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Atrazine by Switzerland's Syngenta

Banned in the EU, but ok everywhere else

1 - 2 of 2 posts

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
1 3 Jun 2017

According to confidential information obtained by Public Eye, Switzerland is exporting atrazine and paraquat to developing countries. The use of these herbicides, made by the Swiss-based Syngenta, has been banned in Switzerland due to their extreme toxicity. Public Eye demands that the Swiss authorities end this double standard and respect their commitments made under the Basel Convention. A parliamentary intervention to this effect has just been made.

Four shipments of paraquat and thirteen of atrazine were registered in Switzerland between 2012 and 2016. They were destined for Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, China, India, Pakistan, Peru and Thailand. Although the redacted documents received by Public Eye from the Federal Administration hide the name of the exporting company, there is no doubt that they concern Syngenta, the global leading maker of pesticides that declared an almost ten billion dollar turnover in this sector in 2016. The Basel-based firm is the market leader in paraquat and atrazine sales, with between 40 and 50% global market share. The total export value of herbicides for Switzerland reached over 180 million francs in 2016.

Paraquat and atrazine were prohibited in the European Union due to their high toxicity to human health and the environment. Paraquat is responsible for thousands of cases of poisoning every year. A recent report (PDF, 2.8 MB)also links it to several chronic illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease. Atrazine is an endocrine disrupter that affects the reproductive system and increases the risks of cancer. Last April, Public Eye requested that the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (PDF, 130 KB) (FOEN) end this scandalous double standard which, in some cases, has violated the Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous waste*

Atrazine induces complete feminization and chemical castration in male African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) -

Atrazine is one of the most widely used pesticides in the world. Approximately 80 million pounds are applied annually in the United States alone, and atrazine is the most common pesticide contaminant of ground and surface water. Atrazine can be transported more than 1,000 km from the point of application via rainfall and, as a result, contaminates otherwise pristine habitats, even in remote areas where it is not used . In fact, more than a half million pounds of atrazine are precipitated in rainfall each year in the United States.

Twelve years later, in 2003, the scientific committee
reviewing  atrazine  concluded  that  it  had  the  potential
to  contaminate  groundwater  at  levels  exceeding  the
allowed 0.1 μg/L even when used appropriately.

This set in motion the process for a regulatory ban. In 2004
the Commission announced a ban on atrazine applying
to all EU member states, which went into effect in 2005;
a  handful  of  extensions  for  limited  uses  expired  in

As  a  result,  Europe  is  now  launching  a  conti-
nent-wide experiment in agriculture without atrazine.
Several  European  countries  moved  to  ban  atrazine
on their own well before the EU decision. Sweden, Fin-
land,  and  Denmark  had  all  banned  atrazine  by  1994,
but  none  of  these  countries  is  a  significant  corn
(maize) producer. More remarkable, and more inform-
ative  for  economic  analysis,  is  the  fact  that  two  coun-
tries  that  produce  millions  of  tons  of  corn,  Italy  and
Germany, both banned atrazine in 1991.
One recent analysis by the Center for International Environmental Law, a Washington-based advocacy group, found 82 instances of pesticides allowed in the United States but barred or restricted in Europe.

In Australia  (2007!)

Australian drinking water standards are under scrutiny after scientific research linked commonly used herbicides to gender-bending in male frogs.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has decided to reassess its drinking water guidelines after miniscule traces of the herbicides atrazine and simazine were found to turn the frogs into hermaphrodites - creatures with male and female sex organs.

Australian guidelines allow up to 40 parts per billion (ppb) of atrazine in drinking water before it is considered a public health risk. But scientific studies have found male frogs grow ovaries when exposed to the chemical at the miniscule level of 0.1ppb in water.

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
2 3 Jun 2017
More in Australia

“It seems like they’ve tried to cover it up in a bid to avoid compensation … it’s just not right.”

And the effects on the Great Barrier Reef
The presence of herbicides (diuron, atrazine and hexazinone) increases the vulnerability of corals to the negative effects of high temperatures on photosynthesis (Negri et al. 2011).
more at[1].pdf
Diuron and atrazine both have acute exposure impacts on corals at very low doses. Ross Jones et al. of the University of Queensland experimentally exposed four species of corals to varying concentrations of diuron and atrazine for short lengths of time. They found that the herbicides reduced photosynthetic efficiency (measured by effective quantum yield) in the corals' zooxanthellae after ten hours of exposure at concentrations as low as 1 part per billion (ppb) for diuron and 3 ppb for atrazine.

The corals did recover quickly from acute exposure. The experiment found that after 250 minutes of exposure to 10 ppb diuron concentrations, the photosynthetic efficiency of the corals recovered to within 25% of the baseline measure within 40 to 120 minutes, depending on the coral species.

However, exposure to these pesticides in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon is much more severe than what the corals in the experiment were exposed to. Pesticide runoff from sugar cane fields can be on the order of hundreds of kilograms per runoff event, which lasts three to five days, and reefs are essentially under chronic pesticide exposure.