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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Genetic Engineering' Category


23
Aug

Senator Blumenthal Calls for Repeal of New, Weak GE Labeling Law that Preempts States

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2016) “Fundamentally anti-consumer,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) of the new genetic engineered (GE) labeling bill signed into law by President Obama late last month. Senator Blumenthal’s frustration with the new legislation and its preemption of state-level laws such as Vermont and Connecticut’s led the Senator to announce he will be introducing a bill next session to repeal the divisive law. After years of state-level ballot initiatives in California, Oregon, Washington State, and Colorado, which were defeated after the chemical industry poured millions of dollars into ad buys that played on consumer fears of higher prices at the check-out line, Maine and Connecticut took a stand for consumer’s right to know. While their legislation required trigger clauses to go into effect, Vermont’s was passed shortly after without such a clause, and withstood a legal challenge from the multinational food and chemical industry. Vermont’s law propelled industry to move its efforts to Congress, and the state’s legislation actually went into effect on July 1, 2016, as industry was still working to garner the necessary votes for its new DARK deal.   Pushed forward by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), the new law has […]

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19
Aug

More Evidence Shows Neonics Harm Butterflies

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2016) A study published earlier this week has found that the increasing use of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides is correlated with a steep decline in butterfly health and reproductive success — as more neonics are used, butterflies are struggling to survive. This study adds to previous evidence that demonstrates, in addition to bees, neonics can cause serious harm to other important pollinators. The study, Increasing neonicotinoid use and the declining butterfly fauna of lowland California, looks at 67 species of butterfly fauna in the lowlands of Northern California at four sites that were  monitored for approximately 30-40 years. The sites include Suisun Marsh, West Sacramento, North Sacramento, and Rancho Cordova. While controlling for land use and other factors, the researchers found a correlation between butterfly population decline and increasing neonic applications, which also appeared to be more severe for smaller-bodied species. According to the researchers, the results suggest that neonics could influence non-target insect populations when applied nearby. This study contributes to the mounting evidence that neonicotinoid insecticides are linked to pollinator decline. Neonics have increasingly been the subject of studies that highlight a relationship between neonicotinoid exposure  and harmful effects to pollinators. These effects are being […]

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08
Aug

Failure of Hawai’i to Enforce Pesticide Law Sparks Request that EPA Revoke State’s Authority

(Beyond Pesticides, August 8, 2016) Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a  letter  from Earthjustice requesting that the agency notify the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture (HDOA) of its chronic failure to meet statutory duties for pesticides regulation and enforcement under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and, if timely corrections are not made, to rescind HDOA’s primary enforcement authority completely. Earthjustice has asked EPA to immediately notify HDOA that it has failed to carry out its responsibilities, and, pursuant to FIFRA, to give the agency 90 days to correct its overwhelming shortcomings. If the problems, which include failure to enforce pesticide use violations and a large backlog of pesticide complaints and investigations dating back to as early as 2008, are not corrected and addressed within 90 days, Earthjustice requests that EPA revoke HDOA’s primary enforcement authority indefinitely.  In the event that HDOA’s authority to regulate is stripped, EPA would then take over the responsibility for enforcing pesticide use violations occurring within the state. Under FIFRA,  the federal statutory authority for  pesticide approval and use, EPA may  delegate to  a state primary responsibility for enforcing pesticide use violations if thestate has adequate pesticide laws and adequate […]

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01
Aug

President Signs Weak Product Labeling Law on Genetically Engineered Ingredients, Preempts States

(Beyond Pesticides, August  1, 2016) As expected, President Obama signed into law an amendment to S. 764, the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, which establishes a national GMO (genetically modified  organisms or genetically engineered-GE) food labeling requirement that food safety advocates say may be deceptive, preempts states from adopting stronger label language and standards, and excludes a large portion of the population without special cell phone technology. Pushed by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), the law is being characterized by its supporters as a compromise, stronger than the original legislation, the Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act (S.2621), which was dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. That bill failed to reach cloture in the Senate in March. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, a big supporter of genetically engineered food production, will have two years to develop the standard, during which time it will assess the question of equitable access to the disclosure of ingredients. This new law will invalidate a stronger GMO labeling law that took effect in Vermont on July 1. The law, signed by the President on July 29, does very little to ensure that consumers will actually be able to […]

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07
Jul

U.S. Senate Moves to Limit GMO Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, July 7, 2016) Despite an outpouring of letters, calls and protests, in a key procedural vote yesterday, the Senate voted to deny Americans the right to know what is in in their food products, and to preempt states’ rights to create their own genetically engineered food labeling laws. In a cloture vote of 65-32, the highly-flawed genetically engineered (GE or GMO) labeling bill, S.B. 764, offered by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KY), also known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, passed through the Senate. This “compromise” bill allows producers to use QR codes and “smart labels” instead of clear, on-package labeling of food products that contain genetically modified organisms, which means that consumers will need to use a smart phone for the information. The bill also exempts major portions of current and future GE foods from being labeled, and, in an affront against democracy, preempts the genetically engineered food labeling laws in Vermont (which went into effect July 1), Connecticut, Maine and Alaska. “The American people have a right to know what they’re eating,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who vowed to put a hold on the bill if they didn’t […]

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27
May

FDA Deliberating Release of GE Mosquitoes in Florida Keys

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2016) Oxitec, a self-described pioneer in using advanced genetics to control target  insects, has petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant emergency approval of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes to fight the spread of the Zika virus. Oxitec has proposed a trial to determine the efficacy of their self-limiting mosquitoes for the control of Aedes aegypti, a type of mosquito known to transmit the Zika virus, in Key Haven, Monroe County, Florida. However, some in the environmental community are concerned about the possible non-target effects of releasing these genetically modified mosquitoes into nature and urge additional research in the lab. The plan for a release of these GE mosquitoes has been in the works for a while. In February 2015, it was reported that the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) was working alongside Oxitec to release these GE mosquitoes, but, at the time, the plan had not yet been finalized. A change.org petition against the release garnered over 146,000 signatures and continues to grow, with numbers around 168,000 to this date. In February 2016, Oxitec submitted a draft environmental assessment to FDA, and a month later, FDA published a preliminary finding of no […]

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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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07
Apr

EPA Introduces Safer Choice Label for Cleaning Products

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2016) Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced the Safe Choice Program (not to be confused with Beyond Pesticides’ longstanding Safer Choice program), an overhauled labeling system created by Design for the Environment (DfE) that encourages consumers to seek out and use cleaning products that protect public health and the environment. Safer Choice uses the technical expertise of its DfE workgroup of EPA scientists to compare ingredients in the same functional class and thereby identify those ingredients with the lowest hazard profile. In order to earn a Safer Choice Standard label, products must have chemical ingredient formulations that “function in making the product work,” which allows formulators “to use those ingredients with the lowest hazard in their functional class.” Safer Chemical Ingredients are listed on EPAs website. “EPA’s Safer Choice program helps consumers find products that are productive and contain ingredients that are safer,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Products that carry the Safer Choice label have been carefully evaluated by EPA scientists to ensure they contain ingredients that are safer for both humans and environmental health.” The  Safer Choice Standard  and the  Criteria for Safer Chemical Ingredients  are protective and […]

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24
Mar

More Companies To Label for GE Ingredients, While Maintaining Their Safety

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2016) This week, four major food manufacturing companies, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Mars, and ConAgra, committed to labeling food containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, while exclaiming the safety of GE food. Each company released statements citing the new Vermont labeling law, set to take effect this summer. The four companies joined Campbell Soup Company, which announced its  own label on GE ingredients in January. At the time,  Agri-Pulse reported, “Campbell made clear that it still supported the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, but said that there is a need for national labeling standards that would preempt state standards.” A summary of the companies’  releases are as follows: Kellogg’s Kellogg’s North America President, Paul Norman, insists upon the adoption of a “federal solution for the labeling of GMOs.” Until that happens, he says, “We will start labeling some of our products nationwide for the presence of  GMOs beginning in mid-to-late April. We chose nationwide labeling because a special label for Vermont would be logistically unmanageable and even more costly for us and our consumers.” In addition to a label, Kellogg’s launched OpenForBreakfast.com, which invites consumers to ask questions and learn more about products that include GE ingredients. […]

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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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17
Mar

Senate Blocks Vote on Bill To Stop GE Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2016)  Yesterday,  the U.S. Senate  voted to block a vote  on a food labeling bill that would eliminate consumers’ right to know whether genetically engineered (GE) ingredients are in the food they purchase. Senate Amendment  3450,  National Voluntary Bioengineered Food Labeling Standard, proposed by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), failed to garner the  60 votes necessary for cloture, which would have ended the debate and allowed a vote on the bill. The  vote of 48-49 effectively killed the Senate bill. The amendment is the Senate version of H.R. 1599, Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, sponsored by  Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS).  Opponents have dubbed the legislation the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act (DARK Act). The bill passed the House in July, 2015 on  a  vote of 275-150. In addition to  preempting the ability of all  states to impose mandatory labeling standards, the bill imposes a weak voluntary federal scheme in its place. Backed largely by House Republicans, the DARK Act makes it harder for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require mandatory national labeling of products containing GE ingredients, and safeguard current policies that allow companies to voluntarily decide whether to label foods containing […]

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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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18
Feb

Congressional Reps Want EPA Review of Glyphosate-2,4-D Mixture Enlist Duo

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2016) Last week, 35 members of Congress, led by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) and Peter DeFazio (OR-4), signed a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, challenging  EPA’s review process for the  glyphosate  and  2,4-D  herbicide mixture, known as Enlist Duo. It is produced by Dow AgroSciences for use in genetically engineered  crops. The letter requests “more information about EPA’s plan to reevaluate Enlist Duo’s health and environmental risks.” The letter comes just weeks after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from EPA to vacate its own decision to  approve the  toxic herbicide cocktail. Because of the court’s decision, EPA is solely responsible for the decision about Enlist Duo’s registration. “This is part of a vicious cycle that is leading to more potent, dangerous chemicals being widely used on crops across the United States,” said  Rep. Blumenauer. He continued, “With the rise of herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops, herbicides are more widely sprayed causing weeds to grow more resistant — ultimately, requiring the application of even stronger herbicides. EPA must take action to make sure products entering the market to be used on our food are safe for human health and […]

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10
Feb

Hawaii Pesticide Disclosure Bill Passes Committee

(Beyond Pesticides February 10, 2016) Last week Hawaii’s House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, chaired by Representative Chris Lee, unanimously passed a measure to require large-scale, outdoor commercial agricultural businesses to publicly disclose outdoor application of pesticides in various environmentally sensitive areas. House Bill 2574  will  make the reporting guidelines for the voluntary Kauai program mandatory across the state and will  also establish “disclosure and public notification requirements for outdoor applications of pesticides in and in the proximity of schools, health care facilities, child care facilities, elder care facilities, and other environmentally sensitive areas,” according to the bill. The bill’s next step is the Agriculture Committee, where chair Representative Clift Tsuji has killed pesticide-related bills in the past. House Bill 2574 is the latest in a string of laws proposed by local and state governments within Hawaii to try to  protect citizens from the harms of toxic pesticides. In 2015, Hawaiian legislators proposed House Bill 1514  to establish school and hospital buffer zones. The bill, which would have prohibited farmers from using large amounts of pesticides within a specified distance of schools and hospitals, stemmed from concerns about  the impact of genetically-engineered (GE) farming and its inherent dependency on increasing […]

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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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12
Jan

Campbell Soup Says GE Food Is Safe, Endorses Mandatory GE Labeling to Preempt States with Weak Language

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2016) Late last week in a precedent-setting move, Campbell Soup Company announced its support for federal mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. If such labeling does not come soon, the company also indicated it is prepared to voluntarily label all products it produces that  contain GE ingredients. Agri-Pulse reported, “Campbell made clear that it still supported the use of genetic engineering in agriculture but said that there is a need for national labeling standards that would preempt state standards.” Campbell’s President and CEO Denise Morrison, ““I want to stress that we’re in no way disputing the science behind GMOs or their safety. The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence indicates that GMOs are safe and that foods derived from crops using genetically modified seedsare not nutritionally different from other foods,” Morrison wrote.” Ms. Morrison said that the company is against a patchwork of regulation across the states.  In its release Campbell issues a sample label, which states:  “Partially produced with genetic engineering. For more information about GMO ingredients visit WhatsinMyFood.com.” Prior to the announcement, Campbell Soup’s membership to the umbrella group the Grocery Manufacturers Association  pitted it against consumer, health, and environmental organizations, and […]

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24
Dec

A Year of Victories Inspire Action for Challenges in the New Year

(Beyond Pesticides, December 24, 2015) Beyond Pesticides would like to thank our members and supporters for making 2015 a year of historic victories in advancing sustainable and organic land and building management. As our Daily News takes a holiday break, returning Monday, January 4, 2016, we hope you will join us in reflecting on the progress made this year, and the challenges that still lie ahead. As members and supporters of Beyond Pesticides, we know you share the same sense of momentum and accomplishment that the staff and board feel at the close of 2015. We would like to deeply thank you for aligning with Beyond Pesticides’ mission, whether through talking to friends and coworkers about pesticide concerns, work in your local community, defending organic through public comments, joining us at our 33rd National Pesticide Conference, signing important petitions, or supporting our numerous other program areas. We look forward to working with you to grow our voice in 2016, and reach more individuals, local and state governments, and businesses with the knowledge and technical expertise that will support a transition in pest management practices that no longer utilize toxic products and adopt a sustainable and organic approach. Your tax-deductible year-end […]

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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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