NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

EPA Panel Okays Atrazine

July 12, 2000

The Environmental Protection Agency wants to declare the nation's highest-use herbicide, atrazine, a likely carcinogen. But in a largely unreported development, the agency's own 15-member Scientific Advisory Panel unanimously rejected an EPA attempt to elevate atrazine to that category.

  • The panel found that while massive doses of atrazine caused mammary tumors in a single type of rat, similar dosing of another type of rat and three types of mice caused no problems.
  • The panel said the mechanism that causes tumors in that one type of rat is well understood and does not apply to humans.
  • The chemical is a primary weed killer for more than 30 crops and banning it would do untold damage to U.S. agriculture.
  • It is used on about two-thirds of U.S. corn and sorghum, and as much as 90 percent of U.S. sugar cane.

Numerous studies have shown that for corn growers, using alternatives to atrazine would entail a loss of around $35 an acre due to higher costs of treatment and lower yields. Atrazine is also used in about 80 other countries.

Source: Michael Fumento (Hudson Institute), "The EPA Chokes: Atrazine Scare Fails in Face of Real Science," Investor's Business Daily, July 12, 2000.


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