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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Contamination' Category


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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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

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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20
Apr

GAO Finds USDA Regulation of Genetically Engineered Crops Deficient

(Beyond Pesticides April 20, 2016) A recently released study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) assesses the actions of three government agencies responsible for regulating genetically engineered (GE) crops, finding several shortcomings in the process. The report, which was commissioned by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), is entitled Genetically Engineered Crops:  USDA Needs to Enhance Oversight and better Understand Impacts of Unintended Mixing with Other Crops. The report finds that while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have taken some steps to regulate GE crops, USDA’s failure to update its regulations that oversee GE crops has created a large data gap on the extent and impact of the unintended mixing of GE and non-GE crops. To address this, GAO recommends, among other things, that USDA set a timeline for updating its regulations and include farmer’s growing identity-preserved crops in its survey efforts to better understand the impacts of unintended mixing. The issue of coexistence between farmers using genetically engineered (GE) crops and non-GE farmers is as important as ever. GE crops pose a constant threat to the livelihood of organic farmers and undermine the burgeoning growth of the organic […]

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23
Mar

Vermont House Votes to Authorize State Regulation of “Treated Articles,” such as Neonic-Coated Seeds

(Beyond Pesticides March 23, 2016) Last week, the Vermont House of Representatives passed a bill that authorizes state  regulation of pesticide-treated products,  including  telephone poles and coated seeds, that are exempt from federal pesticide regulations. H.861 is the latest in a string of laws introduced this legislative session in Vermont to address the impact of harmful neonicotinoid insecticides  on Vermont’s ecology and agriculture, and symbolizes a concentrated effort by the legislature to reverse pollinator declines within the state. If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, the bill will  allow the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate above and beyond current federal laws, which exempt treated articles from regulation completely, and write appropriate rules in response to recommendations from a state Pollinator Protection Committee. The bill, which passed with wide support in the House, gives the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets the authority to regulate “treated articles,” a term coined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to denote products treated with pesticides, such as utility poles, commercial crop seeds, and lumber. Traditionally, EPA gives rulemaking authority over pesticides to states, but that authority does not extend to products pre-treated with pesticides, which, until this point, has posed […]

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21
Mar

Boulder County, Colorado to Phase Out GE Crops on Public Land

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2016) Last Thursday, Boulder County (CO) commissioners directed staff to draft up a plan to phase out genetically engineered (GE) crops on all farmland owned  by the county. The county’s current policy, adopted in 2011, allows tenant farmers to grow certain types of GE corn and sugar beets on land leased through Boulder County, and will remain in effect at least until the end of the year. The five-year policy old has frequently come under fire from individuals and environmental groups that challenge the safety of GE crop production systems, and their effect on human health, water quality, soil health, and the overall environment. The Boulder County commissioners heard  recommendations from the county’s advisory committees, including the county’s Croplands Policy Advisory Group, the Food and Agriculture Policy Group, and the Parks and Open Space Advisory Group. A public hearing was held on Feb. 29  also provided public input on whether to continue or change the current approval in Section 6.1 of the Boulder County Parks & Open Space Cropland Policy that allows for the use of certain genetically engineered (GE) crops on Open Space land. That approval expires on December 20, 2016. More than 100 people […]

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09
Mar

Senate Democrats Introduce Bill Requiring GE Food Labeling, Includes Preemption of States

(Beyond Pesticides March 9, 2016) Last week, Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation to  require  that consumer food packaging  displays genetically engineered (GE) ingredient labeling. The Senators’ legislation, the Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act  (S.2621), presents an alternative to the primarily Republican-backed Biotechnology Labeling Solutions Bill that recently passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on a 14-6 vote. The Biotechnology Labeling Solutions Bill, which embodies several provisions of the much opposed DARK Act, will  hide ingredient information from consumers by overturning state GE labeling laws like that of Vermont’s. “Rather than blocking consumers’ access to information they want, the U.S. Senate should move forward with a solution that works for businesses and consumers alike,” said Senator Merkley. “There is a way to give consumers the information they are asking for without placing unfair or conflicting requirements on food producers. This legislation provides the common-sense pathway forward.” The  Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act  will allow American consumers to see whether a food has been prepared with GE ingredients, while offering food manufacturers several options for including this information on or near the ingredients list. This framework meets the needs of […]

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28
Jan

Oregon Proposes Legislation to Protect Farmers and Consumers from GE Contamination

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2016) Last week, Oregon Representative Paul Holyey introduced legislation that would protect traditional crops against contamination from their genetically engineered counterparts. As it stands, local governments are preempted (disallowed) from taking actions that protect traditional farmers from contamination by genetically engineered (GE) crops. With the help of advocates representing family farms and food safety, The Transgenic Contamination Prevention Bill (HB 4122) will  repeal sections of Senate-passed  Bill 863,  which  preempts local governments, and restore the  right of local jurisdictions to regulate the planting of GE  seed. The law, Bill 863, dubbed  Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act by environmentalists, farmers and consumers, was passed in 2013 and signed into law by then-Governor John Kitzhaber. The new language in HB 4122 seeks to correct the chemical company-driven legislation of the former bill and restore protection for traditional and organic farmers. In May, 2014, the voters of Jackson and Josephine Counties, Oregon, passed a ballot initiative, Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 15-119, which sparked the backlash in the state legislature. A federal court decision upheld the ballot initiatives, and the county  laws were  grandfathered in, or allowed to stay in effect. Center for Food Safety’s attorney, George Kimbrell, expressed support […]

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01
Dec

Genetically Engineered Salmon without Labeling Approved by FDA

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2015) Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, without a labeling requirement, a genetically engineered (GE) salmon designed to grow faster and come to market quicker than other farmed salmon. The fish, dubbed AquAdvantage by its developer, Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm AquaBounty, has been the center of considerable controversy as it represents the first GE animal approved for commercial sale and human consumption. While FDA has declared the fish safe to eat, and AquaBounty argues the fish will help feed the world, opponents stress that the potential adverse effects of the technology have not been properly vetted, and consumers will have no way to tell whether the salmon they purchase at the store is the engineered AquAdvantage product. Draft guidelines released by FDA when the salmon was approved do not require retailers to inform consumers that the fish is GE. Instead, the agency provided examples of voluntary statements, such as “genetically engineered,” or “This salmon patty was made from Atlantic salmon produced using modern biotechnology,” that producers  can consider using. The FDA policy makes it virtually impossible for shoppers wishing to avoid the GE fish to make an informed decision at the point of […]

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25
Nov

EPA Revokes Registration of Toxic Pesticide Central to Genetically Engineered Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, November 25, 2015) In response to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday revoked the registration of the toxic herbicide “Enlist Duo,” which contains the cancer causing 2,4-D and is central to future uses of genetically engineered (GE) crops in chemical-intensive agriculture. The marketing of this chemical in genetically engineered agriculture has become integral to the chemical industry’s response to weed resistance to the widely used herbicide glyphosate (Roundup), also identified as cancer causing this year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). “Instead of looking for genetically engineered silver bullets that result in crop failure, we should be expanding organic agricultural systems that are productive and profitable, protect public health and the environment and slow global climate change,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. Approved by the agency just over a year ago, Enlist Duo is a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D that Dow AgroSciences developed for use on the next generation of GE crops. EPA stated it is taking this action after realizing that the synergistic effects of the combination of these chemicals is likely significantly more harmful than it had initially believed, and that very […]

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29
Oct

USDA Scientist Punished for Neonic Study Files Complaint

(Beyond Pesticides, October 29, 2015) One of the top entomologists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) filed a whistleblower complaint against a  federal agency, citing unprofessional retaliation following the publication of a study linking neonicotinoid insecticides to the decline of monarch butterflies. Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D., Senior Research Entomologist and Lab Supervisor for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in South Dakota, is fighting suspension for publishing research deemed “sensitive” by his USDA superiors. According to Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which is providing legal services to Dr. Lundgren, this case underscores why legal protections for government scientists are sorely needed. Until recently, Dr. Lundgren worked for USDA for eleven years with great success, and his cutting edge research has drawn national attention and international recognition. In April of this year, Dr. Lundgren published a study in The Science of Nature that shows that clothianidin, a neonicotinoid seed treatment, kills monarch butterfly larvae in the laboratory. On August 3, 2015, USDA imposed a 14-day suspension against Dr. Lundgren for submitting the Science of Nature study and for a paperwork error in his travel authorization for his invited presentation about his research to a panel of […]

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22
Oct

U.S. Senators to Advance Legislation to Stop States from Labeling GE Food

(Beyond Pesticides, October 22, 2015) With increasing consumer concern about genetically engineered (GE) food, yesterday  the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing,  entitled Agriculture Biotechnology: a Look at Federal Regulation and Stakeholder Perspectives, that critics called lopsided. Most witnesses characterized GE food as safe or side-stepped the issue of safety, as government witnesses refused to distinguish GE from conventional food and opposed food labeling. “This is the first time in 10 years we’ve had a hearing on biotech. I guess we’re a little late, but we’re here,” said chair of the committee, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS). The ranking  minority member of the committee, Senator  Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)  said,  “Biotechnology is proven to be safe, beneficial, and I believe will play a major role in helping to solve these dual global challenges of climate change and global food security,” Central to the hearing is the the issue of labeling food products containing GE crops. Senator Stabenow called for the adoption of legislation on GE food labeling, presumably with language that will preempt the authority of states to adopt more stringent labeling standards. Senator Stabenow said that she wants labeling that “doesn’t stigmatize biotechnology.” The GE food […]

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13
Oct

Majority of EU Countries Opt-Out of Approved GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2015) Nineteen  European Union (EU) member states (Austria, Belgium (Wallonia), Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Solvenia, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales) have opted out of approving GE cultivation except for research purposes. In the past, the EU has not been particularly fond of GE crops; currently, only one GE crop, insect resistant maize MON 810, has been approved for cultivation. In March, the EU passed a new directive that allowed GE crops to be approved for use Union-wide. Along with the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), that directive also gave member states the ability to “adopt legally binding acts restricting or prohibiting the cultivation of GMOs in their territory after such GMOs have been authorized to be placed on the Union market.” Once the opt-out applications have been processed and transmitted to the companies, they have one month to take action; that is, the companies most affected by the ban will have the chance to oppose it. Member states have cited environmental and agricultural issues as a reason for opting out and while biotechnology companies can deny them, it is likely that […]

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02
Sep

Germany to Ban GE Crops; US Approves GE Potato

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2015) Germany intends to “opt out” of the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops under new European Union (EU) rules regarding GE approvals, moving Germany one step forward to prohibiting GE crops. EU member states have until October 3, 2015 to inform the European Commission whether they wish to opt out of the new EU GE cultivation approvals. GE crops, which have divided Europe regarding their safety, remain a hot button issue across the continent. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted nonregulated status to the “Innate” potato, approving yet other GE crop for U.S. agriculture that has insufficient testing and no labeling. According to Reuters, a new EU law approved in March 2015 clarifies the process for approving new GE crops after years of previous deadlock. Now this new law gives individual EU countries more flexibility over the cultivation of GE crops and the right to opt out by prohibiting GE crops even after they have been approved by the European Commission. Previously, EU-approved GE crops had to be permitted in all EU states. In a letter obtained by Reuters, the German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt has informed German state governments of […]

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27
Aug

Medical Journal Article Identifies Hazards of Pesticides in GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, August 27, 2015) Last week, Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., and Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., released a perspective article, GMOs, Herbicides, and Public Health, in the New England Journal of Medicine  that outlines  the hazards associated with food residues of  elevated pesticide use in the production  of genetically engineered (GE) crops. While mainstream media continuously misses the central issue  in the GE debate by asserting that these crops are merely an extension of selective breeding and effect a reduction in pesticide use, the authors  focus on  the significance of the actual increase in herbicide use and weed resistance in herbicide-tolerant crops. Drs. Landrigan and Benbrook offer two main recommendations in their article: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should delay implementation of its decision to permit the use of Enlist Duo (the 2,4-D herbicide used with  Monsanto-engineered GE herbicide-tolerant  crop), and  the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should  require labeling of GE foods and couple it with adequately funded, long-term postmarketing surveillance. Dr. Landrigan, Dean for Global Health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, is an epidemiologist and pediatrician and one of the world’s leading advocates of children’s and environmental health. Dr. Benbrook is a research professor at the […]

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18
Aug

Decline in Biodiversity and Pest Problems Intricately Linked

(Beyond Pesticides, August 18, 2015) Research looking at corn production  across the Northern Great Plains finds that fields with lower insect biodiversity are at greater risk for pest problems, showing that insect diversity can reduce the need for pesticides, yet again highlighting the critical need for biodiversity in a resilient and sustainable food production system. The research article, Trading Biodiversity for Pest Problems, is published in the July 31 issue of Science Advances, and explores how current chemical-intensive  practices have resulted in altered pesticide use patterns, land use intensification, and landscape simplification, all of which threaten biodiversity in and near farms. The findings suggest that farming practices that promote insect biodiversity is  an effective way to control pests without the use of harmful pesticides. Scientists Jonathan Lundgren, PhD, an entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture—Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), and Scott Fausti, PhD, an economics professor at South Dakota State University looked at insect diversity in cornfields on 53 different eastern South Dakota farms. The researchers evaluate fields that do not use insecticides or crops that are genetically engineered (GE), which may  influence corn insect communities. They also specifically identify insect species during the time in the corn’s life cycle […]

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