Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Many in agriculture are not pleased with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency release of its draft report for the ecological risk assessment of atrazine.Here is the abstract from the EPA draft report released yesterday.“This refined assessment presents the ecological risks posed by the use of the herbicide atrazine. Based on the results from hundreds of toxicity studies on the effects of atrazine on plants and animals, over 20 years of surface water monitoring data, and higher tier aquatic exposure models, this risk assessment concludes that aquatic plant communities are impacted in many areas where atrazine use is heaviest, and there is potential chronic risk to fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrates in these same locations. In the terrestrial environment, there are risk concerns for mammals, birds, reptiles, plants and plant communities across the country for many of the atrazine uses. EPA levels of concern for chronic risk are exceeded by as much as 22, 198, and 62 times for birds, mammals, and fish, respectively. For aquatic phase amphibians, a weight of evidence analysis concluded there is potential for chronic risks to amphibians based on multiple effects endpoint concentrations compared to measured and predicted surface water concentrations. The breadth of terrestrial plant species and families potentially impacted by atrazine use at current labeled rates, as well as reduced rates of 0.5 and 0.25 lbs. a.i./A, suggest that terrestrial plant biodiversity and communities are likely to be impacted from off-field exposures via runoff and spray drift. Average atrazine concentrations in water at or above 5 μg/L for several weeks are predicted to lead to reproductive effects in fish, while a 60-day average of 3.4 μg/L has a high probability of impacting aquatic plant community primary productivity, structure and function.”The report was a concern to the farmers who rely upon atrazine in their operations.“With more than 7,000 scientific studies over the past 50 years, atrazine has been proven to be a safe and effective crop management tool. It is one of the most reliable herbicides available,” said Chad Kemp, president of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “We are dismayed and astounded that the EPA chose to fly in the face of guidance from its own Science Advisory Panel and base this assessment on studies the panel found flawed just four years ago. The trust level in this assessment plunges knowing that faulty studies were used as the basis of this evaluation.”Kemp said that farming without atrazine could cost corn farmers up to $59 per acre, according to a 2012 study by the University of Chicago.“And who pays the price for this not-so-scientific assessment? Consumers will face higher food costs as yields decrease and farm operating costs rise,” Kemp said. “We are deeply disappointed that the EPA has once again chosen to ignore science and, by doing so, has demonstrated its lack of support for and understanding of the farming industry and the negative economic impact its decisions place on consumers. We are urging all farmers and others who care about a plentiful, affordable food supply to contact the EPA and tell them to base their decision on sound science.”The EPA’s draft report on the herbicide atrazine is cause for alarm, according to the Triazine Network, a national coalition of farm organizations representing well over 30 agricultural crops in over 40 states. The group insists if EPA continues to use the same false logic or endpoints as noted in the preliminary risk assessment, it could lead to a de facto ban on atrazine.“EPA’s flawed atrazine report is stomping science into the dirt and setting farmers up for significant economic hardship. We challenge this latest proposal and insist EPA abide by federal law that requires the agency to make determinations based on credible scientific evidence,” said Gary Marshall, Triazine Network Chairman. Marshall is executive director of the Missouri Corn Growers Association. “Again and again, we must ask EPA to follow the law. A regulatory agency should not need to be reminded of that detail.”The Triazine Network asserts the federal agency discounted several high-quality studies and instead used studies EPA‘s own 2012 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) deemed flawed. According to the latest report, EPA is recommending aquatic life level of concern (LOC) be set at 3.4 parts per billion (ppb) on a 60-day average. The EPA’s current LOC for atrazine is 10 ppb, however a diverse universe of scientific evidence points to a safe aquatic life LOC at 25 ppb or greater. The proposed level cuts average field application rates down to 8 ounces per acre.“At the proposed level, atrazine would be rendered useless in controlling weeds in a large portion of the Corn Belt, effectively eliminating the product,” Marshall said. “It sets a dangerous precedent when it comes to approving crop protection tools, puts farmers at a great economic disadvantage and would drastically set back conservation efforts. If EPA abandons the recommendations of their own Science Advisory Panels and more than 7,000 science-based studies in favor of activist agenda’s and politics; they will have lost all credibility”EPA reregistered atrazine in 2006 and began its regularly scheduled registration re-review June 2013. The process typically takes six years to complete. Once the draft report is published in the Federal Register, EPA will begin collecting comments for 60 days.
TAMPA, FL – JANUARY 09: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks with head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers after the Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide 35-31 in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)This past weekend consisted of several huge days of recruiting for some of the top programs in the country. At its conclusion, dozens of commitments to the 2020 recruiting class were announced, altering the college football recruiting landscape.247Sports has updated its 2020 recruiting class rankings to reflect the changes. While there was no movement in the top two – Clemson and Alabama still dominate the field – there was plenty of movement in the remaining top ten.Here are the current 2020 recruiting rankings, with the star rating of the committed prospects included.From 247Sports: 10. Texas A&M – One 5-star / five 4-stars / seven 3-stars9. Michigan – Seven 4-stars / 10 3-stars8. Miami (FL) – One 5-star / six 4-stars / 12 3-stars7. Ohio State – Two 5-stars / six 4-stars / five 3-stars6. Florida – Nine 4-stars / Nine 3-stars5. Notre Dame – One 5-star / eight 4-stars / five 3-stars4. Georgia – Two 5-stars / 10 4-stars / one 3-star3. LSU – Two 5-stars / 13 4-stars / five 3-stars2. Alabama – Two 5-stars / 14 4-stars / four 3-stars1. Clemson – Five 5-stars / nine 4-stars / four 3-starsUnsurprisingly, the SEC makes up the bulk of the top 10 with six teams on the list, including three of the top four. The Big Ten and ACC each had two representatives, while independent Notre Dame also made the cut.Clemson, the country’s leader, has not made much noise since securing a commitment from five-star defensive tackle Demonte Capehart earlier this month. But they are still trending for several more five-star prospects that could make their 2020 recruiting class a historic one.As always, Alabama is high on the list as Nick Saban is putting together yet another class of NFL-quality players.
SWEDENOne case was registered at the end of January in a woman who had visited the Wuhan area. On Wednesday a second virus case was discovered. GEORGIAGeorgia on Wednesday announced the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the South Caucasus region. With 12 deaths and 400 people infected, Italy is the European country worst-hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. It has also been a point of contagion with many cases in other countries involving people who returned home after travelling in infection-hit areas of northern Italy. AUSTRIAA young Italian couple have tested positive. The Innsbruck hotel where the woman worked as a receptionist was initially placed in quarantine but the measure was lifted on Wednesday following tests. Austria has also urged its nationals to avoid visiting affected areas of neighboring Italy. Topics : BRITAINSo far, 13 cases recorded since the start of the epidemic. The government has requested travellers returning from affected areas in northern Italy, China, South Korea and Iran to isolate themselves and inform the authorities. GREECE Athens announced its first infection on Wednesday, a woman aged 38 who had recently returned from northern Italy. On Tuesday, the Greek government said that in the event of a mass outbreak, it would activate temporary restrictions on travel to and from countries with a large number of infections as well as temporarily closing schools, places of worship, cinemas, theatres, sports halls and businesses. BELGIUMOne case detected in a Belgian national who was repatriated from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the epidemic, in early February. He has completed his quarantine period. ITALY FINLANDTwo cases, the first detected in a Chinese tourist in Lapland, while a second case involving a Finnish national who had recently visited northern Italy was confirmed on Wednesday. NORTH MACEDONIAOne case in a woman who recently return from a month in Italy. FRANCE France has so far registered 18 infections and two deaths, and has urged its nationals to delay any plans to visit virus hotspots in northern Italy. Students returning from China, Singapore, South Korea and the Italian regions of Lombardy and Venice are being asked to remain at home for two weeks after their return. With governments scrambling to contain a slew of coronavirus cases popping up across Europe, here is an overview of the countries affected, where people have died and the precautions being taken. GERMANYIn Germany, 18 people have been infected including two diagnosed on Tuesday. One is a 25-year-old man who was “presumably infected in Italy, in the city of Milan”. SPAINThe same has happened in Spain, which has registered 12 cases, 10 of which have been detected since Monday night. Of that number, nine involved Italians or people who had recently visited Italy. Among that number are four Italians who were visiting Tenerife in the Canary Islands, with the hotel where they were staying placed in quarantine To curb the spread, Madrid has advised against travel in northern Italy and sought to identify other potential cases that may have slipped under the radar by testing those already in hospital with respiratory problems or returning from high-risk areas with flu-like symptoms. CROATIAThree people have tested positive. Among them are a young man who recently stayed in Italy and his brother, while a third case was detected on Wednesday in a man who works in the Italian city of Parma. SWITZERLANDA first case detected on Tuesday in a man in his 70s who was infected near Milan.
Switzerland’s smaller chamber of parliament, the Ständerat, has passed a pensions reform package that pits it against the lower chamber and, according to one industry observer, casts doubt over the fate of the government’s pensions reform project. One of the main points of contention of the Altersvorsorge 2020 (AV2020) reform package is how to compensate for a lowering of the minimum conversion rate.In September 2016, the Nationalrat, the lower and larger chamber, rejected doing this by means of a general increase to first-pillar pensions – by CHF70 (€65) a month – which was in the upper chamber’s proposal.The Nationalrat position, and of the pensions industry, is for a drop in future second-pillar pensions to be compensated solely within the occupational pensions framework. The advisory committee in the upper chamber has since in turn rejected the Nationalrat’s amendments and recommended re-introducing a top-up of first-pillar pensions (AHV) in the AV2020 reform draft.Last week, a majority of the Ständerat, the chamber of representatives of the cantons, adopted the committee’s recommendation, voting against alternative proposals from minority politicians in the chamber.The Swiss employer federation strongly criticised the Ständerat’s decision, saying the status quo would be better than the upper chamber’s proposal, while labour unions welcomed the vote.Last week’s vote is part of the Differenzbereinigung process, during which differences between the chambers are supposed to be ironed out.Peter Wirth, industry expert and author of a newsletter for the Swiss second-pillar group Vorsorgeforum, said the AV2020 reform package was in the middle of the Differenzbereinigung but also “in crisis”.He said the lower chamber would have another go at the reform package in spring next year.A mediation conference (Einigungskonferenz) will probably follow and then, ultimately, a final vote, “with a very uncertain outcome”, he added.He cited several reasons for the Vorsorgeforum’s scepticism, saying the upper chamber had not shown itself to be prepared to compromise, and that the lower chamber could also end up digging in its heels, with the different political make-up in the chambers also complicating matters.There are “significant” differences between the centre-left and the right on the AV2020 package, noted Wirth.In damning criticism of the behaviour of the majority in the upper chamber, he said that, after it failed to budge on its position, it was expecting the lower chamber to compromise.There will be renewed discussions and negotiations behind the scenes until March, he said, but, “unfortunately, at the moment, the chances of a sensible solution look slim”.The best one can hope for, according to Wirth, is a botch job.Hans Peter Konrad, director of ASIP, the Swiss occupational pensions trade association, told IPE it was possible that the entire reform initiative collapsed but that he was optimistic and that the association was continuing to work towards a solution being found in parliament.“We’re of the opinion that this reform is necessary and that it must not be allowed to fail,” he said. Not everyone in the second pillar in Switzerland believes the reform is needed, although one source recently expressing this view to IPE said his was a contrarian one.Konrad said that the question about the CHF70 first pillar top-up was political and that ASIP was neutral on this, focusing instead on the second-pillar aspects of the reform.It believes that solutions can be found for the lowering of the minimum conversion rate to be offset within the second pillar.The next steps in the law-making process are for the advisory committee in the Nationalrat to debate the upper chamber’s proposal, and then for the full lower chamber to do so.“After that, the reform package will go back and forth in session,” said Konrad, adding that he expected a few differences to remain, including over the CHF70, and that a mediation conference was likely. He expects that, at the end of the day, the politicians will “get their act together” to find a solution.“But I wouldn’t bet on it,” he said. The government’s envisaged timeline for the reform is for it to enter into effect in January 2018.This would require a final parliamentary decision to be made by the end of March, to allow time for a popular referendum to be held in September 2017.