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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


24
May

DuPont Worker Sues Company for Retaliation Over Pesticide Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2017) A Hawai’i woman is suing her former employer, DuPont Pioneer, stating that the company retaliated against her for bringing up concerns over pesticide safety. Shanbnell Grilho, who worked for DuPont Pioneer on Oahu’s North Shore, alleges the company required her to apply hazardous herbicides without the proper training or protection, and ultimately fired her after fabricating allegations against her. This lawsuit is the latest claim against multinational pesticide companies operating in Hawai’i, which have been at the center of local and state-level disputes over their use of toxic pesticides where Hawai’i residents live, work, and play. In her complaint, Ms. Grilho indicates that she began working at DuPont Pioneer as a temporary employee, during which time she was awarded a raise and named DuPont Pioneer employee of the month. At the time she did not have to apply pesticides. However soon after her award, she was hired as a full time employee and required to work with Roundup, Liberty, and Honcho herbicides, which contain the active ingredients glyphosate, glufosinate, and glyphosate, respectively.  “DuPont Pioneer required plaintiff to apply herbicides and biocides while wearing a backpack sprayer, driving an ATV while applying herbicides with a backpack […]

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18
May

Soft Drink Company Faces Pressure Over Use of Pesticides in its Supply Chain

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2017) A pesticide reduction plan proposed by investors in the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) lacks a positive vision that could accomplish the investors’ goals. The shareholder proposal at DPS, which makes Mott’s, 7UP, Snapple, and Canada Dry, was filed by the Green Century Equity Fund, a company that offers environmentally and socially responsible mutual funds, seeks to pressure DPS to reduce toxic pesticide use in its supply chain. According to their press release, the shareholder proposal suggests that DPS “use quantitative metrics to track the amount of pesticides avoided, publish goals to reduce pesticide use or toxicity, and/or provide incentives to growers to minimize the use of pesticides.” However, the shareholder group could better achieve its goals by asking that DPS use certified organic ingredients. Beyond Pesticides has long sought a broad-scale marketplace transition that does not simply reduce or minimize pesticide use, but prohibits the application of toxic synthetic pesticides by law and promotes the widespread transition of conventional farmland to organic production, which is protective of health and the environment. Certified organic production, with its requirement of a detailed organic system plan and methods to foster and improve soil health, achieves the elimination […]

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17
May

Fraudulent Claims Undermine Organic Integrity

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2017 Fraud among producers portraying products of chemical intensive agriculture as organic –including those recently identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP)— is costly to organic producers and consumers. Imported grains –corn and soybeans that are largely fed to livestock whose products are sold as “organic”— are the focus of claims that USDA is not doing enough to protect the integrity of the organic label. The fraudulent documents that are the subject of the USDA alert are typically produced with the intent to circumvent U.S. organic regulations and are often forged along the supply chain with the goal of increasing the value of agricultural commodities imported to the United States. The arrival of soy and corn crops labeled as organic but later testing positive for residues of pesticides prohibited in organic production, has been well documented in recent years. USDA encourages certifying agents and organic operators to remain vigilant when purchasing organic products from suppliers, and warns of fines for up to $11,000 for anyone found in violation of selling products fraudulently labeled as organic. Additionally, the agency encourages anyone suspecting a violation has been committed to […]

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12
May

Exposure to Heavy Pesticide Use Can Impact Neurobehavioral Performance in Children

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2017) Researchers from the University of California San Diego, School of Medicine, in collaboration with scientists from Ecuador and Minnesota, have found that exposure to heavy pesticide use during peak periods can impact neurobehavioral performance in children. The study focused on exposure to organophosphate pesticides, which have been associated with a broad range of diseases in both children and adults. The study, published in NeuroToxicology, involved 308 non-worker Ecuadorian children between the ages of 4 and 9. Neurobehavioral performance for each child was tested once between 63 and 100 days after the Mother’s Day flower harvest, which is a period of high pesticide use in Ecuador. The researchers found that children examined sooner after Mother’s Day had lower scores than children who were tested later. “Children examined sooner after the flower harvest displayed lower performance on most measures, such as attention, self-control, visuospatial processing (the ability to perceive and interact with our visual world) and sensorimotor (eye-hand coordination) compared to children examined later in a time of lower flower production and pesticide use,” said Jose R. Suarez-Lopez, MD, PhD, and lead author of the study, to ScienceBlog. Dr. Suarez-Lopez continued, “This discovery is novel because it […]

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27
Apr

Chemical Companies Knowingly Allowed Carcinogenic Contaminant in Common Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2017) Multinational chemical companies Dow Chemical Company and Shell Chemical Company knowingly sold and marketed fumigants contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical that had a strong propensity to leach into and remain in groundwater, according to a recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and a lawsuit against the companies. The contaminant of concern, 1,2,3-trichloropropene (TCP), was a manufacturing by-product found in Dow’s Telone and Shell’s D-D fumigant pesticide products with the active ingredient 1,3-Dichloropropene. The products, used to kill soil-dwelling nematodes, are toxic in their own right, but contained TCP in their formulation from the 1940s until the mid-1980s. EWG’s report details widespread contamination of drinking water in California’s agricultural regions, with detections found in 562 wells, and 94 public water systems identifying TCP above legal limits. Thirty-seven additional public water systems serving nearly 4 million U.S. residents throughout the country were also found to contain TCP. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never set maximum contaminant levels for TCP in drinking water, but requires public reporting above the infinitesimally small amount of 30 parts per trillion, roughly six times higher than what the state of California requires. However, even proposed limits of 5 parts per trillion […]

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26
Apr

NOSB Decides on Organic Livestock, Delays Hydroponics Decision

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2017) Last week, at its spring meeting in Denver, Colorado, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted unanimously to recommend that the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule become effective immediately. This recommendation was originally made by the NOSB in 2011, and requires organic meat and poultry producers to allow animals to “exhibit natural behavior, such as the ability to sit, walk, stretch and stand without touching other animals or the sides of their pen, as well as having free and clear access to the outside.” Decisions were also made regarding a wide range of materials and practices, including synthetic additives in infant formula, mulch, sanitizers, and disinfectants. A decision on hydroponic growing methods and their eligibility for organic certification ultimately ended up being delayed again at the spring meeting, with no formal vote or action being taken. At the meeting, Beyond Pesticides maintained its position on hydroponics, aeroponics, bioponics and aquaponics methods, stating that it should not be considered eligible for organic certification. Organic production depends upon the “Law of Return,” which together with the rule “Feed the soil, not the plant,” and the promotion of biodiversity, provide the ecological basis for organic systems. These hydroponic […]

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13
Apr

Study Shows Women and Education Reduce Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2017) With pesticide use rising in Southeast Asia, a new study is highlighting the importance of education and social dynamics in driving farmers’ decisions to spray. When women oversee agricultural pesticide use, according to the study, these farms use approximately 42% less pesticide than other farms. The research, published in Science of the Total Environment this month, aims to provide insight on methods that may be used to intervene and reduce pesticide dependence. The investigation comes at a critical time, as international bodies like the United Nations indicate that rampant pesticide use has the potential to negatively impact human rights, especially in developing countries. In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, pesticide imports are growing at an annual rate of 61%, 55%, and 10%, respectively. These trends have international implications, as food imported from these countries is subsequently found contaminated with pesticides, with for example, 33% of crops imported to the European Union from Vietnam containing pesticide residue above maximum acceptable limits. To uncover the factors driving increased pesticide use in the region, researchers queried 900 vegetable farming households on their knowledge, attitude, and practices. Knowledge included understanding about best practices in agriculture, such as the difference between […]

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07
Apr

Environmental Groups Turn Back to the Courts to Ban Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2017) On Wednesday, Earthjustice, representing the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) turned to the courts to order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban chlorpyrifos. Their action comes on the heels of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision last week to reject the conclusions of EPA scientists and reverse a proposed agency decision to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos. In the new petition, the environmental groups assert that, “Because EPA has sidestepped this Court’s orders and failed to act on the substance of the petition, PAN/NRDC respectfully ask the Court to [give] EPA 30 days to act on its findings that chlorpyrifos exposures are unsafe and to establish deadlines for the next steps in the revocation and cancellation process.” In an interview with The Intercept, Patti Goldman, managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Northwest regional office in Seattle, WA, stated that, “It’s outrageous that the new EPA administrator would reject the scientific findings of its own agency and defy the law and court orders to keep this nasty pesticide on the market.” In its most recent analysis of chlorpyrifos, EPA determined that children between one and two years of age […]

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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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28
Mar

USDA Cancels Plans to Test for Glyphosate Residues in U.S. Food this Year

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2017) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has abandoned its plans to test the U.S. food supply for the presence of glyphosate residues, according to a story from veteran reporter Carrey Gillam in The Huffington Post. The decision comes amid heated controversy over the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, which was cleared by a California judge for listing under California’s Prop 65 earlier this year. The federal government’s pesticide monitoring program, which is run jointly by USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was criticized by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2014 for its failure to test for the widely used herbicide. In early 2016, Beyond Pesticides met with EPA regulators to discuss testing for glyphosate residues in the U.S. food supply. At the time, officials said that FDA was testing honey, and USDA would be conducting more extensive food testing beginning in 2017. USDA had tested soybeans for glyphosate residue in 2011, finding that 90% of samples contained residues between .26 ppm and 18.5 ppm, barely under the allowed food tolerance level of 20ppm. A 2014 Boston University study had indicated that both organic and conventional honey contained glyphosate concentrations despite […]

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27
Mar

European Commission Urges Full Ban of Neonicotinoids

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2017) The European Commission (EC) has proposed a complete ban of agricultural uses of the widely used bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides across Europe under draft regulations. The EC cites neonicotinoids’ “high acute risks to bees.” In 2013, three neonicotinoids were temporarily banned because of concerns about their high toxicity to bees. A vote by member states can happen as early as May 2017. According to Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, the European Commission has presented to Member States its draft regulations to ban the neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Three draft regulations to ban the three bee-toxic neonicotinoids across the entire EU were submitted to the Standing Committee on Plant, Animal, Food and Feed. These will be open to comments from Member States and a first vote on the Commission’s proposal could take place in May 2017. The new proposals are for a complete ban on the three neonicotinoid uses in fields, with the only exception being for plants grown in greenhouses.  There would need to be a positive vote from 55% of the Member States representing 65% of EU citizens (qualified majority) to implement the proposal. In 2013, the European Commission voted to suspend the use of […]

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24
Mar

Rusty Patched Bumblebee Listed as Endangered

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2017) On March 21, the rusty patched bumblebee’s path to protection cleared political hurdles this week. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on March 21 officially listed the rusty patched bumblebee under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), after months of turmoil due to the Trump Administration’s temporary freeze on federal regulations adopted at the end of the Obama Administration. This listing stands as a landmark decision, marking the rusty patched bumblebee the first bumblebee species, and first bee overall in the continental U.S., to officially be declared endangered by FWS. In October 2016, FWS listed seven species of bees as endangered in Hawaii. The initial decision to list the rusty patched bumblebee as an endangered species came at the very end of President Obama’s term, on January 11, to take effect in February. FWS said in its news release, “Causes of the decline in rusty patched bumble bee populations are believed to be loss of habitat; disease and parasites; use of pesticides that directly or indirectly kill the bees; climate change, which can affect the availability of the flowers they depend on; and extremely small population size. Most likely, a combination of these factors has caused the decline in rusty patched […]

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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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09
Mar

Organic Agriculture Offers Clear Human Health Benefits, According to European Report

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2017) A recent European Parliament (EP) report concludes that organic agriculture and food offer clear human health benefits over chemical-intensive agriculture. The report, Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture, which was written by scientists from universities across Europe, used existing scientific literature to assess the human health effects from organic agricultural systems. The authors determined that organic agriculture has considerable benefits, including reduction in antibiotic resistance, lowered levels of cadmium in organic crops, and decreased dietary pesticide exposure levels. According to the EP report, “Overall, consumption of organic food substantially decreases the consumer’s dietary pesticide exposure, as well as acute and chronic risks from such exposure.” Organic farming is a systems approach that values healthy, biologically active soils to support plant life and provide critical environmental benefits, such as improved water infiltration, pest suppression, and carbon storage. It is through this preventive, systems approach that organic agriculture eliminates the necessity for pesticides, and instead relies upon soil health to prevent the problems that chemical-intensive agriculture cannot. This report adds to the growing body of evidence on impaired learning and lowered IQs in children prenatally exposed to low levels of certain pesticides, such as organophosphates. The […]

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08
Mar

UN Report Finds that Pesticide Use Negatively Impacts Human Rights

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2017) A report released by the United Nations finds that human rights are adversely affected by pesticide use. With chemicals, like pesticides, long advanced by the synthetic pesticide and fertilizer industry as the answer to feeding the world, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food report concludes that industrialized agriculture has not succeeded in eliminating world hunger, and has only hurt human health and the environment in its wake. The report will be presented before the Human Rights Council today, and aims to give the international governing body an in-depth understanding of the state of global pesticide use in agriculture and its impact on human rights, specifically as it relates to food security. It also looks at the impact of pesticides on the environment, highlighting the need for a transition to more sustainable agricultural practices on a global scale. Authors of the report, Hilal Elver, Ph.D., the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, and Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s special rapporteur on toxics, highlight the overarching problem with their observation that “reliance on hazardous pesticides is a short-term solution that undermines the rights to adequate food and health for present and future generations.” They begin the report by […]

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06
Mar

Study Shows Impact of Neonicotinoids in Amphibians

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2017) A study published last month by Canadian researchers finds that exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid at environmentally relevant levels results in slight delays in metamorphosis in the tadpoles of the wood frog. While the authors find that this slight delay is not necessarily a cause for concern from an ecological perspective, sublethal effects of pesticide mixtures and a variety of stressors in the environment play a role in extending juvenile periods in frogs, which can increase mortality and population decline. Because neonicotinoids are so widely use, the authors recommend further research on their impact on declining frog populations. The study, published in Environmental Toxicology and entitled, “Sublethal effects on wood frogs chronically exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of two neonicotinoid insecticides,” looks at the chronic exposure effects of the neonicotinoids imidacloprid and thiamethoxam on the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus). The wood frog was chosen because it is native to North America and has a wide distribution across the continent. The researchers exposed tadpoles to environmentally relevant concentrations (1ug/L, 10ug/L and 100ug/L) of the commercial formulation of the neonicotinoids (Admire and Actara). The study finds a significant difference in time for tadpoles to metamorphose. Tadpoles exposed […]

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03
Mar

U.S. Agriculture Still Using Antibiotics that Cause Bacterial Resistance to Life-Saving Medicines, Problem Eliminated in Organic Production

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2017) A new report identifies antibiotic use in conventional plant and animal agriculture as contributing to bacterial resistance to critical life-saving human medicines and the importance of organic agriculture in eliminating antibiotic use. The report, Agricultural Uses of Antibiotics Escalate Bacterial Resistance, published in the latest issue of Pesticides and You, finds that while antibiotic use in animal agriculture is widely acknowledged as harmful, the use of antibiotics in chemical-intensive crop production also pose unnecessary and significant risks. The World Health Organization in 2016 identified bacterial resistance to antibiotics as “one of the biggest threats to global health.” The report notes that the herbicide glyphosate, one of the most widely used pesticides in the U.S., is patented by its manufacturer, Monsanto, for its antibacterial properties. As a result, glyphosate leads as the most   widely used antibiotic in agriculture and around homes, gardens, schools, and communities in the U.S. Other antibiotics used widely in apple and pear production are oxytetracycline and streptomycin, which is also used in the production of peaches, beans, celery, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. These uses at environmentally relevant levels increase bacterial resistance to important antibiotics in medicine. “Resistant bacteria move from farms […]

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28
Feb

Common Fungicide Damages Muscles that Bees Use to Fly

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2017) Myclobutanil, a systemic fungicide commonly used in agriculture and home gardens, can cause significant damage to the muscles that honey bees use to fly and keep warm during the winter. The results of a study, published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by a group of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, underscore the importance of wide-scale education and movement away from the regular use of toxic pesticides. After nearly a decade of unsustainable losses, honey bees and other pollinators continue to suffer declines resulting from the use of toxic pesticides, particularly systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids. Although a substantial body of science implicates neonicotinoids as the most serious chemical threat to pollinators currently, the effects of fungicides and other pesticides on these important animals should not be dismissed as inconsequential. In fact, a 2016 study published by researchers at the University of Maryland found that bee colonies may die off as the number of different pesticide exposures increase. In this recent study, researchers discovered complex interactions between myclobutanil, natural compounds found in flowers, and honey bees’ detoxification system, known as cytochrome 450 enzymes. When foraging on flowers sprayed with […]

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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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13
Feb

Herbicide Use Contributes to Declines in Monarch Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2017)  A study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and others  attributes the reduced number of overwintering monarch butterflies –a reduction of 27% from last year—to herbicide use and other factors. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in conjunction with U.S. and Mexican environmental groups, has been leading the effort in tracking monarch butterflies.  Their recently released 2016-2017 study concluded that the population of monarch butterflies decreased 27 percent from last year’s population, which had marked an increase from dangerously low levels over the previous three years.  Overall, this marks an 80 percent decline in monarch population from the 1990’s.  Researchers have estimated that within 20 years the monarch butterfly migration could collapse altogether. The study was conducted in December of 2016 when the colonies of monarchs are expected to be at their peak population in Mexico.  Monarch populations are gauged by the area of land they inhabit, rather than counts of butterflies.   Thirteen butterfly colonies were observed, recorded and tracked using geographic information systems software.  The researchers found that the butterflies occupied 2.91 hectares of forest, which re presents a 27.43 percent decrease in population compared to the 4.01 hectares of forest they inhabited during the […]

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