CEI Raises Questions about EPA Science on Atrazine

CEI Raises Questions about EPA Science on Atrazine

June 29, 2000

Washington, DC, June 29, 2000 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) warned EPA advisors that the agency’s scientific assumptions proposed to govern standard setting for the herbicide atrazine will hurt the poor and produce adverse environmental impacts.  “CEI is concerned that standards will be based on erroneous assumptions that greatly exaggerate risks and will be used to justify regulatory measures that will undermine the critical quality of life benefits of atrazine,” said Angela Logomasini, CEI’s director of risk and environmental policy.

Logomasini offered comments before the Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), an independent panel created under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.  The SAP is charged with reviewing EPA science related to pesticide regulations.  The June 27-29 meeting addressed an EPA hazard assessment on atrazine, the most commonly used weed killer in the United States. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Controversy surrounds the EPA assessment because it proposes the classification of atrazine as a “likely human carcinogen,” even though reputable scientific organizations around the world are moving in the opposite direction.  In 1998, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) downgraded atrazine to “not classifiable as to its carcinogencity to humans.”

Rather than depending on a substantial base of validated science, EPA wants to regulate atrazine as a “likely human carcinogen,” which could force farmers to switch to inferior products and processes for controlling weeds.  The likely result of such policies, Logomasini noted, would be “reduced crop yields, higher food prices, and adverse environmental effects associated with alternative herbicides and increased tilling.  These costs are not simply about dollars and cents,” she continued, “they will hurt low-income Americans who have difficulty feeding their families.  In addition, they will reduce exports to hungry people overseas.”

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209 or emcgee@cei.org.