News / USA

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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More