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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Genetic Engineering' Category


13
Jan

Monsanto Once Again Developing Herbicide Resistant Wheat

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2015) Over a decade after consumer opposition halted multinational agrichemical business Monsanto’s plans to develop genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant wheat, the company is trying again. This time, Monsanto’s goal is to create wheat that is resistant to three different herbicides; glyphosate, glufosinate, and dicamba. Although over 90% of corn, soybean, and cotton grown in the United States are GE, no GE wheat is currently allowed to be planted. In 2013, a farmer in Oregon discovered the presence of Monsanto’s original Roundup-Ready wheat, developed to be resistant to glyphosate, in his field despite the company’s plans to abandon the strain and claims to have destroyed the crop  a decade earlier. The company had restarted extensive field trials back in 2011. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) determined that the contamination was an “isolated incident.” It was unable to determine exactly how the wheat came to grow in the Oregon farmer’s field. However, shortly after the agency closed its investigation, another farmer in Montana detected the GE strain in his wheat fields. The recurrence of this incident reveals the contamination event not to be an isolated incident. It instead demonstrates the threat that these crops […]

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06
Jan

Fish and Wildlife Service to Consider Federal Protection for Monarch Butterfly

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2015) At the close of 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced plans to conduct a year-long status review of the monarch butterfly to determine whether the species is eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). FWS is taking this action as result of an August 2014 legal petition filed by health and environmental groups that presented substantial information indicating that listing under the ESA may be warranted. In November 2014, Beyond Pesticides joined over 200 environmental groups and businesses in a letter asking for federal protection for monarch butterflies in the wake of shocking declines. The North American monarch butterfly population fell by 90 percent in the past 20 years, dropping from a high of approximately  one billion in the mid-1990s to fewer than 35 million butterflies in the winter of 2013-2014— the lowest number ever recorded. Each year monarch butterflies travel over 2,000 miles between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, across multiple generations, to reach their winter hibernation grounds in late October. As FWS indicates, this journey has become “more perilous for many monarchs” due to threats along their migratory paths. Scientists believe the butterfly’s decline is being driven in […]

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05
Jan

Hawai’i Council to Appeal Court Ruling that Strikes Down GE Restrictions

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2015) Hawai’i County plans to appeal a federal judge’s ruling invalidating a 2013 county law restricting genetically engineered (GE) crops on the island. The County Council voted 5-4 in December to appeal the ruling after the judge ruled last November that Hawai’i County cannot enforce a law restricting genetically engineered crops because it is preempted by state law. The ruling follows a similar federal court decision in August 2014 that overrules a Kauai ordinance requiring annual reporting of genetically engineered organisms. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren’s order is similar to his earlier decision invalidating Kauai County’s law on pesticides and GE crops. Judge Kurren invalidated the county law, Hawai`i County Ordinance 13-121, in a Nov. 27, 2014 order, saying state law preempts county law on the issue. He said lawmakers intended the state to have broad oversight of agricultural issues in Hawai’i. The November 2014 decision concludes that state “preemption” of the county ordinance is implied by state plant laws, despite the fact none of them mention GE crops or were intended to regulate them. The court refused a request to send the state law question to the Hawai’i Supreme Court  for a  decision. Finally, the […]

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17
Dec

GE Labeling Ballot Initiative Narrowly Loses in Oregon Recount

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2014)   Supporters of an Oregon ballot initiative requiring labels on genetically-engineered (GE) food acknowledged defeat last Thursday after an automatic recount failed to change the results of November’s vote and a judge denied their plea for a count of rejected ballots. Advocates expressed deep disappointment that a Monsanto led multi-million dollar opposition campaign narrowly defeated the Oregon ballot initiative even after an emergency lawsuit was filed to prevent the rejection of over 4,000 votes due to non-fraudulent discrepancies. Measure 92 lost by a narrow margin in November elections, triggering a recount and making it the closest statewide election in Oregon history. Measure 92 would have required manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers to clearly label all genetically-engineered foods or ingredients in raw or packaged items. It was defeated by only 812 votes out of 1.5 million. The automatic recount is pursuant to Oregon voting law, but the new tally showed that the measure lost by just 0.056 percent. On December 8, 2014, an emergency lawsuit was filed by the Yes on 92 Campaign in order to prevent over 4,000 votes from being thrown out by state officials due to non-fraudulent discrepancies in voter signatures.   The judge […]

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11
Dec

Study Finds Organic Agriculture Can and Must Feed the World

(Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2014) A new study out of the University of California, Berkeley, compares organic and conventional crop yields and finds that overall yield gaps are much smaller than earlier studies concluded and even smaller when compared crop-by-crop. The study,  published in the Royal Society Proceedings B journal, Diversification practices reduce organic to conventional yield gap, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap where it exists. The debate surrounding organic crop yield capabilities has been a heated one, with agribusiness and conventional farming advocates claiming that pesticides and genetically-engineered (GE) crops are necessary to feed the ever-expanding world population. These interests usually dismiss organic agriculture’s ability to provide the necessary amount of crops to achieve the end goal of feeding the world. Numerous studies have previously undercut this premise, finding similar yields and greater economic returns in organic agriculture and determining GE crop yield abilities to be mostly unfounded. Recently, even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called into question the efficacy and crop-yield outputs of soybean seeds pre-coated with the dangerous and pollinator-toxic pesticides of neonicotinoids. The current study’s researchers  wanted to examine this hotly debated issue and take a look at a […]

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05
Dec

Bill Will Stymie State Efforts to Label GE Food, Chefs Call for Fed Labeling Law

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2014) Over 700 chefs, including high-profile individuals like Tom Colicchio, Jose Andres, Art Smith, and Sam Talbot, are pushing Congress to support labeling of genetically modified foods and oppose efforts blocking state GMO labeling laws. In a petition authored by Chef Tom Colicchio, the chefs are calling on Congress to move forward with legislation sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR),the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act,  S. 809  and H.R. 1699, respectively,  which will  require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “clearly label” genetically engineered (GE) foods. “As chefs, we know that choosing the right ingredients is an absolutely critical part of cooking,” the petition states. “But when it comes to whether our ingredients contain genetically modified organisms, we’re in the dark. It’s time for Congress to move us forward, not backward, when it comes to our right to know what’s in our food.” The chefs were joined on Tuesday by advocates from Food Policy Action, Environmental Working Group, and Center for Food Safety. Just Label It!, with which Beyond Pesticides is a partner, and other national organizations fighting for labeling of GMO foods for meetings with lawmakers. “As a […]

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21
Nov

Insect Resistance “A Serious Threat” to GE Crop Sustainability

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2014) Researchers of a new study published on Monday find increased resistance in the fall armyworm to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-incorporated genetically engineered (GE) maize in the southeastern region of the U.S., calling this evolution of insect resistance to transgenic crops “a serious threat to the sustainability of this technology.” The pest was found to be resistant to a toxin derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, which is inserted into seeds. Bt is a naturally-occurring soil bacterium that, when used in non-genetically engineered forms, is an important biological pesticide for organic and sustainable farmers. This study is just one of many that show increasing insect resistance to Bt crops, which are produced by Dow and DuPont, but is the first to document field resistance related to the reduced efficacy of Bt maize in a lepidopteran pest in the mainland U.S. The study, “Cry1F Resistance in Fall Armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda: Single Gene versus Pyramided Bt Maize,” led by Fangneng Huang, Ph.D., an entomologist at Louisiana State University, finds that the fall armyworm has exhibited increased resistance to the Bt subspecies Cry1F protein. When expressed, the protein controls larvae from an order of insects known as Lepidoptera, which includes […]

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20
Nov

Rise in Chronic Diseases Correlates with Glyphosate and GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2014) A study published in the Journal of Organic Systems this week examined potential connections between the increase in chronic diseases seen within the United States and other parts of the world over the last 20 years and the explosion of glyphosate use, finding a significant correlation between glyphosate use, genetically-engineered (GE) crops, and human health. Glyphosate, one of the most popular weedkillers in both the U.S. and the world, is the active ingredient in Roundup ® ””the leading glyphosate product developed by Monsanto. Known as “Roundup Ready,” GE soybeans, corn, cotton, and other crops have been genetically altered and patented by Monsanto to be glyphosate-tolerant. Whether a crop stems from a Roundup Ready seed or not, glyphosate is used in almost all agricultural areas of the U.S., as well as on an international scale, in conventional, non-organic farming operations. Because of Roundup’s popularity, glyphosate use has skyrocketed, leading to an estimated application of nearly 250 million pounds of the chemical across the U.S. alone and resulting in significant problems of glyphosate resistance and the increased presence of the herbicide in our food and environment. The increased presence of glyphosate has also ushered in independent data […]

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17
Nov

Court Battle Begins on Maui, Hawaii GE Moratorium

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2014) In anticipation of the lawsuit by agrichemical giants following a newly passed initiative to suspend the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops in Maui, five residents preemptively filed a lawsuit last Wednesday, November 12 beating their opponents by one day. The moratorium is only a temporary measure that bans GE crops until the county analyzes the public health and environmental effects, and it is deemed safe. Yet, despite this Monsanto, along with Dow AgroSciences, the Maui Farm Bureau and other businesses filed their own lawsuit against the county Thursday, November 13 saying that  the “referendum is invalid and contrary to long established state and federal laws that support both the safety and lawful testing and planting of GMO plants.” Maui County residents Dr. Lorrin Pang, Mark Sheehan, Lei’ohu Ryder, Bonnie Marsh and Alika Atay, along with the Shaka Movement, filed their lawsuit in the Second Circuit court in Hawaii against the county, Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences. The lawsuit seeks to assure transparency and influence over the implementation of the initiative, in light of the enormous amount of money that the ag companies have poured into the county in an attempt to beat the initiative. According […]

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06
Nov

Election Day Rundown on Pesticide Restrictions and GE Labeling: Victories and Setbacks

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2014) A mixed day for environmental and public health advocates everywhere, election day, November 4, 2014, brought victories and setbacks. While campaigns to  advance public health and environmental protections faltered, as did  supportive candidates, bright spots did poke through,  leading the way forward for future grassroots efforts. Ogunquit, Maine Pesticide Ban Small but determined, the town of Ogunquit, Maine re-passed an ordinance banning the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers on private property. Residents voted 444 to 297 in favor of the ban, sending an even stronger second-time approval of the initiative. The town passed a nearly identical ordinance earlier this year in June, however, it was decided that a procedural glitch of failing to notify the state’s pesticide board before passage of the ordinance, as well as a lack of agricultural exemptions, should be corrected through an amended ordinance and revote. The now double-confirmed law expands on existing pesticide use restrictions on town-owned property. The passage of this ordinance positions Ogunquit as a leader in the state for environmental sustainability and the protection of public health, and supports the Ogunquit Conservation Commission’s goals to ensure that the town’s popular beaches are clean and healthy for […]

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17
Oct

GMO Labeling Movement Marches Forward with Vermont Release of Draft Rules

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2014) The Vermont Attorney General’s Office, as part of a continuous effort to label genetically modified organisms (GMO) and increase transparency for consumers, released a draft of the rules written to govern the state’s law to require the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering. The nine page rulemaking, describe a range of issues, from the definition of “food” and “genetic engineering” to the required disclosures that will read “Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.” The attorney general’s office has scheduled three public hearings for next week to give the public the opportunity to comment on the law. Members of the public can also submit a comment via email. Attorney General William Sorrell said his office is moving to write the rules as quickly as possible so that the industry can prepare before the law takes effect in 2016. The law, which was signed by Governor Peter Shumlin in May and is the first of its kind in the nation, has been met with substantial backlash. The state is  currently involved in a legal battle  by  major trade associations, including Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA). In  a statement, GMA has called the […]

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16
Oct

EPA Approves Enlist Duo®, Opens Gate to New Wave of GE Woes

(Beyond Pesticides, October, 16, 2014) Despite a massive outpouring of public opposition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday that it has registered Enlist Duo ®, officially putting the rubber stamp of approval on the sale and use of a new wave of genetically-engineered (GE) 2,4-D tolerant crops. Developed by Dow AgroSciences, 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. While registration of the herbicide was anticipated by most of the public since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s approval of the Enlist Duo ®-tolerant crops in mid-September, the announcement still comes as a disappointing shock, demonstrating the failings of the U.S. pesticide and agricultural regulatory system to put people and the environment before economic incentives and industry bottom lines. “EPA approval of this herbicide sets a dangerous precedent,” says Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “Instead of looking to alternatives, regulators are signaling that the answer to widespread weed resistance is more toxic products that endanger farmworkers and farming communities.” As Beyond Pesticides noted in its comments submitted to EPA in June of this year, the […]

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08
Oct

The Touch, the Feel, of GE Cotton?

(Beyond Pesticides, October 8, 2014) After headliners like genetically engineered (GE) Roundup-Ready corn and soybeans failed to deliver on claims of decreased pesticide use and environmental sustainability, instead leading to the rise of “superweeds,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved more dangerous, 2,4-D-resistent versions   shortly after. Now after the predictable failure of Roundup-Ready cotton, USDA is set to approve dicamba-tolerant GE cotton, coming soon to a t-shirt near you.   Feeling a bit itchy now? Join us in telling USDA the solution to “superweeds” is NOT more GE crops and increased herbicide use! Act by October 10, at midnight! USDA’s proposal to deregulate and allow into the environment yet another GE variety will inevitably lead to damaging effects on non-GE crops, native plant species, and environmental biodiversity. USDA acknowledges that the purpose of dicamba-tolerant cotton “is to provide growers with an additional in-crop weed management option to manage [glyphosate resistant] broadleaf weed species,” but introducing crops resistant to other chemical technologies like dicamba may provide short-term relief from resistant weeds, but is not a long-term, sustainable solution to burgeoning weed resistance. This current proposal also includes dicamba-tolerant soybean, as well as a stacked tolerance to the herbicide glufosinate. Contrary […]

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03
Oct

Consumer Cost for GE Labeling Found To Be Minimal

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2014) A new analysis of published research finds that the median cost to consumers of requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food is $2.30 per person annually. The report, commissioned by Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, and conducted by the independent Portland-based economic research firm, ECONorthwest, arrives amidst the highly contested GE labeling initiative on Oregon’s November election ballot, Measure 92. Proponents of labeling say that the new research disputes claims made in ads opposing the initiative, which claim that labeling will force farmers and food producers to spend  “millions” and increase food costs for consumers. Consumers Union is a strong supporter of Oregon’s GMO labeling ballot initiative. “Given the minimal cost to consumers, the increased herbicide use involved in growing almost all genetically engineered crops, as well as the failure of government to require human safety assessments before genetically engineered foods reach the marketplace, GMO labeling is well worth it,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union. “Companies change their labeling all the time and with GMO labeling costing so little, it is likely some producers won’t even bother to pass the minimal increase on to consumers.” The […]

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01
Oct

Another Field Contaminated with Unapproved GE Wheat

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2014) Just after announcing a close to its investigation into the illegal presence of genetically engineered (GE) wheat in Oregon, finding it to be an “isolated  incident,”  the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened a new investigation into another incident of unauthorized release of  GE wheat, this time  detected in Montana. This new report highlights the contamination threat that these materials pose to farmers and the environment, as well as the government’s failure to recognize the pervasive and persistent nature of GE contamination. According to USDA, on July 14, 2014 it was notified that suspected GE wheat had been discovered growing at the Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center (SARC) in Huntley, Montana, where Monsanto and researchers grew GE wheat as part of field trials between 2000 and 2003. Testing of the samples by a USDA laboratory confirmed that the wheat is genetically engineered to resist Roundup. The agency states that its ongoing investigation is focusing on why GE wheat was found growing at the research facility location. Currently, GE wheat has not been deregulated by USDA, unlike several other GE crops (corn, soybean, sugarbeets). This means that any experimental use of GE wheat must […]

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26
Sep

General Mills Rejects Companywide GE Ban, But Expands Its Non-GE Organic Brand

(Beyond Pesticides, September 26, 2014) At the annual shareholder meeting last Tuesday, General Mills rejected a request to expand its ban of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in its popular Cheerios cereal to all of the company’s products. The topic of genetically engineered foods dominated discussion at the meeting, according to GMO Inside (Green America, the organization behind GMO Inside, holds a handful of shares in General Mills), and the company has remained steadfast in its assertion that GE food is safe. However, on the flip side, the company has acknowledged its consumer demand for natural and organic products by its recent purchase of the organic food company Annie’s Natural. Organic production standards by law forbids the use GE crops. The $820-million deal for Annie’s adds more than $200 million in annual sales for General Mills’ organic foods division, which already takes in $330 million per year. Annie’s will be absorbed into General Mills’ Small Planet Foods division, which includes other well-known natural and organic brands, including Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen and Larabar. The request to ban GE ingredients company-wide was brought to the table by As You Sow, and supported by the great-granddaughter of General Mills’ co-founder, Harriett Crosby. “As […]

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18
Sep

Cargill Sues Syngenta after China Forbids the Sale of Its GE Corn

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2014) After a reported $90 million loss from rejected shipments of genetically engineered (GE) corn seeds that are not approved in China, the U.S. grain company Cargill Inc. sued the biotech giant Syngenta AG. According to Cargill, since mid-November 2013, China has rejected imports of U.S. corn due to the presence of Syngenta’s MIR 162 trait because of its lack of approval for import, virtually halting U.S. corn trade with China.  The lawsuit, filed Friday in Louisiana, will ultimately decide whether responsibility for the marketplace risks and economic damage of introducing GE crops in international trade should be placed on the seed companies that develop unapproved GE traits, or the merchants who sell contaminated grain. “Unlike other seed companies, Syngenta has not practiced responsible stewardship by broadly commercializing a new product before receiving approval from a key export market like China,” said Mark Stonacek, president of Cargill Grain & Oilseed Supply Chain North America.  “Syngenta also put the ability of U.S. agriculture to serve global markets at risk, costing both Cargill and the entire U.S. agricultural industry significant damages.” Syngenta’s corn seed in question, Agrisure Viptera corn, also known as MIR 162, was deregulated by USDA […]

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20
Aug

Nearly Half of All U.S. Adults Seek Out Organic Food

(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2014) According to a new Gallup poll, nearly half of all U.S. adults “actively” seek to add organic food to their diets. Many who eat and incorporate organic foods into their diet are from city areas, whereas those who eat the least organic foods are described as coming from rural areas. Those who live in the western half of the country and are middle class were also more likely to eat organic food. The poll underscores the notion that many view the benefits of organic foods as greater than the perceived drawbacks, such as higher costs or limited access. The Gallup poll, as reported by The Washington Post, polled about  1,000  adults across the country in July and found that Americans most likely to eat organic are in the West, live in a city, are 18 to 29 years old, vote Democrat or have an annual household income greater than $75,000. Those most likely to avoid organic foods are basically the opposite: those who live in the East, live in more rural parts, are age 65 or older, vote Republican or have an annual household income less than $30,000. This is the first year Gallup has […]

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01
Aug

National Refuges to Ban GE Crops and Bee-Killing Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, August 1, 2014) In a huge victory for environmental protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will phase out the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops to feed wildlife and ban neonicotinoid insecticides from all wildlife refuges nationwide by January 2016. The FWS decision, announced via internal memoranda July 17 and obtained by Center for Food Safety (CFS), follows a longstanding grassroots, legal, and policy campaign by CFS, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), and joined by Beyond Pesticides, to end the harmful practices. This announcement builds on the recently announced decision to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides, linked to the decline of pollinator health, from refuges in the Pacific Region. FWS is the first federal agency to restrict the use of GE crops in farming in the U.S. and the use of neonicotinoids based on a precautionary policy. “We have demonstrated our ability to successfully accomplish refuge purposes over the past two years without using genetically modified crops, therefore, it is no longer possible to say that their use is essential to meet wildlife management objectives. We will no longer use genetically modified crops to meet wildlife management objectives System-wide,” wrote National Wildlife Refuge System Chief James Kurth […]

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24
Jul

EPA Denies Hazardous Pesticide Use on 3 Million Acres of Texas Cotton Fields

(Beyond Pesticides, July 24, 2014) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied an emergency application to use a hazardous pesticide, propazine, on 3 million acres of Texas cotton fields, after groups representing environmental, public health, and organic farm interests urged the agency to reject the request based on environmental effects and the predictable nature of the weed resistance to currently used chemicals. Despite determining “that an urgent and non-routine condition exists for Texas growers” when certain weed-densities are reached, EPA’s primary reasons for denying the application focused on health and environmental concerns of the pesticide. As EPA explained, “When conducting human health risk assessment for new use the Agency must first consider the risk profile for currently registered uses and determine if an additional use can be added to the cup.” This aggregate risk assessment is required under the Food Quality Protection Actand in the case of propazine, EPA found that “drinking water estimates suggest that risks from drinking water alone may lead to unacceptable risks . . . .” “While we disagree with the EPA that this meets any of the criteria for emergency exemption, we applaud the EPA for putting the health of people and the […]

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03
Jul

Tell EPA by End of Today: Don’t Bail Out Genetically Engineered Cotton with a Toxic Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides, July 3, 2014) It was predictable that genetically engineered (GE) cotton sprayed with the weedkiller glyphosate (Roundup) would create resistant superweeds. Now that it has, Texas GE cotton growers recently requested an emergency use of a chemical cousin to atrazine, the herbicide that is demasculinizing frogs by disrupting the endocrine system— on 3 million acres of cotton fields where the weeds have become resistant to the chemical of choice —glyphosate. Stop the GE Pesticide Treadmill! Use Beyond Pesticides’ sample comments for guidance. Help stop the GE treadmill and the use of hazardous pesticides. Join Beyond Pesticides in fighting this predictable “emergency” use because it exemplifies EPA’s practice of allowing increasing dependency on highly toxic pesticides in agricultural systems that are predictably unsustainable, harmful to people and the environment, and for which there are safe alternatives.  This situation is the same toxic treadmill and thinking that is ushering in new 2,4-D-tolerant corn to replace Roundup Ready corn. Emergency exemptions and the use of increasingly toxic herbicides must not be the norm for communities and our environment. Can you help us stop EPA from propping up the failed GE agricultural system?  Submit your comment by midnight July 3. Government does […]

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01
Jul

Maui County Moves Forward with GE Moratorium Initiative

(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2014) Early last month, Maui County residents gathered enough signatures to require a county-wide vote on legislation that will put in place a moratorium on the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops. This achievement represents the first ever citizen driven initiative in Maui County, which encompasses Maui, Molokai and Lanai islands. The petition drive was spearheaded by the SHAKA (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina) Movement, a grassroots campaign that is “preserving paradise for future generation by reclaiming, restoring and revitalizing depleted soil, and growing healthy foods without a dependence on chemicals,” according to Mark Sheehan, a spokesman for the group. Maui’s citizen initiative is part of a growing movement on the Hawaiian Islands that seeks to protect health and the environment while strengthening local food economies and resiliency. Residents living on the Hawaiian Islands are subject to a particularly pronounced form of environmental assault, as the state’s premiere growing conditions have made it a prime target for agrichemical companies to test new, experimental forms of GE crops. Data released earlier this year reveals that high levels of restricted use pesticides, in some cases almost double the pounds per acre average of other […]

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12
Jun

Monarch Butterfly Decline Linked to GE Crops and Shrinking Habitat

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2014) According to a new study in the Journal of Animal Ecology, the deficiency of milkweed plants due to the rapid spread of genetically engineered (GE) crops is one of the primary reasons for the decline in monarch butterflies. The widespread adoption of GE agriculture and the ever growing use of herbicides is contributing extensively to the loss of milkweed covered areas, which is the butterfly’s main food source and the only place where they lay their eggs. This study adds weight to previous reports linking GE crops, as well as climate change, to the decline of butterfly populations, which are at their lowest in two decades. Monarch butterflies make their way from the U.S. and Canada, usually arriving in Mexico around the beginning of November, clustering by the thousands in the boughs of fir trees. Although the same trip occurs every year, no individual butterfly makes it twice, as the butterfly’s life span is too short. How the migration route lives on in the butterflies’ collective memory is an enduring scientific mystery. Researchers note that to compensate for the continued loss of habitat, refuges of milkweed must be set up to provide a source of […]

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