Activist Groups

It’s no secret that well-funded organizations are fighting pesticides and farm technology in general. In their perfect world, farmers wouldn’t have the tools available today that help them produce more food on fewer acres. If these groups had their way, farming would look a lot like it did back in the 1930s. In reality, the world population continues to grow while the number of acres available for farming continues to shrink. Feeding our growing world population is a serious concern. The good news is that farm productivity has increased greatly thanks to crop protection tools like atrazine and other technology that is allowing farmers to grow more crops per acre in a much more sustainable manner than our parents and grandparents could.

More than being opposed to modern farming practices, there is also the financial element. Many of these activists groups are stuffed to the gills with attorneys and rely on filing lawsuits and collecting settlements as a major cash stream.

“The environmental lobby also figures that if it can take down atrazine with its long record of clean health, it can get the EPA to prohibit anything.”

– Wall Street Journal, May 3,2010 article EPA’s continued regulatory reviews of atrazine.

Here is how three influential activist organizations work.

Center for Biological Diversity—A visit to this organization’s website will show that it is more law firm than environmental justice group. One CBD lawsuit, settled in 2010 will require EPA to study the nationwide impacts that four common herbicides have on endangered species, which could lead to new restrictions.The studies are part of a legal settlement with environmentalists under which the agency must conduct “effects determinations” by 2020 for glyphosate, atrazine, propazine and simazine.

The Center for Biological Diversity is expecting the study to result in “tailored conservation measures” to mitigate the negative effects of glyphosate in sensitive habitats, he said.As for atrazine and related pesticides, the group expects they’ll be found to be dangerous enough to be prohibited.

NRDC—A look at how opportunistic activist organizations bring in the green

Atrazine has been under attack by a group called the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Any group in America has a right to protest what they want, but this group is different: They’ve already demonstrated their ability to orchestrate campaigns of misinformation with the explicit intent of bringing down an industry they don’t like. They’ve done it before. The NRDC gained fame in the late 1980s by claiming to have “evidence” that a chemical then commonly used on apple crops, called alar, caused cancer in humans. Famous television news programs aired lengthy reports on the claims. Newspapers, magazines and even major movie stars joined the anti-alar bandwagon, claiming in shrill, alarmist voices that alar, which some growers sprayed on apple trees prior to flowering to prolong ripening and shelf life, caused cancer in people.

Only problem was, it didn’t. But before the EPA special panel of scientists declared the NRDC “research” too flawed to use, and rejected it for not conforming to minimum quality standards (read more about those EPA standards here), more than 20,000 U.S. growers lost a lot of money, and some their very businesses, as the market for U.S. apples plummeted.

It later came out that, in 1988, the NRDC had hired a PR company to spread the lies. And the head of that company, David Fenton, of Fenton Communications, later bragged that the campaign to kill alar had been designed from the start to make money for the NRDC, including $700,000 selling a book on their claims when they appeared on the Phil Donahue show during their media blitz. Is that an organization that is qualified to dictate our policy on atrazine?

Click here to view Atrazine; ‘Son of Alar’: The New Pesticide Scare Campaign.


The Pesticide Action Network North Amercia, PANNA, is the North American branch of the Pesticide Action Network. The group promotes ending the use of pesticides, replacing them with “ecologically sound and socially just alternatives.”

The group claims: “Pesticides are hazardous to human health and the environment, create resistant pest populations, contribute to declining crop yields, undermine local and global food security and threaten agricultural biodiversity.”

In reality, farmers are using pesticides in a much more sustainable manner than ever before. Using technology, farmers can use small amounts of pesticides to control weeds, insects and fungus in their crops, ensuring bountiful harvests of high quality crops. Biotechnology continues to bring great advances to lower pesticide use with crops that are resistant to pests and to allow for better weed control. PANNA, however, is also opposed to biotechnology.