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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Monday, July 25, 2022

Biden EPA gives regulatory booster shot for food inflation

July 18, 2022 By Hank Campbell @ Washington Examiner

The No. 1 crop in America is corn. It’s a major ingredient in thousands of food and beverage items as well as a staple in beef cattle diets, and it is the second largest export after soybeans. A recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency could change all of that.

Late last month, the EPA released a new standard for how much of the popular and crucial weedkiller known as Atrazine, in use since 1958, could be detected in aquatic systems. Known as the Concentration Equivalent Level of Concern, or CE-LOC , this number was 18 parts per billion from 2004-2011. In 2011, it temporarily dropped to 10 ppb before scientists settled at 15 ppb in 2019 during the final stages of the recurring EPA process known as registration review, which began again in 2013.

Now the Biden administration wants to make it the unworkably low level of 3.4 ppb.

This new 3.4 ppb level is not based on science. Farmers know it, and EPA scientists know it. It is an impossible standard, especially for a popular herbicide used in America's top crop, which means it is effectively a ban on a product that EPA scientists had just re-registered and found safe at 15 ppb. What will put rivers and wildlife at risk is forcing farmers to use older, less effective products in higher quantities.

Agriculture is already facing a crisis. Supply chain problems have caused the price of generic glufosinate (Liberty) and glyphosate (Roundup) to shoot up 300%. The EPA restricted dicamba in Iowa just two weeks ago. Costs are ballooning for everyone. This new standard by EPA is going to create even higher costs and more environmental strain on 65 million acres of corn, sugarcane, and sorghum. Higher yields and lower costs for corn save the public about $6 billion annually. Modern, safe weedkillers mean less tillage and less soil erosion.

How this came to be is baffling to scientists and the public but perhaps not a surprise to political experts. The EPA had already finished its scientific analysis of Atrazine so the Biden administration piggybacked onto an environmental lawsuit and asked the court to force the EPA to reopen the determination of a very conservative safe level for the weedkiller. Once the court order was given, the Biden administration overruled its own scientists and accepted an outlier result that the Obama administration had determined was not based on evidence.

The bulk of the work was done during the Obama administration and finalized during the Trump administration, so this is not the usual Democrats versus Republicans maneuvering. This is the Biden administration versus everyone. It is undermining government scientists, who had completed an exhaustive review to re-register the herbicide, and farmers who want guidelines — but not guidelines that are really bans created by sidestepping science and Congress and that force them to scramble to find replacements.

When a quality study comes out that shows reason for concern about using an herbicide or any product, the administration can and should call a Scientific Advisory Panel and ask experts to look at the data and decide if new concern is warranted. That did not happen here. In this case, EPA bureaucrats were told to wave off their own experts and accept fringe claims that scientists do not. It's not just bad science — it is bad for an economy that is already struggling.

Hank Campbell is the founder of Science 2.0 , a 501(c)(3) science and health nonprofit organization.


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