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Junk Science: Atrazine

The Madison County Record reports:

A report issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency June 21 concluded that the cumulative risks associated with triazine herbicides pose "no harm that would result to the general U.S. population, infants, children or other...consumers."

That's good news for farmers, especially in Illinois. Atrazine (a triazine compound) is the most commonly used herbicide by corn growers, favored for reducing erosion and runoff, as well as being cost-effective.

Atrazine also is the number one seasonal contaminant found in surface drinking supplies in the nation. It usually shows up in low levels in the spring and summer after farmers apply it to kill weeds rather than plowing weeds. The allowable level in drinking water is three parts per billion, a standard set by the U.S. EPA.

But six class action lawsuits against makers of these herbicides sit in Madison County court, brought by local class action lawyer Stephen Tillery and Texas toxic tort giant Baron & Budd, alleging that atrazine can cause cancer and reproductive problems in humans.

In April, Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute called the suits' claims "junk science", joining farm bureaus in opposing these types of suits.

The EPA comment period on the report ends August 21, 2006. More information here and here.

Rough Summer in Southern Illinois

Class action lawyers have had a rough summer in Southern Illinois' Fifth District Appellate Court, which is the court that handles appeals arising out of Madison and St. Clair counties. The makeup and attitude of the court has changed considerably since the election of Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier in 2004.

On July 25, the court handed down two rulings in favor of Airborne Express (now DHL) and Intel. The Mt. Vernon Register-News reports the case against Intel will be moved to California court and the Madison County Record reports the court affirmed summary judgment in favor of Airborne Express.

Earlier in the summer, the same court moved a St. Clair County Vioxx class action to Cook County, citing improper venue. See this previous post about Vioxx lawsuits in St. Clair County (IL).

(Cross-posted at ICJL Blog.)



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.