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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Genetic Engineering' Category


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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01
May

Infected Mosquito Trial Launched Against Zika and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2017) The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District released 20,000 male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria near Key West, as a trial strategy to manage mosquitoes that carry Zika and other viruses. The district and others have been exploring new ways to suppress infected Aedes aegypti mosquito populations, which thrive in urban environments and can spread Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya. It is unclear what impacts, if any, these infected mosquitoes will have on non-target organisms or public health. The trial is the second U.S. test conducted with the naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, developed by the Kentucky-based company MosquitoMate. The first test occurred in Clovis, California, last year. In September 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which registers mosquito control products, approved and expanded an experimental use permit (EUP) for Wolbachia pipientis-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (not to be confused with genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes).  According to the agency, Wolbachia are naturally occurring bacteria commonly found in most insect species, but not in the Aedes aegypti. This strain of Wolbachia is extracted from Aedes albopictus embryos and microinjected into Aedes aegypti embryos. Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are shipped to testing sites where they are released and mate with wild-type Aedes aegypti females that do not carry Wolbachia. After mating, the […]

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14
Mar

EPA to Investigate Civil Rights Abuses Over Pesticide Use in Hawaii

(Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2017)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is opening an investigation into whether the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and the state Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) are discriminating against Native Hawaiians in their administration of the state’s pesticide program. The investigation comes after a number of local community groups, represented by the nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice, filed a complaint in September 2016 asking EPA to take action against systemic abuses of Native Hawaiian peoples. Local efforts to protect pesticide-exposed communities have been repeatedly stymied by giant pesticide corporations operating on the island, which filed lawsuits that ultimately struck down local laws. EPA’s investigation will focus on the state’s activity on the islands of Kauai and Moloka’i. “The External Civil Rights Compliance Office will investigate whether in administering the pesticides program and the leasing and licensing of the state land program the HDOA and/or ADC discriminated on the basis of race and/or national origin against farm workers and residents of West Kauai and Molokai, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and EPA’s implementing regulation,” wrote Lilian Dorka, director of EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office(ERCO), in a letter to Earthjustice. Under Title […]

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27
Feb

Poisoning Feral Hogs Raises Safety and Environmental Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2017)  Texas has been dealing with a feral hog issue for many years, however recently Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller approved the use of a toxic rodenticide in an effort to control feral hog populations, a decision hunters and trappers oppose because the pesticide will poison prey and wreak havoc on ecosystems where the hogs live. The estimated population of the feral hog population is about 1.5 million in the state of Texas, where they can cause extensive damage to property, crops, and native wildlife. Wild hogs have been considered to be one of the most destructive invasive species in the U.S. The feral hog population, close to six million, span 39 states and four Canadian provinces. Commissioner Miller, in announcing the widespread use of toxic pesticide referred to the problem as the “feral hog apocalypse.” Damage caused by wild hogs has been estimated to reach well into the millions. Smithsonian Magazine has reported the annual damage caused by feral hog populations to be around $400 million. The Texas Parks and Wildlife website states that hogs are opportunistic omnivores.  Feral hogs enjoy eating domestic agricultural crops, such as corn, soybeans, peanuts, potatoes, watermelons and cantaloupe. They can cause […]

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07
Feb

Ruling Affirmed in Colorado Pesticide Trespass Case

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2017) After years of legal battle, the Colorado Court of Appeals last week affirmed a ruling that Colorado rancher, James Hopper, must serve two days in jail and pay a $7,500 fine for spraying pesticides that drifted unto his neighbor’s farm in violation of a 2012 court order protecting his neighbors. In 2012, organic farmers Rosemary Bilchak and her husband Gordon MacAlpine, were granted a permanent injunction prohibiting pesticide applications within 150 feet of the property line in order to reduce pesticide drift. Last week’s decision bolsters a legal precedent that wafting pesticides can constitute a trespass against which adjacent landowners and people with health sensitivities are protected. The legal battle began in 2011 when Mr. Hopper obtained his Colorado pesticide applicator’s license and applied the adulticide Fyfanon, which contains the organophosphate insecticide malathion, to kill mosquitoes on his property. However, the pesticide drifted onto Ms. Bilchak and Mr. MacAlpine’s organic vegetable farm. In 2012, a District Court Judge ruled that they have a right not to have their property invaded by other people or things, and prohibited Mr. Hopper from fogging for mosquitoes within 150 feet of his neighbor’s property or allowing the pesticides to drift, […]

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27
Jan

Groups File Federal Lawsuit Against Registration of Herbicide Dicamba, Used in Genetically Engineered Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2016) Last week, farmers, environmentalists, and conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit that challenges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of a new formulation of the toxic herbicide dicamba. The new formulation is called Xtendimax with Vapor Grip Technology, which is claimed to have lower volatility. The petitioners claim that EPA violated its duties under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in issuing a conditional registration, and that it did not adhere to duties under the Endangered Species Act that require EPA to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure registration would not harm any listed species. The organizations involved in the lawsuit are National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity, represented by legal counsel from Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety. Dicamba has caused a lot of controversy in the past. In August 2016, farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee confronted widespread crop damage and braced for lower yields as a result of agrichemical giant Monsanto’s botched roll-out of GE soybean and cotton crops. The company, whose current line of glyphosate-tolerant crops are failing to control weeds throughout […]

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24
Jan

University Scientists Dispute Syngenta Study Conclusion that Pesticide Is Low Risk to Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2017) An analysis conducted by scientists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland is calling into question the conclusions reached in a study conducted by multinational chemical company Syngenta, which indicated that honey bees were not at risk from the widely used neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam. The challenge to the Pilling et al 2013 study is important because while many experiments have been performed in the lab or semi-lab environment, this study was a field experiment developed to test pollinator exposure under normal agricultural conditions. The conclusions of such real-world experiments are weighed more heavily by regulators when making safety and use determinations. St. Andrews’ scientists focus in on the Pilling et al claim that because its study did not have high levels of replication, that it would have been misleading to perform formal statistical analysis. They respond that this would indeed be the case if Pilling et al had intended on finding statistical significance and concluded that there was no effect based on those tests. However, Syngenta’s scientists instead simply graphed average values over time based on their measurements (measurements such as number of bees in a hive, hive weight, number of brood, etc.), and compared […]

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18
Jan

EPA Ignores Risks and Expands Uses of Toxic Herbicide Enlist Duo

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2017) Despite science affirming its hazards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has expanded the registration of the toxic herbicide mixture, Enlist Duo, which contains 2,4-D and glyphosate, for use on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and extended its use on GE corn, soybean, and cotton from 15 to 34 states. This approval late last week comes at a time when widespread chemical use is threatening public health and the environment and weed resistance continues to grow, threatening farmers’ productivity and profitability. Over 600 public comments were submitted to EPA on this issue, with many comments vehemently opposing the current uses and the proposed expansion of uses. In its decision, EPA stated that Enlist Duo “meets the safety standard for the public, agricultural workers, and non-target plants and animal species.” However, as Beyond Pesticides stated in comments to the agency, EPA has not fully considered all the environmental costs, including the cost of tackling increased 2,4-D resistant weeds, crop and non-target damages from uncontrolled drift, as well as unanswered questions regarding synergistic chemical effects in non-plant species. Advocates predict weed resistance to Enlist Duo and have urged EPA to reject its continued use and incentive sustainable organic practices. Additionally, […]

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13
Jan

EPA Announcement on Bee-Toxic Pesticides At Odds with Latest Independent Science on Neonicotinoids

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2016) Just prior to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement on January 12 that several neonicotinoid insecticides “do not pose significant risks to bee colonies,” the preprint version of a new review of neonics identified the range of lethal and sublethal effects of the chemicals on non-target organisms.  The review, The Environmental Risks of Neonicotinoid Pesticides: a review of the evidence post-2013, authored by Dave Goulson, PhD, and Thomas James Wood, a PhD candidate, concludes that studies published since the 2013 European Food Safety (EFSA) published risk assessments show even greater risks. The EFSA assessment, which led to a moratorium on neonicotinoid uses, found that certain neonics on specific flowering crops pose a high risk to bees. With reference to the 2013 EFSA risk assessment conclusions as their baseline, the researchers summarize the difference in risk for certain categories, including: “Risk of exposure from and uptake of neonicotinoids in non-crop plants. Uptake of neonicotinoids by non-target plants was considered likely to be negligible, though a data gap was identified. Many studies have since been published demonstrating extensive uptake of neonicotinoids and their presence in the pollen, nectar and foliage of wild plants. Exposure from non-target plants clearly represents a Greater […]

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11
Jan

Glyphosate Implicated in Fatty Liver Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2017) Ultra-low doses of glyphosate formulations fed to rats is linked to an increased likelihood of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to a recently published study in the journal Nature. A lead author of the study, Michael Antoniou, PhD, stated that the findings are “very worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease.” The findings point to the growing need to eliminate the widespread use of this herbicide, as it has already been implicated in endocrine disruption, reproductive effects, and kidney and liver damage. The researchers analyzed female rat livers obtained from a previous 2-year study on Roundup toxicity using molecular profiling techniques. These rats were administered Roundup via drinking water at a concentration of 0.1 ppb, which is an allowable level within both the U.S. and the European Union. The molecular analyses conducted by researchers on the internal organs of the rats fed Roundup included testing of liver cell disturbances. Overall, ultra-low dose glyphosate-formulation exposure led to observations of biomarkers also seen in fatty liver disease. These findings have human health implications “since NAFLD is predicted to be the […]

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05
Jan

Texas Winemakers Concerned about Crop Damage from New Herbicides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2017) Winegrowers in the Texas High Plains region are concerned that approval of new herbicides by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will devastate their profitable industry due to chemical damage from pesticide drift. Wine producers in this region of Texas have witnessed chemical damage to their vineyards that they blame on the toxic herbicides, dicamba and 2,4-D, used on cereal crops and pastures on surrounding agricultural land. A new herbicide formulation containing dicamba, XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, was approved by EPA, and the agency has recently proposed to register and expand the use of Enlist Duo, a herbicide that contains 2,4-D. EPA’s final decision on registration of Enlist Duo is expected in early 2017. According to Paul Bonarrigo, owner of Messina Hof Winery in Texas, the “approval of these formulations will wind up affecting every vineyard up there.” This will have ramifications across Texas, as the wine industry contributed $1.88 billion to the state’s economy in 2013. Advocates say that the new herbicide formulations present unreasonable adverse risks to humans and the environment in addition to harming the livelihood of farmers. Following on these concerns, Garrett Irwin, owner of Cerro Santo vineyard, stated,“If we get […]

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03
Jan

Herbicide Atrazine Affects Estuarine Phytoplankton Productivity, Threatens Aquatic Life

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2017)  A study published in December 2016 in Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, entitled The Effect of Atrazine on Louisiana Gulf Coast Estuarine Phytoplankton, finds that phytoplankton in estuaries in close proximity to agricultural operations are less productive than phytoplankton in an uncontaminated environment. The study examines three different estuaries of the Mississippi river in Louisiana and also evaluates microcosms with different concentrations of atrazine. Phytoplankton, incredibly important to estuary ecosystems and aquatic life, are an integral part of the aquatic food web and ultimately critical to the wild seafood market. As photosynthetic microorganisms, phytoplankton harness the sun’s energy for metabolism and create as a byproduct of photosynthesis dissolved oxygen, which oxygen-breathing sea life require. For the study, the researchers created microcosms, or large containers that are able to closely mimic ecosystems, so that they can observe the effects of independent variables. On average, phytoplankton in the microcosms are less productive at producing chlorophyll a in the presence of atrazine. The microcosm study design is important because it is difficult to separate and measure the effects of chemicals like atrazine in the environment, given the range of potential causes of phytoplankton decline. A variety of factors, like freshwater discharge rates, precipitation, […]

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13
Dec

Report Finds EPA “Sugarcoating” Effects of Hazardous Neonic Seed Coatings

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2016) Net Loss, a new report released by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), indicates the use of neonicotinoid-coated seeds is exactly that, an economic drain for farmers that only results in the indiscriminate poisoning for non-target wildlife, such as pollinators. The report is a follow up to a 2014 report, Heavy Costs: Weighing the Value of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Agriculture, which concluded  that neonic seeds bring greater costs than benefits to farmers. Later that year, a study published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which  looks specifically at the economic value of neonic coated soybeans, made similar determinations —insecticide seed coating provide little or no overall benefit in controlling insects or improving yield or quality. CFS’s new report cites  numerous new studies published over the past several years that reinforce the group’s original determination on the realized benefits pesticide-coated seeds provide to farmers. Front and center in the report are preliminary results from the European Union’s suspension on the use of neonics on certain agricultural crops. The report finds that after the 2013 EU moratorium, despite cries from the agrichemical industry of rampant crop failures, yields actually increased. For maize, the EU saw a […]

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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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08
Dec

Delaware Pollinator Protection Plan, Like Other State Plans, Fails to Eliminate Bee-Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2016) On Monday, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) released its Managed Pollinator Protection Plan, which allows for the continuation of widespread pesticide use in landscapes across the state. The plan includes voluntary strategies for farmers, beekeepers, landowners and pesticide applicators, but fails to include any recommendations for reducing or eliminating toxic pesticide use. DDA resorts to recommending approaches that include “best management practices,” strategies to increase pollinator forage on public and private lands, and advocating for the use of Driftwatch, an online initiative that focuses on pesticide drift. Driftwatch is a voluntary effort run by the non-profit, Fieldwatch, which, according to its website, was created by Purdue University Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Agricultural Communications departments and  Purdue University Cooperative Extension Specialists  “to help pesticide applicators and specialty crop growers communicate more effectively to promote awareness and stewardship activities to help prevent and manage drift effects.” Like other state pollinator protection plans,  there is little mention of pesticides, despite the fact that neonicotinoids (neonics) are highly toxic, persistent and systemic pesticides that have been widely implicated as a leading factor in pollinator decline. According to environmentalists and beekeepers, little meaningful action has been taken to […]

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28
Nov

Court Fails to Provide Redress for Beekeeper Damages Caused by Regulatory Gaps

(Beyond Pesticides,  November 28, 2016) Last week, a  federal judge effectively  rubber stamped  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policies that allow seeds to be coated with bee-toxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids. These pesticides, persistent in water and soil, are associated with acute bee kills, widespread pollinator declines and environmental damage. The Judge’s Order was issued on Nov. 21 in the case of  Anderson et al. v. McCarthy, No. 3:16-cv-00068-WHA (N.D. Cal.). “It is astounding that a judge, EPA or anyone with any common sense would not regulate this type of toxic pesticide use, especially when the seed-coatings are so broadly applied and there is so much at risk. Study after study has shown that seeds coated with these chemicals are a major culprit in catastrophic bee-kills. Now more than ever our country’s beekeepers, environment and food system deserve protection from agrichemical interests, and it is EPA’s job to deliver it,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Director of Center for Food Safety. The neonicotinoids share a common mode of action that affects the central nervous system of insects, resulting in  paralysis and death. They include  imidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. Neonicotinoid pesticides have  consistently been implicated  as a key contributor […]

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11
Nov

EPA Registers Dicamba for GE Crops, Adding to Growing Herbicide Resistance Issue

(Beyond Pesticides, November 11, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered a new formulation of dicamba to control weeds in cotton and soybean crops that have been genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate the chemical. The new formulation is called Xtendimaxâ„¢ with Vapor Gripâ„¢ Technology, which is claimed to be specifically designed to have lower volatility. The registration, which is time-limited, will automatically expire after two years. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, EPA ignored the legal requirement to explore threats to endangered species, approving this new formulation without considering impacts to species protected under the Endangered Species Act. This decision comes directly after EPA announced that it is reapproving the toxic herbicide mixture Enlist Duo, and proposed to expand the number of crops and states in which it can be used. Dicamba has been linked to damage of the kidney and liver, neurotoxicity, and developmental impacts. The chemical has a strong propensity to volatilize small particles of the herbicide into the air and drift far off-site. Sensitive crop species can be damaged by dicamba at levels in the parts per million.  A study published by Pennsylvania State scientists in late 2015 found dicamba drift was “frequently responsible […]

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04
Nov

EPA Proposes to Expand Pesticide Uses in Failed GE Crops, Public Comments Needed

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2016) After withdrawing in January its registration approval for the toxic herbicide mixture Enlist Duo, for use in genetically engineered (GE) crops, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  announced  this week that it is not only reapproving  the chemical combination, but it is proposing to expand the number of crops and states in which it can be used. The expanded registration will allow the use of Enlist Duo on GE cotton and extend use to GE corn, soybean, and cotton from 15 states to 34 states. This follows an EPA review triggered by manufacturer claims that Enlist Duo ingredients have synergistic effects, which EPA had not evaluated. According to EPA, its latest review of the data found no synergistic effects. Ironically, this EPA-proposed expansion of pesticide use in GE crops across the U.S. comes on the heels of a front page Sunday New York Times exposé  that concludes “genetically engineered crops fail to increase yields and reduce pesticide use,” despite continuing claims to the contrary. Developed by Dow AgroSciences (Dow), Enlist Duo is an herbicide that incorporates a mix of glyphosate and a new formulation of 2,4-D, intended for use on GE Enlist-Duo-tolerant corn and soybean crops. […]

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01
Nov

Genetically Engineered Crops Fail to Increase Yields and Reduce Pesticide Use, Exposé Reveals

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2016) A report published this weekend in The New York Times finds that the shift to genetically engineered (GE) crops in the United States and Canada over the past two decades has increased the use of pesticides in North America, and failed to produce any significant yield increases. When the technology was first introduced, multinational agrichemical companies claimed just the opposite would occur- yields would spike and pesticide use would be minimized. As far back as 1998, Beyond Pesticides asked, “Is the failed pesticide paradigm being genetically engineered?” As the Times and numerous other publications before it have found, the answer was and still is yes. The far-ranging expose by the Times on the state of the GE industry used publicly available data from the United Nations to compare yields between that of Europe and North America. Their data show “no discernible advantage in yields — food per acre” for the United States and Canada over Western Europe during the time of GE crop adoption. A comparison between rapeseed yields in Canada and Western Europe shows increases in both regions, with Europe’s yields consistently higher, independent of the use of GE crops. For corn, gains in […]

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26
Oct

Massachusetts Attorney General Stops Deceptive Safety Claims about Bee-Toxic Pesticides, Beyond Pesticides Urges Other States to Follow

(Washington, D.C. October 26, 2016)  With the Massachusetts Attorney General forcing Bayer CropScience to end its statewide advertising containing deceptive safety claims about bee-toxic pesticides, Beyond Pesticides yesterday asked the other 49 states to do the same. In a letter to State Attorneys General, Beyond Pesticides said, “With neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides linked to the increase in pollinator decline, we are writing to urge you, on behalf of our members in your state, to stop misleading and fraudulent advertising of these pesticide products.” Beyond Pesticides continues, “We make this request following the settlement reached by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy with Bayer CropScience, announced today, that ends the company’s deceptive advertising practices on their neonicotinoid-containing lawn and garden products.” Bayer agreed to change its advertising practices, so that the neonic-containing lawn and garden products are no longer misrepresented by false safety claims. This landmark settlement, filed under the state’s Consumer Protection Act, is believed to be the first time any major pesticide company has agreed to a court order to address alleged false advertising regarding risks posed by neonic products to honey and native bees, and other pollinator species.  The lawn and garden products subject to the settlement, which include Bayer […]

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26
Oct

Report Says Farmers Illegally Use Herbicide Dicamba on Glyphosate/Roundup-Resistant Weeds in Genetically Engineered Crop

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a criminal investigation at several locations in Missouri into the illegal spraying this summer of the herbicide dicamba. EPA’s investigation is ongoing and stems from widespread complaints of damage to various crops across Missouri and several other states in the Midwest and Southeast. Dicamba, a widely used herbicide, has had frequent problems with drift and subsequent crop injury. Many suspect that  farmers who planted the new dicamba-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) seeds in the region, when faced with a proliferation of pigweed this year, illegally sprayed dicamba across their fields, leading to drift and off-site crop damage to other farmers. While USDA has deregulated (approved) dicamba-tolerant crops, EPA is expected to but has not yet registered a formulations of dicamba for use on GE crops. Dicamba is highly volatile and prone to drift. In a statement to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, EPA’s Region 7 office said the Missouri Department of Agriculture received more than 100 complaints since June 22, 2016. The complaints allege damage to more than 41,000 acres of soybeans, and other crops including peaches, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, rice, purple-hull peas, peanuts, cotton and alfalfa; as well as […]

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12
Oct

In Bayer-Monsanto Merger, Bayer Pledges Not to Push GE Crops on Europe

(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2016) German chemical company Bayer said it would not introduce genetically engineered (GE) crops in Europe after its historic takeover of U.S. seed and pesticide producer Monsanto. The European Union (EU) has been skeptical of GE crops, with many countries refusing to approve certain varieties of them. However, in the U.S., where GE crops make up about half of the crops grown, the merger will probably have little to no effect on GE use. Last month, 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. This takeover of the U.S. firm is the biggest ever by a German company. The combination would create a global agricultural and chemical giant ””and bring Bayer together with a leading producer of genetically engineered seeds that are engineered to resist pesticides, particularly Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup. Roundup, whose active ingredient is glyphosate, is used alongside various GE crops including corn and soybeans. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a landmark  report naming glyphosate as  “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Glyphosate’s EU license was set to expire this […]

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08
Sep

GE Crops Lead to Increase in Toxic Herbicide Use

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

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