Thousands of Atrazine Comments from Growers Reach EPA–Comment Period Is Part of a Long Process
Thousands of Kansas corn farmers wrote comments, signed cards at meetings and field days, mailed letters, and signed online petitions telling EPA its draft ecological risk assessment on atrazine was not based on credible science. The Kansas Corn Growers Association worked with several state and national groups to inform growers about EPA’s draft risk assessment for atrazine that uses questionable science and data errors that would result in a de facto ban of atrazine. Farmers in Kansas and across the nation told EPA an atrazine ban would have financial, agronomic and environmental consequences. The ecological draft risk assessment is only one part of the registration review of the triazine herbicides, which began in 2013.
“This was the most important part of the registration review, as far as getting grower feedback. We had to respond to this faulty risk assessment,” Kansas Corn CEO Greg Krissek said. “We are excited about the number of comments we received. However, our work is not done. This is part of a larger registration review. What happens next could easily stretch into 2019.”
EPA is expected to convene a scientific advisory panel in 2017. A human health risk assessment is also expected in 2017. In 2018 or 2019, the final findings of the registration review process are expected to be released along with another comment period.
The Kansas Corn Growers Association is a founding member of the Triazine Network, a coalition of agriculture groups and farmers who are concerned about regulatory actions involving atrazine and the other triazine herbicides. Kansas Corn worked closely with many other groups in the Triazine Network to help inform growers on this issue. Kansas Corn, the Triazine Network and other groups will continually remain involved throughout the registration review for atrazine.
“Atrazine is very important to Kansas farmers in their weed control efforts in corn as well as sorghum. It helps our farmers control weeds in conservation tillage systems, helps in our fight against herbicide resistance in weeds, and it provides affordable, long lasting weed control. Our farmers can’t afford to lose atrazine,” Krissek said. “On the state level, we worked with Kansas Grain Sorghum, Kansas Farm Bureau and other farm organizations to gather comments on this issue.”
The latest tally shows that nearly 5,000 comments came from Kansas farmers. The National Corn Growers estimated that about 24,000 corn farmers commented through the various efforts by the state and national corn organizations.
“We were very appreciative of the comments submitted by Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, illustrating the importance of this issue to the State of Kansas,” Krissek said. “Many of the state’s agricultural organizations submitted comments as well.”
Several environmental activist organizations circulated online petitions demanding that EPA ban atrazine. Kansas Corn monitored three online activist petitions. Together, the three petitions collected over 300,000 online signatures.
“Farmers and ranchers make up just two percent of our population, so the fact that 54,000 corn farmers took action on this single issue is significant. It’s also important to point out that there are many more comments from farmers of other crops.” Krissek said. “We would also question what percentage of the people who signed the activist petitions actually know what atrazine is and how it is used.”
The Triazine Network used an independent consultant to review the draft risk assessment. EPA used research in its risk assessment that was rejected by its own Scientific Advisory Panels. The assessment was also filled with data errors that skewed the assumptions that were made. The risk assessment recommended an aquatic level of concern for atrazine of 3.4 parts per billion. The LOC is currently 10 parts per billion and studies show that it could safely be over 24 parts per billion. The findings of the risk assessment would basically ban the effective use of atrazine in farm country.
The comments of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, as well as KCGA President Bob Timmons are below: