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Korein Tillery: Is Time Running Out for the Manufacturers of the Herbicide Atrazine?

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Recent developments toward addressing the harmful health effects of the herbicide Atrazine have attorney and clean water advocate Steve Tillery cautiously optimistic that the country is moving closer toward transparency and accountability for the herbicide's manufacturers.

"Just within the past 48 hours, articles appearing in the New York Times and the Peoria Journal Star have underscored the serious need to closely examine and address the negative impact the herbicide Atrazine is having on our environment and the health of our citizens," said Tillery.

"The public assumes that a governmental entity like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), is acting to protect them and keep them safe. When it comes to Atrazine, the EPA has earned a failing grade," Tillery says. "Current initiatives are a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done," Tillery added.

Tillery is referring to an announcement made earlier this Spring by the U.S. EPA to screen 67 pesticides, including Atrazine - the most commonly used herbicide in the United States, for their potential to damage human reproduction and growth. The announcement moved forward the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, which is currently proceeding on 3 fronts: 1) performing scientific and technical testing needed to validate the endocrine disruptor screens and tests; 2) setting priorities for selecting chemicals for initial screening and testing; and 3) developing the policies and procedures the Agency will use to require testing. By U.S. EPA's working definition, endocrine disruptors "interfere with synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body that are responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis (normal cell metabolism), reproduction, development and/or behavior." Tillery points to countless studies which have demonstrated that Atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor (Albanito, et. Al Environmental Health Perspectives 2008 116 (12): 1648-53.) and notes that "all vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, including humans) are fundamentally similar during early embryonic development. Scientists can therefore use the evidence acquired on other species to make predictions about endocrine disrupting effects on humans." Numerous studies conducted to date have raised serious concerns about the link to health effects when people are exposed to Atrazine, such as congestion of the heart, lungs and kidneys; low blood pressure; muscle spasms; weight loss; damage to adrenal glands; cardio-vascular damage; retinal and muscle degeneration; cancer and other adverse developmental and reproductive conditions.

Responding to news releases by Syngenta citing studies favorable to Atrazine, Tillery has one response: "Whenever you see any study favorable to this chemical, ask whether the scientists performing the study were on Syngenta's payroll, directly or indirectly."

Tillery says that according to a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, there were numerous secret meetings held between Syngenta, the largest manufacturer of Atrazine (based in Switzerland), and the EPA during the critical Atrazine re-registration - a process that resulted in the continuation of the unrestrained use of Atrazine in the U.S. (the use of Atrazine was banned by the European Union in 2004). "Whether or not the average person agrees with his/her government, all Americans should be able to rely on the basic integrity of the federal agency charged with keeping our drinking water safe," said Tillery.

Tillery also said he's glad to see that Congress is taking further steps with the recent re-introduction of the Clean Water Restoration Act, to restore protections for waterways throughout the country that impact the drinking water of more than 100 million Americans. "We're hopeful that Congress and the Administration will continue to move forward to ensure safe and uncontaminated drinking water for all Americans," Tillery added.

"The clock is ticking and I believe that time is running out for the manufacturers of Atrazine. Until now there has been zero accountability for the very companies which have profited enormously while polluting our drinking water. They should clean up their own mess, not rely on the American public to do it for them." says Tillery. Tillery's law firm, Korein Tillery, filed a class action lawsuit in August of 2004 on behalf of Holiday Shores Sanitary District, located in Madison County, Illinois and all other Illinois water districts which had suffered Atrazine contamination of their water sources(s) at any measurable level. The lawsuit seeks damages for the ongoing costs of filtering Atrazine as well as for proper filtration systems that will protect the public from the dangers of Atrazine. "I will not rest until manufacturers like Syngenta are held accountable to clean up the mess they are creating in our water systems and until every American is assured safe and uncontaminated drinking water," Tillery said.

SOURCE Korein Tillery
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