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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Alternatives/Organics' Category


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 This recommendation was originally made by the NOSB in 2011, and requires organic meat and poultry producers to allow animals to “exhibit natural behavior, such as the ability to sit, walk, stretch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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18
Apr

Anchorage, Alaska Passes Law Restricting Toxic Pesticide Use in Public Spaces

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2017) Last week, the Assembly of Anchorage, Alaska voted 10-1 to pass AO2017-59, an ordinance instituting a pesticide-free program on public parks, lands, and properties. The measure codifies and strengthens important protections for public health, particularly children’s health, water quality and the wider environment from the hazards of toxic pesticide use. “Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles should not have to worry whether their child will be exposed to a harmful pesticide that could have long-term health consequences when they visit public parks to enjoy the great Alaska outdoors,” stated Pamela Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), which helped galvanize community support for the measure. The new law, introduced by Assembly chair Elvi Gray-Jackson and vice chair Dick Traini, was the product of months of community stakeholder meetings and input. “That’s the way I like to do business in this community,” Ms. Gray-Jackson said to KTUU on the night the bill was passed. “Bring all the stakeholders together and have them work it out so we don’t waste a lot of time at this level.” Like recent policies passed in Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, MD and South Portland, ME, the law establishes a […]

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15
Mar

Report Affirms Organic Food is the Healthiest Choice to Protect Consumers, Farmworkers, and the Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2016) An annual report using U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program residue data finds again this year that the crop grown in chemical-intensive agriculture with the most pesticide residues detected is strawberries. Spinach is number two, jumping from eighth place last year. The “Dirty Dozen” report, released annually by Environmental Working Group (EWG) since 2004, ranks produce grown with pesticides and confirms that organically grown food is the safer choice. While the report focuses on food residues, beyond raising consumer health concerns, it also raises social and environmental concerns associated with the purchase of conventionally  grown food, including farmer poisoning, water contamination and adverse effects to ecosystems and biodiversity, including pollinators. EWG’s EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ finds that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventional produce is contaminated with residues of one or more pesticides. USDA researchers find a total of 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the thousands of produce samples analyzed. The pesticide residues remain on fruits and vegetables even after they are washed and, in some cases, peeled. “Even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to infants, babies and young children, so when possible, parents and […]

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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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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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07
Mar

Common Household Pesticides Again Linked to Behavioral Problems in Children

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2017) Another study, published by a team of French scientists in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, links childhood behavioral problems to pyrethroid insecticide exposure. Synthetic pyrethroids are a class of insecticides that have increased in use over the past decade due to assumptions that they pose fewer risks to human health than older pesticide chemistries, such as organophosphates. However, this latest study is part of a growing body of research showing that pyrethroids share similar neurocognitive health concerns as these older pesticides. .   In this research, scientists investigate the interplay between pyrethroid exposure and behavioral problems through a longitudinal cohort study, which tracks levels of pyrethroid metabolites, or breakdown products, in the urine of mothers beginning between six and 19 gestational weeks and then in their children up through six years of age. Children’s behavior is measured through a screening questionnaire known as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). SDQ measures how social a child is (altruism), whether the child has difficulty sharing problems or asking for help (internalizing disorders), as well as how defiant or disruptive a child is (externalizing disorders). The study controls for a number of confounding factors, such as weight, education, location (rural or […]

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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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22
Feb

Online Pesticide Sales Circumvent Pesticide Restrictions in Canada and U.S. States

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2017) The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada, which regulates pesticides in the country, recently proposed changes to regulations under the Canada’s Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) that will curtail the ability of individuals living within the country to import pesticide products that do not meet Canada’s regulatory standards. Designed to address an existing loophole in the country’s law, the policy seeks to eliminate the practice of purchasing pesticide products from international online retailers that circumvent Canada’s more stringent pesticide regulations. While U.S. law does not contain a similar loophole, U.S. states that restrict pesticide sale and use more stringently than the federal government face a similar legal quagmre. Current PCPA regulations establish a Personal Use Import Exemption that allows individuals to bring in small quantities of pest control products that are not registered for use in Canada, but do not pose an “unacceptable risk.” According to the Canadian government, the original intent of the exemption was to allow travelers to bring small quantities of pest control products, such as insect repellent, into Canada without “legally undermining the regulatory regime” under PCPA. However, with rise of online marketplaces, such as Amazon, the use of the exemption […]

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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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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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09
Feb

Health Canada Will Begin Pesticide Testing of Cannabis After Recalls and Consumer Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2017) The failure of the U.S. pesticide regulatory system to protect marijuana users was highlighted as Health Canada announced Tuesday that it would begin conducting random pesticide residue testing of marijuana products to ensure that only registered products are being used in medical marijuana production. This comes on the heels of voluntary recalls in 2016 by two licensed Canadian cannabis producers due to the presence of the prohibited pesticides bifenazate, myclobutanil, and pyrethrins in or on marijuana products. Especially concerning is the detection of myclobutanil, a powerful fungicide that, when heated, converts to the hazardous gas hydrogen cyanide. The detection of these toxic chemicals in medical marijuana products is distressing since many users have compromised immune systems or health conditions that make them more susceptible to toxic chemicals. Moves by several states in the U.S. to curb illegal pesticide use in marijuana contain significant pitfalls and loopholes that allow contaminated cannabis to enter the market, where it threatens public health. Without examination of residues in inhaled, ingested, or absorbed cannabis, the user’s health is not protected by pesticide registration addressing other uses. In addition, environmental impacts associated with growing practices are generally ignored. On January 9th, […]

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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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06
Feb

California Regulators Sued for Allowing Increased Use of Toxic Fumigant without Public Input

(Beyond Pesticides, February 6, 2017) California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) rules that allow greater use of the highly toxic fumigant Telone, while decreasing protections for the public, have been challenged in California court. On January 31, attorneys representing Juana Vasquez, a farmworker in Ventura County, along with Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), filed suit in the Superior Court of California against the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR). The suit claims that CDPR failed to follow required public procedures in developing new rules for 1,3-Dicholopropene (1,3-D), which is an active ingredient in the product Telone and has many documented health risks, including cancer and kidney and liver damage. In October 2016, CDPR released new rules that allow the continued use of Telone and decrease protections for public health by permitting increased usage. CDPR and many news outlets reported the rule change as a tightening of the restrictions, but in reality, the new rules increase the previous annual cap from 90,250 pounds to 136,000 pounds per township, a defined area of 6×6 miles. These new rules went into effect on January 1, 2017, allowing for 1,3-D’s continued use in strawberry fields, vineyards, almond […]

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03
Feb

Polli-Nation Pollinator of the Month: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2017) The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is the pollinator of the month for February. Hummingbirds are nature’s most nimble of birds. They are so quick and agile that most of the time all you’ll see is a flash of red and green before realizing you just encountered a Ruby Throated Hummingbird. This month’s pollinator is the most abundant species of hummingbird on the eastern half of North America. They are named after the coloration of ruby red feathers around their throat. Range The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is the most populous hummingbird found east of the Mississippi. They enjoy mild habitats such as pine and deciduous forests, and can also be found zipping around urban and suburban gardens and orchards.  Ruby Throated Hummingbirds “winter,” meaning they migrate to warmer parts of the globe during the colder winter months. They typically spend that time in parts of Central America and southern Mexico, but have been known to travel as far south as Costa Rica and the West Indies, according to Animal Diversity Web. They will often migrate without stopping, traveling distances as great as 1,600 km in one trip.  According to the Encyclopedia of Life, the hummingbird’s mating grounds are typically east of the 100th meridian in the […]

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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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31
Jan

Judge Rules Against Monsanto, Allows California to List Glyphosate Products as Cancer Causing

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2017) A tentative ruling last week by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Culver Kapetan moves California closer to listing glyphosate (Roundup) as a carcinogen under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Monsanto, a leading manufacturer of glyphosate under its Roundup brand, sued California to stop the listing, as it would require cancer warning labels be placed on its end-use product. The company indicates it will challenge the tentative ruling. California’s proposed to list glyphosate as a carcinogen after a 2015 determination of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a United Nations body under the World Health Organization, that the chemical is a cancer-causing agent for humans based on laboratory studies. Monsanto refutes these claims, and since the determination has worked directly, and through proxy organizations, to discredit and attack IARC, as well as individual scientists that have participated in its decision-making process. Shortly after IARC’s Monograph on glyphosate, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), a Monsanto-supported group, released a report dismissing glyphosate’s link to cancer. In October of last year, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz […]

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27
Jan

Groups File Federal Lawsuit Against Registration of Herbicide Dicamba, Used in Genetically Engineered Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2016) Last week, farmers, environmentalists, and conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit that challenges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of a new formulation of the toxic herbicide dicamba. The new formulation is called Xtendimax with Vapor Grip Technology, which is claimed to have lower volatility. The petitioners claim that EPA violated its duties under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in issuing a conditional registration, and that it did not adhere to duties under the Endangered Species Act that require EPA to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure registration would not harm any listed species. The organizations involved in the lawsuit are National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity, represented by legal counsel from Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety. Dicamba has caused a lot of controversy in the past. In August 2016, farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee confronted widespread crop damage and braced for lower yields as a result of agrichemical giant Monsanto’s botched roll-out of GE soybean and cotton crops. The company, whose current line of glyphosate-tolerant crops are failing to control weeds throughout […]

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23
Jan

EPA Finds Widely Used Pesticides Could Harm 97 Percent of Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2017) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  released its final Biological Evaluations of Three Chemicals’ Impacts on Endangered Species, which finds that chlorpyrifos and malathion likely have detrimental effect on 97 percent of all species listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), while diazinon adversely affects 78 percent. According to EPA’s release on the subject, this is the “first-ever draft biological evaluations analyzing the nation-wide effects” of these registered chemicals on endangered species after decades of widespread use. The evaluations stem from a legal settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in which CBD sued EPA in April 2014 for its failure to comply with ESA, which requires the agency to carry out consultations with federal wildlife agencies while registering pesticides. According to Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a CBD senior scientist, “We’re now getting a much more complete picture of the risks that pesticides pose to wildlife at the brink of extinction, including birds, frogs, fish and plants. When it comes to pesticides, it’s always best to look before you leap, to understand the risks to people and wildlife before they’re put into use. The EPA is providing a reasonable assessment of those risks, many of which can be […]

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19
Jan

Got Organic? USDA Proposes Organic Check-Off Program, Family Farmers Question Value

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2017) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened a 60-public comment period January 17 on a controversial proposal to establish a federal research and promotion check-off program that has split the organic community, with many family farmers and small farm operators disagreeing with the larger organic industry groups, represented by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), on the benefits that they will derive from a mandatory payment requirement. The application to USDA for a check-off, originally submitted by OTA in 2015, has drawn sharp division on questions of benefits and cost to farmers. OTA believes that the check-off will generate resources to lift the organic market. This program is different from traditional check-off programs, which promote individual commodities. USDA oversees check-off programs under the Commodity, Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. According to OTA, the check-off creates an industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for certified organic products, whose overarching goal is to strengthen the position of certified organic products in the marketplace. OTA says this would be achieved by funding research to benefit the organic industry, improving access to information and data across the organic sector, and educating consumers about the benefits of organic, resulting in increased demand for organic […]

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