Farm Press Blog

Annoying lawyers may be costly idea

  • Throughout its five-decades-old history, atrazine herbicide has been found to be safe when used as recommended.
  • Although EPA has ruled several times in recent years that atrazine is a safe product, environmental activists have continued to push for it to revoke its tolerances.
  • An executive with a Kansas corn producers group testified on behalf of the herbicide at EPA's latest Scientific Advisory Panel hearing. The executive received subpoenas for both his and his organization's legal records the next day.

Standing up to environmental groups can be costly and time consuming, the executive director of a Kansas farm group says.

Jere White of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, was testifying about EPA’s rush to conduct yet another review of the safety of atrazine during a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee in Washington Thursday (Sept. 23). White is also chairman of the Triazine Network.

Although atrazine has been found to be safe during numerous reviews over its 50-year history, EPA recently convened a scientific advisory panel (SAP) to review the data from studies that many scientists have said were of “low quality.”

“I testified in support of atrazine at last week’s SAP, sharing our concerns over trial attorney harassment of stakeholders,” White told the committee. “The very next day, activist attorneys sought and obtained subpoenas against Kansas Corn (Growers Association), Kansas Sorghum (Producers) and me personally.

“Meanwhile, in Washington, this re-review barrels on like a runaway train and farmers are left to conclude that what we are witnessing here is not science-driven, but merely politics, in a manner I have not witnessed in 16 years of bird dogging this issue for my members.

For farmers, however, atrazine is not a matter of politics. It is a matter of staying in business in what is still a rough economy.”

Most farmers live next to their fields, White said, “They raise their children in these environments. They live in the same communities that the trial lawyers are targeting. If there were any real harm in atrazine, the American farmer would have been the first to notice and the first to care.” 

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