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Congress investigates controversial herbicides

by Britt E. Erickson
October 3, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 39

Credit: Shutterstock
U.S. corn farmers rely heavily on atrazine and glyphosate.
Photo shows low-flying plane spraying liquid on a corn field.
Credit: Shutterstock
U.S. corn farmers rely heavily on atrazine and glyphosate.

Republican lawmakers are seeking more information about federal safety reviews of two widely used herbicides—atrazine and glyphosate. They are also questioning NIH’s funding of research conducted by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC determined last year that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic.” IARC’s conclusion is at odds with research from EPA and the European Food Safety Authority, which found that glyphosate is safe. In a letter to NIH Director Francis S. Collins, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, questions why NIH has provided IARC with “several millions of dollars since 1992, including over $1.2 million so far this year,” even though IARC’s standards “appear inconsistent with other scientific research.” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, is asking EPA for documents related to its reviews of atrazine and glyphosate. In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Johnson raises concerns that tighter restrictions on atrazine will lower crop yields and raise farming costs.


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