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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Alternatives/Organics' Category


26
Aug

Judge Orders Release of Terminix Documents in Methyl Bromide Poisoning of Family

(Beyond Pesticides, August 26, 2016) Virgin Islands Superior Court Judge, Harold Willocks denied a request made by Terminix to stop a subpoena for Terminix documents in the methyl bromide poisoning case  issued  by Attorney General Claude Earl Walker, according to The Virgin Islands Consortium. The paper reported that the subpoena ordered the pest control company to provide documents and information relating to an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ). This follows two settlement agreements made by Terminix; one to pay $10 million to DOJ and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, and another to pay $87 million to the Esmond family, poisoned by the misuse of a neurotoxic pesticide fumigant, methyl bromide, when they vacationed in the Virgin Islands in the spring of 2015. According to the Virgin Islands Consortium, DOJ launched  another investigation into Terminix after the Esmonds were poisoned to determine if there had been a violation of the Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (CICO). Attorney General Walker issued the original subpoena on April 28, requesting that Terminix surrender all information related to the purchase, use and import of methyl bromide obtained within the past three years. […]

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24
Aug

Banned Chemicals Linked to Increased Autism Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2016) Researchers at Drexel University report that higher levels of some organochlorine compounds during pregnancy are associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). The organochlorine compounds under study have long been banned in the U.S., and include pesticides like DDT, underscoring how pervasive and persistent these chemicals are, and their continued impact on human health. The research is reported in the study  Polychlorinated Biphenyl and Organochlorine Pesticide Concentrations in Maternal Mid-Pregnancy Serum Sam ples: Association with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability,  which examines whether prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) influences offspring risk of ASD and intellectual disability without autism (ID). According to the research, children born after being exposed to the highest levels of organochlorines during their mother’s pregnancy are roughly 80 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism when compared to individuals with the very lowest levels of these chemicals. The team looked at a population sample of 1,144 children born in Southern California between 2000 and 2003. Data was accrued from mothers who had enrolled in California’s Expanded Alphafetoprotein Prenatal Screening Program, which is dedicated to detecting birth defects during pregnancy. Participants’ children were […]

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23
Aug

Senator Blumenthal Calls for Repeal of New, Weak GE Labeling Law that Preempts States

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2016) “Fundamentally anti-consumer,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) of the new genetic engineered (GE) labeling bill signed into law by President Obama late last month. Senator Blumenthal’s frustration with the new legislation and its preemption of state-level laws such as Vermont and Connecticut’s led the Senator to announce he will be introducing a bill next session to repeal the divisive law. After years of state-level ballot initiatives in California, Oregon, Washington State, and Colorado, which were defeated after the chemical industry poured millions of dollars into ad buys that played on consumer fears of higher prices at the check-out line, Maine and Connecticut took a stand for consumer’s right to know. While their legislation required trigger clauses to go into effect, Vermont’s was passed shortly after without such a clause, and withstood a legal challenge from the multinational food and chemical industry. Vermont’s law propelled industry to move its efforts to Congress, and the state’s legislation actually went into effect on July 1, 2016, as industry was still working to garner the necessary votes for its new DARK deal.   Pushed forward by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), the new law has […]

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22
Aug

Pesticide Resistant Whitefly in U.S. Points to Need for Organic Management Strategies

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2016) An invasive whitefly that is resistant to pesticides has been found outdoors in the U.S. for the first time, prompting a public discussion hosted by the University of Florida Extension Miami-Dade in Homestead, Florida on July 29. And while the fears amongst fruit and vegetable growers over crop devastation are valid, little attention has been paid to the viability and effectiveness of organic and cultural management practices in preventing and managing  whiteflies. Meanwhile, chemical intensive agriculture, which is dependent on insecticides to control whiteflies, is harming the same beneficial insects that act as natural predators to the whitefly. The pest, a Q-biotype of the sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, has been present in greenhouses around the U.S. since 2004, when it was first found in Arizona. According to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, this pest “poses a serious risk to Florida’s $120 billion agriculture industry and the more than two million jobs it supports.” Whiteflies are tiny, fluid-sucking insects that thrive in warm weather and become abundant in ornamental and vegetable plantings. This particular species breed year round and large colonies often develop on the undersides of leaves. Whiteflies draw fluid of out a plant […]

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19
Aug

More Evidence Shows Neonics Harm Butterflies

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2016) A study published earlier this week has found that the increasing use of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides is correlated with a steep decline in butterfly health and reproductive success — as more neonics are used, butterflies are struggling to survive. This study adds to previous evidence that demonstrates, in addition to bees, neonics can cause serious harm to other important pollinators. The study, Increasing neonicotinoid use and the declining butterfly fauna of lowland California, looks at 67 species of butterfly fauna in the lowlands of Northern California at four sites that were  monitored for approximately 30-40 years. The sites include Suisun Marsh, West Sacramento, North Sacramento, and Rancho Cordova. While controlling for land use and other factors, the researchers found a correlation between butterfly population decline and increasing neonic applications, which also appeared to be more severe for smaller-bodied species. According to the researchers, the results suggest that neonics could influence non-target insect populations when applied nearby. This study contributes to the mounting evidence that neonicotinoid insecticides are linked to pollinator decline. Neonics have increasingly been the subject of studies that highlight a relationship between neonicotinoid exposure  and harmful effects to pollinators. These effects are being […]

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18
Aug

Half of the Total Decline in Wild Bees throughout the UK Linked to Use of Neonics

(Beyond Pesticides, August 18, 2016)   Decline of wild bee populations is linked to the use of toxic, systemic neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides used on oilseed rape (canola), according to new research done by a team of scientists at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the United Kingdom. In addition to corn and soybeans, canola is one of the main crops treated with neonicotinoids worldwide. Neonic pesticides have long been identified as a major culprit in bee decline by independent scientists and beekeepers, yet chemical manufacturers like Bayer and Syngenta have focused on  other issues such as the varroa mite. As Beyond Pesticides put it in the spring 2014 issue of Pesticides and You, the issue of pollinator decline is No Longer a Big Mystery, and urgent action is needed now to protect pollinators from these toxic pesticides. Neonics are associated with decreased learning, foraging and navigational ability, as well as increased vulnerability to pathogens and parasites as a result of suppressed bee immune systems. In addition to toxicity to bees, pesticides like neonicotinoids have been shown to also adversely affect birds, aquatic organisms and contaminate soil and waterways, and overall biodiversity. The study, Impacts of neonicotinoid use on long-term […]

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16
Aug

Australian Study Finds Nearly Half of Insecticide Poisonings Affect Young Children

(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2016) Young children are disproportionately poisoned by toxic pesticides used indoors, according to a study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. Data analyzed from the Queensland, Australia Poisons Information Centre (QPIC) finds that 49% of 743 insecticide-related calls in 2014 concerned young children. Given that children are more sensitive to pesticide exposure than adults because they take in more of a chemical relative to their body size and have developing organ systems, this data underscores the importance of educating the general public about alternatives to the use of toxic pesticides in and around the home. A significant share of childhood pesticide poisonings occurred in very young children. “Children in the one-year age group were at greatest risk — as they’re at that stage where they spend a lot of the time on the floor and put things in their mouth,” said Karin English, PhD candidate at the University of Queensland. As a result of children’s propensity for hand to mouth motion, cockroach baits and ant liquid were found to be the most common source of insecticide exposure for kids under five, covering 39% of calls. However, Ms. English notes that enclosing […]

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29
Jul

Study Adds to Findings that Link Prenatal Pesticide Exposure to Lower IQs

(Beyond Pesticides, July 29, 2016)  A study released earlier this week finds lower IQ (intelligence quotient) in children born to mothers who during their pregnancy were living in close proximity to chemical-intensive agricultural lands where organophosphate pesticides were used. This study adds to the body of scientific literature that links prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides with lower IQ’s in children. Organophosphate pesticides, a relatively older generation of highly neurotoxic pesticides still widely used on farms in California, have been associated with a  broad range of diseases  in both children and adults.  This  latest study  supports health and environmental advocates’ call to eliminate these toxic pesticides in agriculture and move toward safer, sustainable, and organic management practices. The study, titled  Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticide Use and IQ in 7-Year-Old Children, looks at 283 women and children from the agricultural Salinas Valley who are enrolled in the long-term Center for the Health of Mothers and Children in Salinas (CHAMACOS) study. Specifically, researchers looked at pregnant women living within one kilometer of agricultural fields where organophosphate pesticides were used. They found that at age 7, the children of those women had declines of approximately two IQ points and three verbal reasoning […]

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28
Jul

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Affect Bee Reproduction

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2016)   Led by the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern, new research finds evidence that two commonly used neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides have a significant adverse effect on the reproductive ability of male honey bees (drones) and queen bees in managed and wild colonies. The study,  Neonicotinoid insecticides can serve as inadvertent insect contraceptives, published in  Royal Society Journal Proceedings B, focuses on the differences in lifespan and viability of sperm throughout exposed and unexposed drones. Since 2006, honey bees and other pollinators in the U.S. and throughout the world have incurred ongoing and rapid population declines from hive abandonment and bee die-off in a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD).  Neonicotinoids, such as imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, have been found by  a growing body of scientific literature  to be linked to the CCD phenomenon and  pollinator decline in general. While science has become increasingly clear that these  pesticides  play a critical role in contributing to  the ongoing decline of bee health, this is one of the first to look at how these chemicals specifically effect the fertility of male honeybees. In the study, scientists randomly assigned honeybee colonies consisting of drones […]

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26
Jul

Health Canada Moves to Limit Exposure to Boric Acid Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2016)  Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) announced this week it will cancel certain  formulations  of boric acid-based pesticides. The announcement reflects the latest science showing that certain products, such as those in dust formulations or open baits, put residents at inhalation and ingestion exposure risk, respectively, to the naturally occurring element  boron and borate compounds. PRMA’s decision  is part of the Health Canada’s registration review of boric acid, which, like that of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is conducted every 15 years. PRMA is cancelling the following uses of boric acid and similar compounds All domestic dust formulation products All domestic granular formulation products Domestic solution formulation products, with the exception of enclosed bait stations and spot treatment with gel formulations For other uses, PRMA has amended label requirements to better protect handlers and users of the pesticide. For example, the agency will update label directions to specify that boron products can only be applied to areas inaccessible to children and pets. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health in Canada said in a press release, “even natural ingredients like boric acid can pose a risk to Canadians. That’s why Health Canada looks at all […]

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25
Jul

Oregon Prohibits 14 Horticultural Products Used in Marijuana Production, Not Labeled as Containing Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides July 25, 2016) The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) last week issued 12 notices of statewide detainment and stop sale and removal orders for horticultural pesticide products that contain active ingredients not listed on the label. The orders call for the product manufacturers to immediately cease all sales, offers of sale, or other distribution in Oregon. This is the latest effort by a state with a legalized marijuana market to try to  curb the use of illegal pesticides in cannabis production, a practice that poses potential health threats to consumers, creating a regulatory challenge for state officials in states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal and or recreational purposes. Because the U.S. government classifies cannabis as a narcotic, the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) does not register pesticide products for use in its production, leaving consumers exposed to hazardous pesticides through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption without any evaluation of potential health effects. The products in question are commonly used in horticulture and hydroponics, including cannabis production. The 12 notices cover 14 products sold in Oregon that were also identified by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in late June as containing undeclared pesticide active ingredients. In an […]

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21
Jul

Mixtures of Multiple Pesticide Ingredients in Products Not Evaluated by EPA for Elevated Toxicity

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2016) An investigative report released yesterday by Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) concludes  that, over the past six years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved nearly 100 pesticide products with chemical mixtures that elevate the formulations’  toxicity, but are not specifically evaluated  by the agency. CBD finds that these formulations add  more stress to already-jeopardized pollinators and rare plants. The report Toxic Concoctions: How the EPA Ignores the Dangers of Pesticide Cocktails, highlights a long-running blind spot within EPA’s pesticide evaluation program, which Beyond Pesticides has long sounded the alarm on: the risk associated with combining mixtures of different pesticide active ingredients, which independent science shows may be more toxic than a single active ingredient by itself, also known as pesticide synergism. The mixtures occur as a result of multiple ingredients in individual products or  because of exposure to multiple pesticide product residues in food, air, water, and land areas, such as lawns, playing fields, and parks. “It’s alarming to see just how common it’s been for the EPA to ignore how these chemical mixtures might endanger the health of our environment,” said Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a scientist with the CBD, and author of […]

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20
Jul

Designated Pollinator Habitat Areas Still Put Pollinators At Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2016) Farmers and land managers across the U.S. are being encouraged to plant pollinator habitat adjacent to farmlands to provide shelter and food for pollinator species. But according to a new study published last week, these conservation areas still put bees at risk for pesticide contamination, as they fail to provide spatial or temporal relief. This study emphasizes that meaningful solutions to reversing pollinator decline does not lie with focusing on planting pollinator habitat, but ensuring that these refuge areas are free from pesticide contamination, highly toxic to bees and other pollinators, and reducing the reliance on toxic chemical inputs in agriculture and other landscapes. The study, “Neonicotinoid-contaminated pollinator strips adjacent to cropland reduce honey bee nutritional status,” finds that pollinator habitat adjacent to agricultural areas not only becomes a source for pesticide, especially neonicotinoid, exposures, but also poses significant risk to honey bees. The authors, Christina Mogren, PhD, and former USDA entomologist, Jonathan Lundgren, PhD, initially sought to study whether increasing forage by planting pollinator habitat in an agricultural-dominated region would serve to buffer against the harmful effects of plant-incorporated pesticides. However, the authors note that it soon became apparent that the unintended consequence was […]

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18
Jul

Glyphosate Causes Changes to DNA Function Resulting in Chronic Disease, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides July 18, 2016) A  review of the scientific literature links  glyphosate, one of the most popular weed killers in the U.S. and the active ingredient in Roundup, to a wide range of diseases through a mechanism that modifies DNA functioning, adding a new even more troubling dimension to the herbicide’s cancer classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. According to the most recent review, Glyphosate pathways to modern disease V: Amino acid analogue of glycine in diverse proteins, conducted by independent scientists Anthony Samsel, Ph.D. and Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), glyphosate acts as a glycine analogue that  incorporates into peptides during protein synthesis. In this process, it alters a number of proteins that depend on conserved glycine for proper function. According to the authors, glyphosate substitution for glycine correlates with  several diseases, including diabetes, obesity, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson’s disease, among others. Glycine, the smallest amino acid commonly found in proteins, has unique properties that support flexibility and the ability to anchor to the plasma membrane or the cytoskeleton.  This new direct biological evidence, taken together with correlational data, make a compelling case that […]

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07
Jul

U.S. Senate Moves to Limit GMO Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, July 7, 2016) Despite an outpouring of letters, calls and protests, in a key procedural vote yesterday, the Senate voted to deny Americans the right to know what is in in their food products, and to preempt states’ rights to create their own genetically engineered food labeling laws. In a cloture vote of 65-32, the highly-flawed genetically engineered (GE or GMO) labeling bill, S.B. 764, offered by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KY), also known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, passed through the Senate. This “compromise” bill allows producers to use QR codes and “smart labels” instead of clear, on-package labeling of food products that contain genetically modified organisms, which means that consumers will need to use a smart phone for the information. The bill also exempts major portions of current and future GE foods from being labeled, and, in an affront against democracy, preempts the genetically engineered food labeling laws in Vermont (which went into effect July 1), Connecticut, Maine and Alaska. “The American people have a right to know what they’re eating,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who vowed to put a hold on the bill if they didn’t […]

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27
Jun

Organic Seed Production Is Not Keeping Up With Demand

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2016) A new report released last  week by the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) found that the supply of organic seeds is not keeping up with the rising demand for organic products. The organic sector grew 11 percent between 2014 and 2015, with sales last year totaling $43 billion. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Organic Program (NOP) does require the use of organic seed when commercially available, but because the organic seed sector was almost nonexistent when the program began, it is still working to meet demand. In cases where organic seeds are not commercial available, organic farmers are allowed to turn to conventional seed alternatives. According to OSA’s State of Organic Seed report, funded by the Clif Bar Family Foundation’s Seed Matters Initiative, the UNFI Foundation, and New Belgium Brewing Company, the biggest organic operations actually use a relatively small amount of organic seed. They found that vegetable farmers that grow on less than ten acres use, on average, 75 percent organic seed, while growers that farm over 480 acres use only 20 percent organic seed. The authors of the report surveyed 1,365 organic farms, 16 seed companies, 46 researchers and 22 accredited […]

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24
Jun

USDA Aligns with Chemical Industry for Pollinator Festival, Disinvites Environmentalists

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2016) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), during its Pollinator Week Festival at the “People’s Garden” on Friday, has shut out environmental public interest groups that are advocating pesticide restrictions to protect bees. Instead, the agriculture agency is teaming up with other federal agencies and chemical industry groups that advocates say have been tone deaf to beekeepers’ pleas for federal government action. This new controversy emerges in the midst of an escalating pollinator crisis with 44% bee colony losses in the last year. Advocates, who bring the voice of independent science and point to the dangers of bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides as a major contributor to the decline in pollinator populations, have been disinvited to the event. Meanwhile, the Pollinator Partnership, an organization closely affiliated with the chemical industry (Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, CropLife, have all been previously listed as sponsors) will be in attendance. Groups like Beyond Pesticides, which bridges environmental, consumer and farm interests, have participated for several years in the Festival. “The foundation for a constructive dialogue between federal agencies and the public regarding the decline of our critical pollinator populations rests upon the free exchange of information and viewpoints,” said Jay Feldman, executive director […]

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22
Jun

Federal Court Finds USDA Process for Allowing Pesticide-Contaminated Compost Improper and Stops Use

(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2016) In a ruling that organic advocates say is critical to the integrity of the USDA organic label, a U.S. District Court judge found Monday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated public process when it decreed that pesticide-contaminated compost is allowed in organic production. Three groups that bridge environmental, consumer, and farmer interests sued USDA for ruling that green waste compost, which comes from lawn clippings and plants, may contain levels of the insecticide bifenthrin and other pesticides that have not been approved for use in organic systems through proper public hearing and comment procedures. The case focused principally on whether USDA, in failing to conduct a formal public review, was operating “at its whim.” The court found that is exactly what USDA did and ordered the agency to stop allowing the use of contaminated compost by August 22, 2016. U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the Northern District of California found that USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) operated without the required notice and comment. She explained, “the reach of the Agency’s  new rule stretches beyond bifenthrin and instead allows green waste or green waste compost used in organic production to contain any […]

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17
Jun

Report Details Industry Efforts to Derail Pollinator Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2016) The pesticide industry has weakened and delayed pesticide reforms and is shaping new state pollinator “protection” plans nationwide that do little to protect bees, according to a new Friends of the Earth report.  The report is being released in advance of  Pollinator Week (June 20-26, 2016), as people assemble to ask for improved protection for pollinators. The investigation, Buzz Kill: How the Pesticide Industry is Clipping the Wings of Bee Protection Efforts Across the U.S., reveals an array of pesticide industry tactics to slow urgently needed pollinator protection measures at federal and state levels. The report details how new state pollinator protection plans, many still unfinished, have been heavily influenced by pesticide industry interests. According to the report, industry is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying to delay state and federal action on the chemicals they manufacture. As a result, state pollinator protection plans across the U.S. are falling short in several ways, including: State pollinator protection plans currently provide more protections for pesticides and pesticide users than for bee keepers and bee colonies. Pesticide industry influence is pervasive throughout states’ legislative and regulatory planning efforts. Plans lack metrics to measure effectiveness, improvement […]

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16
Jun

Organic Agriculture Boosts Local Economies

(Beyond Pesticides, June 16, 2016) New research links county-level economic health to agriculture, and finds that organic food and crop production, along with the business activities accompanying organic agriculture, creates real and long-lasting regional economic opportunities. The recently completed White Paper, U.S. Organic Hotspots and their Benefit to Local Economies, was prepared for the Organic Trade Association (OTA) by Penn State Agricultural Economist Edward Jaenicke, Ph.D. It finds organic hotspots —counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity whose neighboring counties also have high organic activity— boost median household incomes by an average of $2,000 and reduce poverty levels by an average of 1.3 percentage points. The research highlights the success of organic agriculture and demonstrates, yet again, that organic agriculture can and must feed the world. “This research systematically investigates the economic impacts of organic agriculture,” noted Dr. Jaenicke. “Its important findings show that organic contributes to the economic health of local economies. The growing market interest in organic agriculture can be leveraged into effective policy for economic development.” The White Paper summarizes and discusses three research papers that investigate organic agriculture hotspots in the U.S. and systematically assesses the impact of organic agriculture on local economies. It identifies […]

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13
Jun

Court Says Law Allows Secrecy of Hazardous Pesticide Product Ingredients

(Beyond Pesticides June 13, 2016) A federal judge in California handed down a decision last week agreeing with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) that it has no responsibility under federal pesticide law to complete rulemaking on the disclosure of hazardous ingredients in pesticide products. That means that if the decision stands EPA will be allowed to keep the public in the dark on the full list of toxic ingredients in pesticides registered by the agency. A lawsuit filed by the Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, and Physicians for Social Responsibility argues that EPA fails to protect consumers from “inert” ingredients found in pesticides. U.S. District Judge William Orrick stated in his ruling,“The EPA has no mandatory duty to require disclosure of “inert” ingredients in pesticides, even if those ingredients qualify as hazardous chemicals under separate statutes.” Advocates have said for decades that people and communities cannot make informed decisions on pesticide products without full disclosure of all product ingredients and that the stated proprietary interests of chemical manufacturers is bogus, given the burgeoning market of pesticide products exempt from registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) 25(b) provision, which are required to disclose all ingredients. An […]

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09
Jun

Congress Passes Toxic Chemical Reforms, but Limits More Protective State Laws

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2016) The U.S. Congress passed a bill Tuesday to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, the national law that regulates industrial chemicals, but in the process took away the right of state governments to adopt more stringent standards than the federal government. A Senate voice vote late Tuesday passed the bill, following a House vote in late May. The bill will now go to President Obama’s desk for signature or veto, but it is likely that he will sign it into law. Congress has taken steps to address the vast shortcomings of the law to protect human health and safety, and  in the process has created opportunities for serious delays and restrictions on states’ ability to enact their own toxic chemical regulations.  As the bill heads to President Obama, environmental advocates are concerned that they will lose an important tool in the fight for public protections —with the adoption of federal legislation that will  diminish the right of states and communities to establish protective laws, regulations, and standards in the face of involuntary toxic chemical exposure. Under  current TSCA law, around 64,000 chemicals are not subject to environmental testing or regulation by the […]

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07
Jun

International Panel Calls for End to Industrial Agriculture, Shift to Diversified Systems

(Beyond Pesticides, June 7, 2016) A wholesale change in agricultural practices is necessary to ensure protection of human health and the environment over the long-term, according to a wide-ranging report authored by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES), “a fully independent panel, without financial or organizational ties to any corporations, governments or intergovernmental agencies.” The report, From Uniformity to Diversity, calls for a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems. According to the report, diversified agroecology focuses on maintaining multiple sources of food production, and farming by applying ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of food systems. Industrial agriculture, on the other hand, requires highly-specialized production of a single food crop, and, through scale and task separation, focuses on increasing productivity through intensification. While monocultures and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are characteristic of industrial agriculture, agroecological practices embrace spatial and temporal diversification (through practices like crop rotation and intercropping), and focus on multiple outputs. Oliver De Schutter, Ph.D., former United National special rapporteur on food and co-chair of IPES, notes to The Guardian: “Many of the problems in food systems are linked specifically to the uniformity at the heart of […]

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