Ensure decisions on atrazine are based on transparent, independent science
For over a year now we’ve been watching the Agency’s long-overdue review of atrazine. Now EPA is accepting comments on a new petition to pull the use of atrazine, pointing to misleading industry-funded science that has kept this common herbicide on the market.
In the petition now before EPA an independent scientist analyzes industry-funded reviews of the effects of atrazine on fish and frogs, and finds this:
[The] industry-funded review misrepresented more than 50 studies and included 122 inaccurate and 22 misleading statements. Of these inaccurate and misleading statements, 96.5% seem to benefit the makers of atrazine in that they support the safety of the chemical.
Syngenta-funded science is biased, in other words. Join us in calling EPA's attention to this fact.
Over the next two weeks we have an opportunity to send a clear message. We want any and all decisions on atrazine to be based on transparent, independent science, and we want decisions to be undertaken in the public interest.
- EPA Administrator
Dear Administrator Lisa Jackson and staff of the Office of Pesticide Programs,
Atrazine is a troubling and nearly ubiquitous water contaminant throughout the U.S., with strong science establishing its ecotoxicity for indicator species such as frogs. And as your own Scientific Advisory Panel recently confirmed, we have good reason to be concerned about atrazine’s carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting effects on human health.
This common herbicide is also an enormously profitable product manufactured, marketed and vigorously protected by the largest pesticide corporation in the world, Syngenta. Syngenta has shown time and again – through closed-door lobbying, direct intimidation of scientists who’s findings prove inconvenient, covert public relations campaigns and more – that they are serious and unscrupulous in their commitment to protect atrazine’s market share in the U.S. at all costs.
We, the undersigned, are writing to urge your office to stand up to Syngenta’s influence over the Agency’s consideration of the science on atrazine. As noted in the Dr. Jason Rohr’s critique of industry-funded reviews of atrazine’s effects on fish and frogs (quoted in the petition currently under review):
"[The] industry-funded review misrepresented more than 50 studies and included 122 inaccurate and 22 misleading statements. Of these inaccurate and misleading statements, 96.5% seem to benefit the makers of atrazine in that they support the safety of the chemical. Further, this review cast criticisms at 94% of the studies where atrazine had adverse effects, but only weakly criticized the 2.8% of studies where there were no effects of atrazine."
We strongly urge you to follow the weight of independent, unbiased evidence wherever it may lead. We note with concern that in the Agency’s most recent docket on atrazine, 25 of the 52 total supporting documents posted address human health impacts – of these, 10 are unpublished, industry-funded studies protected from public scrutiny and peer review by claims of confidential business information.
In other words,10 of 25 relevant studies are secret, industry-funded science. We urge you to discount these and other industry-funded studies as biased, especially when those studies have not been subject to public, peer-review.
Transparency and public accountability are core principles of science and democratic decision-making. We encourage you to bear these considerations in mind and to discount industry science in any decisions taken on atrazine.
With thanks for your work, and your attention to this important matter of public health.
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