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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Alternatives/Organics' Category


09
Sep

South Portland, Maine Passes Lawn Pesticide Ban, Focuses on Education

(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2016) On Wednesday, City Council members of South Portland, Maine cast their final votes to pass an ordinance that bans the use of toxic lawn pesticides on private and public land. The ban, which passed 6-1, is an important public health measure in the protecting 25,000 residents,  the largest jurisdiction in the state to-date to adopt such as measure. In 2014, the Town of Ogunquit, Maine was the first jurisdiction to ban toxic lawn pesticides on both private and public land. Maine’s status as one of only seven states that does not preempt  local governments’ authority to restrict the use of pesticides on land within their jurisdiction empowers local governments to take this kind of protective action. Supporters of this ordinance, led by the local organization Protect South Portland, and supported by statewide organizations and  Beyond Pesticides, put together an effective campaign to educate council members, the public, and the media about the dangers of pesticides, and the effectiveness of organic land management practices that do not utilize toxic pesticides. Under the legislation, the provisions will be phased in, starting with city property on May 1, 2017, private property beginning May 1, 2018, and to golf […]

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08
Sep

GE Crops Lead to Increase in Toxic Herbicide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2016)  According to  a study  published last week by scientists at Iowa State, genetically engineered (GE) crops have not lived up to their promise to reduce pesticide use, and have instead led to an increase in toxic herbicide usage. The research, led by Edward Perry, Ph.D., found “clear evidence of increasing herbicide use by [GE] variety adopters over time for both soybeans and maize,” a finding that they credited partly to the emergence of weed resistance. The detailed dataset analyzed came from the company, GfK Kynetec, which conducts surveys of randomly selected farmers to assess decisions about pesticide and seed choices. The farm-level dataset that the researchers used was collected over the years 1998-2011 and includes a yearly average of 5,424 corn farmers and 5,029 soybean farmers. One striking trend that was noted since 1998 was the increase in the use of  glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. As of 2011, glyphosate was the primary herbicide used on soybeans, with just over 80% of total herbicide applied, and in corn it made up 40% of herbicide use, representing close to a 20-fold increase since 1998. Marketed as Roundup and other trade names,  glyphosate  is a […]

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07
Sep

Bayer Increases Historic Takeover Bid For Monsanto

(Beyond Pesticides, September 7, 2016) Industry giant Bayer has increased its offer to acquire Monsanto to $65 billion, making it the largest all-cash takeover bid in history. Bayer is now offering $127.50 per share- up two percent from its earlier bid of $125. The pharmaceutical giant has been pursuing Monsanto in an attempt to become the world’s largest biotechnology and pesticide manufacturer. But many are concerned that should this merger be successful, farmers would have even fewer choices for acquiring seed, ensuring that the American food supply is dominated by a few mega-corporations. According to The Guardian, Bayer’s proposal will create a global pharmaceutical and farm supplies giant, just as  rival firms are also consolidating. ChemChina earlier this year offered  to buy Switzerland’s Syngenta for $43bn, after the latter rejected takeover approaches from the St. Louis-based Monsanto. This ChemChina-Syngenta merger is all set to move forward after getting approval from the regulatory agency, Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). U.S. firms Dow Chemical and DuPont are pursuing a $130bn merger, to be followed by a breakup into three businesses. Bayer’s previous offers for Monsanto were rejected, but Monsanto remains open to further discussion. However, Monsanto has faced financial […]

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01
Sep

Over Two Million Bees Killed after Aerial Mosquito Spraying in South Carolina

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2016) Last Sunday, beekeepers in Dorchester County, South Carolina emerged from their homes to find their yards and  farms, once full of busy buzzing, littered with the honey bees. The cause was no mystery — a massive bee-kill had occurred due to aerial spraying of Naled, a highly toxic  insecticide used primarily to control adult mosquitoes. The county announced plans to spray two days before the incident, when four travel-related cases of Zika virus were confirmed in the area by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The spraying occurred between 6:30 and 8:30am. Naled is an organophosphate insecticide with the highest acute toxicity of any mosquitocide. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Naled can cause cholinesterase (an enzyme necessary to the transmission of nerve impulses) inhibition in humans, meaning that it can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and, at very high exposures (e.g., accidents or major spills), respiratory paralysis and death. Naled is highly toxic to honey bees. In Dorchester County, beekeepers say that the spray announcements did not come soon enough. Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply lost more than 2.3 million insects from 46 hives, according to co-owner Juanita […]

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31
Aug

Cannabis Certification Program Restricts Pesticides and Residues

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2016) Last week, a Denver marijuana company went through its first inspection for the Colorado-based Organic Cannabis Association’s (OCA) new “pesticide-free” certification. This voluntary certification program was developed by OCA following an indefinite postponement of the Pesticide-Free Marijuana Bill, HB 16-1079 by the Colorado Senate and the failure of  the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) to implement meaningful regulations to protect  users within the state from pesticides that are not regulated  for use in cannabis production by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states. While the certification program is characterized as “pesticide-free,” it is focused on residues on the finished product, allowing the use of pesticides that do not appear on the narrow list of those restricted by the state of Colorado. The certification is a a step in the right direction for consumers who wish to protect themselves from unwanted pesticides in their cannabis products, however it is important to note that it  does not equate to a USDA organic inspection, as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level and is unable to qualify for certification under the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). While discussing his inspiration for developing such a program, OCA […]

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29
Aug

US Allows ChemChina-Syngenta Merge to Move Forward, EU Considers Impact Next

(Beyond Pesticides August 29, 2016)  Last week, the state-owned China National Chemical Corporation cleared a major hurdle in its  quest to acquire Swiss seed and chemical company Syngenta, getting the nod of approval from a United States regulatory agency to move forward with the deal. The decision came from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), a government body with the  power to block deals  it deems a threat to the nation’s security. Environmental groups opposed to the merger were waiting on this decision with baited breath, urging  CFIUS to  oppose the deal, given it has  previously proven to be an obstacle for cross-border agreements involving Chinese companies. The  agency’s  authority to weigh in on the merger stems  from the fact that about a quarter of Syngenta’s sales come from North America. CFIUS’s decision to let the merger move forward is a major cause of concern to those who would like to see a transition away from chemical-intensive, or conventional,  agriculture, as China has been open about its  plans to use this deal to increase the availability of genetically engineered seeds and their correlating herbicides and  insecticides  available for use within their country. Such a drastic increase in […]

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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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