Quantcast
Food

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

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

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Some of the young plaintiffs in landmark climate case Juliana v. United States. Our Children's Trust

Supreme Court Puts Historic Youth Climate Lawsuit on Hold

The U.S. Supreme Court put a landmark climate case on pause Friday while it considers a last-ditch attempt by the Trump administration to stop it from proceeding to trial, Climate Liability News reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Annette Bernhardt / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

3 Things You Can Do to Help Avoid Climate Disaster

By Stephanie Feldstein

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a dire warning last week: We need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and we need to do it fast to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Jess Lundgren / CC BY 2.0

The Trump Administration’s ‘Dishonest’ Attack on Fuel-Economy Standards

By John R. Platt

The Trump administration's plan to freeze fuel-economy standards is "the most spectacular regulatory flip-flop in history," said a retired EPA engineer who helped to develop new the standards under the Obama administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Lizzie Carr traveling down the Hudson River on her stand-up paddleboard. Max Guliani / The Hudson Project

Her Stand-Up Paddleboard Is a Platform for Campaigning Against Plastic Pollution

By Patrick Rogers

Lizzie Carr was navigating a stretch of the Hudson River north of Yonkers, New York, recently when she spotted it—a hunk of plastic so large and out of place that she was momentarily at a loss to describe it.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Science
The Ross Ice Shelf at the Bay of Whales. Michael Van Woert, NOAA

Scientists Study Ice Shelf by Listening to Its Changing Sounds

By Marlene Cimons

Researchers monitoring vibrations from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf were flabbergasted not long ago to hear something unexpected—the ice was "singing" to them. "We were stunned by a rich variety of time-varying tones that make up this newly described sort of signal," said Rick Aster, professor of geosciences at Colorado State University, one of the scientists involved in the study.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
DSLRVideo.com / Flicker / CC BY-SA 2.0

'Go Out and Vote' Patagonia Endorses Candidates for First Time in Its History

Outdoor brand Patagonia is endorsing candidates for the first time in its history in an effort to protect the country's at-risk public lands and waters.

The civic-minded retailer is backing two Democrats in two crucial Senate races: the re-election of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana; and Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Desert Bighorn Sheep in Joshua Tree National Park. Kjaergaard / CC BY 3.0

Leaked Trump Administration Memo: Keep Public in Dark About How Endangered Species Decisions Are Made

In a Trump administration memorandum leaked to the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is directing its staff to withhold, or delay releasing, certain public records about how the Endangered Species Act is carried out. That includes records where the advice of career wildlife scientists may be overridden by political appointees in the Trump administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Disposable diapers add staggering amounts of waste to landfills. Pxhere

Dirty Diapers Could Be Recycled Into Fabrics, Furniture Under P&G Joint Venture

Disposal diapers can take an estimated 500 years to decompose. That means if Henry VIII wore disposables, they'd probably still be around today.

Although throwaway nappies are undoubtedly convenient, these mostly-synthetic items cause never-ending steams of waste that will take centuries to disappear.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!