This article was originally published by the Center for Media and Democracy at PRWatch.org.
Herbicide manufacturer Syngenta had an interesting way of celebrating Earth Day this year, touting the joys of pesticides.
The multinational conglomerate sent out a press release during the approach to Earth Day exclaiming that “modern farming is grounds for Earth Day celebration” because, it continues, “conservation tillage and no-till farming are responsible for significant environmental benefits often overlooked by Earth Day observers.” These “no-till” farming techniques, which reduce erosion and fuel use, depend “on the ability to control weeds, demonstrating the importance of the 50-year-old herbicide atrazine.”
Some scientists, including agricultural economist John Ikerd and toxicologist Warren Porter, are not buying the “atrazine is great for Mother Earth” spin.
Syngenta, which reported over $13 billion in revenue in 2011, is the primary manufacturer of atrazine, which is commonly used to kill weeds in commodity crops, forests, and golf courses. As the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has reported as part of its “Atrazine Exposed” project, its potential harmful effects on human health have been documented since the 1990s. It has been banned in the European Union since 2004 as well as in some parts of the United States. However, it is still one of the most heavily used herbicides in the U.S.
Syngenta has spent millions on marketing, public relations (PR) campaigns, and lobbying to maintain its market and fight calls to phase atrazine out of use in the U.S.