The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied the emergency use of propazine on three million acres of Texas cotton fields, citing a fear of drinking water contamination from the toxic herbicide.
Farmers pushed for the Milo-Pro spray application to stop invasive “super weeds” from further damaging crops. Palmer amaranth, or pigweed, is an aggressive weed that can grow three inches a day and has developed resistance to widely used chemicals. Propazine, which requires a licence, is a toxic herbicide in the triazine class of chemicals. It’s been linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity.
The EPA found that the farmers’ request met emergency application criteria, however, cited a number of risk assessment concerns for using propazine on the land, which includes nearly half of Texas’ land planted with cotton.
“While we disagree with the EPA that this meets any of the criteria for emergency exemption, we applaud the EPA for putting the health of people and the environment first and upholding the health and environmental standards under the law,” Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, commented on the decision in a July 23, 2014 statement.
The triazines are highly soluble in water and are the most frequently detected pesticides found at concentrations at or above one or more benchmarks in over half of sites sampled.
“This is not an emergency because the weed resistance is predictable since it has been known for many years that GMO cotton sprayed with glyphosate would create resistant superweeds,” notes Feldman. “It is an abuse of the law to prop up failed GMO cropping systems with toxic chemicals when viable alternatives, like organic growing methods, exist.”