After years of research and public comment from the agriculture community, the Environmental Protection Agency has declared the triazine family of crop protection compounds - including atrazine - safe for continued use in controlling broadleaf weeds in corn and other crops.
According to the Triazine Network, a coalition of state and national agricultural organizations - including the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Corn Growers Association - that advocates for science-based regulatory decisions, the interim decision announced September 18 is a major milestone. The EPA announced its proposed decision in December 2019. See the IFBF comments here in support of this outcome.
“Today’s news provides much needed regulatory certainty for farmers during a time when few things are certain,” said Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO Gary Marshall, who chairs the Triazine Network. “We appreciate today’s announcement from EPA Administrator Wheeler. 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."
Atrazine ranks second in widely used herbicides that help farmers control weeds that rob crops of water and nutrients. Utilized for over 60 years, atrazine is the most researched herbicide in history and has a proven safety record. Today’s announcement concludes the registration review process where EPA is required to periodically re-evaluate existing pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The next step for the triazines - including propazine, and simazine - is a draft biological evaluation required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is expected to be published in October.
“This isn’t the last review of atrazine. In fact, the Endangered Species Act review will be key to the future of atrazine as well as other crop protection tools. Moving forward, we remain vigilant in ensuring the agencies involved utilize high-quality, scientific studies,” Marshall said. “The EPA has said they will utilize the best available research, first in a letter to the Triazine Network in 2019 and again today. Our stance has always been sound, credible science must win. We appreciate these commitments, and EPA must hold true to them in the ESA evaluation.”
Approved for use 1958, atrazine has been extensively reviewed by EPA and others over the decades and across administrations. The final ESA assessment is slated to be released in 2021.