or even fertilizer) in American agriculture.

Rather than describing these activists as Luddites, they are Lysenkoists…if you need further clarification, wiki Lysenko, to find out how predetermined ‘science’ can effect a society.

This anti-atrazine litigation has the potential to reverse the "Green Revolution" in agro-science that has helped feed the world for decades.

For the complete column, click here.


Leave a Reply

Latest News
ManagementReviewing The Top Ag Stories For 2015
November 24, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss the most noteworthy events from this past year in agriculture. Read More
EmployeesAgriculture Jobs May Be Plentiful, But New Grads Are Sc…
November 24, 2015
Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture each year for the next five years, but there's not enough grads to fill them. Read More
Radish cover crop
StewardshipCover Crops Guide Helps Growers Improve Water Quality
November 23, 2015
A publication that teaches growers the advantages of using cover crops to improve soil health and crop yields has won Read More
Crop InputsThe Andersons’ Products Receive California Organi…
November 23, 2015
The Plant Nutrient Group of The Andersons, Inc. announced today that its Humic DG and Black Gypsum DG products are Read More
Eric SfiligojNew European Study Seems To Support Glyphosate Safety
November 23, 2015
Looking at any international news over the past few years, it might seem as if the European Union (EU) is Read More
Toggle Biostimulant corn roots
Crop InputsTwo New Biostimulants Added To United Suppliers’ …
November 20, 2015
Winfield US announces the launch of two new products in the United Suppliers portfolio for the 2016 crop season, Optify Read More
StewardshipNRDC Report: Cover Crops Contain Vast Benefits
November 19, 2015
As harvest season ends and farmers in the United States ready themselves for winter, one small change could make a Read More
Fall Harvest
Seed/BiotechArysta Launches New Seed Protectant
November 19, 2015
As spring wheat growers begin planning for a strong start to their season, Arysta LifeScience North America announces RANCONA V Read More
Crop InputsInocucor Receives U.S. Patent For Microbials
November 19, 2015
Inocucor Technologies Inc., the Montreal-based agriculture biotech company, was issued patent No. 9,175,258 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect Read More
ManagementSyngenta Rumors and ARA 2015 Preview
November 19, 2015
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj looks at the latest rumors involving Syngenta selling its crop protection business and talks about events Read More
EquipmentAGCO Announces Finalists For Operator Of The Year Honor
November 19, 2015
AGCO Corp. has announced the four top operators chosen as finalists for AGCO’s 10th Annual Operator of the Year program, Read More
High Plains Aquifer
StewardshipStudy: High Plains Aquifer Overall Usage In Decline
November 18, 2015
A new Kansas State University study finds that the over-tapping of the High Plains Aquifer’s groundwater beyond the aquifer’s recharge Read More
Golden Harvest Corn healthy leaves
FungicidesArysta Launches New Corn And Soybean Fungicide
November 17, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America has recently launched ZOLERA FX Fungicide. The highly systemic, powerful fungicide delivers broad-spectrum disease control with Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsBioAg Alliance: Microbials Targeted For 250-500 million…
November 17, 2015
Monsanto and Novozymes have announced a new 2025 acreage target that will guide the companies’ microbials business for the next Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta Still Being Eyed For China Takeover
November 16, 2015
China National Chemical Corp. approached sovereign wealth funds including China Investment Corp. to help pay for a potential acquisition of Read More
Cedar Country Cooperative
Eric SfiligojCooperative Consolidation Continues
November 16, 2015
As I put this enewsletter column together, we’ve just put the finishing touches on our magazine’s annual CropLife 100 report. Read More
Cornfield near Sioux City Iowa
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Sells Oxyfluorfen Herbicides To China&…
November 16, 2015
Dow AgroSciences LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Co., has entered into definitive agreements under which Nutrichem Read More
HerbicidesEuropean Agency Declares Glyphosate Unlikely To Cause C…
November 13, 2015
Glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said on Thursday, and the agency Read More