[Marxism] Gov't lets industry decide whether weed killers in our drinking water is safe

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 21 07:30:39 MDT 2010

Is Weed Killer in Drinking Water Dangerous? Govt. Is Letting the 
Chemical Industry Come Up with the Answer
EPA officials claim chemical industry's own evidence is 
'scientifically more robust' than independent research.
July 14, 2010

Companies with a financial interest in a weed-killer sometimes 
found in drinking water paid for thousands of studies federal 
regulators are using to assess the herbicide’s health risks, 
records of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show. Many of 
these industry-funded studies, which largely support atrazine’s 
safety, have never been published or subjected to an independent 
scientific peer review.

Meanwhile, some independent studies documenting potentially 
harmful effects on animals and humans are not included in the body 
of research the EPA deems relevant to its safety review, the 
Huffington Post Investigative Fund has found. These studies 
include many that have been published in respected scientific 

Even so, the EPA says that it would be “very difficult for someone 
to put a thumb on the scale” to slant the outcome.

Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. An 
estimated 76 million pounds of the chemical are sprayed on corn 
and other fields in the U.S. each year, sometimes ending up in 
rivers, streams, and drinking water supplies. It has been the 
focus of intense scientific debate over its potential to cause 
cancer, birth defects, and hormonal and reproductive problems. As 
the Huffington Post Investigative Fund reported in a series of 
articles last fall, the EPA failed to warn the public that the 
weed-killer had been found at levels above federal safety limits 
in drinking water in at least four states. Some water utilities 
are suing Syngenta to have it pay their costs of filtering the 

Now the EPA is re-evaluating the health risks of atrazine, which 
was banned in the European Union in 2004 due to a lack of evidence 
to support its safe use. That ban includes Switzerland, where 
atrazine’s manufacturer, Syngenta, is headquartered. The EPA 
expects to announce results of its re-examination of the herbicide 
in September 2010. It could take action ranging from restrictions 
on its use on crops to an outright ban. Or it could permit 
continued use without additional restrictions.

The company, one of the world’s largest agribusinesses, says the 
chemical has been used safely for decades and restrictions could 
prove devastating to farmers who are heavily dependent on the 
inexpensive herbicide. Atrazine poses “no harm” to the general 
population or to drinking water supplies, said company spokesman 
Steven Goldsmith.

EPA records obtained by The Huffington Post Investigative Fund 
show that at least half of the 6,611 studies the agency is 
reviewing to help make its decision were conducted by scientists 
and organizations with a financial stake in atrazine, including 
Syngenta or its affiliated companies and research contractors.

More than 80 percent of studies on which the EPA are relying have 
never been published. This means that they have not undergone 
rigorous “peer review” by independent scientists, a customary 
method to ensure studies are credible and scientifically sound 
before they can be published in major journals.


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