News / USA

Public Hearings on Popular Pesticide Spotlight Safety Concerns

Public Hearings on Popular Pesticide Spotlight Safety Concernsi
|| 0:00:00
X
Zulima Palacio
June 25, 2012 6:04 PM
Responding to pressure from environmental groups and the requirements of regulators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a scientific advisory panel have held public hearings on the risks of atrazine, an agricultural pesticide. It's the most commonly used farm chemical in the U.S. and 90 other countries. Atrazine has been banned by the European Union since 2004, and some studies suggest it may be harmful to human health and the environment. VOA Zulima Palacio has the story.

Public hearings on popular pesticide spotlight safety concerns

Zulima Palacio
Responding to pressure from environmental groups and the requirements of regulators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  and a scientific advisory panel have held public hearings on the risks of atrazine, an agricultural pesticide.  It's the most commonly used farm chemical in the U.S. and 90 other countries. Atrazine has been banned by the European Union since 2004, and some studies suggest it may be harmful to human health and the environment.

Every year, U.S. farmers apply more than 35 million kilograms of the pesticide atrazine on their fields of corn, sugarcane, sorghum and other crops.

But a growing body of scientific evidence - including the discovery of small amounts of atrazine in many US waterways - have raised new concerns about its safety.
 
Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, convened a scientific advisory panel and held public hearings to review the impact of atrazine on humans and the environment.  

"There is probably agreement among everyone that, at a high enough exposure, at a high enough dose, atrazine can cause effects," said Steven Bradbury, the EPA's director of pesticide programs.

During four days of hearings, scientists and activists offered conflicting views on the safety of atrazine.
 
Kerry Kriger heads Save the Frogs, an environmental group.

He said at least 2,000 amphibian species are threatened with extinction.  

"The vast majority of the world's amphibian biologists agree that atrazine is extremely harmful to amphibians.  Abundant scientific literature from labs around the world has demonstrated atrazine's harmful effect on an array of wild life," he said.  

Kriger said the adverse effects on frogs include infertility, miscarriages and weakened immune systems.

But Syngenta, the main producer of atrazine, says the chemical is safe, and the company sent several of its scientists to the hearings to make that case.    

Keith Solomon was one of them.  "There is no strong evidence supporting a causal relationship between exposure to atrazine and adverse effects in amphibians and if you want, include fish and reptiles, as well you could," he said.

Government scientists also presented evidence suggesting that atrazine may be more toxic to plants than to animals.

"In the case of effects on aquatic ecosystems, the peer review was looking at what is the potential effect of atrazine on aquatic plants and aquatic plants' community structure, sort of like the house for the whole ecological system," Bradbury said.

Atrazine's license is up for federal renewal next year.

The advisory panel has three months to present its recommendations to the US government.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid