The decision came with some recommendations
By Diego Flammini
Farmers can continue to use three important crop protection tools, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced.
The interim decision surrounding atrazine, propazine and simazine, which farmers use to control broadleaf weeds and annual grasses in corn, soybean and other field crops, provides U.S. farmers with clarity about what products they can use going forward.
“The benefits of atrazine in agriculture are high, so these new protections give our nation’s farmers more clarity and certainty concerning proper use,” Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the EPA, said in a Sept. 18 statement.
Atrazine is the second most-widely used herbicide in the U.S. behind glyphosate.
Farmers apply atrazine to about 75 million acres of cropland every year. The herbicide can also be used for weed control on residential lawns and golf courses.
Growers are pleased with the EPA’s decision.
“We appreciate today’s announcement from EPA Administrator Wheeler,” Gary Marshall, CEO of the Missouri Corn Growers Association, said in a statement.
Marshall is also chair of the Triazine Network, a coalition of industry groups that advocates for science-based regulatory decisions.
“We thank the agency on behalf of the farmers who rely on atrazine to fight problematic weeds and employ conservation tillage methods to reduce soil erosion and improve water and wildlife habitat,” he said.
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act’s (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel held 12 meetings with industry stakeholders to discuss multiple topics related to atrazine. These included possible carcinogenic effects.
After studying the best available data and science, the EPA has implemented requirements to ensure additional safety measures when using atrazine.
The EPA mandates
- reducing the maximum application rate for atrazine and simazine when used on residential turf in order to protect children who crawl or play on treated grass
- adding a requirement for irrigation immediately after simazine application to residential turf
- requiring additional personal protective equipment for workers who apply atrazine and simazine to reduce occupational risks associated with certain uses
- finalizing label requirements for all three triazines to include mandatory spray drift control measures, to minimize pesticide drift into non-target areas, including water bodies
- finalizing label directions for herbicide resistance to reduce the problem of weeds becoming resistant to atrazine
The next step for the EPA as it relates to the triazines is to complete a biological evaluation required under the Endangered Species Act. The final assessment is scheduled for release next year.