U.S. Water News Online
DETROIT -- A powerful herbicide that has found its way into
waterways in other states soon could be approved for use on
Michigan's corn fields.
The manufacturer of Balance Pro has asked the state to allow use
of the weed killer on Michigan's crops. Many weeds have become
resistant to herbicides already approved for use in the state.
But the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of 63 state
environmental groups, wants a public hearing before Balance Pro is
``It's a very persistent substance with some pretty devastating
impacts,'' Dave Dempsey, policy adviser for the council, told the
Detroit Free Press. ``We will be asking it not be approved without a
public hearing and environmental impact statement.''
The federal Environmental Protection Agency gave temporary
approval in 1999 for Balance Pro and its active ingredient,
Michigan officials passed in 2001 and 2002 on requests by Bayer
CropScience to use Balance Pro in the state because of insufficient
``They have to convince us that it can be used without getting
into the groundwater or surface water and without negatively
impacting the environment,'' said Keith Creagh, chief deputy director
of the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
Creagh expects a staff recommendation on the product within the
next 30 days, but the final decision will be made by the department's
director, Dan Wyant. Creagh said there are no plans for a public
Alan Ayers, director of state affairs for Bayer CropScience, said
the company will show there is no danger to groundwater and minimal
concerns over the chemical's accumulation in the environment.
However, isoxaflutole is classified as a probable human
carcinogen. And studies in states, including Iowa and Nebraska,
showed that between 62 percent and 88 percent of nearby stream
samples had significant amounts of isoxaflutole residue.
Concerns over the chemical led Wisconsin's natural resources
department to conclude that ``risks associated with the highly
phytotoxic nature of isoxaflutole, the classification of isoxaflutole
as a probable human carcinogen and the likelihood of isoxaflutole
entering the surface and groundwater greatly outweigh any advantages
that the use of this herbicide would provide corn growers.''
Wisconsin allows the chemical's use with several restrictions.
Minnesota as well recently approved use of Balance Pro with
restrictions, including a prohibition on using it near field drainage
Don Stubbs, chief of the EPA's registration division, herbicide
branch, said recent test results have alleviated many concerns over
Balance Pro's effect on aquatic plants and its potential to poison
The agency is still reviewing data on its effect on surface water
Jody Pollok, director of the Michigan Corn Growers Association,
said her group supports the use of Balance Pro in Michigan as long as
it is proven safe.
``We want to use the best, sound science,'' she said. ``And we
want to make sure the producers here in Michigan have the same tools
as producers in other states.''
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