The EPA has opened hearings on the safety of the farm herbicide atrazine and some Minnesota farmers are defending the product.
The Natural Resources Defense Council says atrazine is known to be harmful to wildlife and probably to humans. The herbicide is used primarily to kill grassy and broadleaf weeds in corn fields. Atrazine is the most commonly detected water pollutant in U.S. agricultural regions.
But Warren Formo with the Minnesota Agricultural Water Coalition, said the trend is improving.
"Educational efforts and best management practices developed by farmers and organizations have helped to reduce the concentrations of atrazine in our waters," Formo said.
Tim Dritz, vice president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, said atrazine already cleared exhaustive studies. He said the herbicide is a key component in modern farming practices intended to save fuel and conserve soil.
"I personally use atrazine once in a while," Dritz said. "We have switched to conservation tillage practices over the last couple of years including strip-till and no-till. And on those acres weed control is tougher to do than in conventional tillage. You're no longer wiping them out mechanically as a lot of people do."