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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Federal Agencies' Category


31
Jul

Take Action: Stop Fraudulent Organic Food Imports

(Beyond Pesticides, July 31, 2017)  At a time when the U.S. market demands more organic corn and soybeans than are supplied by domestic organic growers, those same growers are threatened by the flooding of the market with cheaper fraudulent grains. The resulting impacts of eliminating market opportunities while at the same time threatening the value of the organic label hurt organic farmers in this country. The National Organic Program (NOP) must take action to protect the organic label. According to the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), the U.S. currently produces only about 60% of the organic corn and 10-30% of the organic soybeans the market demands, while demand is increasing by about 14% per year. Meanwhile, the U.S. market is being flooded with fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans. In May, the Washington Post documented three large shipments –totaling 7 percent of annual organic corn imports and 4 percent of organic soybean imports— originating from questionable overseas certification and fraud. >>>Act now to tell NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and your Congressional delegation to protect the organic label for the sake of farmers and consumers! OFARM says, “For over two years, organic grain producers […]

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26
Jul

Campbell’s Soup Parts with Grocery Manufacturers Association over GE Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2017) Campbell Soup Co. announced that it will leave the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) by the end of the year over concerns that the trade association no longer represents its views concerning labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food. Campbell’s President and CEO Denise Morrison said that while the company does not question the safety of GE food, it recognizes that most consumers want to see GE ingredients on the label. Meanwhile, Campbell’s has supported the GMA digital disclosure and lists ingredients that “may be derived from crops grown from genetically engineered seeds” on its website. The move by Campbell Soup comes as USDA is pondering possible disclosure options under the “compromise” bill on labeling genetically engineered food passed last year by the U.S. Congress. The company says, “While this legislation offers a range of disclosure options for manufacturers, we will introduce an on-pack statement as we know that’s what the overwhelming majority of Americans support. We’re working on language that provides specific ingredient information and supports the science that GMOs are safe.” A number of other companies have also announced their intention to label GE ingredients, while similarly maintaining their safety. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has extended to August […]

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18
Jul

Take Action: Comment to Stop U.S. Senate from Undermining Value of USDA Organic Food Label

(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2018) The value of the organic label is under attack in the U.S. Congress. If proposed changes are adopted, the public will not be able to rely on the label to identify the stark differences between current organic and chemical-intensive food production practices. Beyond Pesticides has long advanced organic agriculture as a means of protecting  farmers, farmworkers, consumers, biodiversity, and the environment. The U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee is accepting comments now on Farm Bill proposals that will erode the meaning of organic. Although there are about 400 days to go before 2012 Farm Bill funding ends, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R, KS) is taking the opportunity of Senate hearings to attack those institutions that make organic agriculture standards clear, transparent, and subject to Congressionally mandated public oversight. In particular, Sen. Roberts and others are attacking the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which is an impediment to organic factory farms. Organic production is subject to rigorous oversight through a certification and inspection process, not found in conventional agriculture, but needing continual improvement to keep pace with the tremendous growth of the organic sector. We want to protect and strengthen these standards, not reduce and weaken them. Part One […]

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14
Jul

What Should Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Look Like? USDA Seeks Your Input

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2017) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking input into draft regulations that will determine whether genetically engineered (GE) ingredients [or genetically modified organisms (GMO)] are identified on products labels, or hidden behind high tech codes. Let USDA know by Monday, July 17 what you think and how important clear and meaningful labeling is. A “compromise” bill on labeling genetically engineered food was passed last year by the U.S. Congress, leaving it to USDA to decide which foods would be labeled, and how they would be labeled. In preparation for drafting regulations, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posed 30 questions regarding the implementation of the law. AMS is accepting input until Monday, July 17. Commenting provides a chance to help shape USDA’s proposal. The law includes labeling options other than on-package labeling, such as QR codes and websites, which would only serve to hide the information this law was passed to provide. It also allows USDA to decide which GE ingredients must be disclosed. Beyond Pesticides is telling USDA the following: The definition of “bioengineering” must include all forms of genetic engineering including newer forms like CRISPR and RNA interference (RNAi). Definitions should be compatible […]

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26
May

U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Rollback Waterway Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2017) On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would reverse an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirement to obtain a permit before spraying pesticides on or near waterways. The passage of HR 953, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (known by environmentalists as the “Poison Our Waters Act”), is the latest update in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback commonsense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. It will now move forward to be considered by the Republican-majority Senate, where it will most likely pass and be signed into law. HR 953, if signed into law, would reverse a 2009 decision issued by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case of National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA, which held that pesticides applied to waterways should be considered pollutants under federal law and regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA), through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Prior to the decision, the EPA, under the Bush Administration, had allowed the weaker and more generalized standards under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to be followed. This allowed pesticides to be discharged […]

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16
May

Spending Bill Found to Include Taxpayer-Funded Program to Promote GMOs

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2017) Buried in the spending bill passed earlier this month to avert a government shutdown is a provision that allots $3 million for a federal outreach campaign promoting agricultural biotechnology and genetically engineered (GE) crops. The bill tasks the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in coordination with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to use these funds, “for consumer outreach and education regarding agricultural biotechnology and biotechnology-derived food products and animal feed…” According to the Washington Post, Democrats in Congress made a failed bid to move the funding towards FDA-run pediatric medical projects, but faced unanimous Republican opposition. Under the provision, FDA and USDA will spend taxpayer money to create, “science-based educational information on the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian impacts of such biotechnology, food products, and feed.” If such an endeavor were made truly in the public interest, educational materials produced by these agencies would reveal significant adverse effects in every listed topic. GE crops, particularly those engineered to tolerate continuous applications of herbicides like glyphosate, are damaging to the environment. Significant increases in herbicide use as a result of these crops has been linked to the loss of milkweed habitat […]

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24
Apr

Dow Urges Trump Administration to Ignore Pesticide Impacts on Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2017) After contributing $1 million to Donald Trump’s presidential festivities, pesticide maker Dow Chemical Co. is asking the Administration to set aside previous findings of federal scientists across multiple agencies that confirm the risks that organophosphate pesticides pose to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species. This comes after the Administration abandoned plans to restrict the brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos, also an organophosphate pesticide created by Dow, despite mountains of evidence that show the chemical’s neurotoxic impacts on children’s brains. In letters sent to government officials, lawyers for Dow urge Administration officials and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set aside “biological evaluations” that detail how three highly toxic organophosphate insecticides –chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon– harm nearly all 1,800 threatened and endangered animals and plants, claiming the process to be “fundamentally flawed.” Federal agencies tasked with protecting endangered species –EPA, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture– have worked for years to identify the risks posed by pesticides to threatened and endangered species under to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under Section 7 of ESA, states that any agency action must find that it “is not likely to jeopardize […]

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17
Apr

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Finds Residues of Glyphosate in One-Third of Food Products Tested

(Beyond Pesticides, April 17, 2017) The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) published a report on glyphosate testing last week, finding traces of the chemical in about one-third of food products and residue levels above the acceptable limits in almost four percent of grain products. These findings come on the heels of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to abandon plans for testing the U.S. food supply for glyphosate residues. In light of this, Beyond Pesticides is again urging USDA to test for glyphosate residues in U.S. food. According to the CFIA report: “In 2015-2016, 3188 samples of domestic and imported food products were collected and tested for glyphosate residues in three programs: Testing of 482 samples of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables as part of the National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP); Retail survey of 2497 samples of grains (barley, buckwheat, and quinoa), beverages, bean, pea, lentil, chickpea and soy products; A survey of over 209 retail samples of infant foods as part of the 2015-2016 Children’s Food Project.” Out of the 3,188 products tested, glyphosate residues are detected in 29.7% of samples. The highest number of samples with residues detected occur in bean, pea and lentil products, at […]

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16
Apr

Court Grants Temporary Injunction to Endangered Protect Rusty Patch Bumblebee Habitat

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2017) Local activists in Illinois were handed an exciting victory on Monday when a judge granted a temporary restraining order to shut down a construction project due to the presence of the rusty patch bumblebee, a recently listed endangered species. The group Stop Longmeadow, in reference to the Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor project, filed the lawsuit, Case: 1:16-cv-05435, based on the fact that the rusty patch bumblebee has been found in the Brunner Forest Preserve, which borders 5.6 miles of the corridor project. The defendants, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, argue that the scheduled construction will not affect bumblebee habitat. The court rejected their position, however, siding in the plaintiffs by finding “the balance of harms weighs in favor of the plaintiffs and against the public’s interest in reduced traffic congestions.” The restraining order was issued by Judge Sharon Coleman in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division. Based on the evidence presented by the plaintiff’s motion, Judge Coleman reasoned that “a brief stay to the project is warranted.” She went on to point out that, […]

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28
Mar

USDA Cancels Plans to Test for Glyphosate Residues in U.S. Food this Year

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2017) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has abandoned its plans to test the U.S. food supply for the presence of glyphosate residues, according to a story from veteran reporter Carrey Gillam in The Huffington Post. The decision comes amid heated controversy over the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, which was cleared by a California judge for listing under California’s Prop 65 earlier this year. The federal government’s pesticide monitoring program, which is run jointly by USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was criticized by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2014 for its failure to test for the widely used herbicide. In early 2016, Beyond Pesticides met with EPA regulators to discuss testing for glyphosate residues in the U.S. food supply. At the time, officials said that FDA was testing honey, and USDA would be conducting more extensive food testing beginning in 2017. USDA had tested soybeans for glyphosate residue in 2011, finding that 90% of samples contained residues between .26 ppm and 18.5 ppm, barely under the allowed food tolerance level of 20ppm. A 2014 Boston University study had indicated that both organic and conventional honey contained glyphosate concentrations despite […]

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24
Mar

Rusty Patched Bumblebee Listed as Endangered

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2017) On March 21, the rusty patched bumblebee’s path to protection cleared political hurdles this week. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on March 21 officially listed the rusty patched bumblebee under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), after months of turmoil due to the Trump Administration’s temporary freeze on federal regulations adopted at the end of the Obama Administration. This listing stands as a landmark decision, marking the rusty patched bumblebee the first bumblebee species, and first bee overall in the continental U.S., to officially be declared endangered by FWS. In October 2016, FWS listed seven species of bees as endangered in Hawaii. The initial decision to list the rusty patched bumblebee as an endangered species came at the very end of President Obama’s term, on January 11, to take effect in February. FWS said in its news release, “Causes of the decline in rusty patched bumble bee populations are believed to be loss of habitat; disease and parasites; use of pesticides that directly or indirectly kill the bees; climate change, which can affect the availability of the flowers they depend on; and extremely small population size. Most likely, a combination of these factors has caused the decline in rusty patched […]

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