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
Kennebec Grain terminal
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Kennebec Facility Loads First Rail Cars
October 21, 2016
In a season of firsts for Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Grain Terminal, the first 115-car unit train was loaded with soybeans Read More
ManagementThe Latest Dow-DuPont Rumor, Product of the Year Voting…
October 20, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares a new rumor about the Dow-DuPont merger and updates on two CropLife-driven programs, the CropLife Read More
Soybean Closeup
FungicidesFMC Begins Registration Process For New Fungicide Activ…
October 19, 2016
FMC Agricultural Solutions has begun the joint U.S. EPA and Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency registration process for bixafen, a new Read More
Soil Young Corn
Industry NewsAgribusiness Search Firm Appoints New Managing Partner
October 18, 2016
Morris Bixby Group, a leading agribusiness search firm providing the highest quality professional recruiting and career advancement services since 2000, Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
FertilizerUnited Suppliers Acquires Kansas Fertilizer Business
October 17, 2016
United Suppliers, Inc. has purchased the assets of Evans Enterprises, LLC, an ammonium chloride fertilizer business based in Olathe, KS. Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsFMC Launches New Operations In Argentina, Exits Joint V…
October 17, 2016
FMC Corp. has exited its joint venture with Ruralco Soluciones S.A. FMC has launched new commercial operations, FMC Quimica S.A., Read More
Dow AgroSciences
InsecticidesRenewed Registration Issued For Products Containing Sul…
October 17, 2016
On October 14, 2016, the U.S. EPA re-established the registration of products containing sulfoxaflor (Isoclast Active), including Transform WG, Closer Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Whys Of Agriculture
October 17, 2016
During 2016, there have been myriad challenges facing the whole agricultural industry. Such wide ranging issues as water protection, sustainable Read More
Young Corn Field
FertilizerImproved Phosphorus Management Essential To Feeding Wor…
October 14, 2016
With a global population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, improved management of key essential nutrients such as Read More
ManagementHarvest and Crop Price Updates; EPA and Crop Protection…
October 13, 2016
Glyphosate and atrazine get public comment support from ARA as each is reviewed by EPA, and the latest on the Read More
Matt Hopkins15 Twitter Accounts Every Ag Professional Must Follow
October 13, 2016
What do singer Katy Perry and the President of the United States have in common? They are two of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Adds Two Key Account Managers
October 13, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of two key account managers: Doug Hoberty and Rob Wier. Hoberty and Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Development Deal with Scherer Design
October 12, 2016
Deere & Co. announces a joint development agreement with Scherer Design Engineering, Inc. to develop and commercialize kernel processing solutions Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Celebrates 10 Years Of Innovati…
October 12, 2016
Richard Rominger, former Deputy Secretary of the USDA and former agricultural secretary of California, emceed a 10th anniversary luncheon celebration on Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Industry NewsVive Crop Protection Closes Financing To Support Corpor…
October 11, 2016
Vive Crop Protection has announced the closing of growth financing to support 2017 commercial expansion. The financing was led by Read More
SoftwareHD Precision Analytics Launches New Mobile App For Agri…
October 11, 2016
AGSentry from HD Precision Analytics is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that offers simple data service and actionable analytics tool. It focuses Read More
HerbicidesWeed Control And Soil Health Go Hand-in-Hand
October 10, 2016
Although many landowners may not give much thought to weed control as a soil health measure, Gared Shaffer, South Dakota Read More
Students Soybean Field
Eric Sfiligoj2016 Young Leaders Speak
October 10, 2016
One of the consistent cries in agriculture today is the need to try and connect with the younger generations, attempting Read More