Posted 5 years ago on Feb. 24, 2012, 9:34 p.m. EST by GirlFriday
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Entine, who describes himself as an "author, think tank scholar, leadership and sustainability consultant, media commentator, and public speaker on the DNA of human behavior," accused Slater of blatantly overstating the dangers of atrazine, which shows up at low levels in drinking water in farming-intensive areas in the Midwest and South. According to Entine, as it's currently used on American fields, atrazine poses no risks to people or farms.
...But what caught my eye about Entine's post in the first place is that his name had shown up in a recent report by the Center for Media and Democracy (part one, part two) about the efforts of Syngenta, the globe's largest agribusiness firm and the maker of atrazine, to protect its lucrative chemical from possible regulatory action by the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA is currently reviewing the herbicide's registration. Last year, a panel of independent scientists convened by the EPA recommended that the agency revise its assumption that atrazine is "unlikely to cause cancer." Pointing to what it called "strong" epidemiological evidence linking atrazine to thyroid cancer, the panel states that the agency is currently acting with "inadequate information to assess carcinogenic potential." The European Union banned atrazine in 2004, based mainly on its tendency to run off into drinking water. A similar move by the EPA would cut into Syngenta's profits in the United States, where atrazine sells briskly as an herbicide for our massive corn crop.
The CMD's report is based on Syngenta documents that show how the company's PR operation has tried to influence news coverage—while also keeping tabs on journalists who have reported on atrazine's potential health risks. These internal documents, according to CMD, expose the company's campaign "to influence the media, potential jurors, potential plaintiffs, farmers, politicians, scientists, and the Environmental Protection Agency." One Syngenta document reveals that in 2009, the company toyed with the idea of obtaining "the services of a well-know [sic] investigative reporter to probe around the EPA…At the very minimum to utilize the advice of an Investigative Reporter to council [sic] us on what buttons to push and cages to rattle."