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Archive for the 'Announcements' Category


06
Oct

Nitrate Pollution in Groundwater Linked to Birth Defects, Cancers and Thyroid Problems

(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2016) According to a report published last week by the Iowa Environmental Council (IEC), the associations between elevated levels of nitrate in drinking water and health risks go well beyond the “blue-baby syndrome” and nitrate concentrations lower than the drinking water standard may be harmful through long-term exposure. The lead author of the report, Ann Robinson, Agricultural Policy Specialist at IEC, stated that the focus was on “significant findings that multiple studies have associated with nitrate in drinking water, including birth defects, bladder cancer and thyroid cancer.”  Nitrate is a common groundwater contaminant that is sourced mainly from chemical fertilizers and animal waste. Nitrate is a common contaminant of drinking water, particularly in agricultural areas where nitrogen fertilizers are used. In 1962, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the drinking water standard of 10 mg/L of nitrate to prevent blue baby syndrome, a fatal infant blood disease. In addition to Iowa, the U.S. Geological Survey has also identified the following states as areas with high risk clusters from nitrate contamination to groundwater: Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The report reviewed studies conducted in the U.S., Canada, and Australia […]

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05
Oct

Oregon Approves 26 Recreational Marijuana Retailers

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2016) Last week, the  Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) approved 26 licences for 26 recreational marijuana retailers as well as modified state rules regarding state licensure testing requirements and packaging limitations. According to a OLCC press release, some of the marijuana retailers began operating on October 1st, fulfilling the OLCC’s promise to Oregon’s citizens that recreational marijuana stores would be open for business in fall 2016. OAR 845-025-5700 previously required that all batches be tested for pesticides. Under the new Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) Temporary Pesticide Rules (“Limited Batch Testing”) OAR 845-025-5700, effective September 30, 2016 until March 1, 2017, the OLCC requires a minimum of 33.3% of batches per harvest lot of cannabis to be tested. According to OAR 333-007-0010, if the OLCC finds that there is not enough laboratory capacity for pesticide testing, the Commission may permit randomly chosen samples from batches of usable marijuana to be tested for pesticides by a licensed lab, rather than requiring every batch of usable marijuana from a harvest lot to be tested. If any part of those samples fails pesticide testing, every 10-pound lot is required to be tested. If the samples that are tested all passed, […]

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03
Oct

Proposal to Restrict Pesticide Use Near CA Schools, Criticized as Weak, Open for Public Comment

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2016) On Friday, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) released a rule titled, Pesticide Use Near Schoolsites, that proposes limited restrictions for certain agricultural pesticide applications near schools and child day care facilities. CDPR, whose proposal  has been criticized by advocates as not adequately protective of workers and communities, is accepting public comments on the proposal until November 17, 2016. The  proposed rule, effective October 1, 2017, will require farmers to notify public schools and child day care facilities when “certain pesticide applications made for the production of an agricultural commodity near a school site are planned in the coming year and also a few days prior to the applications.” For pesticides applied via aircraft, airblast sprayer, sprinkler chemigation, and fumigation, there must be a minimum ¼  mile buffer around the school or child day care facility. While the move by CDPR is a step in the right direction, it is not rigorous enough and does not adequately protect the most vulnerable populations from pesticide exposure, according to advocates. The rule does not include private K-12 schools or family day care homes, a move that according to CDPR documents is due to the potential for […]

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30
Sep

Make Your Voice Heard to Protect Organic Integrity!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2016) Stand up for organic! The public comment period has opened on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) proposed recommendations affecting  organic standards, materials and policy. The fall 2016 meeting dates have been announced and public comments are due by October 26, 2016. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Make your voice heard before the comment period closes. We’ve made tremendous progress in creating an organic food production system. Let’s not let USDA turn back the clock. Beyond Pesticides has  begun to analyze the numerous recommendations and are providing you  with our positions that we hope you will use as the basis for your comments. We will provide positions on additional topics in the near future. Please feel free to develop your own comments or cut and paste ours. If you cut and paste our comments into regulations.gov, please first put a personal note of concern in order to reflect the importance if these issues to you as an organic consumer, farmer or other concerned party. Some of the major issues before the fall 2016 National Organic Standards Board include: Chlorine Dioxide Gas: Beyond Pesticides is appalled that the […]

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28
Sep

Beyond Pesticides Launches Comprehensive K-5 Pollinator Curriculum

(Beyond Pesticides September 28, 2016) This summer, Beyond Pesticides teamed up with The Bees Waggle to develop pollinator curriculum with the intent of making it widely available for public use. The goal of the curriculum is to provide a fun, hands-on lesson about pollinators and their importance to food production. Through the lesson, students learn about biodiversity, soil health, and the negative effects of pesticides on pollinators, while participating in a variety of activities on these issues. In addition, Beyond Pesticides  will offer small grant opportunities for teachers in school districts that serve low-income students in order to offset the cost of materials and supplies required to conduct the pollinator lesson plan. The launch of this educational  program is an expansion  of the classroom lessons  that Beyond Pesticides’ staff and Jessica  Goldstrohm, owner and head educator of The Bees Waggle, brought to District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) this  June as part of the lead up to  National Pollinator Week. The education team visited two first-grade DCPS classrooms, where students participated in lessons outlined in  Beyond Pesticides’ pollinator curriculum. Students gained a deeper understanding of the issues facing honey bees and other pollinators, and learned about ways they and their […]

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27
Sep

EPA Fines Syngenta $1.2 Million for Multiple Safety Violations under Settlement

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2016)  Multinational pesticide manufacturer Syngenta Crop Protection was handed a  $1.2 million fine last week for multiple violations of federal pesticide law, according a settlement reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA charged Syngenta with three major violations of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), including: (1) Failure to have repackaging agreement and/or maintain records on registered pesticides; (2) Distributing misbranded pesticides, and; (3) Failure to maintain data submitted for pesticide registration. However, under the consent agreement reached with EPA, the company neither admits nor denies the allegations. The settlement comes at a time of increased scrutiny of Syngenta, as the company is in the process of reregistering the herbicide atrazine, and Chinese National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) continues its attempts to complete a $43 billion merger. While the plan appears to have cleared U.S. regulatory hurdles, European lawmakers have yet to sign off on the deal. “The repackaging, sale and distribution of unregistered and misbranded pesticides is illegal and puts people and the environment at risk. Users rely on accurate, up-to-date information about ingredients, directions for use, hazards and safety precautions,” said Anne Heard, Acting Regional Administrator for the Southeast in an […]

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21
Sep

EPA Proposes that Glyphosate (Roundup) Does Not Cause Cancer

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs released last week  its Glyphosate Issue Paper in which the agency is proposing to classify glyphosate as “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans at doses relevant for human health risk assessment.” Glyphosate, the controversial active ingredient in Roundup, was classified in 2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “probable carcinogen” and numerous studies have associated the chemical with cancer and other human health issues. However, EPA’s proposed a classification that is contrary, not only to WHO’s, but also a position  it had previously held. The issue paper was released in preparation for the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) meeting, October 18-21, which convenes to review EPA’s evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate. Glyphosate, produced by Monsanto, is one of the most popular weedkillers in the U.S., and the active ingredient in Roundup. Glyphosate is often promoted by industry as a “low toxicity” chemical and “safer” than other chemicals, yet has been shown to have  detrimental impacts  on humans and the environment. Given its widespread use on residential and agricultural sites, its toxicity is of increasing […]

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19
Sep

Two Chemical Companies Tied to Human and Environmental Atrocities, Bayer and Monsanto, Set to Merge

(Beyond Pesticides,  September 19, 2016) Last week, a  proposed Bayer-Monsanto merger was announced, as St. Louis-based agrichemical giant  Monsanto Co. agreed to sell the company  to German pharmaceutical and chemical conglomerate, Bayer, in  an unprecedented $66 billion dollar deal. It is the merger of two companies that have been tied to past atrocities against humanity, one whose chemical product was  used  to kill  concentration camp victims under Adolf Hitler and the other a producer of the  deadly defoliant, Agent Orange, which was sprayed by the U.S. government over Vietnam and left a legacy of health damage to the Vietnamese people and U.S. veterans of the armed forces. At the same time, these companies are currently embroiled in controversy on  some of the most hazardous pesticides, including glyphosate (RoundupTM) and neonicotinoids, used in food production and in communities and home gardens    —continuing a history of profiting from a technology that has adverse effects on human life and the environment, but has been shown to be unnecessary and unsustainable in food production and the management of lawns, landscapes, playing fields, and parks. In 1995, the Associated Press reported that the then-CEO of Bayer,  Helge Wehmeier, apologized to Elie Wiesel, Ph.D., holocaust […]

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15
Sep

EPA and CDC Mislead Local and State Officials and the Public on Safety of Mosquito Pesticides Used for Zika Virus

(Washington D.C. September 15, 2016)  Beyond Pesticides today urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately alert local and state mosquito control officials, elected officials, and the public throughout the U.S. to the fact that EPA’s key data reviews on the safety of widely used mosquito control pesticides, including naled and synthetic pyrethroids, are  outdated and incomplete and the scientific literature raises safety concerns. In a letter to EPA, Beyond Pesticides said, “As local and state officials implement mosquito abatement programs to address the Zika virus, it is critical that they have complete transparent safety information that they are not currently getting from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” Beyond Pesticides continues, “This information, specific to residential exposure to the insecticides naled and its main degradation product dichlorvos (DDVP), as well as synthetic pyrethroids, is necessary for officials on the ground to make fully informed decisions and for public right to know.” According to EPA documents, the agency did not meet a planned 2015 deadline for a final review decision evaluating residential exposure to naled, a neurotoxic organophosphate insecticide that is currently being used in community mosquito spraying, and its highly toxic breakdown product DDVP. In addition to the toxic […]

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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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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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05
Aug

Fighting Zika – Growing Concerns over Pesticide Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2016) Concerned health officials in Miami, Florida are investigating suspicions that Zika-spreading mosquitoes have become resistant to the pesticides commonly used synthetic pyrethroid insecticides used in mosquito control. As the region works to contain a Zika outbreak in northern Miami, officials are beginning to recognize that broadcast pesticide applications are not effective at controlling populations, and are looking into cases in the U.S.  and in other parts of the world of mosquitoes developing resistance to chemical controls, or whether other factors are at work. At the same, the broadcasting of the pesticides by truck and plane and the resulting exposure to people and the environment also raise serious health issues. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has the ability to live indoors and reproduce even in tiny pools of water, is the primary way the Zika virus is spread, although there are reports that the disease can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Zika virus has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. The virus has been detected in several Latin American countries, including Brazil where the outbreak was first observed and linked to increased cases of microcephaly. However, locally […]

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04
Aug

Investigative Report Uncovers Dangerous Pesticide Misuse on Golf Courses in New York

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2016) Complaints about a green residue that appeared on golfers’ shoes at Rye Golf Club in New York last spring prompted an investigative report by The Journal News/lohud.com, that  revealed what reporters are describing a region-wide “environmental toxic time bomb” caused by the over and misuse of pesticides throughout the state. The investigation uncovered (i) gaps in the oversight of millions of pound of toxic pesticides applied throughout the Lower Hudson Valley, (ii) heightened health risks in Westchester and Rockland counties where pesticides are used the most, (iii) significant flaws in pesticide data collected in the state of New York, and (iv) the failure of authorities to catch the illegal sale and use of unregistered pesticides. Rye Golf Club, which turned into a “field of dustbowls” within weeks of the green residue appearing on golfer’s shoes, had to close 18 putting greens, leading members to demand thousands of dollars in refunds and city leaders to address the severely damaged city-owned golf course. The cause of the mysterious green residue was later revealed to be the result of an application of a contaminated batch of the fungicide ArmorTech ALT 70, whose active ingredient is azoxystrobin. Rye Golf […]

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03
Aug

Terminix To Pay Delaware Family $87 Million Settlement for Poisoning with Methyl Bromide in U.S. Virgin Islands

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2016) Home pest control giant Terminix reached a tentative settlement agreement this week of $87 million with  the  Esmond family for the severe poisoning of the mother, father and two teenage children with the highly neurotoxic pesticide fumigant  methyl bromide.  The company treated  a neighboring unit  to  their vacation residence  last spring  at a  condo resort complex in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. This amount is in addition to $3 million already paid to the family to cover the insurance deductible, and an undisclosed amount that the company’s insurance carriers have agreed to pay pursuant to their general liability insurance policies, according to an earnings report filed by the Terminix’s parent company, ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. of Memphis, Tennessee. Stephen Esmond became paralyzed after the March 2015 incident, while his two sons spent weeks in critical condition. The mother,  Theresa Devine is still recovering. Beyond Pesticides’ executive director, Jay Feldman, spoke to CBS Evening News August 2 on the poisoning. Watch news piece  here.   Methyl bromide is a restricted use pesticide and is not registered for residential use, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2013 Methyl Bromide Preliminary Workplan. It was taken off […]

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01
Aug

President Signs Weak Product Labeling Law on Genetically Engineered Ingredients, Preempts States

(Beyond Pesticides, August  1, 2016) As expected, President Obama signed into law an amendment to S. 764, the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, which establishes a national GMO (genetically modified  organisms or genetically engineered-GE) food labeling requirement that food safety advocates say may be deceptive, preempts states from adopting stronger label language and standards, and excludes a large portion of the population without special cell phone technology. Pushed by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), the law is being characterized by its supporters as a compromise, stronger than the original legislation, the Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act (S.2621), which was dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. That bill failed to reach cloture in the Senate in March. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, a big supporter of genetically engineered food production, will have two years to develop the standard, during which time it will assess the question of equitable access to the disclosure of ingredients. This new law will invalidate a stronger GMO labeling law that took effect in Vermont on July 1. The law, signed by the President on July 29, does very little to ensure that consumers will actually be able to […]

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27
Jul

Colombia Cautiously Declares End to Mosquito-Borne Zika Epidemic

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2016) In South America, Colombia has officially declared an end to its Zika epidemic. The country, which previously had the highest cases of suspected Zika virus infection after Brazil, with a total of more than 99,721 people infected since September 2015 have registered a drop in the number of infections to 600 new cases a week, down significantly from a peak of more than 6,000 cases a week in February, according to health officials. Fernando Ruíz, M.D., Deputy Minister of Health and Service Provision in Colombia, said the numbers signaled that the epidemic had given way to an endemic phase of the disease, in which it continues to be present but spreads much more slowly. This news arrives following the publication of Zika Virus Disease in Colombia —Preliminary Report, which suggests that infe ctions late in pregnancy may pose less risk to the fetus than widely feared. The report follows thousands of women in Colombia who have had symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease during pregnancy to try to better understand the risk the virus poses. At the time of the report, the country had only seven official cases of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by […]

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22
Jul

Walmart Takes Limited Step to Eliminate Toxic Ingredients in Products It Sells

(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2016) This week, Walmart released the names of eight chemicals, including one pesticide,  classified as High Priority Chemicals (HPCs), which it has asked suppliers to remove from their products. The HPCs are a subset of Walmart’s list of Priority Chemicals (PCs), which is compiled from chemicals identified as hazardous by a number of state, national, and international authorities. In 2013, Walmart released a Sustainable Chemistry Policy and pledged to increase transparency of product ingredients, advance safer formulations of products, and to attain U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Safer Choice certification for Walmart’s own private brand products. After three years, Walmart has not hit the mark on many of its stated goals. The transparency provision of the Sustainable Chemistry Policy requires all suppliers to provide full online ingredient disclosure beginning January 2015 and Walmart Priority Chemicals on packaging beginning January 2018. Walmart says that 78% of suppliers responding reported disclosure for all products. For their goal of advancing safer formulations of products, Walmart focused on reducing the HPCs. Importantly, seven of the eight high priority chemicals are undisclosed so-called “inert” ingredients in pesticide products, which should be disclosed under the policy. However, the disclosure occurs through the […]

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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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19
Jul

Common Pesticide Exposure Alters Behavior of Fish and Amphibians

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2016) Exposure to common pesticides at levels often found in the environment can have subtle but significant impacts on the behavioral health of fish, amphibians and other aquatic invertebrates. According to researchers at Northern Arizona University, who analyzed data from nearly 40 experiments to reach their conclusion, fish and amphibians swam 35% slower and were 72% less active after pesticide exposure. Chemical Class Type Example Pesticides Carbamates Insecticide Carbaryl, Aldicarb Organochlorine Insecticide DDT, Endosulfan, Chlordane Organophosphates Insecticide Diazinon, Chlorpyrifos Organotins Biocide Tributyltin Phosphonoglycines Herbicide Glyphosate, Glufosinate Pyrethroids Insecticide Permethrin, Bifenthrin, Esfenvalerate Triazines Herbicide Atrazine, Simazine The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that the overall effect on aquatic wildlife varied based on the chemical class the animals encountered. While pyrethroids, carbamates, and organophosphates resulted in a significant decrease in swim speed, triazines and phosphonoglycines showed no overall effect. Pyrethroids, carbamates, organophosphates, organochlorines, and organotins decreased activity, while phosphonoglycines had no overall effect, and triazines actually increased activity. “I didn’t think that we would see [an effect] across such a wide range of pesticides so consistently, but we did,” said study co-author, Catherine Propper, PhD to KNAU, “and that leads to some concerns about […]

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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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15
Jul

Toxic Algae Bloom in Florida’s Largest Lake Tied to Chemical-Intensive Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2016) A toxic algae bloom that has expanded throughout Florida’s largest freshwater body, Lake Okeechobee, and around south Florida beaches, has created vast problems for residents, compelling Governor Rick Scott to declare an environmental state of emergency.  However, the Governor’s  declaration fails to address the root of the problem””including the extreme levels of nutrient buildup and the dangerous amount of phosphorous and nitrogen found in the water, caused by excess fertilization runoff from both chemically-intensive agricultural and residential sources. Instead, Gov. Scott has placed blame on the federal government due to their lack of proper maintenance on the Herbert Hoover Dike, which prevents Lake Okeechobee from overflowing into nearby water sources. While this is certainly problematic, the crux of the issue stems from the polluted water itself, which allows bacteria to grow swiftly when nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen are abundant. “We just are putting way too much nitrogen and phosphorus into our natural waters, and they respond,” Florida Atlantic University research professor, Bill Louda, Ph.D. told CBS news. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, as a means of flood prevention,  released  the lake’s water  into local canals  with a […]

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14
Jul

Congress Proposes to Strip Farmworker Protection Standards in Funding Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2016) A funding bill (H.R. 5538) for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Interior Department is receiving pushback from conservation groups, environmental lobbyists, and workers’ rights advocates for containing dozens of controversial amendments, including  one that would strip funding for parts of the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which establishes many  protections for  those  in the country who experience the highest and most dangerous pesticide exposure — farmworkers. Title IV, Section 437 of H.R. 5538 states that, “None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used to implement or enforce, or to require States to implement or enforce, the provisions of 40 CFR 170.311(b)(9) as published in the Federal Register on November 2, 2015.” The provisions of 40 CFR 170.311(b)(9) refer to the WPS revisions passed in 2015, which had previously not been updated for over 20 years. The revisions are designed to provide at least some protections from pesticide exposure to farmworkers and their families is scheduled to effect in  December 2016. Historically, farmworker advocates have criticized  WPS as woefully inadequate in protecting the health of agricultural workers, but these new revisions strengthen the standards through increased training for […]

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