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Monday, September 19, 2011

Save the Frogs Calls for Your Signature on Herbicide Ban

Posted By on Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 2:50 PM

The California red-legged frog is one of our state's 16 threatened amphibian species - KQEDQUEST
  • kqedquest
  • The California red-legged frog is one of our state's 16 threatened amphibian species
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called for public comment on a potential ban of Atrazine, one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States.

Atrazine has been banned in the European Union since 2004. Save the Frogs Executive Director Kerry Kriger says it has been shown to cause immunosuppression, hermaphroditism and even complete sex-reversal in frogs. It has also been linked to reproductive defects in fish, and prostate and breast cancer in lab rats, Kriger says.

Fortunately, Atrazine is relatively little-used in California, with only 25,000 pounds applied here out of 80 million pounds used throughout the country. A map of US Atrazine use shows that it's most heavily used in the corn belt. But of course that's where some of our tortillas come from.

"Atrazine is found on the food Californians eat, and Atrazine usage in other states is increased due to Californians' corn demand," Krieger said by email from Ghana, where he's -- not surprisingly -- trying to save some frogs.

Save the Frogs helped gather more than 60,000 signatures and emails to get the issue on the EPA's radar. "Atrazine is the 21st century's DDT," Kriger says.

The organization put together a Web page on the herbicide for more information.

I have written public comments in the Federal Register a few times; it's a great way to practice citizen democracy. Being run by the federal government, the process can be confusing and lead you nowhere -- just search for "Atrazine," the logical thing to do, and you get nothing. I mucked around on the page awhile, and I think I've got it figured out.

If you're moved to make a comment, here's what you do.

This link goes directly to the comment section. You can see the petition here, but it's not all that helpful.

The feds like you to identify yourself. Fortunately they'll allow anyone to speak on this issue; we all have corn in our lives in one way or another. To quote the notice:

You may be potentially affected by this action if you manufacture, distribute, sell, or use pesticides; are an environmental, human health, or agricultural advocate; or are a general member of the public.

The deadline for public comment is Nov. 14. Have fun practicing democracy!

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W. Blake Gray


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