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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Farmworkers' Category


15
May

Pruitt’s EPA Delays New Rules to Protect Pesticide Applicators

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2017) Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the direction of new Administrator Scott Pruitt, announced that it will delay for one year the implementation of a final rule that revised and updated protections for certified pesticide applicators –the workers who apply the most hazardous pesticides, restricted used pesticides. The new rules require increased training for certified applicators and increase the minimum age of a worker to 18 years, updates to which industry has objected. Against the backdrop of recent high-profile poisonings, the delay requested by industry interests places these workers and the public at continued risk. The Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule was made final on January 4, 2017, revising regulations regarding the certification of applicators of restricted use pesticides (RUPs). The rule was scheduled to go into effect March 6, 2017, but was delayed to March 21, 2017 by the new Trump Administration, which placed a mandatory freeze on all new regulations coming out of federal agencies. Now the Pruitt-led EPA states in the notice that it has “determined that the effective date of the revised Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule should be extended until May 22, 2018. EPA is taking this […]

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31
Mar

EPA Reverses Course and Allows Continued Use of Highly Neurotoxic Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2017) On Wednesday, Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), rejected the conclusions of EPA scientists, and independent scientific literature, and reversed a tentative decision from 2015 to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos due to the chemical’s neurotoxic impacts. This would have effectively banned chlorpyrifos from agriculture. This decision stemmed from a petition and lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)  ten years ago, calling for EPA to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances and cancel all registrations. A Federal Appeals court mandated that EPA take final action by March 31, 2017. Mr. Pruitt’s decision leaves the door open for continued neurotoxic dangers for humans, especially children, who have been shown to be especially vulnerable to chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos is part of the organophosphate (OPs) class of pesticides, which were used in World War II as nerve agents. As potent neurotoxicants, organophosphates are extremely harmful to the nervous system, given that they are cholinesterase inhibitors and bind irreversibly to the active site of an enzyme essential for normal nerve impulse transmission. The scientific evidence of neurotoxic dangers associated with chlorpyrifos exposure is extensive and consistent. Epidemiological data also […]

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22
Mar

Environmental and Farm Groups Challenge Toxic Pesticides Used in Genetically Engineered Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2017) Today, a coalition of farmers and environmental and public health organizations filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approving agrochemical giant Dow Chemical’s toxic pesticide combo, Enlist Duo, among the newer more highly toxic pesticide mixtures used in genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-tolerant crops. Comprised of glyphosate and 2,4-D (50% of the mixture in the warfare defoliant Agent Orange), Enlist Duo is typically marketed alongside commercial crops like corn, cotton and soybeans that are engineered to withstand pesticide exposure, leading to problems of resistance and driving the evolution of super weeds. This is the third lawsuit challenging EPA approval of Enlist Duo by petitioners, which include Beyond Pesticides, National Family Farm Coalition, Family Farm Defenders, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity, represented jointly by legal counsel from Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety. The lawsuit charges that approval of Enlist Duo “will lead to sharply increased spraying of toxic pesticides, harming farmers, neighboring crops, and wildlife.” Specifically farmers’ health and financial positions stand to be heavily impacted by the approval of Enlist Duo, as increased use will result in increased pesticide drift, an alarming concern especially […]

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21
Mar

California Weakens Rules to Protect Children from Pesticide Drift, Comment Period Open until April 4

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2017) Last week, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) released revised rules regarding notification of pesticide applications near schools, weakening standards despite opposition from community and public health groups. The new rules rescind a requirement that schools be granted 48 hours prior notification for a planned application of agricultural pesticides within ¼ mile of a school site. CDPR has re-opened public comments on the new rules, and concerned residents have until April 4 to submit a short statement urging increased protections to the Department at dpr16004@cdpr.ca.gov. Public health, farmworker, and community groups had urged CDPR to strengthen, not weaken common-sense protections for children’s health. As the rules currently stand, applications of toxic, drift-prone pesticides will only be restricted within ¼ mile of a school site, and only during the hours of 6am to 6pm on weekdays. The original proposal required 48 hour prior notification for other agricultural pesticide applications occurring within ¼ mile of school sites during these times. However, CDPR’s revised rules now only require 48 hour notification if the pesticides applied are not on a list provided to school officials at the beginning of the year. Applicators will still be required to submit annual reports […]

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14
Mar

EPA to Investigate Civil Rights Abuses Over Pesticide Use in Hawaii

(Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2017)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is opening an investigation into whether the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and the state Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) are discriminating against Native Hawaiians in their administration of the state’s pesticide program. The investigation comes after a number of local community groups, represented by the nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice, filed a complaint in September 2016 asking EPA to take action against systemic abuses of Native Hawaiian peoples. Local efforts to protect pesticide-exposed communities have been repeatedly stymied by giant pesticide corporations operating on the island, which filed lawsuits that ultimately struck down local laws. EPA’s investigation will focus on the state’s activity on the islands of Kauai and Moloka’i. “The External Civil Rights Compliance Office will investigate whether in administering the pesticides program and the leasing and licensing of the state land program the HDOA and/or ADC discriminated on the basis of race and/or national origin against farm workers and residents of West Kauai and Molokai, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and EPA’s implementing regulation,” wrote Lilian Dorka, director of EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office(ERCO), in a letter to Earthjustice. Under Title […]

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10
Mar

Study Finds Pesticide Use Does Not Increase Profits for Farmers

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2017) A French study published last week has found that higher pesticide use does not mean larger profits, demonstrating that farmers can reduce their usage of pesticides without worrying about their profits being affected, in most cases. Similar studies have shown that organic and conventional yields are comparable, supporting the case for farmers to transition from high pesticide use to healthier, safer, and more profitable alternatives. The study, led by Martin Lechenet, a PhD student with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, looked at data from 946 French farms, including yields, pesticide application rates, soil characteristics, and local climate conditions. The researchers then used a model to focus on the relationship between pesticide application rates and productivity or profitability. They found that, in 77% of the farms, higher pesticide use was not linked to a higher profit. The researchers then estimated that pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects on current profit levels in 59% of farms in their national network. According to the researchers, their results demonstrate the ability to reduce pesticide usage for most farmers in current production situations. In addition, other studies support the finding that farmers do not have […]

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22
Feb

Pesticide Spills and Accidents Put Pesticide Applicators at Increased Risk for Prostate Cancer

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2017) Male pesticide applicators who experienced a pesticide spill or another related accident are more likely to harbor changes in their DNA associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to a recent paper published in the journal, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis. While the relationship between pesticide exposure and prostate cancer is not new, this study adds to the growing body of evidence that high exposure to specific pesticides may lead to the development of prostate and other cancers. The analysis finds that after experiencing one of these exposure events, men are more likely to have higher DNA methylation of a gene linked with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. DNA methylation is a form of gene regulation that, if disturbed, can result in gene expression changes that can cause cancer. The researchers used data from the ongoing Agricultural Health Study (AHS), which is a long-term cohort study evaluating cancer and other health outcomes of pesticides applicators and their spouses in North Carolina and Iowa. This paper, High pesticide exposure events and DNA methylation among pesticide applicators in the agricultural health study, analyzed a sample size of 596 male pesticide applicators who underwent three phases of […]

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21
Feb

Take Action: Bill Will Eliminate Permit Requirement to Spray Pesticides into Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2016) The Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last week that will eliminate protections from toxic pesticides for the nation’s waterways. The bill now moves on to the full House for a vote and the public has an opportunity to let Representatives hear the concerns about weakening local protection of waterways from toxic pesticides. HR 953, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (code for the sponsors and supporters as legislation to eliminate environmental protection of water quality), is the committee’s latest effort in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback common sense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. The bill would repeal the Clean Water Act requirement that those who apply pesticides to waterways, with an exemption for farm use pesticides not directly deposited into waterways, obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Last May, at the height of fears over the Zika epidemic, the same Committee ushered through the same bill under another misleading name, The Zika Vector Control Act. Pensive lawmakers and the public saw through the ruse, and the bill was defeated. But, like previous iterations, including the 2015 Sensible Environmental […]

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17
Feb

Two Months until Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land Conference!

(Beyond Pesticides, February 17, 2017) We’re only two months away from our 35th National Pesticide Forum! Join us for Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 28-29, 2017. Register Today Get the Early Bird Discount (available until March 28)! As an Early Bird buyer, you can get a general rate for $40, a student rate for $20, or a business rate for $170. Scholarships are also available. All ticket price rates include organic meals: on Friday, organic beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvre; on Saturday, organic breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus organic beer and wine at the evening reception. For more details about registration, click here. Background The Forum offers a unique opportunity during a critical time in our nation’s history to chart a course that upholds principles, values, policies and practices that protect health and the environment. The Forum brings together speakers on the latest science on pesticides, from bee-toxic neonicotinoids to glyphosate, contrasted with practitioners utilizing organic management practices in agriculture and parks, and on athletic fields and rangeland. In sum, the Forum seeks to help hone public understanding of the […]

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08
Feb

Hundreds of Former EPA Employees Ask Senate to Block Pruitt Nomination

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2017) As the controversy surrounding the Trump Administration and GOP Congress’s plan for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to grow, a nonpartisan group of 447 former EPA employees united to write a strongly-worded letter urging the Senate to block Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as EPA Administrator. Citing EPA’s “fundamental obligation to act in the public’s interest based on current law and the best available science,” the group, whose members served under both Democratic and Republican presidents, calls into question Pruitt’s qualifications, given his longstanding record of opposing “longstanding tenets of U.S. environmental law.” This letter is just the latest in the constantly evolving debate over the need for environmental protection. In the past two weeks, the EPA has been under attack by the Trump Administration and Republican lawmakers who would continue to undermine the environmental protections required for clean water, clean air, and healthy natural resources. Myron Ebell, head of Trump’s EPA transition team, suggested last week that the agency’s already understaffed workforce be cut from about 15,000 employees to 5,000, with potentially more cuts to follow. Trump himself then issued an executive order proposing that for every new regulation promulgated, two must be repealed, an […]

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07
Feb

Ruling Affirmed in Colorado Pesticide Trespass Case

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2017) After years of legal battle, the Colorado Court of Appeals last week affirmed a ruling that Colorado rancher, James Hopper, must serve two days in jail and pay a $7,500 fine for spraying pesticides that drifted unto his neighbor’s farm in violation of a 2012 court order protecting his neighbors. In 2012, organic farmers Rosemary Bilchak and her husband Gordon MacAlpine, were granted a permanent injunction prohibiting pesticide applications within 150 feet of the property line in order to reduce pesticide drift. Last week’s decision bolsters a legal precedent that wafting pesticides can constitute a trespass against which adjacent landowners and people with health sensitivities are protected. The legal battle began in 2011 when Mr. Hopper obtained his Colorado pesticide applicator’s license and applied the adulticide Fyfanon, which contains the organophosphate insecticide malathion, to kill mosquitoes on his property. However, the pesticide drifted onto Ms. Bilchak and Mr. MacAlpine’s organic vegetable farm. In 2012, a District Court Judge ruled that they have a right not to have their property invaded by other people or things, and prohibited Mr. Hopper from fogging for mosquitoes within 150 feet of his neighbor’s property or allowing the pesticides to drift, […]

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02
Feb

Common Pesticide Ingredient Labeled “Inert” Increases Honey Bee Susceptibility to Virus

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2017) A commonly used inert pesticide ingredient negatively affects the health of honey bees by making larvae more susceptible to a virus, according to a recently published study in the journal, Nature. One of the authors of the study, Julia Fine, PhD candidate, stated that the findings, “Mirror the symptoms observed in hives following almond pollination, when bees are exposed to organosilicone adjuvant residues in pollen, and viral pathogen prevalence is known to increase. In recent years, beekeepers have reported missing, dead and dying brood in their hives following almond pollination, and exposure to agrochemicals, like adjuvants, applied during bloom, has been suggested as a cause.” The study assessed honey bee larval development after exposure to a continuous low dose of Sylgard 309, a surfactant, in their diet. This organosilicone surfactant is commonly used on agricultural crops, including tree fruits, nuts, and grapes. Their results reveal that honey bee exposure to chemical surfactants such as Sylgard 309 led to higher levels of Black Queen Cell Virus and when the bee larvae were exposed to the surfactant and virus simultaneously, “the effect on their mortality was synergistic rather than additive.” This research comes at a time when […]

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01
Feb

North Miami Passes IPM Plan in Response to Local Activism

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2017) Last week in North Miami, the City Council took a significant step that could reduce pesticide use in the community. The Council adopted an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy modeled after a plan developed by San Francisco in the mid-90’s. The plan does not ban pesticides and herbicides, but instead aims to reeducate citizens and county workers on least-toxic pest management strategies with the goal of eliminating toxic pesticide use on city property.  The IPM plan does not address pesticide use on private property, due to state preemption of local authority. With the passage of the North Miami’s resolution, city operatives will now be asked to give preference to available, safe and effective non-pesticide alternatives and cultural practices. As stated in the resolution’s Integrated Pesticide Management Program Guidelines, the goal of the policy is “to eliminate the application of all Toxicity Category I and Category II pesticide products by January 2018.” On top of eliminating certain pesticide categories, the resolution also calls for staff training and expert consultants, both of which have the potential to help ease the transition in pursuit of the 2018 goal, and priority will be given to efforts to reduce or eliminate pesticide use near […]

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21
Dec

Cases of Pesticide Poisoning Up in California, Including Agricultural and Residential Areas

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2016) A California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) report of all pesticide related illnesses in the state in 2014 identifies 1,685 cases “potentially involving health effects from pesticide exposure,” combining exposures from agricultural and non-agricultural use. Of the 798 cases associated with non-agricultural use, 18% of them (146 cases) involved exposure in children under 18 years old. The exposure rates are alarming, and only strengthen efforts by local activists in counties like Tulare to protect children from pesticide exposure. According to the report, Tulare County has the highest number of reported illnesses related to pesticide exposure at 78, followed by Santa Cruz County with 67. The report, Summary of Results from the California Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program 2014, provides a summary of illnesses identified by the Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program (PISP), a program under DPR. Of the 1,685 cases potentially involving health effects from pesticide exposure reported, DPR epidemiologists determined that 1,073 of those cases were “at least possibly associated” with pesticide exposure, representing a 5% decrease from 2013. However, even though the number of associated cases decreased in 2014, PISP did see a 14% rise in the number of associated episodes, defined as “an event in which a single source […]

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20
Dec

EPA Glyphosate Cancer Panel Considers Data, Public Input with Mixed Response; Recommendation to Follow

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2016) A long-awaited and contentious scientific meeting convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the carcinogenic properties of glyphosate wrapped up its review last week, with the 15-member scientific advisory panel split on their determination,  and some considering a “suggestive evidence” classification. The panel’s charge was to evaluate EPA’s recent proposal that the widely used herbicide should be considered “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” despite a 2015 determination from the International Agency for Research on Cancer than glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic” with “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity” based on laboratory studies.  The panel now has roughly three months to provide a final recommendation to the agency, which is likely to influence EPA’s final classification of the herbicide. The meeting was split into four days, with one and a half days committed to the panel receiving public comments. As veteran reporter Cary Gillam notes in The Huffington Post, representatives from Monsanto were allotted over three hours to provide evidence against a cancer determination, while public health advocates including Beyond Pesticides and allies were only allotted between 5-15 minutes to make their case. [Read Beyond Pesticides’ comments to the Glyphosate Review Panel here.] Monsanto, for its […]

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19
Dec

Syngenta Research Farm Fined $4.8 Million for Illegal Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week filed a complaint against a Syngenta research farm in Kauai, Hawaii for exposing a dozen agricultural workers to an unregistered insecticide on the farm in early 2016. Syngenta Seeds, LLC is facing over $4.8 million in fines from EPA for allegedly violating multiple federal pesticide regulations meant to protect agricultural workers. At the time of the incident, 19 agricultural workers went to work on fields freshly sprayed with the insecticide chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide. The incident with this highly neurotoxic chemical sent 10 workers to the hospital for medical treatment. EPA’s complaint states that Syngenta Hawaii LLC misused the pesticide “Lorsban Advanced” and that violated EPA’s worker protection standard. Due to its neurotoxicity, EPA banned chlorpyrifos for residential uses in 2000, but retained most agricultural use. EPA maintains that Syngenta failed to provide a waiting period for the workers to re-enter the fields. Additionally, Syngenta did not provide workers with personal protective equipment, as well as proper decontamination supplies once the exposure had occurred. At the time of the incident, an inspector from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) was present on the Syngenta farm, which triggered an immediate investigation from the […]

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15
Dec

EPA Rule Tightens Use of Highest Toxicity Pesticides as Advocates Question Their Use

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2016) On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Certification of Pesticide Applicators final rule on restricted use pesticides (RUP) for publication in the Federal Register. According to EPA, the rule creates a national minimum age requirement of 18 for certified applicators, requires all applicators to renew their certifications every five years, and establishes “first time annual safety training for persons working under the direct supervision of a certified applicator.” States have up to three years to create their programs to implement the new rules for RUPs, and can build upon existing programs if they are equivalent or exceed the updated standards. While EPA’s rule represents a tightening of the restricted use provision, critics have long maintained that all persons handling restricted use pesticides —including those who work for companies that work in and around  homes and communities— should be certified because the supervision requirement does not ensure adequate oversight and protection. Those supervising non-certified applicators are not required to be on site, but, can be in telephone contact. Restricted use pesticides are not available for purchase by the general public, and may only be applied by a certified pesticide applicator or a non-certified […]

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12
Dec

Bader Farms v. Monsanto, An Epic Duel Over Illegal Spraying of Herbicide Dicamba

(Beyond Pesticides,  December 12, 2016)   On November 23, Bill Bader of  Bader farms, Missouri’s largest peach farm with over 1,000 acres and 110,000 peach trees, filed a suit against the multinational, agrichemical giant Monsanto. Mr. Bader seeks compensation for extensive damags to his peach trees, which he blames on the illegal, or non-labeled, use of the toxic herbicide dicamba, brought on by sales of Monsanto’s new, genetically engineered (GE), dicamba-tolerant crops. Mr. Bader is projected to lose $1.5 million in revenue from the crop damage. The case was filed in the Circuit Court of Dunklin County, an area that has been hit especially hard by alleged illegal dicamba spraying. The farm’s insurance company refuses to cover damages from any illegal herbicide use. Without compensation for the damages, the farm risks going out of business. The illegal use of dicamba in this case is not an isolated incident. There have been many disputes in the Midwest over the  illegal spraying of dicamba and subsequent crop damage due to pesticide drift.  Numerous news reports over the past two  months in southern soybean growing regions have found that many farmers are, in response to weeds on their farms that have become resistant […]

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07
Dec

Local Pesticide Policy Reform Mapping Tool Launched; Sign Petition and Join the Campaign

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2016)  Two national non-profit advocacy groups, Beyond Pesticides and Organic Consumers Association (OCA), today launched the Map of Local Pesticide Reform Policies, a resource for communities and activists that documents pesticide policies adopted by local communities to protect people, pollinators and the environment. The map spotlights over 115 communities in 21 states that have taken local action to protect their communities from the adverse effects of pesticides by substituting a range of alternative tactics, from eliminating highly toxic chemicals to the adoption of organic practices. Beyond Pesticides are inviting people across the country to sign a national petition in support of the transition to organic land management. “The Map of Local Pesticide Reform Policies, a continuously updated resource, reflects the wave of change occurring nationwide as local and state policymakers take steps to provide protections to people and the environment that are not provided by federal policy,” said Drew Toher, public education associate for Beyond Pesticides. “The policies adopted so far reveal a strong desire by local governments to advance practices that promote nontoxic alternatives to the toxic weed- and pest-management practices increasingly seen as destructive to the health of humans and their environment.” “Meaningful change […]

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06
Dec

Pesticide Exposure Alters Bacterial Diversity in the Mouth

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2016) A new study released by researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle finds that exposure to organophosphate insecticides is associated with changes in oral bacterial diversity, particularly for exposed farmworkers. The study provides insight into the far-reaching changes pesticide exposure can cause to the human body, which are not captured by current risk assessment models used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although past research has investigated the impact of pesticide exposure on the gut microbiome, this is one of the first studies to look at oral bacterial diversity. For the study, scientists took oral swabs from 65 adult farmworkers and 52 non-farmworker adults in the Yakima Valley of Washington State. Swabs were taken both during the spring/summer, when exposure to pesticides is high, as well as winter, when lower exposure is expected. At the same time the swabs were taken, researchers also took blood samples of individuals in the study. Scientists focused on exposure to the organophosphate insecticide Azinphos-methyl (AZM), which at the time of the study (2005-2006) had not begun its cancellation proceedings. Results show that farmworkers have greater concentrations of AZM in their blood than non-farmworking adults in the area. It […]

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05
Dec

Help Protect California School Children from Pesticides in Communities Where Most U.S. Food is Grown: Send Comments by Dec. 9

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2016) People across the country can support farmworker children and rural communities by speaking up in support of better protection of California school children from pesticide exposure by December 9, 2016. Send a  short email to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) (dpr16004@cdpr.ca.gov) to tell the Department it  must expand proposed buffers around schools to one-mile to protect school children during and after school hours, and expand the rule to cover all schools and daycare centers. Given that, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s latest statistics, “Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts [and a large share of dairy and livestock] are grown in California,” everyone who eats food in the U.S. has a stake in protecting children who live in the communities where the food is grown. Food purchasing decisions have a direct impact on the people who work on farms, their children, and the communities where they live. Support the more than 75 parents, teachers and advocates for social and environmental justice who marched in Tulare County to DPR’s draft rules for pesticides use near schools last week. Led by members of […]

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30
Nov

Industry Challenges Local Maryland Restrictions of Lawn Pesticides as Preempted by State

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2016) A landmark Montgomery County, Maryland ordinance, which protects children, pets, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards of unnecessary lawn and landscape pesticide use, is facing a legal challenge filed last week by the industry group Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE). The plaintiffs, which include local chemical lawn care companies and a few individuals, allege that the local ordinance is preempted by state law, despite the fact that Maryland is one of  seven states  that has not explicitly taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state. This challenge comes on the heels of a recent decision by the 9th  U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down local laws in Hawaii aimed at protecting the environment from toxic pesticide use. An industry victory in Maryland state court would significantly impact the ability of local communities in Maryland to exercise their democratic right to adopt local public health and environmental protections that go above and beyond state and federal regulations that are deemed inadequate. The bill at issue, 52-14, which bans the cosmetic lawn care use of toxic pesticides on public and private land, protects over one […]

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17
Nov

NOSB Meets This Week, as Hydroponic Farmers Seek Formal Allowance to Use Organic Seal

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2016) This week, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is meeting in St. Louis to hear public comments on organic agricultural issues that will ultimately influence standards and processes. One major issue before the board is a motion on whether hydroponic and aquaponics operations can be certified organic. Farmers that practice hydroponic growing techniques are hoping to get the attention of the NOSB as they make an argument for their place in the certified organic industry, while others will be there to reject these arguments and uphold organic as soil-based agriculture. Despite a 2010 recommendation from the NOSB to prohibit allowing hydroponic production to quality as organic, USDA’s National Organic Program allowed organic labeling of the sector, which has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Typically, consumers have no way of knowing that the organic labeled prodeucts they are buying were grown organically. The NOSB is an advisory group, made up of 15 public experts, that makes direct recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on organic production, handling, and processing. In 2010, the NOSB recommended that farmers using hydroponic systems be ineligible for the organic certification. However, the National Organic Program (NOP) decided to ignore […]

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