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Federal Study Shows No Link between Atrazine and Cancer, says Syngenta Official

Gil Gullickson 07/17/2011 @ 11:31am Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

Atrazine is often the poster boy for links between farm chemicals and human cancer rates. Still, an extensive multi-year federal Agricultural Health Study (AHS) recently found no consistent association between the popular corn herbicide and cancer rates on farmers, farm spouses, and pesticide applicators.

“This is good news,” says Tim Pastoor, a toxicologist and principal scientist with Syngenta Crop Protection. Findings are consistent with those from a 2006 triazine federal re-registration that was started in 1994 and included more than 6,000 scientific studies. Syngenta manufactures and sells atrazine, a compound in the triazine chemical family.

“Atrazine is one of the most tested molecules on the face of the earth,” says Pastoor. “With all the information developed on atrazine, this (AHS) gives us a greater degree of assurance about decisions made about the product. All studies augment the knowledge we have on atrazine, and reaffirm that it can be used safely.”

The study

The AHS started in 1993 to investigate relationships between aspects of living and working on a farm―including hazardous substance exposures and cancer risk—and relationships with other health problems. Most of the cancer research focused on more than 20 pesticides including atrazine.

The AHS included 89,000 farmers, pesticide applicators, and spouses in Iowa and North Carolina. Federal agencies involved included the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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