The National Corn Growers Association has submitted formal comments to the Environmental Protection Agency calling for the re-registration of atrazine, one of the major herbicides used in corn and grain sorghum.

“NCGA strongly supports the re-registration of atrazine,” said Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association. “It's an invaluable tool for corn growers nationwide, as well as producers of other crops. We want to ensure this product remains available.”

White, chairman of the Triazine Network, said the organization has been encouraged by the EPA's approach to re-registration of this product, “and we're confident our comments will be considered in the agency's final decision-making process.”

The EPA's deadline for comment submission was Thursday. The agency's next step is to assess the public comments submitted on the re-registration of atrazine and complete a cumulative risk assessment and risk management decision for triazines, the family of pesticides that includes atrazine.

When the cumulative risk assessment for the triazine pesticides has been completed, EPA will issue its final decision on re-registration of atrazine and any necessary risk mitigation.

In its comments, NCGA voiced support of the monitoring program developed by EPA and Syngenta, the principal product registrant, to check atrazine levels in specific ecosystems and watersheds.

“NCGA knows from experience this approach will be successful,” the comments say. The association also recommends EPA development of site-specific “best management” practices to address concerns specific to individual watersheds. NCGA points out that farmers will likely bear much of the cost of the monitoring program, and asks the EPA to be sensitive to the financial burden the program may impose on farmers.

White said corn growers also support EPA's efforts to “harmonize” all atrazine labels. Historically, changes made to technical registrations have not always been captured on labels. By updating application rates and other label information, the amount of product applied will likely be reduced and the potential for runoff will also be reduced.

NCGA also voiced its support of a peer-reviewed scientific analysis of atrazine's effects on amphibians. EPA's decision to classify atrazine as a product not likely to cause cancer in humans was also supported in the NCGA comments.

“While it is often difficult for growers to comprehend the time and effort it takes to conduct scientific reviews, corn growers appreciate EPA's commitment to science-based policy and decision-making,” the comments state.

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