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From November 20, 2001

France Bans Triazine Herbicides

Due to their threats to human health and "generalized presence in water supplies," France's Ministry of Agriculture announced a nationwide ban on atrazine and related Triazine herbicides in September 2001.

The ban calls for the withdrawal of atrazine, simazine and cyanazine from the French market by September 30, 2002, and prohibits their use in other products after June 30, 2003. Use restrictions were also announced for the Triazine herbicides terbuthylazine, ametryne and terbutryne.

Triazines are primarily used on sorghum and maize crops in France, but are sometimes used in orchards and vineyards. According to the national farm ministry, French growers applied atrazine to 100 percent of sorghum crops and 80 percent of maize in 1999.

The triazine herbicide atrazine can persist in lakes and groundwater for decades. It has a half-life in soil surfaces of over 100 days and can persist below the soil surface for years. It is an endocrine disruptor, inhibiting the functioning of testosterone, progesterone and estrogen, and also disrupts the immune system, enhancing the risk of infectious disease and cancer. It has shown to cause cancer and delay puberty in laboratory studies.