Atrazine is not Roundup, but...

Neil Jones neil at
Tue Apr 16 16:36:10 EDT 2002

On Tuesday 16 April 2002 07:53 pm, John Shuey wrote:
> > Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States.
> >
> > Under moist and warm conditions, the half-life of atrazine in topsoil is
> > about 60 days. In subsurface soils or in water, atrazine's half-life is
> > generally longer. The combination of widespread use and relative
> > persistence
> > in the environment help account for its frequent detection in surface and
> > ground waters.
> Atrazine is used mostly on corn in the Midwest, and its half-life causes
> real problems with prairie restoration.  It can wipe out a grassland
> planting via residual toxicity from the prior years planting. You plant and
> nothing comes up (actually your prairie seed geminates and dies quickly and
> quietly).
> So, working for an organization that is trying to restore about 7,000 acres
> of prairie at the moment, we require that cropland be planted in "round-up
> ready" soybeans the year prior to restoration planting.  We get a really
> clean field, that is weed free with no toxicity issues for the restoration.
> It actually saves us about $50 per acre in site preparation costs.
> And just when you saw Neil write re/ roundup - " using it isn't good for
> butterflies."  Next we'll be claiming that genetic engineering is bad too!
> John

It is possible to find some good in all bad things. Your point has _some_ 
validity. However it ignores the bigger picture. It is big picture changes 
that count.  To achieve conservation you must study the species involved.
The most important species is Homo sapiens. Man is fundamentally
a social species.  In the big picture it is social factors that make the 

The real question you must ask is, "why does the prairie need restoring?"
That is because social factors in man were amenable to its destruction.

Modern mechanised agriculture is responsible for _massive_ losses of habitat.
Here in the UK many species are in decline particularly the habitat 
specialists. The reason is modern agriculture. It is socially acceptable to 
do this therefore it is done. Genetic modification will only need to more 
industrialisation of agriculture and less natural systems where there is room 
for wildlife. For example there were no weeds in your Round up ready fields
for wildlife just for one year. Fine, you are going to make it better for 
wildlife, a noble goal, but Monsanto want every year to be a Roundup year 
with no weeds for wild insects to feed on._ THAT_ is the big picture 
consequence of  Genetic Engineering.

In order to conserve habitats we need to make the social changes necessary to 
do so. Social changes can however work both ways.

Monsanto, the corporation who manufacture Roundup, know this too and they 
know that these social changes could affect their profits. This is why 
Monsanto are one of the funders of the "Wise Use" anti-conservation movement.

We saw an example with the malicious accusations about scientists faking
data over the Lynx recently. It was a false story deliberately planted by 
"Wise Use" organisations. Social change is achieved through the propagation 
of ideas. This Lynx hoax has been propagated far and wide. Every person who 
doesn't know the full story and who believes it is a person less likely to 
support the conservation of the Lynx and, by the negative impression of 
conservation that they have accepted into their minds, a person less likely
to  join or give money to conservation organisations like The Nature 
Conservancy. It is one of the primary aims of the "Wise Use" 
anti-conservation movement to deprive conservation organisations of members 
and money. In short and bluntly _they_want_you_out _of_a_job_. 

Actually being a conservationist I am a big fan of The Nature Conservancy.
I am active in The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales  one of a number of 
local bodies which do a similar job over here.  John, good luck with your 
prairie restoration it is a worthwhile task. We are going to have to do more 
restoration over here.
The research and mathematics is telling us that some species of butterfly  in 
the UK may not survive over the long term without more habitat than is 
currently available.

Neil Jones- Neil at
"At some point I had to stand up and be counted. Who speaks for the
butterflies?" Andrew Lees - The quotation on his memorial at Crymlyn Bog
National Nature Reserve


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