Quantcast

Why Is This Hormone-Disrupting Pesticide Banned in Europe But Widely Used in the U.S.?

Food

The European Union just banned two agricultural weed killers linked to infertility, reproductive problems and fetal development—the first-ever EU ban on endocrine-disrupting pesticides. That’s good news for Europeans. But as in Europe, many endocrine-disrupting weed killers remain widely used on American crops and from farm fields make their way into drinking water and food.

One of the most widely used and most troublesome endocrine-disrupting pesticides in the U.S. is atrazine. Manufactured by agro-chemical giant Syngenta, atrazine is sprayed mostly on Midwest corn fields and is consistently one of the most detected crop chemicals in drinking water.

Tests by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have repeatedly found atrazine in Midwestern drinking water sources that exceed levels of concern for infants and children. In 2009, the New York Times reported that an estimated 33 million Americans have been exposed to atrazine through their taps.

The hormone-disrupting qualities of atrazine have been well-documented, most notably by Tyrone Hayes, a professor of biology at the University of California at Berkeley. His extensive research has shown the chemical altered the reproductive systems in frogs.

In 2010, Hayes and a team of researchers exposed 40 male tadpoles to water with atrazine at 2.5 parts per billion—well within the U.S. EPA’s established drinking water standards. Roughly one-tenth of the frogs that grew in the atrazine-tainted water become “functionally female,” Hayes reported.

Atrazine is banned in Europe. But it is the second most-used herbicide in U.S. agriculture, with more than 60 million pounds sprayed on crops each year, behind only Monsanto’s glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.

Some farmers are reducing the need for herbicides like atrazine by switching to organic production methods or adopting new weed management strategies. But the federal government doesn’t invest enough in supporting such innovative strategies.

Most federal farm spending supports and encourages large-scale industrial farming, dependent on chemical pesticides and fertilizers that pollute streams, rivers and lakes. Of the meager support for more sustainable farming, even less is dedicated to practices that reduce the need for pesticides. As a result, most farmers seeking financial help to reduce chemical use are turned away.

The U.S. EPA is currently reviewing the regulations on atrazine and should release its assessment in the next year. To protect public health and ensure clean drinking water, the agency should recognize the harm caused by atrazine and restrict its use.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Interactive Maps Show Where Monsanto’s Roundup Is Sprayed in San Francisco and Portland

GMO Mushroom Sidesteps UDSA Regulations

Glyphosate Found in Popular Breakfast Foods

8 Disturbing Facts About Monsanto’s Evil Twin—The Chemical Fertilizer Industry

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A NOAA research vessel at a Taylor Energy production site in the Gulf of Mexico in September 2018. NOAA

The federal government is looking into the details from the longest running oil spill in U.S. history, and it's looking far worse than the oil rig owner let on, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
Damage at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from the 2016 occupation. USFWS

By Tara Lohan

When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.

Read More Show Less
Computer model projection of temperature anomalies across Europe on June 27. Temperature scale in °C. Tropicaltidbits.com

A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Skull morphology of hybrid "narluga" whale. Nature / Mikkel Høegh Post

In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.

Read More Show Less
A house under construction with plastic bottles filled with sand to build shelters that better withstand the climate of the country where temperatures reach up to 50° C Awserd in the Saharawi refugee camp Dakhla on Dec. 31, 2018 in Tindouf, Algeria. Stefano Montesi / Corbis / Getty Images

A UN expert painted a bleak picture Tuesday of how the climate crisis could impact global inequality and human rights, leading to a "climate apartheid" in which the rich pay to flee the consequences while the rest are left behind.

Read More Show Less
The Oregon Senate Chamber. Cacophony / CC BY 3.0

Six days after Republican Oregon Senators fled the state to avoid voting on a bill to address the climate crisis, the Senate president declared the bill dead.

Read More Show Less