Daily News Archive
Continue the Struggle Against Hazardous Herbicide
(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2003) The White House
and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are illegally withholding
documentary evidence that the pesticide industry may have undue influence
over federal health standards for atrazine, the most widely used weed-killer
in the country, according to a lawsuit filed November 13 by NRDC (the
Natural Resources Defense Council).
The NRDC lawsuit charges that the White House Office of Management and
Budget (OMB), the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ),
and EPA have violated the law by refusing to disclose documents regarding
the nature of industry involvement in EPA's assessment of atrazine's
safety. NRDC has asked the court to force these agencies to turn over
the documents, as they are required to do under the Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA). EPA announced on October 31 that it had negotiated a deal
with industry that would not require any new restrictions on atrazine
"This is yet another example of the Bush administration letting
industry write the rules behind closed doors," said NRDC attorney
Aaron Colangelo. "The public has a right to know whether the government
is sacrificing public health and the environment to satisfy the pesticide
A number of scientific studies link atrazine to high rates of prostate
and other cancers in human beings and sexual deformities in frogs. Despite
this scientific evidence, atrazine continues to be used heavily in the
United States, especially on corn, sorghum, sugarcane and golf courses.
There have been some press reports that the White House, under heavy
pressure from the pesticide industry, has been closely involved in EPA's
atrazine assessment. To find out more, NRDC filed a series of FOIA requests
with EPA and the White House, which have failed to produce relevant
documents. In today's lawsuit, NRDC seeks to compel EPA and the White
House to fulfill their basic obligations under freedom of information
laws and disclose records of their communications with the pesticide
industry regarding atrazine.
The European Union recently announced it will ban atrazine over the
next 18 months because of its risks. The chemical already is banned
in at least four European countries and is tightly restricted in Switzerland,
the home country of the principle atrazine manufacturer, Syngenta.
For more information, see Beyond Pesticides’ Atrazine
ChemWatch Fact Sheet. Find out more about atrazine’s effect
on amphibians, and see photos
of frogs exposed to atrazine. Another study
links atrazine with decreased sperm quality.