Goals of this assignment include
- improving information literacy skills by studying the uses of and alternatives to a commonly used pesticide, Atrazine
- developing skills in critical thinking and persuasive communication about the controversial issue of pesticide use through role play
Atrazine is one of the most commonly used pesticides in the world—more than 75,000 pounds in 2003 in the United States alone. It is heavily used on commodity corn and soybeans, and is credited by some with increasing yields significantly and saving $2 billion in potential losses to weed-related damage. Yet Atrazine is banned in the European Union because it is a persistent contaminant in groundwater. Aquatic biologists also report strong evidence that it is an endocrine disruptor responsible for declines in some amphibian populations.
Should Atrazine use continue to be allowed under current regulations? Or should it be banned, regulated more (or less), or replaced with alternative methods? This project asks you to take on the perspective of a major player in this ongoing debate.
There are two components to this assignment. First, each of you will need to research Atrazine use and its effects on human health, wildlife, and ecosystems. You will need to choose a position to defend in the class debate and focus your search on resources that will help you defend that position (whether or not you actually agree with that viewpoint). Each of you will need to post a well-developed report of at least five paragraphs, presenting scientific, economic, and other evidence to support your position on Atrazine use.
You are free to choose any significant role you prefer in the discussion. More than one person may take the same perspective (e.g., that of a corn farmer), but it is recommended that you develop a unique role for yourself. Think creatively and specifically—for example, instead of just taking the role of “corn farmer,” perhaps you could be a corn farmer in the Prairie Pothole area of North Dakota near vital wetlands, or an economically struggling corn farmer in Germany, where Atrazine is banned. Here are some suggestions of possible roles:
- amphibian biologist
- organic farmer next door to a corn farm
- cancer patient
- chemical company executive
- Corn Belt politician
- urban-based environmental activist
- unborn child
- EPA administrator
Conduct research into the pesticide Atrazine, using the Internet, books, scientific journals, personal interviews, or other sources. Choose a viewpoint, and write a five-paragraph (or longer) report from that individual’s perspective on why Atrazine should or should not be used, any changes that person might recommend in use and regulation, and other Atrazine-related issues of interest to that person. Post your report in the “Role Play about Atrazine” class discussion by 11:59 p.m. on the due date in order to receive full credit. Note: The title of your main post in the discussions should clarify your chosen role, e.g., “Amphibian biologist who studies risks of atrazine.”
At least four APA style references to your resources are required for this assignment.