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Atrazine litigation in Madison County

I'm quoted in a Legal Newsline piece about Baron & Budd and Korein Tillery class actions in Madison County over alleged seepage of the herbicide atrazine into the country's water supplies.

The suits seem meritless: "if a 150-pound adult drank literally thousands of gallons of water with atrazine at three parts-per-billion every day for 70 years, she still would not reach the exposure level at which no adverse impact has been detected in the laboratory." The EPA just re-registered the herbicide in 2006 after a twelve-year review of 6000 studies showing no evidence of carcinogenic effect, and the three-parts-per-billion safety standard has a thousand-fold safety factor.

The effects on agriculture and the economy if the lawsuits succeeded would be enormous; a huge chunk of the country's grain production is reliant on atrazine to maximize yields. A study by a University of Chicago economist, Don Coursey, found that there would be 21,000 to 46,000 jobs lost; one presumes food prices would rise substantially if we lose $2 billion of crop yields.

That's not just the US economy at stake. The price spike in grains in 2007-2008 caused by the rise in the price of oil and world biofuel policy diverting grains to ethanol production is blamed for a world food crisis that caused political unrest in dozens of nations and was responsible for who knows how many thousands of starvation deaths. It could happen again. Just another example of trial lawyers putting profits ahead of people.

See also Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues and a farmers' organization blog on the subject, though with 161 Facebook followers as of early Monday morning, it's not exactly a cause that's going viral.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.