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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Farmworkers' Category


11
Aug

EPA Proposes Training Requirements for Those Who Apply Acutely Toxic “Restricted Use” Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing new standards for pesticide applicators who apply “restricted use” pesticides, requiring an increased level of training, a minimum age requirement for applicators, and basic literacy. The proposal will soon be available for public comment. Encompassing the highly acutely toxic  pesticides, “restricted use” pesticides are not available for purchase by the general public, and may only be applied by a certified pesticide applicator or an individual working under their direct supervision (which does not require on-site supervision). To highlight the danger associated with the use of these chemicals, EPA estimates that its modest changes in oversight will save $80.5 million, directly attributable to fewer acute pesticide incidents to people. Jim Jones, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, hosted a conference call, attended by Beyond Pesticides staff, in which he provided an overview of the proposed changes. “We are committed to keeping our communities safe, protecting our environment and protecting workers and their families,” said Mr. Jones. “By improving training and certification, those who apply these restricted use pesticides will have better knowledge and ability to use these pesticides safely.” Although EPA’s actions […]

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09
Jul

Federal Judge Overturns Maui GE Crop Moratorium

(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2015) Last week, a federal judge ruled that a voter-passed ban on the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in Maui is preempted by federal and state law, and is invalid. According to the SHAKA Movement legal counsel, the decision, at least temporarily, invalidates a local ordinance that sought to protect against serious harms caused by these practices, and ignores the harms to Maui county and the Hawaii Constitutional mandate placing obligations and duties on the counties to protect the natural environment. In addition to the SHAKA Movement, Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice have pledged to appeal the decision. “The District Court’s ruling is a big blow to Maui County voters that adopted this ordinance, given the dangers involved with GMO operations,” said  SHAKA spokesperson Mark Sheehan, PhD, who was also one of the five citizens who sponsored the ballot initiative. “We do intend to appeal this decision and are hopeful that the 9th Circuit will recognize the impact that today’s ruling has on the community.” In November 2014, Maui residents passed a ballot initiative prohibiting the growth, testing or cultivation of GE crops in Maui County until an environmental and public health study can […]

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11
Jun

Ontario First in North America To Limit Bee-Killing Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2015) On July 1, Ontario will become the first jurisdiction in North America to officially begin reducing the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-coated corn and soybean seeds, an action that has been in the making since 2014. The new rules should curb the acreage planted with such seeds by 80 percent by 2017. The new rules will be put in place to track the sale and use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds. Additionally, for the upcoming farming season, farmers will only be allowed to use the seeds on up to 50 percent of their corn and soybean fields. Exemptions are granted only to those who can provide evidence of pest problems. In 2017, any farmer who wants to use neonicotinoid-treated seeds will have to prove the presence of  pests. “Farmers are environmental stewards of their land and this regulation will enable our province’s farmers to strengthen their approach to protecting their crops,” Agricultural Minister Jeff Leal said in a statement Tuesday. Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray said the government must take “necessary action to protect these vitally important species and the ecosystems they support from the effects of neurotoxic neonicotinoids.” Tibor Szabo, president of the […]

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08
Jun

Study Finds Organic Makes Sense, Both Ecologically and Economically

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2015) Organic agriculture produces higher profits for farmers while doing a better job at protecting the environment and biodiversity, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS). When factoring in the price premium organic farmers receive for their products, researchers discovered that organic farming is 22-35% more profitable than conventional growing methods. The study’s findings are a positive sign for the future of organic, which, despite its exponential growth to a $35 billion industry over the past decade, currently only comprises 5% of the U.S. food market, and 1% of U.S. cropland. Authors of the PNAS study indicate that there is a significant opportunity for growers wishing to transition to organic practices, as many of the findings assuage widely held concerns over the viability of organic. For instance, although labor costs are higher for organic crops, these expenses are offset by a decreased need for nonrenewable resources, such as the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that conventional agriculture relies upon. In fact, authors found that the breakeven point for organic farmers, 5 to 7%, is much lower than the 29 to 32% premiums often paid by consumers. This means […]

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14
May

With Second Highest Honey Bee Losses, Congressional Hearing Ignores Pesticide Effects

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2015) For the first time on record, summer losses of managed honey bee colonies have exceeded winter losses, according to preliminary results of the annual survey released yesterday by the Bee Informed Partnership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Apiary Inspectors of America. This is the second highest annual loss recorded to date: beekeepers lost a total of 42.1 percent of the number of colonies managed over the last year (total annual loss, between April 2014 and April 2015), which is up from 34.2 percent for the previous year. On the same day that this survey was released, the  U.S.  House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, Biotechnology and Research held a hearing on pollinator health, but failed to advance policy solutions that would protect pollinators from the unnecessary use of pesticides. “What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” Keith Delaplane, PhD at the University of Georgia and one of the co-authors of the study told Phys.Org. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.” About two-thirds of the beekeepers responding to the survey […]

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08
May

Groups Urge Investigation of USDA Censorship of Its Scientists

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2015) A diverse group of environmentalists, beekeepers, farm workers, and advocates, along with Beyond Pesticides, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General and the co-chairs of the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health this Tuesday, urging a thorough investigation into recent reports that USDA scientists are being harassed and censored. The letter expresses particular concern over the suppression of research related to bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides and glyphosate, a key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, which has been linked to cancer. The White House Task Force on Pollinator Health, co-chaired by USDA, is expected to release a plan on bee protection in the near future; the more than 25 groups, which include farmers, fisheries, and food safety advocates, are concerned that the plan will lack meaningful protections if USDA’s research has been compromised. In March, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Group (PEER), an advocacy group for government researchers, filed a petition for rule-making with USDA seeking new rules to strengthen USDA’s Scientific Integrity Policy, and urging the agency to adopt best practices used in other federal agencies in order to prevent political suppression or alteration of studies. USDA adopted a new […]

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27
Jan

CDC Reports Deficiencies in Farmworker Protection from Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2015) In  evaluating a farmworker poisoning incident in Washington State last year, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report identifies “at least three potential occupational hazards in agriculture: off-target pesticide drift, toxicity of some recently marketed pesticides, and a gap in worker notification requirements.” The report recounts the poisoning in  April 2014 of 20 farmworkers at a Washington State cherry farm who were trellising cherry tree branches when a new pesticide mixture being applied to a neighboring pear orchard drifted on to their work site, causing acute illness within minutes. Sixteen farmworkers sought medical treatment for symptoms ranging from headache and eye irritation to gastrointestinal disorders and respiratory problems. Half of the affected workers had symptoms which persisted over two weeks. The workers were not notified of the planned pesticide application at the neighboring orchard. The  CDC report on the incident, authored by Geoffrey M. Calvert, MD (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Luis Rodriguez, and Joanne Bonnar Prado, MPH  (Washington  State Department of Health), cites 31% of acute pesticide related illnesses for farmworkers between 2005 and 2012 occurring as a result of off-target drift from a neighboring farm. In the April incident, […]

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22
Jan

Iowa Farmers Group Asks for Improved Pesticide Drift Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, January 22, 2015) The Iowa Farmers Union filed  a petition yesterday with  the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) for rulemaking to improve pesticide drift incident responses, penalties, and support to farmers harmed by pesticide drift. “Pesticide  drift from nearby fields is a very real problem for farmers in Iowa,” says Jordan Scheibel, a diversified vegetable farmer from Grinnell, Iowa. “Not only can pesticide drift delay or cause a farm to lose its organic certification, it results in products that farmers – certified organic or not – may not be able to sell legally, safely, or in good conscience, and it exposes the farmers and their workers to potentially harmful pesticides.” Pesticide drift is an inevitable problem in chemical-intensive pest management strategies that rely on spray and dust pesticide formulations.There are essentially two types of drift: particle drift (off-target movement during application) and vapor drift (off-target movement when a pesticide evaporates from a sprayed surface), also known as volatilization. Both forms of drift present serious problems to unaware farmers and surrounding communities. IDAL, which oversees pesticide application in the state, collects information about the location of farmers with sensitive crops, such as grapes, certain vegetables, organic […]

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07
Jan

EPA Responds to Call for Chlorpyrifos Ban with New Risk Calculations and Continued Use

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2015) On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a revised human health assessment for the insecticide, chlorpyrifos, which finds risks to workers who mix, load and apply chlorpyrifos, and that the chemical has the potential to pose risks to drinking water in small watersheds. The assessment also notes that EPA will retain the 10X (10-fold) safety factor to protect children from all routes of exposures. EPA’s latest finding confirms long-standing scientific data that  has documented chlorpyrifos’ toxicity to humans and environmental contamination. However, despite these findings, EPA proposes to place additional restrictions on chlorpyrifos’ use, instead of a widespread ban. This latest assessment updates the June 2011 preliminary human health risk assessment, which was widely criticized by environmental and farmworker groups. EPA is releasing this assessment based on new information received since 2011, including public comments. The assessment is, in part, in response to a petition submitted by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) in 2007, which called on the agency to ban all uses of the insecticide. In 2000, EPA orchestrated a voluntary cancellation with the manufacturer Dow AgroSciences of  most residential uses of chlorpyrifos to limit children’s exposure, […]

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23
Dec

USDA Reports Pesticide Residues on Over Half of Food Tested

(Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2014) The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posted a report on its data from the 2013 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary, concluding that although over half of the food tested by the agency for pesticide residues last year showed detectable levels of pesticides, these levels are below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and do not pose a safety concern. The residues reflect a pesticide use and exposure pattern that raises hazard scenarios that are not fully evaluated by EPA for chemical mixtures, synergistic effects, impacts  on  people and environments  with high risk factors, and certain critical health endpoints, such as endocrine disruption  . Excluding water, of the 9,990 samples analyzed, 23.5 percent had one pesticide detected and 36 percent had more than one pesticide. Residues exceeding tolerances were detected in 0.23 percent (23 samples out of 9,990) of the samples tested. Of these 23 samples, 17 were imported and 6 were domestic. Residues with no established tolerances were found in 3.0 percent of samples, of which 50.2 percent were domestic and 49.2 percent imported. According to USDA, “The Pesticide Data Program provides reliable data through rigorous […]

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22
Dec

Aerial Photos Show “Factory Farms” Certified Organic in Violation of Law

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2014) Stunning aerial photographs of certified  organic farms taken in an investigation launched by The Cornucopia Institute reveal industrial-scale operations housing thousands of animals in cramped conditions with no access to the outdoors. Access to pasture for ruminants like dairy cows is required under National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, and all livestock certified organic must have a means of reaching the outdoors year-round. “The vast majority of these massive, industrial-scale facilities, some managing 10,000-20,000 head of cattle, and upwards of 1 million laying hens, had 100% of their animals confined in giant buildings or feedlots,” said Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute, which has filed a legal complaint against 14 livestock operations it alleges are illegally marketing themselves as organic. It is important to note that not all organic farms house their animals in conditions seen in the aerial photographs. “Many of our dairy farmer-members have animals, they truly care for, that have names, not numbers,” Kastel explained. However, environmental and consumer groups have been sounding an alarm over the increased dependency many larger industry-owned farms have developed  on synthetic inputs temporarily allowed in organic production. These practices undermine the values […]

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23
Oct

Farmers and Environmental Groups to Challenge EPA over Herbicide Approval

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2014) Lawsuit filed against Environmental Protection Agency for approval of 2,4-D use on genetically engineered corn, soy crops in six Midwest states.A coalition of farmers and environmental groups filed a lawsuit to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today on behalf of six Midwest states where a toxic herbicide cocktail called Dow’s Enlist Duo, a blend of glyphosate and 2,4-D, was approved on October 15 for use on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Approved for use on GE corn and soybeans that are engineered to withstand repeated applications of the herbicide, the creation of 2,4-D-resistant crops and EPA’s approval of Enlist Duo is the result of an overuse of glyphosate, an ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. The misuse resulted in an infestation of glyphosate-resistant super weeds which can now be legally combatted with the more potent 2,4-D. Dow Chemical has presented 2,4-D resistant crops as a quick fix to the problem, but independent scientists, as well as USDA analysis, predict that the Enlist crop system will only foster more weed resistance. “The toxic treadmill has to stop,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “EPA and USDA cannot continue to ignore the history, science, and public […]

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15
Oct

Another Study Links Depression in Farmers to Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2014) A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds a strong relationship between the use of pesticides and depression in farmers. One specific class of pesticide, organochlorines, was associated with a 90% higher chance of being diagnosed with depression. For fumigants, the increased risk was up to 80 percent. This study echoes the conclusion from an earlier French study which also reported that farmers using pesticides face  a greater risk of developing depression. The study, Pesticide Exposure and Depression among Male Private Pesticide Applicators in the Agricultural Health Study, examines possible associations between pesticide exposure and depression among male private pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). Over 21,000 applicators who enrolled in the study in 1993—1997 were followed and examined. The applicators were asked about depression when enrolled in the study and then again around 2010. Previous work with this AHS sample found a higher prevalence of depression among male applicators who reported past pesticide poisoning or use of pesticides from several different classes. However, this study examines specific pesticides, and finds that two types of pesticides, fumigants and organochlorine insecticides are positively correlated with depression and cumulative days of use. Those exposed […]

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11
Sep

Fungicide Residues Found in Pregnant Women Living Near Banana Plantations

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2014) A study of pregnant women living near or working in Costa Rican banana fields shows disturbing levels of the fungicidal component ethylene thiourea (ETU) in the urine samples collected from the women tested. In 72 percent of the 445 women tested, researchers found ETU in urine at levels five times greater than that of the general population. The levels detected in the urine exceed reference doses  ””the numbers set by regulatory agencies, like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that reflect the maximum acceptable oral dose of a toxic substance. Scientists conducting the study, Aerial Application of Mancozeb and Urinary Ethylene Thiourea (ETU) Concentrations among Pregnant Women in Costa Rica: The Infants’ Environmental Health Study (ISA), focused on ethylene thiourea because it is the main metabolite of the active ingredient found in Mancozeb, a fungicide used in agriculture, professional turf management, and horticulture. The fungicide’s prominent uses on food and feed crops include tree fruits, such as bananas, apples, and pears. It is not just the presence and levels found within the urine that  is troubling. Researchers also discovered that pregnant women who live within 48 meters of banana plantation have on average 45% more […]

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15
Aug

Oregon Law Allowing Contamination from Farm and Forest Practices Challenged

(Beyond Pesticides, August 15, 2014) Residents of Southern Oregon are tired of being told that farming and forest industry rights to pollute and spray toxic chemicals trump their rights to live healthy lives, so they are taking the matter to court, except not in the way most would assume. Because unlike many instances where citizens could allege nuisance and trespass for toxic or smelly invasions onto private property and into their lives, Oregon residents and many others across the country are prohibited by law from filing such claims against agricultural industries. Known generally as Right-to-Farm Acts, Oregon’s Farm and Forest Practices Act prohibits local laws from making farming and forest practices a nuisance or trespass. The law also grants immunity from private actions, unless, of course, severe injury or death resulted. As one of the attorneys, Chris Winters of the Crag Law Center, representing the Oregon residents explained to reporters, “The law basically grants an immunity to people who spray pesticides from being held responsible.” In filing the lawsuit, plaintiffs hope that a court will change all of this and invalidate the Farm and Forest Practices Act as unconstitutional, because of the state’s constitutional guarantee of remedy for injury to […]

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07
May

Report Finds Numerous Schools Near Toxic Pesticide Fields

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2014) A new report from the California Department of Public Health finds 36 percent of public schools in the state have pesticides of public health concern applied within a quarter mile of the school. Persistent and toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos, methyl bromide, and malathion are among the pesticides found to be applied near schools. The report also finds that Latino children are also more likely to attend schools near areas with the highest use of pesticides of concern. The report, “Agricultural Pesticide Use near Public Schools In California,” released this month, looked at 2,511 schools in the 15 California counties with the highest overall use of farm pesticides in California for 2010, and finds that counties in the southern part of the Central Valley had the most schools near farms where pesticides were applied. Fresno County had the highest number of schools —131 — with pesticides applied nearby. Five percent of schools are within a quarter mile of where the highest volumes of pesticides are used: 2,635—28,979 pounds of active ingredient. Latino children are 46 percent more likely than white children to attend schools where pesticides of concern were applied nearby. The report’s findings are being […]

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14
Apr

Herbicide Ban Put on Hold In Sri Lanka

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2014) Bowing to political pressure and agrochemical industry opposition Sri Lanka’s government has taken a step back from its original decision to place a ban on one of the most widely used herbicides worldwide ””glyphosate. Scientific evidence has tied glyphosate to the incurable, deadly kidney disease that has afflicted thousands of Sri Lankans. The delay marks a setback in efforts by scientists and activists to remove from the shelves  a chemical widely used on tea and rice paddy plantations in Sri Lanka.   The decision to ban the chemical was initiated following the publication of a scientific report demonstrating that kidney disease was primarily caused by glyphosate. The report provides a summary of existing scientific information demonstrating kidney failure among farmers who were exposed to the popular herbicide. Indeed lead author Channa Jayasumana, PhD. explains that glyphosate bonds with toxic heavy metals in the environment such as cadmium and arsenic, forming stable compounds that are consumed in food and water and do not break down until they reach the kidneys. “Glyphosate acts as a carrier or a vector of these heavy metals to the kidney,” said Dr. Jayasumana. The chemical was initially created as a chelating […]

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08
Apr

See You at “Advancing Sustainable Communities,” National Pesticide Forum, April 11-12, Portland, OR!

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2014) With less than a week until the 2014 National Pesticide Forum, please take a moment to consider three reasons why you should attend this exciting and important event: 1. Learn from Leading Scientists and Experts: Many of the conference speakers are top leading experts in their fields, and you just aren’t exposed to these kinds of people every day. While you’re at the Forum you’ll have the opportunity to listen to them speak and interact with them during panel sessions: Longtime leader and visionary in sustainable organic agriculture, Fred Kirschenmann. Center for Food Safety’s leading environmental attorney George Kimbrell on genetic engineering and pollinators; Pierre Mineau, PhD, world-renowned environmental toxicologist; Cutting edge scientist on transgenerational effects of pesticide exposure, Michael Skinner, PhD; Mace Vaughan, Pollinator Program Director for The Xerces Society; and so much more. These highlighted speakers do not diminish the importance of all the incredible speakers on the program, from lawyers, scientists, town officials, and activists, to the Beyond Pesticides’ board of directors. Check out the full program for more information. 2. Engage with Organic Land Management Practitioners: The Forum presents a unique opportunity to learn and discuss ways to tackle turf, landscape, […]

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03
Mar

Register Today! Advancing Sustainable Communities: People, pollinators and practices

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2014) Advancing Sustainable Communities: People, pollinators and practices, the 32nd National Pesticide Forum, will be held April 11-12, 2014 at Portland State University, in Portland, OR. This years’ forum will focus on solutions to the decline of pollinators and other beneficials; strengthening the organic food production system; regulating and right-to-know genetically engineered food; improving farmworker protection and agricultural justice; and creating healthy buildings, schools and homes. Join top scientists, local and national activists and grassroots organizers to strategize on solutions that protect health and the environment. For more information and to register, go to www.beyondpesticides.org/forum. In addition to the program, people,  science, sharing and strategizing, you won’t want to miss the  food! Organic food and beverages will be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturday, and we will have organic hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine for receptions on Friday and Saturday night. Speaker highlights include: Longtime leader in sustainable and organic agriculture, Fred Kirschenmann; “Maverick” Scientist Michael Skinner, Ph.D., author of the landmark study that links exposure to DDT with multi-generational effects, ultimately contributing to obesity three generations down the line; Goat herder Lani Malmberg, who uses her heard of over 2,000 goats to manage invasive […]

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24
Feb

EPA Proposes Updated Farmworker Protection Standards to Mixed Reviews

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week released its long-awaited proposal to update Farm Worker Protection Standards (WPS),  which are designed to provide protections from pesticide exposure for more than two million farmworkers and their families across the nation.   Historically, farmworker advocates have criticized these protections as woefully inadequate in protecting the health of agricultural workers, but these new revisions attempt to strengthen the standards through increased training for workers handling pesticides, improved notification of pesticide applications, and a higher  minimum age requirement for children to work around pesticides. Farmworkers face disproportionate risks to pesticide exposures, with EPA stating that pesticide exposure incidents are vastly under-reported —in some case by as much as 90 percent. Although these proposed changes are a step in the right direction, there are still ongoing concerns about whether the changes will be adequate to protect workers. Revisions to the 20 year old standard have been under discussion for many years. In 2010, EPA released a document proposing WPS that would determine ways to increase training, improve safety requirements, provide clear emergency information, and create strong protection for applicators. However, EPA documents distributed during a November 2012 Pesticide Program […]

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21
Feb

Honey Bee Diseases Threaten Bumblebees; Late Breaking: EPA Announces New Protections for Farmworkers

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2014) A new study published in the journal Nature investigating two infectious diseases ””deformed wing virus (DWV) and the fungal parasite Nosema ceranea”” finds that they could be spreading from honey bees to bumblebees, dramatically shortening the lifespan of the wild bumblebees. The study gives credence to recent research demonstrating that pesticide use compromises immune system functioning, dramatically raising their susceptibility to diseases. The study, Disease associations between honeybees and bumblebees as a threat to wild pollinators,  suggests that managed, highly-dense populations of honey bees, are breeding grounds for pathogens which may then be transmitted to bumblebee populations. But unlike honey bees, infected bumblebees are much more affected by the disease, with their lives shortened by  six full days. “To put it into context, in the field a bumblebee worker lives 21 days,” said co-author Mark Brown, PhD., of Royal Holloway, University of London. “For every bee that has this virus, you’re losing about a third or a quarter of all the food it would bring back to the nest to help the nest grow.” Additionally, while honey bee hives have tens of thousands of worker, bumblebee hives have only hundred at most. The study, underlines […]

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22
Oct

Investigative Report Finds Soaring Pesticide Use and Poisoning Linked to GE Crop Production

(Beyond Pesticides, October 22, 2013) Nearly a week after plant geneticists from the world’s largest agrichemical companies accepted the World Food Prize, an Associated Press (AP) investigation links the effect of their work to soaring pesticide use and resulting health problems.  According to the  AP, the advent of “no-till” farming methods in Argentina with the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops and companion pesticides has caused significant health impacts in farming towns abutting GE fields. Since the introduction of these practices in Argentina by agrichemical companies such as Monsanto, cancer rates have skyrocketed and the number of birth defects has quadrupled. Argentina was an early adopter of GE technology in 1996, when it was billed as the silver bullet to solve world hunger with increased crop  productivity, and improved human and environmental health resulting from decreased pesticide use. The most widely used GE crops, such as Monsanto’s Roundup Ready line of corn and soybeans, allow farmers to apply the herbicide glyphosate during and after seed plantings in order to kill weeds without risk of the main crop dying off. Today, almost all the corn, soy, and cotton produced in the country are GE. As the  AP reports, and researchers in […]

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20
Sep

Study Finds Women Near Pesticide-Treated Fields Have Lower Weight Babies

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2013) A study of women in Northern California farm towns finds that those living within three miles of strawberries fields treated with methyl bromide gave birth to smaller, lighter babies. Methyl bromides, a fumigant pesticide injected into soils to eliminate soil-borne pests, can volatize into the air exposing nearby neighborhoods. The U.S. and other developed countries have banned the use of methyl bromide under an international treaty that recognized the role of chemicals like methyl bromide to deplete the ozone layer. However, some farmers continue to use the fumigant on strawberries and other crops due to the “critical use exemption” (CUE) stipulation of the laws, which allows the chemical to continue to be used when there are no feasible alternatives. The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, examined the health of babies born to 442 pregnant women living in Salinas Valley, CA in 1999 and 2000, when methyl bromide was widely used.   Utilizing data from California’s Pesticide Use Reporting System, the study was able to identify residences that were within 5 kilometers of methyl bromide application. Researchers find that women exposed to the chemical during their second trimester have babies that are  four ounces lighter […]

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