This is one of my favorite stories I’ve written this semester. The atrazine issue is one I wasn’t previously familiar with, but I really enjoyed learning about it. Capturing the debate between science and industry was particularly interesting for me, especially because both sides are so passionately sure they’re right. Stories like these are important, because they show how agricultural issues can become health and international justice issues.
For Leon Corzine of Assumption, north of Pana, atrazine is as essential to farming as soil, water or sun. Corzine, along with wife Susie and son Craig, is a fifth-generation farmer who grows corn and soybeans and owns Angus cattle.
Corzine relies on atrazine, a weed-killer used by Illinois farmers for 50 years. When atrazine is applied after this year’s harvest, he won’t have to till the ground until planting season next year, reducing erosion and conserving soil and water, he says.
Although atrazine is banned in the European Union, the product is used on nearly two million corn acres in Illinois.
“We steward our land carefully,” Corzine says. “Managed use of atrazine is a prime example of that stewardship.”
However, some scientific studies have linked atrazine to breast and prostate cancer, low birth weight, declining testosterone levels, low sperm count and other health problems in rats, frogs, fish, birds and humans.
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