Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Atrazine and Glyphosate More Harmful Than Scientists Once Thought

Health + Wellness
Atrazine and Glyphosate More Harmful Than Scientists Once Thought

Monsanto marketed its potent weed killer glyphosate—the active ingredient in Roundup—and the corn and soybeans genetically engineered to withstand it, by claiming it would replace other, more toxic weed killers such as atrazine.

But, it didn’t happen.

Since the mid-1990s, American farmers have reduced the amount of atrazine spread on corn fields by just 22 percent, from 0.83 to 0.64 pounds per acre.

At the same time they have increased their glyphosate usage by 3,000 percent, from 0.03 pounds per acre to just more than 1 pound per acre. Glyphosate has become the most popular agricultural herbicide in the U.S. and globally.

Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a document—technically, a "draft assessment"—warning that atrazine threatens wildlife. This was no surprise to scientists who have studied the harmful effects of atrazine for decades. Researchers have found substantial evidence that the chemical contributes to the feminization of male frogs and to reduced sperm count in men.

Because of atrazine’s health hazards and its persistence in groundwater, the European Union has banned it in agriculture.

Recent scientific research suggests that both atrazine and glyphosate are more harmful than scientists once thought.

For instance, several studies have shown that frequent exposure to glyphosate doubles a person’s risk of developing a blood cancer known as Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Last year, the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.”

In light of new evidence on the dangers of glyphosate, European Union nations failed to pass Monday a short-term extension of glyphosate’s license for agricultural use. The pesticide could be barred in the EU as soon as next month.

Proponents of GMO crops claim that they will feed the world and reduce chemical herbicide use, but we now know these promises have fallen flat. Glyphosate hasn’t replaced atrazine. Instead, GMOs have led to more superweeds. Monsanto, Dow Agrosciences and other agricultural chemical manufacturers are coming up with more toxic mixtures of chemicals to fight hardier weeds that have evolved to withstand weedkillers.

It’s a vicious cycle that will be broken only when Congress recognizes the importance of conservation on farms.

A recent report on genetically engineered crops by the National Academy of Sciences recommends that instead of turning to new designer chemicals to combat weeds, farmers should employ integrated weed management techniques such as cover crops and crop rotations. These practices can reduce the amount of chemical herbicides dumped on American farmland and can also save farmers money.

But integrated weed management gets very little funding: Only 1.2 percent of total conservation funding between 2006 and 2015 has gone to promoting prudent weed management practices.

This year, a bill proposed by the House Appropriations Committee would cut U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs that promote weed management aimed at reducing chemical applications on farms.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

World’s First Off-Grid ReGen Village Will Be Completely Self-Sufficient Producing Its Own Power and Food

12 Ways to Get Rid of Weeds Without Using Roundup

Chemical Safety Reform Bill Headed to Obama’s Desk Lets Down Women With and at Risk of Breast Cancer

EU Fails to Approve ‘Technical Extension’ for Weed-Killer Glyphosate

Recycling and general waste plastic wheelie bins awaiting collection for disposal in Newport, Rhode Island. Tim Graham / Getty Images

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. According to The National Museum of American History, this popular slogan, with its iconic three arrows forming a triangle, embodied a national call to action to save the environment in the 1970s. In that same decade, the first Earth Day happened, the EPA was formed and Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, encouraging recycling and conservation of resources, Enviro Inc. reported.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The coal-fired Huaneng Power Plant in Huai 'an City, Jiangsu Province, China on Sept. 13, 2020. Costfoto / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

One of the silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic was the record drop in greenhouse gas emissions following national lockdowns. But that drop is set to all but reverse as economies begin to recover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A grizzly bear killed an outdoor guide in a rare attack near Yellowstone Park. William Campbell / Corbis / Getty Images

A backcountry guide has died after being mauled by a grizzly bear near Yellowstone National Park.

Read More Show Less
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) re-introduces the Green New Deal in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2021. Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

In the latest of a flurry of proposed Green New Deal legislation, Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday introduced the Green New Deal for Cities Act of 2021, a $1 trillion plan to "tackle the environmental injustices that are making us and our children sick, costing us our homes, and destroying our planet."

Read More Show Less
Offshore oil and gas drillers have left more than 18,000 miles of pipelines at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Offshore oil and gas drillers have discarded and abandoned more than 18,000 miles of pipelines on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1960s, a report from the Government Accountability Office says.

Read More Show Less