Thursday, September 15, 2011

Debating Atrazine

The pesticide atrazine is banned in the European Union and is linked to harm to wildlife and potentially to humans as well.  According to the Natural Resources Defense Council: "Approximately 75 percent of stream water and about 40 percent of all groundwater samples from agricultural areas tested in an extensive U.S. Geological Survey study contained atrazine." and that "Atrazine was found in 80% of drinking water samples taken in 153 public water systems. "
Atrazine Conatmination source: earthactually
The organization "Save the Frogs" has a petition out to ban atrazine in the United States.  They claim that it is one of the world's most widely applied pesticides with 80 million pounds used in America last year.  The herbicide is used to fight weeds in corn, grain sorghum, sugar cane and other crops.  The effect the pesticide has on frogs in particular, is turning malefrogs into female frogs.  The chemical has the effect even at very low concentrations - about 2.5 parts per billion.  Atrazine is also considered a harmful carcinogen.
Save the Frogs argues that frogs share half of their DNA with humans,  pointing out the potential for these chemicals to have harmful effects for people as well.  You can sign the petition here:
The chemical company that produces atrazine, Syngenta, argues that the rates of amphibian extinction  can be blamed on a number of other factors including habitat destruction, exploitation, pollution, introduced species, climate change and chytrid fungus.  These other natural and human factors are reducing the population of frogs, which makes it all the more important to ban a pesticide shown to effect frogs health so dramatically.
The EPA is seeking public comment on a May 2011 petition from the amphibian conservation group, Save the Frogs, requesting that  the Agency ban the use and production of atrazine.  EPA asks that comments on the Save the Frogs petition be submitted within 60 days, by November 14, 2011, to docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0586 at

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