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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Atrazine limits justified

To the editor:

“Corn growers battling Feds” once again gave the story of the fight by Kansas Corn Growers Association to keep using the herbicide atrazine at present levels.

Atrazine presence in Marion and Hillsboro water via Marion Reservoir has been known for years. Problems associated with low levels of atrazine consumed over long periods have been the subject of scientific research.

Paul Winchester, a neonatologist in Indianopolis, is seeing an increase in birth defects (spina bifida, cleft palate, Down syndrome and urogenital abnormalities) in babies conceived in April to July in heavy farming areas.

Tyrone Hayes, a professor of integrative biology at Berkeley, has a large body of research, transferable to human, involving effects on amphibians.

Hayes was a consultant for Syngenta, maker of atrazine, when his findings indicated atrazine to be a potent endocrine disruptor. The company attempted to prevent him from publishing.

The science on health effects of long-term, low-level consumption of atrazine in drinking water is still in process. Users of public water supplies in Marion County are some of the guinea pigs.

Continued use of atrazine could be construed a “right of the unborn” issue given that research points to damage in babies before birth.

Terry Vinduska cites the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness in his defense of atrazine. The center is an industry-funded, for-profit think tank headed by Jim Tozzi, a long-time Washington lobbyist for the tobacco and chemical industries, who was able to block the federal government from gathering data related to deaths from secondhand smoke.

Vinduska complains about the high cost of pesticides and seems to long for the days of unrestricted use while never mentioning the record acres of corn production while the market price of corn is being driven to historic lows.

Kansas Corn Growers Association might better serve its members by devising marketing strategies to increase prices rather than carrying water for the agricultural chemical industry.

Harry E. Bennett
Madison, Wisconsin

Last modified June 15, 2016

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