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Organic Consumers Association

How a Big Agribusiness Firm Infiltrated the EPA and Made a Mockery of Science

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Health Issues page.

Earlier this year, in an  exposé in The New Yorker, Rachel Aviv detailed the story of Syngenta, an agribusiness firm that was sued by the community water systems of six states in a class-action lawsuit over the firm's herbicide atrazine.

Atrazine is the second most commonly used herbicide in the US and is used on more than 50% of all corn crops. It is one of Syngenta's most profitable chemicals with sales at over $3 million a year. Banned in the EU, atrazine remains on the market in the US despite scores of scientific publications demonstrating its role in abnormal sexual development. Almost insoluble in water, atrazine contaminates drinking water supplies at 30 times the concentration demonstrated to cause  severe sexual abnormalities in animal models. It is  estimated that 30 million Americans are exposed to dangerous levels of atrazine.

Recently unsealed court documents from the lawsuit have disclosed how Syngenta launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to disrepute and suppress scientific research, and influence the US Environmental Protection Agency to prevent a ban on atrazine.     

Tyrone Hayes, a professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley has demonstrated in his research that atrazine leads to health problems, reproductive issues and birth defects. Hayes is a vocal proponent of legislative action to ban the dissemination of atrazine in water supplies. The cour documents showed that Syngenta specifically attacked Hayes' work with its smear campaign.    


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