Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing serial existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

A red-legged frog sits in a backyard pond in Washington state. The herbicide atrazine, common in the U.S. but banned many other places, is linked to hermaphroditic amphibians as well as various harmful health effects in humans. (Photo: Dan Dzurisin/flickr/cc)

A red-legged frog sits in a backyard pond in Washington state. The herbicide atrazine, common in the U.S. but banned many other places, is linked to hermaphroditic amphibians as well as various harmful health effects in humans. (Photo: Dan Dzurisin/flickr/cc)

EPA Sued for 'Once Again Putting Corporate Interests Over Public Health or the Environment' by Reapproving Herbicide Atrazine

"We're not going to just stand by and watch another generation get poisoned by one of the most dangerous pesticides still in use."

Jessica Corbett

While taking aim at the Trump administration's broader pesticide agenda, a coalition of advocacy groups sued Friday over the Environmental Protection Agency's recent reauthorization of atrazine, which is one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States but off limits in dozens of countries due to health and safety concerns.

"If EPA were actually doing its job, this chemical would have been off the market years ago," declared Kristin Schafer, executive director of Pesticide Action Network (PAN). "The science on atrazine's harms is so clear that it's been banned in Europe for more than a decade, yet here in this country EPA is now loosening use restrictions—once again putting corporate interests over public health or the environment."

The agency's atrazine decision last month "is part of a sweeping effort by the EPA in recent months to quickly approve numerous extremely controversial and harmful pesticides," the groups behind the lawsuit—Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, PAN North America, and Rural Coalition—said in a joint statement.

Filed in 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just days before crucial U.S. elections, the suit (pdf) challenges the EPA's reapproval of atrazine as well as propazine and simazine, two other pesticides in the triazine class that were part of the same review process.

The filing also follows the EPA's approval of three dicamba products on Tuesday. Also vowing to challenge that move, Center for Food Safety legal director George Kimbrell said that "rather than evaluating the significant costs of dicamba drift as the 9th Circuit told them the law required, EPA rushed reapproval as a political prop just before the election, sentencing farmers and the environment to another five years of unacceptable damage."

While EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler—a Trump appointee named in the new suit—called the final interim decision on atrazine "another example of the Trump administration taking action in support of America's farmers," advocacy groups accused the administration prioritizing corporate chemical interests over public health, wildlife, and the environment.

Sylvia Wu, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety, is representing the petitioners in the lawsuit.

"Rather than doing its job of protecting human health and the environment, EPA heeded to political expediency and rushed to reapprove this toxic pesticide," Wu said. "We are in court to make sure EPA answers for its blatant disregard of the lives of our nation's farmworkers and their children."

As Common Dreams reported on the EPA's decision in September, critics slammed the agency for discarding precautions mandated under the Food Quality Protection Act, ignoring epidemiological research, and using a more permissive benchmark in its assessment that relies on a model developed by Syngenta, atrazine's primary manufacturer.

"In siding with the pesticide industry over young children, the pesticide office at the EPA has sunk to a new low," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "There are few pesticides that cause this much harm at such low doses. We're not going to just stand by and watch another generation get poisoned by one of the most dangerous pesticides still in use."

Reporting last year on the administration's plans to weaken safeguards for the herbicide, Civil Eats noted:

Independent research has shown atrazine's impact on aquatic life is significant: it can lead to reduced survival, growth, immunity, and sensory capacities, increased disease, as well as reproductive and developmental abnormalities, and behavioral changes. There's also evidence the herbicide harms plants and wildlife. In humans, it's associated with thyroid, ovarian, and other cancers, low birth outcomes, pre-term delivery, and birth defects. In 2016, California added atrazine and related chemicals to the Proposition 65 list, listing them as substances known to cause reproductive and developmental toxicity.

"EPA's failure to remove atrazine represents a dramatic failure of a federal agency charged with safeguarding the health of people, wildlife, and the environment," Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, said Friday. "We seek to uphold the agency's duty to act on the science, in the face of viable alternatives to this highly toxic weedkiller."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Omar Hangs Up After Boebert Uses Call to Double Down on 'Outright Bigotry and Hate'

"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments."

Jessica Corbett ·


Win for Alabama Workers as NLRB Orders New Union Vote After Amazon's Alleged Misconduct

A union leader said the decision confirmed that "Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace."

Jessica Corbett ·


'For the Sake of Peace,' Anti-War Groups Demand Biden Return to Nuclear Deal With Iran

"It's time to put differences aside and return to the Iran nuclear deal," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'That's for Them to Decide': UK Secretary Rebuked for Claiming Vaccine Patent Waiver Won't Be 'Helpful' to Global Poor

One U.K. lawmaker asked when the government would "start putting the need to end this pandemic in front of the financial interests of Big Pharma?"

Andrea Germanos ·


Shell Slammed for Plan to Blast South African Coastline for Oil and Gas During Whale Season

"We cannot allow climate criminals, like Shell, to plunder in the name of greed," said Greenpeace.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo