Friday, June 20, 2014

EPA Weighs Texas Request In Battle Against Palmer Amaranth

Wall Street Journal:
The Texas Department of Agriculture asked the EPA last month for an exemption to permit growers to douse fields this summer with propazine—a chemical little-used in U.S. agriculture—to control an invasive plant known as palmer amaranth, or pigweed.
Pigweed, which can grow 3 inches a day, is one of several nasty invaders that have developed resistance to the nation's dominant weed killer, glyphosate, which is widely sold by Monsanto Co. as Roundup.
Texas, at the behest of the state's cotton growers, is asking the EPA to let farmers spray propazine, the active ingredient in the herbicide Milo-Pro, on up to 3 million acres, or nearly half of the state's estimated cotton acreage this season. The Lone Star state is the nation's largest cotton producer, accounting for 33% of last year's crop, which was valued at $5.2 billion, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.
The Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit advocacy group, and other environmental watchdogs oppose the proposal on the grounds that propazine poses potential risks to human health. Propazine has been identified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen and is a restricted-use pesticide requiring a license to purchase and apply, according to Milo-Pro's manufacturer.
Propazine is closely related to atrazine, a herbicide used by many corn growers that is banned in the European Union. Critics of the sister herbicide cite studies indicating it can interrupt sexual reproduction in frogs, and result in potential human reproductive problems.
I would guess the exemption will be granted.  It looks to me like the herbicide fell out of use, the company didn't fund required studies because of lack of use, and now they are digging it back out because of the Roundup-resistant pigweed debacle.  It is interesting how the article is worded, specifically mentioning atrazine being used by many corn growers (almost all), but is banned in the EU.  Considering how much atrazine is sprayed in the Midwest, I can't imagine propazine being withheld in Texas.

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