Target: Syngenta AG
Goal: Condemn Syngenta AG for multi-million dollar campaign to suppress information concerning the herbicide atrazine
With close to 80 million pounds dumped on U.S. crops and soil every year, atrazine is the second most widely used herbicide in the country. While some scientists link atrazine to human birth defects, it is most famous for causing hermaphroditism and gender changes in frogs. The European Union has banned the chemical due to its tendency to contaminate water. The chemical’s manufacturer, Swiss-based Syngenta AG, has spent hundreds of millions trying to silence researchers, discredit findings and skew reports. Condemn Syngenta for suppressing the truth concerning the negative effects of atrazine.
Syngenta’s campaign to obscure the truth about the harmful nature of its product is extensive and far reaching. Recently disclosed documents show that over the last 15 years the company has routinely paid off individuals and organizations to report favorable conclusions and discredit critics. They commissioned academics to publish articles touting the benefits of atrazine, disguising the authors as independent sources with no connection to Syngenta. Reporting $14.2 billion in revenues for 2012, the company has spent millions on public relations firms and hired private investigators in smear campaigns against court judges and researchers.
Most notable is their antagonism toward leading atrazine researcher Tyrone Hayes. Syngenta considered several strategies against Hayes, including investigating his wife and bribing him with unlimited research funding– so long as he dropped the topic of atrazine. Ultimately, they hired a detective to dig into his psychological profile and personal life, hoping to falsely represent the professor as a buffoon. Dr. Hayes says that he is now paying 20 times more than other researchers at U.C. Berkeley to operate his lab and is being turned down for federal grants.
Atrazine is a potential carcinogen (despite several reviews by the EPA, the administration has failed to deliver conclusive results) and a powerful disruptor of animal endocrine systems. Due to the ease with which it seeps into rivers and streams, it is widely present in much of America’s drinking supply. What this means for our health is unknown, and will remain unknown if scientists are quashed and research is disallowed to continue. Demand Syngenta to stop its campaign against truth.
Dear Syngenta AG,
A growing number of scientists are raising the alarm on your product atrazine. At just miniscule concentrations, less even than the 3 parts-per-billion threshold set by the EPA, atrazine is shown to be a potent endocrine disruptor. It has the potential to damage sperm and fetuses, leading to birth defects, and has been clearly demonstrated to cause gender changes in frogs, turning males female. As the manufacturer of a chemical so ubiquitous in much of America’s water supply, you show insulting indifference to the potential health risks of atrazine.
Your obstinate rejection of any potentially negative effects of the chemical is inconsiderate and irresponsible. Not only have you ignored unwanted reports, your company has spent millions actively working to silence critics and disseminate false information. In addition to bribing individuals and agencies to publish “neutral” and “disinterested” opinions, masking their financial connection to your company, you have resorted to rude and petty hostility against opponents.
Your talk of corporate responsibility and doing service for public good is high and mighty for a company routinely contaminating our water with a potentially harmful chemical. I implore you to stop vilifying honest scientists that seek real answers; and I condemn your campaign to suppress information and skew the truth.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Michael Trolove via Wikimedia Commons