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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Farmworkers' Category


27
Jul

Bill to Ban Neurotoxic Chlorpyrifos Introduced in the U.S. Senate

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2017) Earlier this week U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a bill that would ban use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos. The Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act, S. 1624, comes one week after an appeals court refused to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make a decision over whether to ban the chemical. Removing this neurotoxic insecticide from the environment would significantly reduce health risks for children and farmworkers in underserved rural communities, build pressure to address all toxic organophosphates, and help push U.S. agriculture in a more sustainable direction. As with other organophosphate class chemicals, chlorpyrifos, first registered in 1965 by Dow Chemical, is derived from nerve agents used during World War 2. The chemical is linked to a range of negative health and environmental outcomes that warrant its prohibition. Children are at particular risk from the chemical due to their developing immune, organ, and nervous systems.  As with other organophosphate nerve agents, the chemical acts on the body’s nervous system, inhibiting the movement of neurotransmitters called cholinesterase. Chlorpyrifos chemically binds to the site where cholinesterase would in the body, preventing normal nerve impulse transmission. […]

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19
Jun

EPA Sued for Delaying Worker Protection Rule Changes

(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2017) Farmworker and health organizations have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following the agency’s announcement last month that it will delay for one year the implementation of a final rule that revised and updated protections for certified pesticide applicators. Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice are co-counsel on the case. The rule, the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule, includes much needed requirements like mandatory age minimums, as well as better training for pesticide applicators to protect workers and the public from poisoning by the most toxic pesticides. First enacted in 1974, the Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule  was revised and made final on January 4, 2017, and was scheduled to go into effect March 6, 2017. It outlines regulations regarding the certification of applicators of restricted use pesticides (RUPs)- some of the most hazardous pesticides. The rule ensures that applicators of RUPs get adequate training and establishes a minimum age of 18 for pesticide applicators. It also requires that applicators be able to read and write; increases the frequency of applicator safety training to every year; and improves the quality of information that workers receive about the pesticides that they apply in agricultural, commercial, and residential […]

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24
May

DuPont Worker Sues Company for Retaliation Over Pesticide Concerns

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

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15
May

Pruitt’s EPA Delays New Rules to Protect Pesticide Applicators

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2017) Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the direction of new Administrator Scott Pruitt, announced that it will delay for one year the implementation of a final rule that revised and updated protections for certified pesticide applicators –the workers who apply the most hazardous pesticides, restricted used pesticides. The new rules require increased training for certified applicators and increase the minimum age of a worker to 18 years, updates to which industry has objected. Against the backdrop of recent high-profile poisonings, the delay requested by industry interests places these workers and the public at continued risk. The Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule was made final on January 4, 2017, revising regulations regarding the certification of applicators of restricted use pesticides (RUPs). The rule was scheduled to go into effect March 6, 2017, but was delayed to March 21, 2017 by the new Trump Administration, which placed a mandatory freeze on all new regulations coming out of federal agencies. Now the Pruitt-led EPA states in the notice that it has “determined that the effective date of the revised Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule should be extended until May 22, 2018. EPA is taking this […]

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31
Mar

EPA Reverses Course and Allows Continued Use of Highly Neurotoxic Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2017) On Wednesday, Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), rejected the conclusions of EPA scientists, and independent scientific literature, and reversed a tentative decision from 2015 to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos due to the chemical’s neurotoxic impacts. This would have effectively banned chlorpyrifos from agriculture. This decision stemmed from a petition and lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)  ten years ago, calling for EPA to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances and cancel all registrations. A Federal Appeals court mandated that EPA take final action by March 31, 2017. Mr. Pruitt’s decision leaves the door open for continued neurotoxic dangers for humans, especially children, who have been shown to be especially vulnerable to chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos is part of the organophosphate (OPs) class of pesticides, which were used in World War II as nerve agents. As potent neurotoxicants, organophosphates are extremely harmful to the nervous system, given that they are cholinesterase inhibitors and bind irreversibly to the active site of an enzyme essential for normal nerve impulse transmission. The scientific evidence of neurotoxic dangers associated with chlorpyrifos exposure is extensive and consistent. Epidemiological data also […]

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22
Mar

Environmental and Farm Groups Challenge Toxic Pesticides Used in Genetically Engineered Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2017) Today, a coalition of farmers and environmental and public health organizations filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approving agrochemical giant Dow Chemical’s toxic pesticide combo, Enlist Duo, among the newer more highly toxic pesticide mixtures used in genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-tolerant crops. Comprised of glyphosate and 2,4-D (50% of the mixture in the warfare defoliant Agent Orange), Enlist Duo is typically marketed alongside commercial crops like corn, cotton and soybeans that are engineered to withstand pesticide exposure, leading to problems of resistance and driving the evolution of super weeds. This is the third lawsuit challenging EPA approval of Enlist Duo by petitioners, which include Beyond Pesticides, National Family Farm Coalition, Family Farm Defenders, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity, represented jointly by legal counsel from Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety. The lawsuit charges that approval of Enlist Duo “will lead to sharply increased spraying of toxic pesticides, harming farmers, neighboring crops, and wildlife.” Specifically farmers’ health and financial positions stand to be heavily impacted by the approval of Enlist Duo, as increased use will result in increased pesticide drift, an alarming concern especially […]

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10
Mar

Study Finds Pesticide Use Does Not Increase Profits for Farmers

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2017) A French study published last week has found that higher pesticide use does not mean larger profits, demonstrating that farmers can reduce their usage of pesticides without worrying about their profits being affected, in most cases. Similar studies have shown that organic and conventional yields are comparable, supporting the case for farmers to transition from high pesticide use to healthier, safer, and more profitable alternatives. The study, led by Martin Lechenet, a PhD student with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, looked at data from 946 French farms, including yields, pesticide application rates, soil characteristics, and local climate conditions. The researchers then used a model to focus on the relationship between pesticide application rates and productivity or profitability. They found that, in 77% of the farms, higher pesticide use was not linked to a higher profit. The researchers then estimated that pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects on current profit levels in 59% of farms in their national network. According to the researchers, their results demonstrate the ability to reduce pesticide usage for most farmers in current production situations. In addition, other studies support the finding that farmers do not have […]

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22
Feb

Pesticide Spills and Accidents Put Pesticide Applicators at Increased Risk for Prostate Cancer

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2017) Male pesticide applicators who experienced a pesticide spill or another related accident are more likely to harbor changes in their DNA associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to a recent paper published in the journal, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis. While the relationship between pesticide exposure and prostate cancer is not new, this study adds to the growing body of evidence that high exposure to specific pesticides may lead to the development of prostate and other cancers. The analysis finds that after experiencing one of these exposure events, men are more likely to have higher DNA methylation of a gene linked with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. DNA methylation is a form of gene regulation that, if disturbed, can result in gene expression changes that can cause cancer. The researchers used data from the ongoing Agricultural Health Study (AHS), which is a long-term cohort study evaluating cancer and other health outcomes of pesticides applicators and their spouses in North Carolina and Iowa. This paper, High pesticide exposure events and DNA methylation among pesticide applicators in the agricultural health study, analyzed a sample size of 596 male pesticide applicators who underwent three phases of […]

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17
Feb

Two Months until Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land Conference!

(Beyond Pesticides, February 17, 2017) We’re only two months away from our 35th National Pesticide Forum! Join us for Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 28-29, 2017. Register Today Get the Early Bird Discount (available until March 28)! As an Early Bird buyer, you can get a general rate for $40, a student rate for $20, or a business rate for $170. Scholarships are also available. All ticket price rates include organic meals: on Friday, organic beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvre; on Saturday, organic breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus organic beer and wine at the evening reception. For more details about registration, click here. Background The Forum offers a unique opportunity during a critical time in our nation’s history to chart a course that upholds principles, values, policies and practices that protect health and the environment. The Forum brings together speakers on the latest science on pesticides, from bee-toxic neonicotinoids to glyphosate, contrasted with practitioners utilizing organic management practices in agriculture and parks, and on athletic fields and rangeland. In sum, the Forum seeks to help hone public understanding of the […]

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21
Dec

Cases of Pesticide Poisoning Up in California, Including Agricultural and Residential Areas

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2016) A California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) report of all pesticide related illnesses in the state in 2014 identifies 1,685 cases “potentially involving health effects from pesticide exposure,” combining exposures from agricultural and non-agricultural use. Of the 798 cases associated with non-agricultural use, 18% of them (146 cases) involved exposure in children under 18 years old. The exposure rates are alarming, and only strengthen efforts by local activists in counties like Tulare to protect children from pesticide exposure. According to the report, Tulare County has the highest number of reported illnesses related to pesticide exposure at 78, followed by Santa Cruz County with 67. The report, Summary of Results from the California Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program 2014, provides a summary of illnesses identified by the Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program (PISP), a program under DPR. Of the 1,685 cases potentially involving health effects from pesticide exposure reported, DPR epidemiologists determined that 1,073 of those cases were “at least possibly associated” with pesticide exposure, representing a 5% decrease from 2013. However, even though the number of associated cases decreased in 2014, PISP did see a 14% rise in the number of associated episodes, defined as “an event in which a single source […]

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19
Dec

Syngenta Research Farm Fined $4.8 Million for Illegal Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week filed a complaint against a Syngenta research farm in Kauai, Hawaii for exposing a dozen agricultural workers to an unregistered insecticide on the farm in early 2016. Syngenta Seeds, LLC is facing over $4.8 million in fines from EPA for allegedly violating multiple federal pesticide regulations meant to protect agricultural workers. At the time of the incident, 19 agricultural workers went to work on fields freshly sprayed with the insecticide chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide. The incident with this highly neurotoxic chemical sent 10 workers to the hospital for medical treatment. EPA’s complaint states that Syngenta Hawaii LLC misused the pesticide “Lorsban Advanced” and that violated EPA’s worker protection standard. Due to its neurotoxicity, EPA banned chlorpyrifos for residential uses in 2000, but retained most agricultural use. EPA maintains that Syngenta failed to provide a waiting period for the workers to re-enter the fields. Additionally, Syngenta did not provide workers with personal protective equipment, as well as proper decontamination supplies once the exposure had occurred. At the time of the incident, an inspector from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) was present on the Syngenta farm, which triggered an immediate investigation from the […]

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12
Dec

Bader Farms v. Monsanto, An Epic Duel Over Illegal Spraying of Herbicide Dicamba

(Beyond Pesticides,  December 12, 2016)   On November 23, Bill Bader of  Bader farms, Missouri’s largest peach farm with over 1,000 acres and 110,000 peach trees, filed a suit against the multinational, agrichemical giant Monsanto. Mr. Bader seeks compensation for extensive damags to his peach trees, which he blames on the illegal, or non-labeled, use of the toxic herbicide dicamba, brought on by sales of Monsanto’s new, genetically engineered (GE), dicamba-tolerant crops. Mr. Bader is projected to lose $1.5 million in revenue from the crop damage. The case was filed in the Circuit Court of Dunklin County, an area that has been hit especially hard by alleged illegal dicamba spraying. The farm’s insurance company refuses to cover damages from any illegal herbicide use. Without compensation for the damages, the farm risks going out of business. The illegal use of dicamba in this case is not an isolated incident. There have been many disputes in the Midwest over the  illegal spraying of dicamba and subsequent crop damage due to pesticide drift.  Numerous news reports over the past two  months in southern soybean growing regions have found that many farmers are, in response to weeds on their farms that have become resistant […]

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06
Dec

Pesticide Exposure Alters Bacterial Diversity in the Mouth

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2016) A new study released by researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle finds that exposure to organophosphate insecticides is associated with changes in oral bacterial diversity, particularly for exposed farmworkers. The study provides insight into the far-reaching changes pesticide exposure can cause to the human body, which are not captured by current risk assessment models used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although past research has investigated the impact of pesticide exposure on the gut microbiome, this is one of the first studies to look at oral bacterial diversity. For the study, scientists took oral swabs from 65 adult farmworkers and 52 non-farmworker adults in the Yakima Valley of Washington State. Swabs were taken both during the spring/summer, when exposure to pesticides is high, as well as winter, when lower exposure is expected. At the same time the swabs were taken, researchers also took blood samples of individuals in the study. Scientists focused on exposure to the organophosphate insecticide Azinphos-methyl (AZM), which at the time of the study (2005-2006) had not begun its cancellation proceedings. Results show that farmworkers have greater concentrations of AZM in their blood than non-farmworking adults in the area. It […]

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05
Dec

Help Protect California School Children from Pesticides in Communities Where Most U.S. Food is Grown: Send Comments by Dec. 9

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2016) People across the country can support farmworker children and rural communities by speaking up in support of better protection of California school children from pesticide exposure by December 9, 2016. Send a  short email to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) (dpr16004@cdpr.ca.gov) to tell the Department it  must expand proposed buffers around schools to one-mile to protect school children during and after school hours, and expand the rule to cover all schools and daycare centers. Given that, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s latest statistics, “Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts [and a large share of dairy and livestock] are grown in California,” everyone who eats food in the U.S. has a stake in protecting children who live in the communities where the food is grown. Food purchasing decisions have a direct impact on the people who work on farms, their children, and the communities where they live. Support the more than 75 parents, teachers and advocates for social and environmental justice who marched in Tulare County to DPR’s draft rules for pesticides use near schools last week. Led by members of […]

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17
Nov

NOSB Meets This Week, as Hydroponic Farmers Seek Formal Allowance to Use Organic Seal

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2016) This week, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is meeting in St. Louis to hear public comments on organic agricultural issues that will ultimately influence standards and processes. One major issue before the board is a motion on whether hydroponic and aquaponics operations can be certified organic. Farmers that practice hydroponic growing techniques are hoping to get the attention of the NOSB as they make an argument for their place in the certified organic industry, while others will be there to reject these arguments and uphold organic as soil-based agriculture. Despite a 2010 recommendation from the NOSB to prohibit allowing hydroponic production to quality as organic, USDA’s National Organic Program allowed organic labeling of the sector, which has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Typically, consumers have no way of knowing that the organic labeled prodeucts they are buying were grown organically. The NOSB is an advisory group, made up of 15 public experts, that makes direct recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on organic production, handling, and processing. In 2010, the NOSB recommended that farmers using hydroponic systems be ineligible for the organic certification. However, the National Organic Program (NOP) decided to ignore […]

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14
Nov

Organic Farmland Increases as Consumer Demand Skyrockets

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2016) New research published by Meracris, a provider of market data and trading for organic, non-GMO (genetically  modified organisms or (GE) genetically engineered) and certified agricultural commodities, documents  an 11 percent increase in organic farmland since 2014. The number of certified organic farms grew to almost 15,000, marking a 6.2 percent increase of organic farms between June 2016 and 2014. The top five states leading the transformation to organic fields are California, Montana, Wisconsin, New York and North Dakota. California heads the pack, claiming 688,000 acres dedicated to organic farming techniques. There are now 4.1 million acres of organic farmland in the United States, and that number is predicted to keep increasing as the demand for organic products continues to rise. A recent market analysis by the Organic Trade Association found that Americans have spent $43 billion on organic products in 2016 a $4.2 billion increase from 2015. “The organic industry is growing and with lower commodity grain prices, and farmers are looking to add value and meet consumer demands,” says Scott Shander, and economist at Mercaris. Alex Heilman, a sales associate at Mercaris says that the number of organic acres will likely increase as larger […]

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08
Nov

CDC Report Finds Occupational Pesticide Poisoning Widespread, with Farmworkers at Greatest Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2016) A report published last month from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that over 2,600 cases of acute pesticide poisoning occurred among workers in 12 states between 2007 and 2011. The report, published by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), highlights the hazards conventional pesticides pose to both farm and non-farm workers who apply these inherently toxic chemicals. Results of this study underscore the importance of calls from public health and farmworker advocacy groups for improving the protection of workers who grow and harvest the food that makes its way to American’s dinner plates. The results also support a wholesale transition away from toxic chemicals in favor of organic and sustainable alternatives. CDC’s report, collected from 12 farming states (including California, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington), focuses on acute pesticide poisonings. The data gathered comes from NIOSH’s Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR) program, a project that has tracked pesticide-related illness in the U.S. since 1987. The report finds that pesticide poisoning incidents among agricultural workers are 37 times those of nonagricultural workers. Proportionally, acute poisoning […]

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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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26
Sep

Public Health Watchdog Sues Dow Chemical in California Over Air Pollution Caused by Toxic Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides September 26, 2016) Last week, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) filed a lawsuit against Dow Agrosciences LLC, also known as Dow Chemical, charging  that the “chemical manufacturing giant” fails to warn communities across California about the dangers associated with wide use of the chemical Telone. A trade name for the chemical 1,3-Dicholoropropene, or 1,3-D, Telone is a known carcinogen and is the third most heavily used pesticide in the state. The case focuses on the air pollution caused by the pesticide, as it has been found to linger in the air for multiple days after application, disproportionately impacting the rural communities, often with large minority populations, that live in the immediate vicinity. The case was filed in the State of California Alameda County Superior Court, and Dow has yet to comment or release a statement addressing the allegations against the company. Routinely applied to strawberry fields, almond orchards, vineyards, and an array of other crops, 1,3-D is a restricted use soil  fumigant, used to kill nematodes, insects, and weeds that has strong links  to cancer and other serious health issues. The use of the chemical in the production of strawberries came into prominence with the forced reduction […]

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16
Sep

Take Action to Ban Atrazine: EPA Must Protect Wildlife!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2016) Tell EPA to ban all uses of atrazine in the United States! Atrazine, widely used on food and feed crops, golf courses, and residential lawns, is a potent endocrine disruptor that is  strongly associated with birth defects, cancer, sex reversal and hermaphroditism in many different animals. The European Union and other countries have banned atrazine, however EPA continues to put U.S. citizens and the environment in harm’s way, allowing nonstop use of this toxic chemical. Sign Beyond Pesticides’ petition to ban atrazine by October 5, 2016. Atrazine is the second-most widely used pesticide in the U.S., with over 73 million pounds applied each year. Atrazine has washed into surface water and leached into groundwater, spurring community water utilities  across the U.S. to file class-action lawsuits to remove the pesticide from drinking water supplies. Even at levels established as “safe” or acceptable by EPA drinking water standards, atrazine is linked to endocrine-disrupting effects. EPA is not adequately assessing the effects of atrazine by using high dose testing models, which are not appropriate for hormonally-active substances  that  often show effects at minute doses. Studies by Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley,  and others have shown that […]

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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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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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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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