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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Litigation' Category


20
Apr

International Legal Opinion Details Monsanto’s Violation of Human Rights

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2017) On Tuesday, the judges presiding over the International Monsanto Tribunal presented their legal opinion, delivering conclusions on the multinational corporation’s impact on issues ranging from human rights, food access, environmental health, to scientific research. In addition to Monsanto’s impact on human rights, the judges concluded that if ecocide were recognized as an international criminal law, the corporation would possibly be found guilty. According to the Organic Consumers Association’s press release, one of the organizing groups behind the creation of the Tribunal, “It is likely that the [legal] conclusions will lead to more liability cases against Monsanto and similar companies. This will shine a light on the true cost of production and will affect Monsanto (Bayer) shareholder value in the long run.” The international judges determined that, based on a legal analysis of the questions asked, Monsanto has engaged in practices that have negatively affected the right to a healthy environment, to food, and to health. In addition to these infringement of rights, Monsanto has had a negative effect on the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research with “conduct such as intimidation, discrediting independent scientific research, [and] suborning false research reports.” In the third part of its […]

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16
Apr

Court Grants Temporary Injunction to Endangered Protect Rusty Patch Bumblebee Habitat

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

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07
Apr

Environmental Groups Turn Back to the Courts to Ban Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2017) On Wednesday, Earthjustice, representing the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) turned to the courts to order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban chlorpyrifos. Their action comes on the heels of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision last week to reject the conclusions of EPA scientists and reverse a proposed agency decision to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos. In the new petition, the environmental groups assert that, “Because EPA has sidestepped this Court’s orders and failed to act on the substance of the petition, PAN/NRDC respectfully ask the Court to [give] EPA 30 days to act on its findings that chlorpyrifos exposures are unsafe and to establish deadlines for the next steps in the revocation and cancellation process.” In an interview with The Intercept, Patti Goldman, managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Northwest regional office in Seattle, WA, stated that, “It’s outrageous that the new EPA administrator would reject the scientific findings of its own agency and defy the law and court orders to keep this nasty pesticide on the market.” In its most recent analysis of chlorpyrifos, EPA determined that children between one and two years of age […]

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31
Mar

EPA Reverses Course and Allows Continued Use of Highly Neurotoxic Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2017) On Wednesday, Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), rejected the conclusions of EPA scientists, and independent scientific literature, and reversed a tentative decision from 2015 to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos due to the chemical’s neurotoxic impacts. This would have effectively banned chlorpyrifos from agriculture. This decision stemmed from a petition and lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)  ten years ago, calling for EPA to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances and cancel all registrations. A Federal Appeals court mandated that EPA take final action by March 31, 2017. Mr. Pruitt’s decision leaves the door open for continued neurotoxic dangers for humans, especially children, who have been shown to be especially vulnerable to chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos is part of the organophosphate (OPs) class of pesticides, which were used in World War II as nerve agents. As potent neurotoxicants, organophosphates are extremely harmful to the nervous system, given that they are cholinesterase inhibitors and bind irreversibly to the active site of an enzyme essential for normal nerve impulse transmission. The scientific evidence of neurotoxic dangers associated with chlorpyrifos exposure is extensive and consistent. Epidemiological data also […]

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13
Mar

Native Bees Heading for Extinction

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2017) Nearly 1 in 4 species of native bee is imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction. This, according to a new report from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), released earlier this month. The report is the first comprehensive review of the more than 4,000 native bee species in North America and Hawaii, and finds that more than half the species assessed are declining. With native bee decline increasing, advocates say it is imperative that action be taken to reduce toxic pesticide use and restore native habitats lost to chemical-intensive agriculture, urbanization, and climate change. The new analysis, Pollinators in Peril: A systematic status review of North American and Hawaiian native bees, reveals that more than 700 species are in trouble from a range of serious threats, including severe habitat loss and escalating  pesticide use. Key findings include: (1) among native bee species with sufficient data to assess (1,437), more than half (749) are declining; (2) nearly 1 in 4 (347 native bee species) is imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction; (3) many of the bee species lacking sufficient data are also likely declining or at risk of extinction, highlighting the urgent need for additional […]

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16
Feb

Trump Administration Sued on Reversal of Endangered Species Designation for Rusty Patched Bumblebee

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2017) On Tuesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the Trump administration for reversing a February 10 rule, published in the Federal Register, that designated the Rusty Patched Bumblebee an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The reversal  of the endangered species listing establishes a new review period until March 21. As to their reasoning for such a sudden change, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) cited the White House memo instructing federal agencies to postpone the effective date of any regulations that had been published in the Federal Register, but not yet in effect. As discussed several days ago, the order by the Trump administration means that despite FWS’ determination that without federal action the species will likely become endangered, the Trump administration has 60 days to evaluate the decision for the purpose of “reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy.” The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, argues that FWS violated the notice and comment requirements of public rulemaking for the delay on the bumblebee listing. In the lawsuit, NRDC states that, “Without valid explanation, opportunity for public input, or other legally required process, FWS […]

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15
Feb

Lawsuit Charges that Monsanto and EPA Colluded to Stop Agency from Reaching Cancer Finding for Glyphosate (Roundup)

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2017) Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Monsanto, charging that its product Roundup caused their non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL), have cited the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) collusion with the company to block the agency from concluding that the manufacturer’s product Roundup causes cancer, according to investigative reporter Carey Gilliam, writing in the Huffington Post. The filing states that EPA made an effort “to protect Monsanto’s interests and unfairly aid the agrichemical industry.”Glyphosate has been linked to cancer  in the independent scientific literature and is listed as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Issues of suppression have also been uncovered, as Monsanto’s lawyers have filed claims to prevent information  turned over to plaintiffs’ lawyers during discovery from inclusion on the public record. This is just the latest development in a variety of lawsuits aimed at Monsanto, including a challenge by a peach farmer over the illegal spraying of the herbicide Dicamba and the recent victory by the state of California to list glyphosate products as cancer causing. In the current case, a multitude of personal injury claims made by those suffering from, or that have lost loved ones to, NHL have been condensed into […]

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27
Oct

New Jersey Lawmakers Reintroduce Safe Playing Fields Act

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2016) Lawmakers in the New Jersey House and Senate introduced bills this legislative session to stop the use of toxic lawn care pesticides on children’s playing fields. The Safe Playing Fields Act, introduced by Representatives Daniel Benson (D) and Holly Schepisi (R) in the New Jersey Assembly and Senator Shirley Turner (D) in the Senate will  eliminate the use of toxic registered pesticides on school grounds in favor of “low impact pesticides” considered minimum risk by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is the latest legislative push to pass this Act after attempts in 2011 and 2012. The bill is modeled on similar efforts that have been successfully implemented in the states of New York and Connecticut. Connecticut first passed An Act Concerning Pesticides at Schools and Day Care Facilities in 2005, which restricted toxic pesticide use on elementary school grounds in the state. The act has been amended multiple times. First in 2007, An Act Banning Pesticide Use on School Grounds extended prohibitions to students in schools up to grade 8. In 2009, Connecticut’s law was amended again to extend pesticide protections to day care centers. Last year, the state passed another update, this time […]

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19
Oct

Reckitt Benckiser, Manufacturer of d-Con, Issues Apology for Disinfectant Deaths in South Korea

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2016) Reckitt Benckiser, the company that fought tooth and nail to keep its highly toxic d-CON ® anticoagulant rodenticides on the market in the U.S., has recently issued an apology for another product of theirs that  is responsible for the deaths of pregnant women and children in Korea: humidifier disinfectants. According to The Wall Street Journal, 189 deaths and 506 injuries from humidifier disinfectants, primarily Reckitt Benckiser’s humidifier disinfectant, Oxy Sac Sac (Oxy). The main ingredient in the sanitizers found to be toxic is polyhexamethylene guanidine phosphate, or PHMG. In a statement on Wednesday, September 21, Reckitt Benckiser CEO Rakesh Kapoor offered his “deepest sympathy” for “the pain and the irreparable damage suffered by many families.” The apology was made during a visit with Oxy victims and  families, as well as representatives of the Korean National Assembly Special Committee at the Company’s headquarters in Slough, UK. Hazards associated with the humidifier disinfectants were first discovered in 2011 when seven pregnant women were hospitalized with acute respiratory disease, resulting in four deaths from  lung failure. Korean Center for Disease Control (KCDC) led an investigation that found that the chemicals used to clean humidifiers were to blame, and […]

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17
Oct

EPA Review Keeps Bee-Toxic Pesticide Sulfoxaflor on the Market with Limited Restrictions

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed its plan last Friday to register the toxic chemical sulfoxaflor, in the face of  overwhelming evidence that it negatively affects bee populations. This decision is the final result of a long-fought legal battle over the chemical’s registration, spearheaded by beekeepers and public health organizations concerned with what has been identified as EPA’s inadequate and flawed pesticide review processes. The agency claims that amendments made to the original registration, such as reducing the number  of crops for which use is permitted or only allowing post-bloom applications, will protect pollinators. However, scientific studies have shown that there is no way to fully limit exposure to bees, especially native species that exist naturally in the environment, given that the chemical, being systemic, is found in pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets. Given the evidence of harm related to sulfoxaflor’s use, as well as its demonstrated lack of need, advocates maintain that the agency’s decision to issue an amended registration violates its  duty to protect human health and the environment. Sulfoxaflor’s initial 2013 registration was challenged by beekeepers and subsequently vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals due to overwhelming risks to […]

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27
Sep

EPA Fines Syngenta $1.2 Million for Multiple Safety Violations under Settlement

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2016)  Multinational pesticide manufacturer Syngenta Crop Protection was handed a  $1.2 million fine last week for multiple violations of federal pesticide law, according a settlement reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA charged Syngenta with three major violations of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), including: (1) Failure to have repackaging agreement and/or maintain records on registered pesticides; (2) Distributing misbranded pesticides, and; (3) Failure to maintain data submitted for pesticide registration. However, under the consent agreement reached with EPA, the company neither admits nor denies the allegations. The settlement comes at a time of increased scrutiny of Syngenta, as the company is in the process of reregistering the herbicide atrazine, and Chinese National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) continues its attempts to complete a $43 billion merger. While the plan appears to have cleared U.S. regulatory hurdles, European lawmakers have yet to sign off on the deal. “The repackaging, sale and distribution of unregistered and misbranded pesticides is illegal and puts people and the environment at risk. Users rely on accurate, up-to-date information about ingredients, directions for use, hazards and safety precautions,” said Anne Heard, Acting Regional Administrator for the Southeast in an […]

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26
Aug

Judge Orders Release of Terminix Documents in Methyl Bromide Poisoning of Family

(Beyond Pesticides, August 26, 2016) Virgin Islands Superior Court Judge, Harold Willocks denied a request made by Terminix to stop a subpoena for Terminix documents in the methyl bromide poisoning case  issued  by Attorney General Claude Earl Walker, according to The Virgin Islands Consortium. The paper reported that the subpoena ordered the pest control company to provide documents and information relating to an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ). This follows two settlement agreements made by Terminix; one to pay $10 million to DOJ and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, and another to pay $87 million to the Esmond family, poisoned by the misuse of a neurotoxic pesticide fumigant, methyl bromide, when they vacationed in the Virgin Islands in the spring of 2015. According to the Virgin Islands Consortium, DOJ launched  another investigation into Terminix after the Esmonds were poisoned to determine if there had been a violation of the Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (CICO). Attorney General Walker issued the original subpoena on April 28, requesting that Terminix surrender all information related to the purchase, use and import of methyl bromide obtained within the past three years. […]

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03
Aug

Terminix To Pay Delaware Family $87 Million Settlement for Poisoning with Methyl Bromide in U.S. Virgin Islands

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2016) Home pest control giant Terminix reached a tentative settlement agreement this week of $87 million with  the  Esmond family for the severe poisoning of the mother, father and two teenage children with the highly neurotoxic pesticide fumigant  methyl bromide.  The company treated  a neighboring unit  to  their vacation residence  last spring  at a  condo resort complex in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. This amount is in addition to $3 million already paid to the family to cover the insurance deductible, and an undisclosed amount that the company’s insurance carriers have agreed to pay pursuant to their general liability insurance policies, according to an earnings report filed by the Terminix’s parent company, ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. of Memphis, Tennessee. Stephen Esmond became paralyzed after the March 2015 incident, while his two sons spent weeks in critical condition. The mother,  Theresa Devine is still recovering. Beyond Pesticides’ executive director, Jay Feldman, spoke to CBS Evening News August 2 on the poisoning. Watch news piece  here.   Methyl bromide is a restricted use pesticide and is not registered for residential use, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2013 Methyl Bromide Preliminary Workplan. It was taken off […]

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25
Jul

Oregon Prohibits 14 Horticultural Products Used in Marijuana Production, Not Labeled as Containing Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides July 25, 2016) The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) last week issued 12 notices of statewide detainment and stop sale and removal orders for horticultural pesticide products that contain active ingredients not listed on the label. The orders call for the product manufacturers to immediately cease all sales, offers of sale, or other distribution in Oregon. This is the latest effort by a state with a legalized marijuana market to try to  curb the use of illegal pesticides in cannabis production, a practice that poses potential health threats to consumers, creating a regulatory challenge for state officials in states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal and or recreational purposes. Because the U.S. government classifies cannabis as a narcotic, the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) does not register pesticide products for use in its production, leaving consumers exposed to hazardous pesticides through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption without any evaluation of potential health effects. The products in question are commonly used in horticulture and hydroponics, including cannabis production. The 12 notices cover 14 products sold in Oregon that were also identified by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in late June as containing undeclared pesticide active ingredients. In an […]

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13
Jul

California to List Atrazine and Other Triazine Weedkillers to Prop 65 as Reproductive Toxicants

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2016) California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has announced that atrazine, its chemical cousins,  propazine,  simazine,  and its break down triazine compounds des-ethyl atrazine (DEA),  des-isopropyl atrazine (DIA)  and  2,4-diamino-6-chloro-s-triazine (DACT)  would be added to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity for purposes of the state’s Proposition 65. The formal listing has been delayed and will not be effective until July 15, 2016 due to litigation from the manufacturer, Syngenta, which opposes the listing. In 2014 the state announced its Notice of Intent to list the triazines: atrazine, propazine, simazine and their breakdown products under Proposition 65 — the state’s law on toxic chemicals. The listing of these chemicals was initially to be effective on August 3, 2015. However, Syngenta, manufacturer of atrazine, challenged the listing decision, leading to a delay in the formal decision. Syngenta Crop Protection v OEHHA  (Sacramento Superior Court case#34-2014-800001868). Syngenta’s challenge was unsuccessful and now the official listing can move forward, in spite of Syngenta’s pending appeal. The six chemicals will now be known as reproductive toxicants in the state of California effective July 15, 2016. See listing notice. http://oehha.ca.gov/media/downloads/crnr/listingnoticetriazines070516.pdf Proposition 65, officially […]

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22
Jun

Federal Court Finds USDA Process for Allowing Pesticide-Contaminated Compost Improper and Stops Use

(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2016) In a ruling that organic advocates say is critical to the integrity of the USDA organic label, a U.S. District Court judge found Monday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated public process when it decreed that pesticide-contaminated compost is allowed in organic production. Three groups that bridge environmental, consumer, and farmer interests sued USDA for ruling that green waste compost, which comes from lawn clippings and plants, may contain levels of the insecticide bifenthrin and other pesticides that have not been approved for use in organic systems through proper public hearing and comment procedures. The case focused principally on whether USDA, in failing to conduct a formal public review, was operating “at its whim.” The court found that is exactly what USDA did and ordered the agency to stop allowing the use of contaminated compost by August 22, 2016. U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the Northern District of California found that USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) operated without the required notice and comment. She explained, “the reach of the Agency’s  new rule stretches beyond bifenthrin and instead allows green waste or green waste compost used in organic production to contain any […]

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13
Jun

Court Says Law Allows Secrecy of Hazardous Pesticide Product Ingredients

(Beyond Pesticides June 13, 2016) A federal judge in California handed down a decision last week agreeing with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) that it has no responsibility under federal pesticide law to complete rulemaking on the disclosure of hazardous ingredients in pesticide products. That means that if the decision stands EPA will be allowed to keep the public in the dark on the full list of toxic ingredients in pesticides registered by the agency. A lawsuit filed by the Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, and Physicians for Social Responsibility argues that EPA fails to protect consumers from “inert” ingredients found in pesticides. U.S. District Judge William Orrick stated in his ruling,“The EPA has no mandatory duty to require disclosure of “inert” ingredients in pesticides, even if those ingredients qualify as hazardous chemicals under separate statutes.” Advocates have said for decades that people and communities cannot make informed decisions on pesticide products without full disclosure of all product ingredients and that the stated proprietary interests of chemical manufacturers is bogus, given the burgeoning market of pesticide products exempt from registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) 25(b) provision, which are required to disclose all ingredients. An […]

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08
Jun

Public Comment Needed to End Atrazine Use after EPA Confirms Threat to Wildlife

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2016) With years of data documenting the harmful impacts of the herbicide atrazine on aquatic organisms and other wildlife, a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessment now concludes that this widely used chemical poses risks to fish, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, and even birds, reptiles and mammals. Atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor with strong associations with birth defects, sex reversal and hermaphroditism in organisms, and whose risk to environmental and human health is exacerbated by pervasive surface, ground and drinking water contamination. Last week, EPA released its triazine ecological risk assessments for atrazine and its chemical cousins simazine, and propazine. The assessments evaluated risks to animals and plants including, amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plant communities, and terrestrial plants.  EPA is currently in the registration review process for these chemicals. For atrazine, EPA concludes, “aquatic plant communities are impacted in many areas where atrazine use is heaviest, and there is potential chronic risks to fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrate in these same locations. In the terrestrial environment, there are risk concerns for mammals, birds, reptiles, plants and plant communities across the country for many of the atrazine uses.” Levels of concerns were […]

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06
Jun

EPA Judge Rejects Bayer’s Challenge to Keep Flubendiamide on Market after Agency Pulls Conditional Registration

(Beyond Pesticides, June 6, 2016) Bayer CropScience’s appeal of the cancellation of their toxic pesticide flubendiamide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was rejected by EPA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Susan Biro on Thursday, June 1. Judge Biro dismissed the complaints, saying that the agency was acting within its authority when it pulled its approval for the pesticide earlier this year after the two manufacturers, Bayer CropScience and Nichino America, failed to meet the terms laid out in a 2008 conditional registration. A startling number of pesticides, nearly 65% of the more than 16,000 pesticides now on the market, were first approved by the process of “conditional registration,” a loophole in which EPA allows new pesticides on the market without the full range of legally mandated toxicity tests for a full registration. Meanwhile, the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency finalized its  decision to discontinue granting new conditional registrations, also on June 1. In 2008, EPA granted Bayer a “conditional” registration for flubendiamide, a classification that allows a new pesticide to be registered and used in the field, despite outstanding data points on its toxicological impact. In this case, original data submitted to EPA by Bayer showed concern over […]

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04
May

Organic Consumers Association Sues to Keep Synthetics Out of Organic Infant Formula

(Beyond Pesticides May 3, 2016) Last week, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) filed lawsuits against two popular infant formula makers for falsely labeling their products as organic. The claims against both The Honest Co. and Hain Celestial Group allege that their products contain ingredients that are prohibited under the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 as well as non-organic and non-agricultural ingredients. The lawsuit against The Honest Company alleges the product contains 11 synthetic ingredients that are not allowed by federal law in organic products, including sodium selenite and taurine. In the court documents, OCA also claims that some of the ingredients have not been “assessed as safe for human foods — much less for infant formulas.” “No one is more concerned about food labels and ingredients than new mothers responsible for feeding infants whose immune systems and brain development are so underdeveloped and vulnerable. As consumers, these mothers must rely on truthful labeling in order to make the best choices for feeding their infants and toddlers. Our job as a consumer advocacy group is to call out and hold accountable companies like The Honest Co. and Hain Celestial when they knowingly and intentionally mislead consumers,” said OCA International […]

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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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31
Mar

Terminix To Pay $10 Million Criminal Fine for Poisoning Family in Virgin Islands

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2016) On Tuesday, Terminix International LP and its U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) operation agreed to a $10 million plea agreement after being  charged by the U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  in U.S. District Court with multiple violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for “illegally applying fumigants containing methyl bromide in multiple residential locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands.” This decision by Terminix to pay criminal fines comes just one year after a Delaware family of four was poisoned with the neurotoxic pesticide at a resort in St. John, resulting in hospitalization and serious injury. The agreement, which is still subject to District Court approval, requires Terminix USVI to pay $6 million in fines and restitution to EPA for response and clean-up costs, and Terminix LP to pay $3 million in fines and fund a $1 million community service project, and a probation period of three years. In addition, Terminix LP is also responsible for resolving past and future medical expenses for the family through separate civil proceedings. Last March, a family from Delaware was vacationing at a  luxury condo in the U.S. Virgin Islands when they were exposed to […]

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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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