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Daily News Blog

04
May

Organic Consumers Association Sues to Keep Synthetics Out of Organic Infant Forumula

(Beyond Pesticides May 3, 2016) Last week, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) filed lawsuits against two popular infant formula makers for falsely labeling their products as organic. The claims against both The Honest Co. and Hain Celestial Group allege that their products contain ingredients that are prohibited under the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 as well as non-organic and non-agricultural ingredients.

The lawsuit against The Honest Company alleges the product contains 11 synthetic ingredients that are not allowed by federal law in organic products, including sodium selenite and taurine. In the court documents, OCA also claims that some of the ingredients have not been “assessed as safe for human foods – much less for infant formulas.”Honest Company

“No one is more concerned about food labels and ingredients than new mothers responsible for feeding infants whose immune systems and brain development are so underdeveloped and vulnerable. As consumers, these mothers must rely on truthful labeling in order to make the best choices for feeding their infants and toddlers. Our job as a consumer advocacy group is to call out and hold accountable companies like The Honest Co. and Hain Celestial when they knowingly and intentionally mislead consumers,” said OCA International Director Ronnie Cummins in a statement last Tuesday.

Mr. Cummins also stated that the goal of the lawsuit is to force companies to either comply with USDA organic standards or stop deceiving the public by dubbing their products “organic.” This is not the first time The Honest Co. has faced legal trouble for deceptively marketing its products.

OCA’s lawsuit against Hain Celestial claims that the company’s Earth’s Best brands, such as Organic Infant Formula, Organic Soy Infant Formula, Organic Sensitivity Infant Formula, and Organic Toddler Formula, are all deceptively labeled “organic” because they include ingredients that are non-agricultural and non-organic. OCA alleges that of the 48 ingredients in Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula, more than 50 percent are in violation of USDA Organic Standards.

With the filing of these lawsuits, OCA joins Beyond Pesticides in the continued fight to uphold the integrity of organic products and keep organic standards strong. Organic practices traditionally follow tough standards that do no compromise the health of people and the planet, but in recent years those practices have been weakened by a series of USDA decisions designed to ease organic standards and allow the use of materials either previously banned, or without proper review through the traditional sunset process.

When the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) considered synthetic substances in infant formula labeled organic, the Board rejected the allowance of synthetic nutrients, with the exception of L-Methionine in infant formula made with soy-based protein. The National Organic Program (NOP) has ignored the Board recommendation, despite the requirement in law (under OFPA) that prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture of permitting synthetic materials in organic production and processing not recommended by the NOSB.

Beyond Pesticides has written the following:

“We oppose the addition of any of the petitioned synthetic substances (see table) to organic infant formula. The use of synthetic macronutrients in organic food, specifically organic infant formula does not satisfy consumer expectations of organic food. Moreover, according to the OFPA, synthetic antioxidants must not be used as preservatives in organic foods. Therefore the petitioned use of ascorbyl palmitate and beta carotene as antioxidants to preserve the quality of polyunsaturated fatty acids does not meet criteria for listing.”

“Constructing “organic” soy infant formula from mostly synthetic materials such as isolated soy protein and synthetic L-carnitine and L-methionine is contrary to organic principles. Though NOSB has not acted on isolated soy proteins since the issue was deferred at its April 2004 meeting, the Board has proceeded on the assumption – based on the unanimous opinion from technical reviewers- that isolated soy protein is synthetic. Until the NOSB can resolve issues surrounding isolated soy protein, we believe it would be improper to base other materials decisions on the need to supplement a formula which is based on synthetic chemicals.”

“Infants do not have the ability to process excess nutrients as well as adults. Experts have warned that the inclusion of unnecessary components to infant formula may put a burden on an infant’s metabolic functioning. We urge the Board not to permit fortification of organic infant formulas with synthetic and nonorganic ingredients. Instead, we encourage the Board to support breastfeeding. Scientific studies stress the fact that feeding infant formula instead of breastfeeding causes adverse health effects for both mother and child. Therefore, we do not believe infant formula, or any of its ingredients, meets the health effects criterion for addition to the National List as “organic” or “100% organic.” For rare cases in which it is necessary to have an alternative to breast milk, we do support a high quality formula labeled “made with organic milk.”

In April 2015, the Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program’s (NOP) failure to follow the law in making a substantial rule change to the USDA organic standard. At issue in that case is the contaminated compost guidance released by USDA, which, plaintiffs argue, weakens the long-standing prohibition of synthetic pesticide contaminants. Prior to the new contaminated compost guidance, organic regulations expressly prohibited fertilizers and compost from containing any synthetic substances not included on organic’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. The case withstood a Motion to Dismiss filed by the defendants earlier this year, and is set to go to trial in a few weeks.

In addition to the contaminated compost case, another lawsuit brought by 15 farm, consumer and certifier organizations raises a similar procedural challenge to a rule change to the organic sunset process, which regulates synthetic chemical exceptions in organic production. In this case, the agency once again took unilateral action to adopt a major policy change without public process, an action plaintiffs maintain violates one of the foundational principles and practices of OFPA public participation in organic policy making and APA.

Both of these cases were brought in order to protect public trust in the organic food label and help keep alternatives to toxic food production alive and growing. When companies like The Honest Co. and Hain Celestial undermine the integrity of the organic label by including chemicals that do not meet the organic standards set out by the NOP in their products, public trust in the system is compromised, creating devastating damage to the program as a whole. The Organic Consumers Association and Beyond Pesticides are doing their part to keep the organic label strong, and we encourage consumers to do the same.

Wondering how to get involved? Start by letting elected officials and companies know that they need to stand with you to protect the integrity of the organic label, the law, and the standards-setting process. Let them know that the voice and rights of the organic consumer, farmer, and all who have created this important and valuable system must be defended. For more on organic standards and how you can play a part in maintaining the integrity of organic, visit the Keeping Organic Strong webpage.

Source: CNN Money

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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03
May

Connecticut Legislature Votes Unanimously to Adopt Pollinator Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2016) In a bipartisan victory for bees, last week the Connecticut House of Representatives unanimously (147-0) passed a wide-ranging bill aimed at protecting declining pollinator populations within the state from toxic neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides. Bill No. 231, An Act Concerning Pollinator Health, was also passed unanimously (36-0) through the Connecticut State Senate on April 21, and now goes to Governor Dannel P Malloy for his signature. Earlier in April, both houses of the Maryland legislature passed the Maryland Pollinator Protection Act, which is currently awaiting action by Governor Larry Hogan (R).

President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Connecticut’s bill addresses a broad range of concerns relating to pollinator health, from pesticides to parasites and habitat remediation, within both residential and agricultural settings. In

summary, the bill does the following:

  1. Prohibits applying neonicotinoid insecticide (a) to linden or basswood trees or (b) labeled for treating plants, to any plants when such plant bears   blossoms;
  • Bee health experts identified the application of systemic neonicotinoids to Tilia trees as a significant concern for pollinator health after a spate of massive bee-kill incidents on the west coast. In June 2013, over 50,000 bumblebees were killed after a neonic was applied to a linden trees in Wilsonville and Hillsboro Oregon. In response, the Oregon Department of Agriculture implemented rules prohibiting certain neonic application to trees in the Tilia genus. Connecticut would be the first state on the east coast to implement similar restrictions.
  1. Requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner to classify certain neonicotinoids as “restricted use” pesticides;
  • Designating neonicotinoid pesticides as “restricted use” within the state limits their purchase and use to certified pesticide applicators, and eliminates allowed consumer uses. In effect, Maryland’s Pollinator Protection Act seeks to accomplish the same goal by prohibiting the sale of neonicotinoids to consumers. Based on the inherent dangers these chemicals pose to pollinators at levels allowed under current label rates, Beyond Pesticides continues to believe a full suspension on the use of neonics is warranted.
  1. Requires the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CDA) commissioner to develop best practices for minimizing the release of neonicotinoid insecticide dust from treated seeds;
  • Neonicotinoid seed dust represents a significant risk to honey bees and other pollinators in close proximity to agricultural fields. A report from the American Bird Conservancy found that a single kernel of neonic-coated corn is enough to kill a songbird. While best practices are a step forward, stronger actions, like those taken in the Canadian province of Ontario to reduce acreage planted with neonic treated seeds by 80%, are warranted based on current available science.
  1. Requires the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) to develop a citizen’s guide to model pollinator habitat;
  • Improving pollinator habitat in urban, suburban, and peri-urban communities is an important component of any plan to bring back pollinator health. State-sponsored public education programs on improving pollinator habitat are commendable. Beyond Pesticides has a number of resources, including Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind and the BEE Protective Habitat Guide to get folks started on improving pollinator habitat in their community today.
  1. Establishes a Pollinator Advisory Committee to inform legislators on pollinator issues;
  • Legislators should continue to be apprised of the latest science and research on pollinator health, as well as policies at the state and local level that are working to protect these critical species.
  1. Specifies that Connecticut Siting Council orders to restore or revegetate in certain rights-of-way must include provisions for model pollinator habitat; requires the DOT commissioner to plant vegetation with pollinator habitat, including flowering vegetation, in deforested areas along state highway rights-of-way.
  • Right of way areas near roadsides, power lines, and other industrial sites areas are often maintained through the use of toxic pesticides. Revegetating these areas with pollinator-friendly plants that do not contain harmful insecticides will help provide needed forage for bees and other wild pollinators.
  1. Includes model pollinator habitat in any conservation plan CDA requires as part of its farm preservation programs;
  • Addressing pollinator forage and habitat on agricultural land is a critical component of reviving pollinator health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has invested over $7 million in assistance to Midwest farmers and ranchers in an effort to increase habitat. However, with studies showing the potential for field margins to be contaminated by neonics through runoff and drift, it is critical that these programs also encourage methods to eliminate the use of these persistent pesticides.
  1. Requires the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to amend the state’s Plan of Conservation and Development to prioritize development with model pollinator habitat;
  • Considering pollinators before development occurs is an excellent way to integrate protective efforts into landscapes. As part of federal efforts from the Federal Pollinator Task Force, the General Services Administration is reviewing pollinator friendly guidelines for facility standards at all new projects, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality has developed guidelines for integrating pollinator practices into federal facilities and federal lands. Ramping up this work at the state level is a good move for pollinators.
  1. Requires reports on (a) legislation needed to restrict or license planting neonicotinoid-treated seeds, (b) conditions leading to an increase in varroa mites, and (c) areas where the Department of Transportation (DOT) can replace turf grass with native plants and model pollinator habitat; and
  • A report on treated seeds should investigate the potential to enact policy similar to Ontario’s. Research on conditions leading to a varroa mite increase could be helpful in determining the synergistic impact of the multiple pesticides, diseases, and to which pollinators are exposed. Further, exploring new ways to replace turfgrass with pollinator habitat and native plants is an important part of pollinator regeneration.

Connecticut’s bill includes actions that are important steps to reversing the decline of both native and domesticated pollinator populations. However, in order to effect a change in fortune for these important animals, more states and localities must act to restrict the wide range of pesticides shown to harm pollinators, as communities like Montgomery County have done. At the federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should immediately suspend the use of neonicotinoids as it completes its risk assessment on these chemicals. For more information on how to organize in your community, and what you can do right now to safeguard pollinator populations, see Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective webpage.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: CT Bill No 231, An Act Concerning Pollinator Health

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02
May

Study Finds Neonicotinoids Cause Compound-Specific Harm to Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2016) A study published online last week has examined the effects of three neonicotinoids (neonics) on bumblebee colonies, from live bee kills to changed sex ratios. Neonics have been widely cited as contributing to the demise of both managed and wild bee and pollinator populations. They can cause changes in bee reproduction, navigation, foraging, and even the suppression of bee immune systems.

bee flower 2013 eyaThe study, published in Scientific Reports, looked at field-relevant levels (2.5 parts per billion) of imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin, and found compound-specific effects at all levels, including within individual bee cells, individual bees, and whole colonies in semi-field conditions. Given the limitations of laboratory studies and field studies, researchers conducted a semi-field study to try to recreate and represent real world exposure patterns. The neonics were provided to the bees as an optional supply of sugar syrup, but were free to forage and did need to gather pollen in order to grow and raise offspring. Researchers found that imidacloprid and clothianidin displayed abilities to affect neuronal Kenyon cells, which help with learning, memory and multisensory integration. At the whole colony level, thiamethoxam altered the sex ratio, leaving more males than females. Both imidacloprid and thiamethoxam caused deficits in colony strength. The researchers also found that clothianidin increased queen production, and speculated over the toxicity of clothianidin to bumblebees.

“There is clear evidence that imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are harmful to bees but our evidence raises a question over clothianidin,” said Christopher Connolly, Ph.D. to The Guardian. Dr. Connolly, with the University of Dundee, led the research. He continued, “I think there is sufficient evidence for a ban on imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, but not for clothianidin although the moratorium should continue,” as more evidence is gathered.

Only just over a year ago, another study coauthored by Dr. Connolly found that bumblebees exposed to field-relevant levels (2.1 parts per billion) of clothianidin suffered poor navigation and foraging skills. Clothianidin exhibited an acute effect on the bumblebee’s brain, breaking down the mitochondria in its brain cells. At the time, Dr. Connolly stated, “Our research demonstrates beyond doubt that the level of neonicotinoids generally accepted as the average level present in the wild causes brain dysfunction and colonies to perform poorly when consumed by bumblebees.”

While this serves as an example that science is continually searching for answers, there is an overwhelming amount of research demonstrating that neonicotinoids, such as imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin working individually or synergistically, play a critical role in the ongoing decline of bees and other pollinators. Neonicotinoids affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and eventual death. These pesticides have consistently been implicated as a key contributor in pollinator declines, not only through immediate bee deaths, but also through sublethal exposure that causes changes in bee reproduction, navigation, and foraging. Pesticide exposure can impair both detoxification mechanisms and immune responses, rendering bees more susceptible to viruses, parasites, and other diseases, and leading to devastating bee losses.

In another study, Seed coating with a neonicotinoid insecticide negatively affects wild bees, Swedish scientists reported that wild bees and bumblebees foraging in crops treated with a commonly used insecticide seed coating, a combination of the neonicotinoid clothianidin and the non-systemic pyrethroid ÎČ-cyfluthrin, are less likely to reproduce when compared to bees in untreated fields, and that bumblebee colonies in treated fields gain less weight. Additionally, fewer wild bees and bumblebees are found in treated fields than in untreated ones.

For these reasons and many others, Beyond Pesticides works to promote the widespread transition of conventional farmland to organic production. Organic law requires farmers to foster soil health, and create a strategy to deal with pest populations before they become a problem. Because of these factors, many organic farms do not require the use of even organic-compatible pesticides, opting instead to increase pest and disease resiliency through an increased diversity of pest predators.

With one in three bites of food reliant on bees and other insects for pollination, the decline in bees and other pollinators due to pesticides, and other man-made causes demands immediate action. For more on this and what you can do to protect pollinators, visit Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective webpage.

Source: The Guardian

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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29
Apr

Pesticides Found in Turtles in Sequoia National Park

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2016) Traces of pesticides, including the long-banned organochlorine chemical DDT, have been found in Western pond turtles, insects, and soil sediment at Sequoia National Park, according to a study. The study, entitled Organic contaminants in western pond turtles in remote habitat in California and published in the journal Chemosphere, surveys a suite of 57 current- and historic-use pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the western pond turtle, along with their potential prey items and habitat. California study sites include Sequoia National Park, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, and Six Rivers National Forest, all of which are downstream of undeveloped watersheds and varied in distance from agricultural and urban pollution sources.

turtleResearchers found that organic pollutants are widespread in the western pond turtle, which has conservation status; that pesticides are prominent in Sequoia National Park, which is downwind of heavy agriculture; and that the legacy pesticides and PCB concentrations indicate that bioaccumulation is occurring.

Brian Todd, Ph.D., an associate professor of wildlife, fish, and conservation biology at University of California Davis, co-authored the study. Dr. Todd said controlling the flow of pesticides into national parks is pretty much impossible. “Sequoia National Park is very interesting, because it begins in the foothills, just downwind of very heavy agricultural land in the southern part of the Central Valley,” Dr. Todd told KCBS. “It tends to accumulate from drift and runoff, a lot of the pesticides that have been used over the last several decades.” Dr. Todd says the study focused heavily on turtles because they are what’s known as an “indicator species,” whose reaction to changes in the environment serves as a kind of barometer of those changes.

The impacts of pesticides on wildlife are extensive, and expose animals in urban, suburban and rural areas to unnecessary risks. According to a recent assessment by EPA, two commonly used pesticides (chlorpyrifos and malathion) are “likely to adversely affect” 97% of species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Wildlife can be affected by pesticides through direct or indirect applications, such as pesticide drift, secondary poisoning, runoff into local water bodies, and groundwater contamination. It is possible that some animals could be sprayed directly, while others consume plants or prey that have been exposed to pesticides. To learn more, read about pesticide impacts on wildlife.

Sources: KCBS

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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28
Apr

Antioch College and UMD Pledge to Protect Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2016) This week, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, became the third university to become a neonicotinoid-free campus. Antioch College gains recognition from the Beyond Pesticides’ and Center for Food Safety’s BEE Protective Campaign, which seeks to protect honey bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticides. Signing the BEE Protective resolution, Antioch signaled its continued commitment to using neonicotinoid-free insecticides on campus, making them one of the leading higher education institutions committed to the protection of pollinator species. In addition to joining the Bee Protective Campaign, the Village of Yellow Springs, where Antioch is located, is considering an organic land care policy, and Beyond Pesticides is working with the Village to assist with a transition to organic turf care.

#beeprotective-1“At Antioch College, we have an opportunity, and an urgency, to be change leaders in turning around pollinator decline, exposing misleading research and recognizing the importance of inter-species cooperation. To paraphrase our president Thomas Manley, ‘If we are not leaders in discovering and implementing new and better ways of living , then what is the point?’” said Beth Bridgeman, the faculty member who drove the effort to ban neonicotinoids from campus. Antioch students and staff maintain about five acres of farmland that provide produce, eggs, pastured lamb, and culinary and tea herbs for the campus dining halls.

Close behind Antioch College is the University of Maryland, whose Student Government Association (SGA) recently passed a resolution to become BEE Protective Ambassadors. Led by Errin Saunders, a Student Sustainability Committee member, SGA has started an education campaign to not only warns students about the bee-harming insecticides used on campus, but all pesticides toxic to humans. With the ultimate goal of obtaining a campus-wide pledge to go neonic-free, student government members are gaining support by educating fellow students at campus events, like UMD Green Week.

The elimination of neonicotinoid pesticides on campus-wide scale is an exemplary move by Antioch College to protect pollinators. Neonicotinoids are a group of chemicals whose use has been linked to pollinator declines. They can kill and impair the survival of pollinators like honey bees, wild bees, and butterflies, as well as impact beneficial insects, birds, and other non-insect species. Coinciding with their introduction to the market based on conditional registration from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), beekeepers have reported unprecedented losses, as high as 90 percent, in hives across the country. Since these organisms deliver essential services, like the pollination of a third of food eaten by the public, protecting their existence by eliminating neonicotinoids is a key tenet of the BEE Protective pledge.

The BEE Protective Ambassador project taps into enthusiastic environmental activists on college campuses throughout the country wishing to make a positive impact on the health of local pollinators and other wildlife. By creating meaningful change at the University level, Ambassadors gain important experience in environmental advocacy, which will undoubtedly expand and grow as students graduate from college and continue to be environmental activists while moving through life.

Take Action: Beyond Pesticides provides campus organizations with all of the educational materials needed to advance meaningful and significant change in communities. If you know of an individual or campus organization that would be interested in taking part in this movement to protect pollinators and save our bees, please urge them to become a “BEE Protective Ambassador,” and ask them to sign the pledge as soon as possible. Resources and a step by step guide will then be sent out immediately following sign-up.

BEE Protective is a national campaign established by Beyond Pesticides and Center for Food Safety, and works with municipalities, campuses, and homeowners to adopt policies that protect pollinators from bee-toxic pesticides. For more information about the campaign, visit www.beeprotective.org.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source:  Center for Food Safety

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27
Apr

Europe Bans Two Endocrine Disrupting Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2016) The European Union (EU) has placed a moratorium on two endocrine-disrupting herbicides that are linked to thyroid cancer, infertility, reproductive problems and fetal malformations. The chemicals, amitrole and isoproturon, will be banned as of September 30, 2016, after the European Commission voted unanimously, for the first time, to ban the two endocrine disruptors.

eu-members-2013Earlier this month, the European Commission’s Standing Committee on Phytopharmaceuticals voted to ban the uses of amitrole and isoproturon in accordance with 2009-EU pesticide rules, which state that endocrine disrupting pesticides should not be allowed on the European market. The committee finds that amitrole is capable of causing malformations in offspring and inducing thyroid cancer, while isoproturon can cause adverse effects to reproduction and lower fertility. In 2013 amitrole was voluntarily cancelled by the registrant, while isoproturon is not registered for use in the U.S.

According to the Guardian, amitrole is widely used in 10 EU countries, including the UK, in industrial farming. But a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) analysis concluded that it was an endocrine disruptor that could damage unborn children, and have toxic effects on the thyroid and reproductive organs. Similarly, EFSA recommended classifying isoproturon as toxic for reproduction with potential endocrine-mediated effects on fertility. It found that the best available scientific literature indicated that the pesticide, which is sold in 22 EU countries, had mild “gender-bending” anti-estrogenic and anti-androgenic properties.

In the U.S. however, no action has been taken on restricting any chemicals for endocrine disruption. Currently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) endocrine disruption screening program (EDSP) –a multi-tiered screening protocol mandated by the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) that requires EPA to screen pesticides for their endocrine disrupting potential– has thus far only partially screened some chemicals. Under EDSP, EPA uses a two-tiered approach to screen pesticide chemicals and environmental contaminants for their potential affect on estrogen, androgen and thyroid hormone systems. EPA’s last publicly released report for tier 1 screening of only 52 chemicals found no evidence of endocrine pathways for 20 chemicals. For 14 chemicals that the agency said did show potential interaction, EPA stated that it “already has enough information to conclude that they do not pose risks.” Of the remaining 18 chemicals, EPA found that all showed potential interaction with the thyroid pathway, 17 of them with the androgen (male hormones) pathway, and 14 also potentially interacted with the estrogen (female hormones) pathway. Most notably, for the herbicide atrazine, which independent science finds to be an endocrine disruptor, the agency found interaction with both the estrogen and androgen pathways, but did not recommend it for Tier 2 testing, stating that it is not “expected to impact current EPA-established regulatory endpoints for human health or ecological risk assessment.” It will take several more years for EPA to completely screen any endocrine disrupting chemical. Not surprisingly, EPA’s EDSP has been heavily criticized for decades-long delays and not putting the chemicals through more rigorous testing that include low dose responses in the interest of protecting human health and the environment. Others have said that EPA’s testing protocol is outdated, failing to keep pace with the advancing science.

Hundreds of scientific articles have been published across the globe demonstrating a broad range of chemicals that interfere with the normal development at all ranges of exposure. Scientists discovered effects for some widely used chemicals at concentrations thousands of times less than federal “safe” levels of exposure derived through traditional toxicological tests. Just recently, a study published that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals plays an important role in the development of certain female reproductive disorders, and ultimately results in significant economic costs to society. The study looked at the monetary impact of endocrine disruptors attributed to female reproductive disorders in the EU which determined last year that over €150 billion ($162 billion) in yearly health care costs in the EU are attributable to the impact of endocrine disruptors. In the environment endocrine disruptors also wreak havoc. Fish and other aquatic organisms face numerous risks from these chemicals, even at low levels. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists identified pesticides as one of the contaminants in the Potomac River linked to intersex fish observed there. Atrazine in particular has been shown to affect reproduction of fish at concentrations below EPA water-quality guidelines. Concentrations of atrazine commonly found in agricultural streams and rivers have been associated with a reduction in reproduction and spawning, as well as tissue abnormalities.

Beyond Pesticides supports strong protections from pesticides and endocrine disruptors by pushing for regulatory action and the support of alternative products and practices that do not require these chemicals. Through the Eating with a Conscience tool, those concerned about pesticides on their produce and can find out the chemicals that are allowed in their production. The ManageSafe database helps homeowners and renters control household pests without toxic pesticides. And Beyond Pesticides’ Lawn and Landscapes webpage helps property owners manage lawns without the use of pesticides linked to endocrine disruption and other ill health effects. Ultimately, by supporting organic agriculture, which disallows the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, the health burden endocrine disruptors and other pesticides put on our economy and individual health can be drastically reduced.

 All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Guardian

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26
Apr

Endocrine Disruptors Lead to Female Reproductive Disorders Costing Billions

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2016) A study published last month finds that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) plays an important role in the development of certain female reproductive disorders, and ultimately results in significant economic costs to society. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology &nMetabolism, and authorized by a team of scientists from New York University School of Medicine and Washington State University’s School of Molecular Biosciences, looked at the monetary impact of EDC-attributed female reproductive disorders in the European Union (EU). This economic valuation is part of series of analyses undertaken by the research team, which determined last year that over €150 billion ($162 billion) in yearly health care costs in the EU are attributable to the loss of brain function induced by EDCs.

P_endocrine-system“There are substantial human and toxicological studies (in mice and other lab animals) that suggest that exposure to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals, many of which are increasing in use, are contributing to female reproductive conditions,” said study co-author Leonardo Trasande, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine to CNN.

The study found that the strongest data linking EDCs to female reproductive disorders was exposure to diphenyldichloroethene (DDE) resulting in fibroids, and phthalates resulting in endometriosis. Scientists determined that with each of these links, the probability of causation was between 20-39%. Within the EU, attributable cases of DDE-induced fibroids were estimated to be 56,700 and phthalate-induced endometriosis at 145,000.  This was calculated to result in €163 million ($183 million) and €1.25 billion ($1.4 billion) in health care costs, respectively.

To come up with these amounts, scientists used a weight-of-evidence characterization for probability of causation developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Peer-reviewed literature was analyzed for exposure-response relationships and reference levels, as well as biomarker data. Exposure patterns and burden of disease were evaluated for the year 2010, and the cost estimation was based on multiple peer reviewed sources and intended to include both direct costs from treatment as well as indirect costs, such as loss of productivity.

DDE is the major breakdown product of DDT (dichlodiphenyltrichloroethane), which, although banned in 1972 in the U.S. and throughout the 70s and 80s in European countries, continues to persist in the environment at levels high enough to result in human health impacts. DDT and DDE have been linked to a number of reproductive and endocrine diseases. A study published in January 2015 found that exposure to persistent organic pollutants like DDE is associated with an earlier start to menopause. Another study published in June 2015  found that in utero exposure to DDT was directly linked to breast cancer later in life.

“Although endometriosis and 56,700 cases of uterine fibroids these two gynecological conditions affect millions of women worldwide, we recognize that this analysis only reflects the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Trasande in a release from the Endocrine Society.

Indeed, partly because of their persistence and length at which they’ve been in the environment, there is a good amount of scientific data linking DDE and other historic use chemicals to health impacts. Many newer pesticides and chemicals, for which there is paltry data from government sources, have been found by independent science to be potential EDCs, though have yet to be fully assessed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, despite a statutory obligation.

Beyond Pesticides supports strong protections from pesticides and endocrine disruptors by pushing for regulatory action and the support of alternative products and practices that do not require these chemicals. Through the Eating with a Conscience tool, those concerned about pesticides on their produce and can find out the chemicals that are allowed in their production. The ManageSafe database helps homeowners and renters control household pests without toxic pesticides. And Beyond Pesticides’ Lawn and Landscapes webpage helps property owners manage lawns without the use of pesticides linked to endocrine disruption and other ill health effects. Ultimately, by supporting organic agriculture, with disallows the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, the health burden EDCs and other pesticides put on our economy and individual health can be drastically reduced.

Source: CNN, Endometriosis News, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

 All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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25
Apr

City of Milwaukie, OR Passes Resolution to Protect Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2016) Last week, the City Council of Milwaukie, Oregon passed a resolution that halts the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides on city government and public property, joining the growing number of local governments protecting pollinators. Neonicotinoids (neonics) have been widely cited in the demise of both managed and wild bee and pollinator populations. The resolution specifically restricts city government agencies from purchasing plants and seeds that have been treated with neonicotinoids and other systemic insecticides and urges public and private landscapers and homeowners to plant bee-friendly habitats. Clackamas County will join with the Mayor’s office and City Council of Milwaukie to adopt an Integrated Pest Management Plan that mirrors the resolution.

Susan Jergans Elkhorn WI These were taken from our garden3In addition to these stipulations, the City of Milwaukie is using this resolution to:

  • urge all businesses, homeowners, and homeowner’s associations operating within the City ensure no plants, seeds, or products containing neonicotinoids are purchased, sold, or used within the City; and to clearly and accurately label any plants or materials that have been treated with a neonicotinoid or neonicotinoid-like insecticide;
  • require that commercial pest service providers performing services on behalf of the City provide landscape services that encourage pollinator populations and support pollinator services;
  • pursue creating more native pollinator habitat such as installing more pollinator host and forage plants. These installations will be placed in appropriate locations such as: rights-of-way, storm water management ponds, areas that are currently turf grass, vacant land, and at City facilities;
  • encourage private developers to incorporate pollinator-friendly plantings into required landscaping; and,
  • allow very limited emergency applications only. Even then, these emergency applications shall only be performed as identified in the Plan. The Mayor and City Council will continue to make the Plan more pollinator friendly.

“Support for this resolution has been phenomenal,” said Mayor Gamba, who began working on the resolution less than a year ago. “It is incredibly important to protect our pollinators in every way possible.” Because state preemption laws prevent localities from enacting pesticide legislation stronger than state regulations, local resolutions that ban the use of neonics on public property are the strongest policies that preempted states, like Oregon, can pass to protect pollinators.

Other localities that have been preempted by state legislation have enacted similar resolutions to protect bees and other pollinators on public lands. In May 2015, the City of Boulder, Colorado voted to restrict the use of neonics on city property. The resolution moved forward primarily as a result of efforts by grassroots activists with the local organization Bee Safe Boulder, who influenced surrounding localities to protect pollinators. Three months later, the City Council of Lafayette, Colorado unanimously approved a resolution to prohibit bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides on city property. Other cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul have enacted similar resolutions in the last year.

Local Ordinances Under Attack
Since the passage of local ordinances in Maine and Maryland, some legislators in those states have or are planning to introduce legislation to take away local authority and reverse the local action and/or prevent other jurisdictions from acting. The Beyond Pesticides report on state preemption law and its importance in the local democratic process illustrates the benefits of permitting local governments to make decisions that respond to the concerns of their residents, as well as the negative ramifications of state preemption laws. The absence of preemption laws in the seven states that have preserved local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state has been a commanding factor in several pesticide ban victories. If you would like to see a similar ordinance passed in your area, click here to let Beyond Pesticides know!

Starting your own local movement takes a lot of work and commitment, but can be done with perseverance. It’s important to find support –friends, neighbors, and other people who share your concerns about environmental health. It’s also essential to connect with local politicians and government officials. For help getting your movement off the ground, contact Beyond Pesticides at 202-543-5450 or [email protected].

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.
Source: The Xerces Society

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22
Apr

Help Protect Pollinators Today, Earth Day

(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2016) Today is Earth Day! As honey bees and other pollinators continue to suffer from staggering global declines, Beyond Pesticides works year-round through the BEE Protective campaign, launched Earth Day 2013, to support nationwide local action aimed at protecting pollinators from pesticides. Pollinators are a vital part of the environment, a barometer for healthy ecosystems, and critical to the nation’s food production system.

Gary-Tate-Riverside-CA-Honey-Bee-taking-flight-Riverside-Ca-300x260-300x260With one in three bites of food reliant on bees and other species for pollination, the decline of honey bees and other pollinators demands swift action. The BEE Protective campaign includes a variety of educational materials to help encourage municipalities, campuses, and individual homeowners to adopt policies and practices that protect bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticide applications and create pesticide-free refuges for these critical organisms. In addition to scientific and regulatory information, BEE Protective also assists people and communities with a model community pollinator resolution and a pollinator protection pledge.

Insecticides, specifically neonicotinoids, have increasingly been linked to bee declines. These chemicals are used extensively in U.S. agriculture, especially as seed treatment for corn and soybeans. Agriculture is not the only concern however, as pesticide applications in home gardens, city parks, and landscaping are also prime culprits in the proliferation of these harmful chemicals. The systemic residues of these pesticides not only contaminate pollen, nectar, and the wider environment, but have repeatedly been identified as highly toxic to honey bees. BEE Protective supports a shift away from the use of these toxic chemicals and encourages organic methods and sustainable land management practices.

New backyard beekeepers and gardeners are fostering local pollinator resilience and creating bee friendly habitat that brings communities together and fuels the campaign to BEE Protective of pollinators. And thousands across the country continue raise their voices in multi-pronged efforts to pressure Congress, federal regulators, and the marketplace to stop using neonicotinoid pesticides proven to be harmful to honey bees. It’s No Longer a BIG Mystery why bees are dying. Neonicotinoid pesticides pose an imminent threat to pollinators and numerous other beneficial species.

As we appreciate the Earth and all it provides on this Earth Day, we hope you will use our resources, take action, and educate others on the ways toxic chemicals jeopardize the complex natural processes on which we rely. Check out our BEE Protective materials such as the Well-Stocked Hardware Store page to help hardware stores transition to organic products; the Pesticides and Pollinators fact sheet; No Longer a Big Mystery, summarizing the science behind bee declines; and more! Through the promotion and adoption of alternative systems like organic, we can work with the Earth’s natural systems to produce a safer, healthier world for all living species.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides

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21
Apr

Glyphosate Residues Found in Common Breakfast Foods

(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2016) A report released Tuesday by the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) shows that glyphosate residues are widely distributed in common breakfast foods, such as bagels, cereals, creamers, and eggs. Glyphosate is a pervasive and toxic chemical found in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller and was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.

The_7_Breakfasts_-_Café_CaféThe report looks at conventional and organic-certified versions of 12 popular breakfast foods and ingredients (a total of 24 items) and finds that many of the sample foods or ingredients contain detectable levels of glyphosate. Testing was done by an independent laboratory using the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) method. Categories tested were: flour, corn flakes, instant oatmeal, bagels, yogurt, bread, frozen hash browns, potatoes, cream of wheat, eggs, non-dairy creamers, and dairy based coffee creamers. Of note is the finding that a sample of organic cage-free eggs contain more glyphosate than the allowable tolerance level. The lab found glyphosate residue levels of 169 parts per billion (ppb), while the allowable tolerance level is only 50ppb. The report acknowledges that the effects of other chemical ingredients in glyphosate formulations have not been evaluated, and the consequences of those interactions on health are not evaluated. The researchers also speculate that because animal products, such as eggs, are not sprayed directly with glyphosate, the finding of glyphosate residues in those products may indicate that the chemical is entering the food chain and bioaccumulating in animal tissues.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that glyphosate residues have been detected in foods and products that are not typically associated with heavy glyphosate use, or even in organic foods and products, in which the use of glyphosate is prohibited. In March 2016, Moms Across America released a report on glyphosate residues in California wines. The report finds that all of the ten wines test positive for glyphosate. The highest level of glyphosate detected is nearly 30 times higher (18.74 ppb) than other wines from a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from a conventional, chemically farmed vineyard. The lowest level (.659 ppb) is from a biodynamic and organic vineyard, a 2013 Syrah. According to the owner of the organic vineyard, the vineyard has never been sprayed, indicating the possibility of pesticide drift from conventional agriculture, which has been a real and persistent problem for organic growers. EPA has done little to protect organic growers, who often bear the burden, both economic and otherwise, of pesticides applied to nearby conventional farmlands and vineyards. Other recent reports of the widespread presence of glyphosate residues find the chemical in breast milk, in nearly 100% of Germans and in German beers, feminine hygiene products, and bread.

Following the IARC classification, a research study published in Environmental Health links long-term, ultra-low dose exposure to glyphosate in drinking water to adverse impacts on the health of liver and kidneys. The study focuses on glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), rather than pure glyphosate, unlike many of the studies that preceded it. In addition to impacts on human health, glyphosate has been linked to adverse effects on earthworms and other soil biota, as well as shape changes in amphibians. The widespread use of the chemical on genetically engineered (GE) crops has led it to be implicated in the decline of monarch butterflies, whose sole habitat to lay their eggs, milkweed plants, are being devastated as a result of incessant use of glyphosate.

A scientific review was released in February 2016 by a group of 14 scientists, who expressed concern about the widespread use of GBHs, the lack of understanding regarding human exposure, and the potential health impacts. According to the report, U.S. agencies, such as the National Toxicology Program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and EPA, have not adequately kept up with cutting-edge research. The researchers call for the global science and regulatory community to step back and take a fresh look at glyphosate due to widespread exposure patterns.

Beyond Pesticides advocates for a regulatory approach that prohibits high hazard chemical use and calls for alternative assessments. The organization suggests an approach that focuses on safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as organic agriculture. Thus, the best way to avoid glyphosate residues in a wide range of food and drinks is to buy and support organic agriculture and the USDA organic label over conventional agriculture. Beyond Pesticides’ database, Eating With a Conscience (EWAC), provides information on the pesticides that could be present in the food we eat, and why food labeled organic is the right choice. EWAC also includes information on the impacts chemical-intensive agriculture has on farm workers, water, and our threatened pollinators.

Source: TakePart

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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20
Apr

GAO Finds USDA Regulation of Genetically Engineered Crops Deficient

(Beyond Pesticides April 20, 2016) A recently released study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) assesses the actions of three government agencies responsible for regulating genetically engineered (GE) crops, finding several shortcomings in the process. The report, which was commissioned by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), is entitled Genetically Engineered Crops: USDA Needs to Enhance Oversight and better Understand Impacts of Unintended Mixing with Other Crops. The report finds that while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have taken some steps to regulate GE crops, USDA’s failure to update its regulations that oversee GE crops has created a large data gap on the extent and impact of the unintended mixing of GE and non-GE crops. To address this, GAO recommends, among other things, that USDA set a timeline for updating its regulations and include farmer’s growing identity-preserved crops in its survey efforts to better understand the impacts of unintended mixing.

usda_logoThe issue of coexistence between farmers using genetically engineered (GE) crops and non-GE farmers is as important as ever. GE crops pose a constant threat to the livelihood of organic farmers and undermine the burgeoning growth of the organic industry. A 2014 study released by Food and Water Watch and the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship and Marketing (OFARM), in response to USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) report in 2012, found that one-third of organic farmers have experienced GE contamination on their farm due to the nearby use of GE crops . Over half of these growers have had loads of grain rejected because of unwitting GE contamination. These rejections can lead to big income losses for farmers, with a median cost of approximately $4,500 per year, according to the survey.

Additionally, several farmers report annual losses of over $20,000 due to the need to establish buffer zones, while limit the threat of contamination from their neighbors by taking contiguous farmland out of production. There have also been several high profile cases of GE contamination of organic farms. In May of 2013, USDA announced that unapproved GE wheat was found growing in an Oregon wheat field. In September of 2013, USDA refused to take action or investigate after it was confirmed that GE alfalfa contaminated non-GE alfalfa in Washington State, claiming that contamination is a “commercial issue” and should be addressed by the marketplace and not the government.”

Contamination of non-GE crops, particularly USDA certified organic crops, is a serious concern. Worries about harm to human health and the environment have prompted several state legislatures to consider bills that would require labeling of products with GE ingredients, so consumers know what ingredients are in products before they purchase and consume them. This sparked a response at the federal level as Republican lawmakers took action to prevent state and local GE labeling efforts by proposing a bill that has come to be known as the Denying Americans a Right to Know Act (DARK Act). Luckily, the bill, which has since passed the House, was blocked from a vote in the Senate. Additional legislation proposed by Senator Bill Bowman (R-ND) in 2002 would have allowed farmers in North Dakota the right to sue Monsanto if wheat was found to be contaminated with genetically modified crops. The discovery is likely to prompt similar legislation, if not litigation.

According to USDA officials and stakeholders, USDA currently has limited data on the extent and impact of unintended mixing of GE and non-GE crops. As a result, USDA is missing key information on the potential economic impacts of unintended mixing. In performing this study, GAO analyzed legislation, regulations, and agency policies and reports and interviewed agency officials and stakeholders, including representatives from the biotechnology and food industries and consumer, farm, environmental, and commodity groups to examine: (1) steps EPA, FDA, and USDA have taken to regulate GE crops; (2) the data USDA has on the extent and impact of unintended mixing of GE and non-GE crops, and what steps have been taken to prevent such mixing; and (3) the extent to which USDA, EPA, and FDA provide information to the public on GE crops. To address the shortcomings, GAO recommended (among other things), specifically related to points (2) and (3), that USDA set a timeline for updating its regulations and include farmers growing identity-preserved crops in its survey efforts to better understand the impacts of unintended mixing. USDA generally agreed with these recommendations.

Comments by Beyond Pesticides to USDA’s AC21 outline several actions USDA could take to advance an understanding of agricultural coexistence, including:

  1. USDA must level the playing field amongst stakeholders so that the burden of preventing contamination is no longer concentrated on organic and non-GE operations. In order to achieve true coexistence, we believe responsibility must be tied to ownership – those who patent, promote, and profit from GE products should be responsible for preventing contamination and covering damage in cases where prevention fails.
  2. USDA should establish a fair compensation proposal. The patent holder should be responsible for segregation and traceability, over the entirety of the life cycle of the crop. It should be held responsible for the economic and market harm caused by its products.
  3. USDA should more fully analyze environmental and economic implications of GE contamination and the implications of managing GE crops. These are also of critical importance to the ideas underpinning “coexistence” – how one system of agriculture can directly and indirectly impact the viability of the other.

Shifting the responsibility of contamination away from small-scale and organic farmers to the GE patent holder and GE farmers –a polluter pays principle– is an important first step in leveling the playing field and achieving the desired level of coexistence between growing operations. A system in which organic farmers are forced to expend resources to protect themselves from the choices of others, while potential trespassers are merely allowed to go about their business regardless of consequences is not equitable coexistence and is not a permanent solution. GAO findings support the need for more research on all aspects of GE crops, and calls on USDA to enhance oversight and better understand the impacts of the unintended mixing of GE crops with other crops.

For more information on the environmental hazards associated with GE technology, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Genetic Engineering webpage. The best way to avoid genetically engineered foods in the marketplace is to purchase foods that have the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic Seal. Under organic certification standards, genetically modified organisms and their byproducts are prohibited. For many other reasons, organic products are the right choice for consumers.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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19
Apr

Avoiding Pesticide Residues Not Only Reason to Eat Organic Food

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2016) Last week the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its annual Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, highlighting the critical importance of eating organic food to avoid pesticide residues that endanger human health. Beyond Pesticides’ Eating with a Conscience database complements EWG’s report by identifying the many additional reasons it is essential to choose organic for a healthy future. Although information on residues in conventional produce listed in the “Dirty Dozen” is helpful in alerting consumers and encouraging organic, it only tells part of the story. It turns out that even those food commodities in EWG’s “Clean Fifteen” may be grown with hazardous pesticides that get into waterways and groundwater, contaminate nearby communities, poison farmworkers, and kill pollinators and wildlife, while not all showing up at detectable levels on our food.

For its report, EWG analyzed over 35,000 samples of pesticide residue collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After 5 years at the top of the list, apples dropped to number two, replaced by strawberries. The organization reasons that a recent EU ban on the chemical diphenylamine, a fungicide linked to reproductive effects, kidney/liver damage, as well as groundwater contamination and toxicity to aquatic organisms, is behind the switch, as many conventional apples from Europe are exported to U.S. consumers. Roughly 98% of conventional strawberries tested positive for some amount of pesticide residue.

“It’s important to remember that conventional agriculture relies heavily on insecticides,” said EWG Senior Analyst Sonya Lunder to TIME. . . “There’s some systematic differences between crops, with some having many pesticides and others being consistently clean.”

Although residues may not show up on finished conventional products, Beyond Pesticides does not believe that the absence of harmful pesticides is reason enough to buy conventional produce and support chemical-intensive farming practices.

For instance, the report finds avocados to be the lowest risk to consumers, topping the “Clean Fifteen” list. However, while avocado grown with toxic chemicals show low pesticide residues on the finished commodity, there are 32 pesticides with established tolerance for avocado, 14 are acutely toxic creating a hazardous environment for farmworkers, 28 are linked to chronic health problems (such as cancer), 7 contaminate streams or groundwater, and 29 are poisonous to wildlife. California, one of the only states to systematically report pesticide poisoning incidents, has reported at least 20 incidents of farmworker poisonings as a result of growing this crop. Further, these poisoning incidents only represent the tip of the iceberg because it only reflects reported incidents in one state, and not other countries where avocados are grown. It is widely recognized that pesticide incidents are underreported and often misdiagnosed. Many of the allowed pesticides on avocado are dangerous to pollinators on which the crop is dependent. In addition to habitat loss due to the expansion of agricultural and urban areas, the database shows that there are also 10 pesticides used on avocado that are considered toxic to honey bees and other insect pollinators.

As Beyond Pesticides’ Eating with a Conscience guide shows, consumers interested in sustainability should consider all the externalities, both upstream and downstream, associated with the production of chemical-intensive fruits and vegetables. To protect farmworkers, farming communities, water supplies, pollinators, and other wildlife, choosing organic whenever possible on all produce is the right choice. For more information on how organic agriculture accomplishes the goal of safe, healthy and nutritious food without sacrificing sustainability, see Beyond Pesticides organic program page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: EWG, Time Magazine

 

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18
Apr

Scotts Miracle-Gro To Eliminate Neonics in Ortho Brand

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2016) Major pesticide manufacturer Scotts Miracle Gro announced on Tuesday that it will immediately being phasing out neonicotinoid insecticides, including imidacloprid, clothianidin, and dinotefuran from its outdoor-use Ortho brand by 2017. Neonicotinoids (neonics) have consistently been implicated as a major contributing factor in pollinator declines. They can cause changes in bee reproduction, navigation, and foraging, and even the suppression of bee immune systems. In its press release, the Ortho brand announced that it was partnering with Pollinator Stewardship Council to help educate homeowners on the “safe and appropriate use of pesticides.”

Susan Quals Algood TN Honeybee on Yellow Crownbeard2“While agencies in the United States are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it’s time for Ortho to move on.” Tim Martin, general manager of the Ortho brand said. “As the category leader, it is our responsibility to provide consumers with effective solutions that they know are safe for their family and the environment when used as directed. We encourage other companies and brands in the consumer pest control category to follow our lead.”

Neonics have emerged as the leading class of pesticides responsible for bee decline. While neonicotinoid insecticides have been responsible for high profile bee kills from high doses of the pesticides, there is a strong and growing body of science shows that neonics contribute to impairment in reproduction, learning and memory, hive communications, and immune response at doses far below those that cause bee kills. An extensive overview of major studies showing the effects of neonics on pollinator health can be found on Beyond Pesticides’ What the Science Shows webpage.

Scotts Miracle-Gro joins the ranks of other major companies like Aldi (a supermarket chain) and Home Depot (the world’s largest home-improvement chain), who have each committed to phasing out neonicotinoid insecticides. Companies across the U.S. have begun to phase-out neonics at the request of environmental allies and consumers. In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its preliminary pollinator assessment for the neonic imidacloprid, which finds various residues of the chemical in crops where the pollinators forage, and confirms bees’ widespread and sustained exposure to the highly toxic and persistent chemical through poisoned pollen and nectar. However, calls to suspend the use of these pesticides have been ignored.

Smaller retailers have also taken notice and are working on removing neonics and other toxic pesticides from their shelves. Eldredge Lumber and Hardware in York, Maine has transitioned its shelves from harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers to organic compatible materials. Eldredge is encouraging consumers to employ alternatives by consciously stocking its shelves with organic compatible products. Efforts by local businesses to stock alternatives and educate consumers on their use is an example of creating change through grassroots efforts and a bottom-up approach. See Beyond Pesticides’ video Making the Switch, which highlights Eldredge Lumber and Hardware’s efforts to orient its customers towards safer management practices.

For more on what you can do to help pollinators, visit out Bee Protective program page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Scotts Miracle-Gro

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15
Apr

National Conference on Pesticides and Non-Toxic Alternatives Convenes in Portland, ME Tonight!

(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2016) Beyond Pesticides’ 34th National Pesticide Forum begins tonight at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine. As pesticide use in communities is being debated in the Portland area, throughout Maine, and across the country, Cultivating Community and Environmental Health, the 34th National Pesticide Forum, is being held at the University of Southern Maine Abromson Center, April 15-16, 2016. Click here to register now! Registration, which is $45 for activists and $25 for students, includes access to all sessions as well as organic food and beverages.34NPFstickerimage

Join us tonight for a special performance of A Sense of Wonder, by Kaiulani Lee, followed by a talk and book signing by Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us. Special Friday night only tickets are available for $10.

  • A Sense of Wonder, which is a one-woman play written, produced, and performed by Kaiulani Lee, in which the actor portrays Rachel Carson’s love for the natural world and her fight to defend it, much of it taking place in Maine! It is the story of the extremely private Ms. Carson thrust into the role of controversial public figure with the publication of Silent Spring. This powerful two-act play brings to life on stage Ms. Carson’s passionate message on the adverse health and environmental effects of pesticides, just as these toxic chemicals were becoming an increasingly common part of modern life. Kaiulani Lee brings to the writing and acting of A Sense of Wonder more than 35 years of experience in theatre, film, and television.
  • Kristin Ohlson, journalist and bestselling author. Her book, The Soil Will Save Us, makes an elegantly argued, passionate case for “our great green hope”—a way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon—and potentially reverse global warming. Copies of the book will be available to purchase at the forum.

The national conference also highlights nationally renowned scientists, including a cancer researcher and epidemiologist from the National Cancer Institute, Aaron Blair, Ph.D., who lead the World Health Organization’s probable cancer finding of glyphosate/Roundup; soil scientist and microbiologist formerly with USDA, Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D., whose studies have found pesticides’ adverse impacts on butterflies and bees; and other researchers, legal experts, land management practitioners, and an ACE retailer in Maine that is offering products that protect bees, children and the environment. The conference will provide participants with the cutting edge science on pesticide issues related to health and the environment as well as the solutions for managing land without toxic materials. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree joins the line-up of speakers to talk about federal law and organic policy.


and more! Click here to see the lineup of speakers, and check out the forum schedule!

You can follow live tweets of the forum at our twitter handle @bpncamp or through our hashtag #34NPF.

Organizers:

The 34th National Pesticide Forum is convened by Beyond, Toxics Action Center, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), and University of Southern Maine Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Co-sponsors include: Eldredge Hardware & Lumber, Environment America, Food and Water Watch Maine, Friends of Casco Bay, GreenCAPE, Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Organic Consumers Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility Maine, Portland Pollinator Partnership, Portland Protectors, Protect South Portland, and Regeneration International.

Please email us at [email protected] for any questions or concerns that are not addressed on our forum page.

Registration: 

For those who have not yet registered, general admission is only $45, and $25 for students with current ID, which includes access to all sessions, workshops, and all-organic meals and beverages. Walk-ins are welcome! 

For more information, go to www.beyondpesticides.org/forum.

We hope to see you there!

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14
Apr

Majority of Europeans Want Glyphosate Banned, Use Continues

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2016) Two-thirds of Europeans support a ban on glyphosate, the most widely used agricultural chemical in the world, according to a new poll. This as Germany plans to formally support a European Union (EU) plan to re-license the use of the chemical. Monsanto’s glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller, Roundup, has been classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), is detected in food, breast milk, and urine, and is increasingly used on genetically engineered (GE) crops, leading to the proliferation of resistant “superweeds” and environmental contamination.

roundupThe poll conducted by Yougov, an international internet-based market research firm, surveyed more than 7,000 people across the EU’s five biggest countries and find three-quarters of Italians, 70% of Germans, 60% of French and 56% of Britons support a ban on glyphosate. Despite this, the EU is moving forward on whether to approve a European Commission proposal to extend the authorization of glyphosate for another 15 years until 2031. The existing authorization is due to lapse in June 2016. The decision was delayed after the IARC classified glyphosate as a Group 2a “probable” human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in laboratory animals. However, the EU’s European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) released its own conflicting report months later determining glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.” However, EFSA’s report is limited in that it reviewed glyphosate alone, unlike IARC which reviewed glyphosate and its formulated products (Roundup) which are more relevant for evaluating risks to human health.

In addition to IARC’s findings, previous studies have linked the toxicant to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. It is also an endocrine disruptor, causes reproductive effects, kidney and liver damage, and is toxic to aquatic organisms. In September 2015, a study published in Environmental Health News found that chronic, low-dose exposure to glyphosate led to adverse effects on liver and kidney health.

According to Reuters, Germany agrees with the assessment of EFSA, and will support continued use of glyphosate in the EU. But a German Member of European Parliament (MEP) Bart Staes told the Guardian that up to 150 MEPs are expected to give urine samples to test for glyphosate residues, ahead of a symbolic EU vote. Mr. Staes said, “This poll clearly shows that the European public does not want… the authorisation of glyphosate, and certainly not until June 2031.” A vote on relicensing could be held as early as next week, but is thought most likely to take place at a committee meeting in Brussels on 19 May, the Guardian notes.

The herbicide is the most widely used chemical in the world, according to reports and as a result is being detected in food and human bodies. Recent tests have detected glyphosate residues in German beer, at levels higher than allowed in drinking water. Last year, glyphosate residues were found in bread being sold in the UK. The results of the  bread study also shows that glyphosate use in the UK increased by 400% in the last 20 years and is one of the three pesticides regularly found in routine testing of British bread -appearing in up to 30% of samples tested by the UK government. Similar results are expected in the U. S. A pilot study conducted by the group Moms Across America in 2014 found that glyphosate may also bioaccumulate in the human body, as revealed by high levels of the chemical in the breast milk of mothers tested.

Glyphosate, created by Monsanto, is touted as a “low toxicity” chemical and “safer” than other chemicals by industry. But glyphosate has been shown to have detrimental impacts on humans and the environment. Given its widespread use on residential and agricultural sites, its toxicity is of increasing concern. A mounting body of data has found that formulated glyphosate (Roundup) products are more toxic than the active ingredient, glyphosate, alone. Roundup formulations can induce a dose-dependent formation of DNA adducts (altered forms of DNA linked to chemical exposure, playing a key role in chemical carcinogenesis) in the kidneys and liver of mice. Human cell endocrine disruption on the androgen receptor, inhibition of transcriptional activities on estrogen receptors on HepG2, DNA damage and cytotoxic effects occurring at concentrations well below “acceptable” residues have all been observed. A 2008 study confirmed that the ingredients in Roundup formulations kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells, even at very low concentrations, and causes total cell death within 24 hrs.

In the U.S., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has indicated it will release its preliminary risk assessment on glyphosate for public comment this year. It has been announced that federal testing will begin for glyphosate residues in food. However, although a positive step, this move is largely seen as political – a response to growing public pressure and not focused on evaluating health concerns. Beyond Pesticides urges individuals concerned about glyphosate exposure to support organic systems that do not rely on hazardous carcinogenic pesticides. In agriculture, concerned consumers can buy food with the certified organic label, which not only disallows synthetic pesticides like glyphosate, but also the use of sewage sludge and genetically engineered ingredients. Instead of prophylactic use of pesticides and biotechnology, responsible organic farms focus on fostering habitat for pest predators and other beneficial insects, and only resort to judicious use of least-toxic pesticides when other cultural, structural, mechanical, and biological controls have been attempted and proven ineffective.

Source: The Guardian; Reuters

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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13
Apr

Still Time to be Heard on Organic Integrity; Comments Due Tomorrow, April 14!

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2016) The organic regulatory process provides numerous opportunities for the public to weigh in on what is allowable in organic production. The spring 2016 public comment period is coming to a close for the National Organic Standards Board’s (NOSB) proposed recommendations on organic standards, materials and policy. Comments are due by tomorrow, April 14, 2016 at 11:59 PM. There are many important issues that are under NOSB consideration. Your voice is integral to maintaining organic integrity and the value of the USDA organic label. Remember, the Secretary of Agriculture may not allow materials in organic production that are not first recommended by the NOSB.

saveorganic1On our Public Comment Alerts page, we have listed our positions on some of our top priority issues, such as inert ingredients, sanitizers, ancillary substances, carrageenan, and paraciticides. We have now updated our Keeping Organic Strong (KOS) page with the rest of our top priority issues (as of April 12, 2016), and included the newest ones below. Please feel free to develop your own comments or cut and paste from our sample comments below or our final comments on the above KOS page:

Policy and Procedures Manual Revisions

“I appreciate the response to fall comments regarding the difficulty of reviewing proposed changes to the Policy and Procedures Manual (PPM). I appreciate, in particular, the clarification that the NOSB will vote on the proposed changes and the publication of a redlined version and an annotated table of contents. I do not think it is appropriate, however, for the NOSB to consider such a complicated proposal without an explanation and justification of each change. In giving legal status to the word “organic,” to maintain accountability to organic stakeholders, and to keep government intrusion in check, Congress explicitly empowered the NOSB to counter an abuse of government authority in an organic sector that daily challenges basic tenets of chemical-intensive and genetically engineered agriculture, which has deep institutional roots within USDA. The PPM is the instrument through which the NOSB maintains its ability to set the standards for organic production in the United States. The NOSB must not relinquish that authority and responsibility by weakening the PPM.”

Nutrient vitamins and minerals

“I appreciate the efforts of the Handling Subcommittee in untangling the mess that has come from mistaken implementation of past NOSB recommendations. Added vitamins and minerals –synthetic or nonsynthetic—should not be permitted in products labeled “organic” unless required by law. Consumers expect that organic food contains a complete complement of nutrients based on organic agricultural production practices, not supplementation.”

See our Public Comment Alerts page for a complete list of our top priority issues and sample comments. One of the best ways to make your voice heard is to submit your comments to regulations.gov. You can search for the meeting using this docket number: AMS-NOP-15-0085 or by clicking the link. If you cut and paste our comments into regulations.gov for the top priority issues before the NOSB, please first put a personal note of concern in order to reflect the importance if these issues to you, and to make sure your comment is read by an NOSB member.

We have also finished analyzing the other numerous recommendations and have provided you with our positions, which we hope you will use as the basis for your comments. See our final comments and learn about all of the issues at the spring 2016 NOSB meeting by clicking here.

NOSB Meeting Details:

Monday, April 25, 2016 – 8:30am to Wednesday, April 27, 2016 – 5:00pm
Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008

If you plan on attending the meeting and want to provide oral comments, you must reserve an oral comment slot. Oral public comments are scheduled in two blocks:

  • Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 1:00pm-4:00pm ET via webinar; 4 minute comment slot
  • Monday/Tuesday, April 25 and 26, during the face-to-face meeting; 3 minute comment slot

Oral commenters may only sign up for one comment slot, and the sign-up deadline is tomorrow, April 14, 2016 at 11:59pm. Again, you can reserve an oral comment slot by clicking here.

We ask that you submit comments on as many issues and materials as you can by 11:59pm, April 14, 2016 deadline. For help crafting your comments, view Beyond Pesticides’ commenting guide. For all other questions, please go to Beyond Pesticides’ Keeping Organic Strong webpage to learn more about these and other substantive issues and provide a unique public comment.

Thank you for standing up to keep organic strong!

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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12
Apr

EPA Finds 97% of Endangered Species Threatened by Common Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2016) Two commonly used pesticides are “likely to adversely affect” 97% of species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), according to a first of its kind national assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The determination is part of a settlement reached by EPA and the Center for Biological Diversity, which requires the agency to complete a review of the impact of organophosphate pesticides chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon by December 2017, and two carbamate class pesticides, methomyl and carbaryl, by the end of 2018. Under ESA Section 7, any agency action that it authorizes, funds, or carries out must find that it “is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat.”

ChlorpyrifosUnder ESA, EPA is required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) when registering a pesticide, in order to mitigate risks to endangered species. However, EPA routinely disregards this requirement, and has been sued numerous times for failing to ensure adequate protections for endangered species. Although CBD’s original lawsuit targeted potential pesticide impacts on California’s threatened red-legged frog, both parties agreed that a broader, national review would be more efficient for government agencies. This determination was influenced by a 2013 report from the National Academy of Sciences that identified deficiencies and provided recommendations for all the agencies involved in pesticide consultations. While a new process for handling ESA consultations was outlined in 2013, EPA continues to bring pesticides to market without adequate data on a chemical’s adverse effects.

As the recent review shows, pesticide impacts are ubiquitous, with EPA finding chlorpyrifos and malathion “likely to adversely affect” 97% of listed and candidate species and diazinon “likely to adversely affect” 79% of endangered species. While all three chemicals are currently allowed for use in agriculture, chlorpyrifos and malathion’s impact is broader due to its allowance as a mosquito insecticide. EPA’s analysis required consideration of both direct impacts through dietary exposure as well as indirect impacts through prey. Adverse effects were far reaching, ranging from aquatic mammals like sea lions, to cave-dwelling spiders, and numerous listed birds.

EPA is currently considering restricting the use of chlorpyrifos in agricultural settings by revoking its food tolerances, as a result of a separate lawsuit launched by Pesticide Action Network North America and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Although glyphosate’s listing as a carcinogen received the most coverage at the time, the World Health Organization also determined that both diazinon and malathion are probably carcinogenic to humans. Diazinon’s determination was based on evidence of cancer from human agricultural studies, and tumors in rodent studies. Malathion’s determination was made based upon human agricultural studies and strong evidence of DNA or chromosomal damage.

This ESA assessment shows that these chemicals are not only toxic to humans, but put nearly every sensitive species in the United States in unacceptable danger. However, EPA’s process for registering pesticides continues to institute restrictions intended to mitigate risks, and does not function to protect the most vulnerable in biological systems. This current review strengthen calls from health and environmental groups to eliminate the use of old, toxic organophosphate pesticides. In a world where numerous risks to endangered species exist, from habitat modification and fragmentation, to climate change, enigmatic diseases, and overconsumption, eliminating toxic pesticide use represents a low-hanging fruit for biodiversity conservation.

Tried, tested and effective sustainable and organic alternatives exist for a nearly every use of toxic pesticides. For agriculture, organic systems build healthy soil and create biodiverse habitat which in turn develops hardier crops and a more resilient system better able to address pest outbreaks before they impact harvests. With mosquito control, an emphasis on prevention and source reduction is the most effective method of managing mosquitoes, as it focuses on stopping mosquitoes from hatching in the first place. Even in the very limited situations where adulticides are used for public health emergencies, highly toxic organophosphates like chlorpyrifos need not be employed.

For an in-depth discussion on the science and law behind pesticide registrations, attend Beyond Pesticides’ 34th National Pesticide Forum at the end of this week (April 15-16th) in Portland, Maine. The Environmental Health and Law panel will feature scientist and Beyond Pesticides Board member Warren Porter, Ph.D, entomologist Nancy Ostiguy, Ph.D, permaculture designer Tao Orion, and Center for Food Safety Senior Attorney Paige Tomaselli.  Tickets are still available for purchase!

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: EPA, Center for Biological Diversity

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11
Apr

Maryland Legislature Bans Retail Sales of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2016) In a historic move, the Maryland legislature voted to become the first state in the nation to ban consumers from using products containing neonicotinoid pesticides, a class of bee-toxic chemicals that has been linked to the startling decline in bees and other pollinators around the world. The bill now heads to Governor Larry Hogan to sign or veto.

beehivecheckThe Pollinator Protection Act was approved by lawmakers on Thursday by a 98-39 vote in the Maryland House of Delegates. While consumers will not be allowed to buy pesticide products containing neonicotinoids starting in 2018, the legislation’s reach does not extend to farmers, veterinarians, and certified pesticide applicators, who will still be permitted to apply the chemicals. Consumers can also buy treated plants and seedlings from stores without any labeling. Cumulatively, these present major sources of exposure for bees and other pollinators.

The bill originally included a requirement that companies put labels on plants and seeds that are treated with neonicotinoids, but that provision was ultimately pulled from the bill. Hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s had previously announced that they were voluntarily phasing out the supply of neonicotinoid-treated plants over the next two to three years. Home Depot previously decided to start requiring all nursery plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids to carry a label to inform customers, following a report written last year. The report, Gardeners Beware (2014), shows that 36 out of 71 (51 percent) of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid pesticides. Some of the flowers contained neonic levels high enough to kill bees outright and concentrations in the flowers’ pollen and nectar were assumed to be comparable. Further, 40% of the positive samples contained two or more neonics.

As the bill made its way through the legislature, an amendment was attached to the Senate language, and later rejected, that implied legislative intent to preempt (take away) the authority of municipalities in Maryland to adopt local pesticide restrictions that are more restrictive than state policy on all property within their jurisdiction. The Senate language, which required a report and recommendation “to ensure state laws and regulations are consistent” with EPA, would have put the legislature on record, for the first time, as seeking to ensure preemption. Maryland is one of seven states that does not preempt local jurisdictions from adopting pesticide restrictions more stringent than the state. Last year, Montgomery County, Maryland, with over one million residents, adopted a landmark ordinance that phases out the use of toxic pesticides, including all neonicotinoid use, for turf management on private and public land. This followed the adoption of similar ordinances in Takoma Park, Maryland, and Ogunquit, Maine.

The pollinator bill was opposed by the pesticide industry, the Maryland Farm Bureau, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and other groups.

Proactive state and local steps to address the issue of pollinator decline is critical in the absence of federal action. Beyond Pesticides has long advocated a regulatory approach that prohibits toxic pesticide use and requires alternative assessments. Farm, beekeeper, and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides, have urged EPA to follow the European Union’s lead and suspend the huge numbers of other bee-harming pesticides already on the market. We suggest an approach that rejects uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations, and instead focuses on safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as organic agriculture, which prohibits the use of neonicotinoids. See Bee Protective to learn how you can help.

Sources: Baltimore Sun

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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08
Apr

One Week until the 34th National Pesticide Forum Arrives in Portland, ME!

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2016) With exactly one week until Cultivating Community and Environmental Health: Models for sustainable and organic strategies to protect ecosystems, pollinators, and waterways, don’t miss out on the opportunity to listen and interact with some of the leading scientists and experts in their fields. There is still time to register! The 34th National Pesticide Forum, runs from the afternoon of April 15 through the evening of April 16. Registration, which is $45 for activists and $25 for students, includes access to all sessions as well as organic food and beverages. In addition to spending time with those on the cutting edge of research and organic practices and the opportunity to network, we will serve light refreshments and organic drinks Friday night, and organic breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks on Saturday. Walk-ins will be welcome, but to ensure that we have enough food and drink, we encourage you to register today. Click here to register now!

34NPFstickerimageA Special Friday Night Event:

Join us Friday night for a special performance of A Sense of Wonder, by Kaiulani Lee, followed by a talk and book signing by Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us. Special Friday night only tickets are available for $10.

  • A Sense of Wonder, which is a one-woman play written, produced, and performed by Kaiulani Lee, in which the actor portrays Rachel Carson’s love for the natural world and her fight to defend it, much of it taking place in Maine! It is the story of the extremely private Ms. Carson thrust into the role of controversial public figure with the publication of Silent Spring. This powerful two-act play brings to life on stage Ms. Carson’s passionate message on the adverse health and environmental effects of pesticides, just as these toxic chemicals were becoming an increasingly common part of modern life. Kaiulani Lee brings to the writing and acting of A Sense of Wonder more than 35 years of experience in theatre, film, and television.
  • Kristin Ohlson, journalist and bestselling author. Her book, The Soil Will Save Us, makes an elegantly argued, passionate case for “our great green hope”—a way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon—and potentially reverse global warming. Copies of the book will be available to purchase at the forum.

Learn from Leading Scientists and Experts:

The keynote conference speakers are leading authorities in their fields, which offers participants a unique opportunity to discuss cutting issues focused on protecting human health and the environment. At the Forum, you’ll have the opportunity to interact and talk strategy with speakers on panels and in workshops, such as those featured below:

  • Ecological Tick Management Workshop, featuring Ron Circe, an ecologist and manager of the over 700 acre Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve in Loudoun County, VA, where he employs natural practices to successfully manage ticks; and Daniel Sonenshine, Ph.D., professor emeritus and eminent scholar of biological sciences at Old Dominion University, who researches tick pheromones, tick immunity and tick-borne diseases.
  • Montgomery County, MD Councilmember George Leventhal. As Council President, Mr. Leventhal was the lead sponsor of the landmark ordinance, Bill 52-14, which protects children, pets, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards of unnecessary lawn and landscape pesticides. He wrote and championed the legislation, which restricts cosmetic pesticide use on lawns throughout the county –which is now the largest jurisdiction in the U.S. to do so on both private and public property.
  • Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration. She holds a degree in agroecology and sustainable agriculture from UC Santa Cruz. She has a keen interest in integrating the disciplines of organic agriculture, sustainable land-use planning, ethnobotany, and ecosystem restoration in order to create beneficial social, economic, and ecological outcomes.
  • Jim Gerritsen, an organic farmer who, for 38 years, has owned and operated Wood Prairie Farm in northern Maine, and serves as president of the national farmer-run membership trade organization, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), which was the lead plaintiff in the landmark organic community federal lawsuit, OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto.
  • Will Allen and Kate Duesterberg, both together and separately, have decades of involvement in the field of sustainable agriculture. Will was one of the pioneers of organic farming in California, and is known throughout the U.S. and around the world as an expert on organic cotton. Will and Kate are both farm managers of Cedar Circle Farm in Thetford, VT, where they are active in food politics.

In addition to these highlighted speakers, there is an all-star lineup of experts who will be joining us, from scientists, elected officials, lawyers, and activists, to the Beyond Pesticides’ board of directors. Don’t forget, we also have Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D., a former top U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist, Aaron Blair, Ph.D., a National Cancer Institute researcher (emeritus), and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, representing Maine’s First District. Check out the full speaker list and schedule for more information. 

Organizers:

The 34th National Pesticide Forum is convened by Beyond, Toxics Action Center, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), and University of Southern Maine Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Co-sponsors include: Eldredge Hardware & Lumber, Environment America, Food and Water Watch Maine, Friends of Casco Bay, GreenCAPE, Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Organic Consumers Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility Maine, Portland Pollinator Partnership, Portland Protectors, Protect South Portland, and Regeneration International.

Please email us at [email protected] or give us a call at 202-543-5450 for any questions or concerns that are not addressed on our forum page.

We hope to see you there!

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07
Apr

EPA Introduces Safer Choice Label for Cleaning Products

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2016) Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced the Safe Choice Program (not to be confused with Beyond Pesticides’ longstanding Safer Choice program), an overhauled labeling system created by Design for the Environment (DfE) that encourages consumers to seek out and use cleaning products that protect public health and the environment. Safer Choice uses the technical expertise of its DfE workgroup of EPA scientists to compare ingredients in the same functional class and thereby identify those ingredients with the lowest hazard profile. In order to earn a Safer Choice Standard label, products must have chemical ingredient formulations that “function in making the product work,” which allows formulators “to use those ingredients with the lowest hazard in their functional class.” Safer Chemical Ingredients are listed on EPAs website.
safer choice

“EPA’s Safer Choice program helps consumers find products that are productive and contain ingredients that are safer,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Products that carry the Safer Choice label have been carefully evaluated by EPA scientists to ensure they contain ingredients that are safer for both humans and environmental health.”

The Safer Choice Standard and the Criteria for Safer Chemical Ingredients are protective and address a broad range of potential toxicological effects, including:

  • carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive or developmental toxicants;
  • persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals;
  • systemic or internal organ toxicants;
  • asthmagens;
  • sensitizers; and
  • chemicals on authoritative lists of chemicals of concern.

Safer Choice screens all ingredients for chemicals that may present serious health or environmental effects. This screening includes ingredients used in small percentages, like fragrances and dyes. Some of the chemicals of most potential concern in products are those used in small concentrations. Chemicals of concern include sensitizers, carcinogens, and environmentally toxic and persistent compounds. In addition, Safer Choice products must display one of four symbols that represent the level of concern based on Safer Choice criteria.

green circle Green circle: The chemical has been verified to be of low concern based on experimental and modeled data.

green half circle Green half-circle: The chemical is expected to be of low concern based on experimental and modeled data. Additional data would strengthen our confidence in the chemical’s safer status.

 yellow triangle Yellow triangle: The chemical has met Safer Choice Criteria for its functional ingredient-class, but has some hazard profile issues. Specifically, a chemical with this code is not associated with a low level of hazard concern for all human health and environmental endpoints. (See Safer Choice Criteria). While it is a best-in-class chemical and among the safest available for a particular function, the function fulfilled by the chemical should be considered an area for safer chemistry innovation.

 grey square Grey square: This chemical will not be acceptable for use in products that are candidates for the Safer Choice label and currently labeled products that contain it must reformulate per Safer Choice Compliance Schedules.

Beyond Pesticides advocates for products that avoid ingredients linked to human health or environmental hazards. The Safer Choice label is a good step in improving consumer transparency and education. We encourage all consumers to read the label of all cleaning products and opt to choose products that carry the Safer Choice label. Click here to see examples of Safer Choice Products. Please visit Beyond Pesticides’ Safer Choice page for other non-toxic suggestions on how to avoid hazardous home, garden, community, and food use pesticides.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

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06
Apr

Villanova Pivots to Neonic-Free, Joins Bee Protective Campaign

(Beyond Pesticides April 6, 2016) Hot off the heels of the NCAA basketball tournament, a national title is not the only thing Villanova University has to celebrate this week. The campus, located near Philadelphia, PA, recently became the second school in the nation to receive recognition from the Beyond Pesticides’ and Center for Food Safety’s BEE Protective Campaign, which seeks to protect honey bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticides. Signing the BEE Protective pledge, Villanova signaled its continued commitment to using neonicotinoid-free insecticides on campus, making them one of the leading higher education institutions committed to the protection of pollinator species.

villanova_ignite_smaller“For Villanova, sustainability is not just about energy and recycling,” said Liesel Schwarz, Villanova’s Sustainability Manager. “We look to make all aspects of campus life sustainable, including how we treat our campus grounds. This recognition only further solidifies the wonderful work our grounds department has done to not only make the campus beautiful and inviting for people, but also for pollinators.” Villanova maintains more than fifty pollinator-friendly plants on campus, including aster, black-eyed Susans, milkweed and mint.

Along with planting pollinator-friendly habitat, the elimination of neonicotinoid pesticides on campus is an exemplary move by Villanova to protect pollinators. Neonicotinoids are a group of chemicals whose use has been linked to pollinator declines. They can kill and impair the survival of pollinators like honey bees, wild bees, and butterflies, as well as impact beneficial insects, birds, and other non-insect species. Coinciding with their introduction to the market based on conditional registration from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), beekeepers have reported unprecedented losses, as high as 90 percent, in hives across the country. Since we rely on many of these organisms for essential services, like the pollination of a third of the foods we eat, protecting their existence by eliminating neonicotinoids is a key tenet of the BEE Protective pledge.

BEE Protective is a national campaign established by Beyond Pesticides and the Center for Food Safety, and works with municipalities, campuses, and homeowners to adopt policies that protect pollinators from bee-toxic pesticides.  In addition to scientific and regulatory information, BEE Protective also includes a model community pollinator resolution and a pollinator protection pledge.  The BEE Protective Campaign gives you the tools to help honey bees and other pollinators right in your own community. Here are some ways you can take action:

  • Make your yard or a local park a “Pesticide Free Zone”
  • Become a backyard beekeeper
  • Build biodiversity
  • Go organic
  • Encourage elected officials at the state and federal level to take action to reduce pollinator declines

To find out more about these, and several other actions, please visit Center for Food Safety and Beyond Pesticides’ campaign pages. In addition to the BEE Protective campaign, Beyond Pesticides has also joined with beekeepers and environmental allies in a lawsuit to challenge EPA’s approval of two neonicotinoid pesticides, which you can read about here. Finally, legislative action like that in Minnesota, Maryland and Vermont may serve as an example to other communities that wish to take action against pollinator decline. Pollinators are a vital part of our environment and a barometer for healthy ecosystems. Let’s all do our part to BEE Protective of these critical species.

If your campus would like to follow Villanova’ example and sign the BEE Protective Pledge, contact us at [email protected] .

Source: Center for Food Safety

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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05
Apr

Small Size of Wild Bees Correlated with Their Proximity to Intensive Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, April 5, 2016) Populations of wild, ground-nesting bees grow smaller in areas where agricultural production is high, according to Cornell University researchers. Both wild and managed pollinators are experiencing global population declines that have been linked to a range of factors stemming from human activity, to habitat loss, the spread of parasitic mites and diseases, climate change, and significantly, the use of toxic, systemic pesticides. This study underscores the wide ranging threat that conventional agricultural practices pose to wild insect pollinators.

Andrena_nasonii,_F,_side,_New_York,_Kings_County_2013-02-07-14.17.02_ZS_PMax_(8488019346)Cornell researchers explore the relationship between intensive agricultural production and the size of ground-nesting Andrena nasonii bees. These charismatic pollinators dig tunnels in the ground up to three feet deep in which they store honey and nectar, and ultimately lay a single egg. They forage on a variety of fruit crops, and are well known and important pollinators of strawberries. Thus, scientists brought their study to areas in New York with large strawberry plantations. Researchers discovered a significant, positive correlation between the decreased size of female A. nasonii bees and their proximity to intensively farmed strawberry plots.

“Once we knew there was an effect of agriculture on the size of the bees, we took a random sample of our largest bees from our natural habitats and smallest bees from these agricultural intensive habitats, and looked at how much pollen the female bees were carrying on their bodies,” said Heather Connelly, a Cornell graduate student and co-author on the paper.

“Small bees had a 40 percent smaller pollen load than large bees did, so potentially these small bees might actually be less able to provision their own offspring and we might end up seeing some cascading negative effects on the population of bees there,” said Ms. Connelly.

Researchers indicate that while more research is needed to determine the exact cause of smaller body size, the ability to collect pollen may play a key role. This impact may be influenced by the effect of pesticide exposure on bees. A study published last month found that chronic, low dose exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides interferes with bumblebee’s ability to learn to extract nectar and pollen from plants, and may change their floral preferences.  A smaller pollen load induced by adverse exposure to pesticides may contribute to smaller body sizes. However, other factors may also be at play. An increasingly monocultured landscape may lead to longer foraging flights, or bees choosing less preferable flower sources. Scientists postulate these cumulative effects may result in a feedback cycle whereby decreased pollen collection produces smaller bees, which themselves collect less pollen and produce smaller offspring.

A study published in December 2015 found that, between 2008 and 2013, native bee abundance declined across 23% of U.S. land area, generally associated with the conversation of natural habitat to farmland. Earlier research from Cornell University in July 2015 discovered that, in New York apple orchards, as pesticide use increased the number of wild bees found on farmland plummeted. The results of these past and current studies show the need for greater floral diversity in and around agricultural landscapes is needed urgently.  A November 2015 study published by scientists at the University of California Davis found that incorporating hedgerows into agricultural landscapes can reduce the need for pesticide inputs and promote on-farm biodiversity. However, it is important to note that continued use of systemic pesticides can undermine the benefits of hedgerows. Wildflowers bordering fields treated with neonicotinoids can contain pesticide residue at levels that harm bees, according to a study published in October 2015.

For these reasons and many others, Beyond Pesticides works to promote the widespread transition of conventional farmland to organic production. Organic law requires farmers to foster soil health, and create a strategy to deal with pest populations before they become a problem. Because of these factors, many organic farms do not require the use of even organic-compatible pesticides, opting instead to increase pest and disease resiliency through an increased diversity of pest predators.

For more on the plight of pollinators and practices that can help reverse their declines, join us at Cultivating Community and Environmental Health, the 34th National Pesticide Forum, April 15-16, 2016 in Portland, ME.  Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D., a senior USDA entomologist will join other top scientists and leaders who have stood up to protect human and environmental health, despite facing industry backlash and scientific suppression. Dr. Lundgren’s research on the harm neonicotinoids pose to monarch butterflies reflects a growing scientific consensus that these chemicals present significant risks to declining pollinator populations. Registration, which includes access to all sessions as well as organic food and beverages, is $45 for grassroots activists, and $25 for students. Register online today.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: PLOS One, Farmers’ Advance

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04
Apr

Pesticides Kill Dragonflies and Reduce Biodiversity in Rice Paddies

(Beyond Pesticides, April 4, 2016) Pesticides widely used in rice paddies in Japan are harming dragonflies. The study, conducted by researchers at Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies, finds that the insecticide fipronil significantly reduces the population of adult dragonflies, more so than any other pesticide treatment.

Blue_Dragonfly_Iski_VingartThe study, titled Fipronil application on rice paddy fields reduces densities of common skimmer and scarlet skimmer and published in the journal Scientific Reports, investigated the impact of neonicotinoids, which have been linked to bee die-offs around the world, and chlorantraniliprole, which, like neonicotinoids and fipronil, is a systemic pesticide that is taken up by the plant and subsequently expressed in pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets. Plankton species were adversely affected by clothianidin, a neonicotinoid, and chlorantraniliprole, but they recovered after concentrations of the chemicals decreased.

Koichi Goka, Ph.D., a senior researcher at the institute, said nymphs living near the soil are particularly vulnerable to toxic chemicals, according to The Asahi Shimbun. “The density of insecticidal components in the water drops quickly after they are dissolved,” Goka said. “But such components long remain in the soil. Nymphs at the bottom of water could have been affected.”

Dr. Goka is calling for more testing in outdoor facilities to assess the risks of agricultural chemicals.

Dragonflies and other pollinators are under constant threat from the widespread use of pesticides. A study published in March 2016 found over 50 different types of pesticides in honey bees, including neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, and fipronil, while investigating over 70 honey bee poisoning events. A 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that pesticide use has sharply reduced the regional biodiversity of stream invertebrates, such as mayflies and dragonflies, thus posing a long-term threat to important ecosystems.

Plan to attend Cultivating Community and Environmental Health, the 34th National Pesticide Forum, April 15-16, 2016 in Portland, ME to discuss pollinators and other local and national environmental concerns.  Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D., a senior USDA entomologist will join other top scientists and leaders who have stood up to protect human and environmental health, despite facing industry backlash and scientific suppression. Dr. Lundgren’s research on the harm that neonicotinoids pose to monarch butterflies reflects a growing scientific consensus that these chemicals present significant risks to declining pollinator populations. Registration, which includes access to all sessions as well as organic food and beverages, is $45 for grassroots activists, and $25 for students. Register online today.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Sources: The Asahi Shimbun

 

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