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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Litigation' Category


29
Jan

Court Rejects EPA’s Bid to Revoke Use of Dow’s 2,4-D/Glyphosate (Enlist Duo) Pesticide in GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, January 29, 2016) This week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed a victory to Dow Chemical Company and its  efforts to keep the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo on the market, despite new safety concerns identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Enlist Duo has been marketed as a “solution” for the control of glyphosate-resistant weeds in genetically engineered (GE) crops, brought on by the  widespread use of Monsanto’s  Roundup  on glyphosate-tolerant (Roundup Ready) crops over the last decade. EPA asked the court at the end of November, 2015 to vacate its 2014 approval of Enlist Duo based on new information on the  toxic effects associated with the synergistic interactions of  the chemical cocktail of 2,4-D, glyphosate, and other undisclosed ingredients in the product to plants outside the treated area, including endangered plants. The three-sentence order, which does not include  the judge’s reasoning, denied EPA’s request. While considering other legal options, EPA can choose  to exercise it administrative powers by  canceling specific uses or the entire  registration of Enlist Duo under  its pesticide cancellation process, and within that process could choose to identify an imminent hazard and remove the pesticide from the market immediately, while it faces […]

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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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25
Jan

Monsanto Sues to Keep Glyphosate off California List of Carcinogens

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2016) Monsanto filed a lawsuit in California last week seeking to prevent glyphosate, the main ingredient in its Roundup herbicide, from being added to California’s  list of known carcinogens under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Glyphosate is  classified  as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for the Research of Cancer (IARC) based on sufficient  evidence  of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. This is the highest level carcinogen based on laboratory animal studies  under  IARC’s rating system. California law requires the state to keep a list of cancer-causing chemicals to inform residents of their risks. California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) said in September that it planned to add glyphosate to the list after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified it as a probable human carcinogen last March. Monsanto has disputed the assessment, citing decades of studies deeming glyphosate safe, including a 2007 study by OEHHA that concluded the chemical was unlikely to cause cancer. The agrochemical company said it filed the suit against the state’s OEHHA, citing the agency’s acting director, Lauren Zeise, in California state court, […]

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22
Jan

Oregon, Colorado Move Forward in Regulating Pesticides on Marijuana

(Beyond Pesticides January 22, 2016) Last week, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) released a list of pesticide products available for use on marijuana cultivated within the state. The list, which contains 257 pesticide products, aligns with similar product lists published by Washington State and Colorado, and raises the same concerns over the allowance of products that violate the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and have not been subject to health evaluations of public exposure to the pesticides used. Those concerns were on full display last week in Colorado, when the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) held a public meeting to discuss amendments to its Pesticide Applicators’ Act that would allow growers to use pesticides that violate FIFRA. Additionally, in an attempt to address consumers’ concerns over the issue of unregulated pesticides in marijuana, two lawmakers in Colorado introduced a bill that would establish a program for certifying marijuana as “pesticide free” within the state. Oregon Releases List of Approved Pesticides for Cannabis Growers Like Colorado and Washington, the Oregon list construes broad label language to allow the use of pesticide products that have not been specifically tested for use on marijuana, despite the fact that the Environmental […]

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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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08
Jan

EPA Must Assess the Indiscriminate Pollinator Poisoning Caused by Neonicotinoids Imparted to Plants from Seeds, Lawsuit Charges

(Beyond Pesticides January 8, 2016) This week the Center for Food Safety, on behalf of several beekeepers, farmers and sustainable agriculture and conservation groups, filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday  charging  the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a  failure to adequately regulate neonicotinoid insecticide seed coatings used on dozens of crops throughout the U.S. The suit alleges that EPA has illegally allowed millions of pounds of coated seeds to be planted annually on more than 150 million acres  nationwide, constituting a direct violation of the registration requirements established by  the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Absent adequate assessment of the serious ongoing environmental harms associated with coated seed use, as well as failure to require the registration of coated seeds and enforceable labels on seeds bags, this lawsuit demands immediate action to protect beekeepers, farmers and consumers from the harms associated with neonicotinoid coated seeds. Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affects the central nervous system of insects, resulting in disorientation, paralysis and death. Neonicotinoid pesticides are tied to  recent pollinator declines by an ever-growing body of science. Just this week EPA released a preliminary honey bee risk […]

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05
Jan

Federal Judge Permits USDA Whistleblower Case to Proceed

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2016) An administrative court judge has agreed to hear a case filed by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pollinator researcher who says his  firing by the agency  was retaliation for his  cutting edge research  linking neonicotinoid insecticides to declinining monarch butterfly populations, which  has drawn  national attention and international recognition. Late last year, Judge Patricia M. Miller of the Merit Systems Protection Board denied USDA’s request to dismiss a claim filed  by Johnathan Lundgren, PhD, a USDA employee for eleven years with high accolades. In April of last year, Dr. Lundgren published a study in The Science of Nature (pdf) that shows that clothianidin, a neonicotinoid insecticide  often used to coat seeds, kills monarch butterfly larvae in the laboratory. On August 3, 2015, USDA imposed a 14-day suspension against Dr. Lundgren for submitting the study and for a paperwork error in his travel authorization for his invited presentation about his research to a panel of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as to a USDA stakeholder group, the Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance. The suspension was cut to 14 days from 30 after Dr. Lundgren filed an appeal. In October 2015, Dr. Lundgren, respresented by Public […]

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16
Dec

Congressional Funding Available to Expand Organic Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, December 16, 2015)  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced  the availability of  funding to support  initiatives aimed at  improving organic agriculture. The funding, in the form of grants  totaling  $17.6 million,  is to support research and outreach activities to help organic growers, producers and processors find innovative ways to  advance  organic agriculture. Organic agriculture has grown tremendously over the last decade to a $35 billion dollar industry  to become  the fastest growing sector of agriculture. Agriculture Secretary  Tom Vilsack made  the announcement  last week that  the grants,  made available  through the”¯Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative”¯(OREI) —a program that is administered by USDA’s National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, will aid farmers and ranchers with whole farm planning by delivering  “practical  research-based information and will improve the ability of growers to develop  organic system plans”  as required for certification under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA).  Applications are due March 10, 2016. Please see the”¯request for applications”¯for specific program requirements. “Over the past six years, USDA has strengthened programs that support organic producers as they grow, thrive and respond to increasing consumer demand for organic products,” said  Secretary […]

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07
Dec

International Case To Be Brought Against Monsanto for Health and Environmental Crimes

(Beyond Pesticides, December 07, 2015) Monsanto will be put on trial for crimes against nature, humanity, and ecocide in The Hague, Netherlands, home to the United Nation’s International Court of Justice. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI), and Millions Against Monsanto, joined by dozens of global food, farming and environmental justice groups announced late last week that they will put the U.S.-based transnational corporation on trial next year on World Food Day, October 16, 2016. The announcement was made at a press conference held in conjunction with the COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, November 30 — December 11, in Paris. Monsanto is the producer of Roundup, a widely-used herbicide that contains the active ingredient glyphosate, a chemical that was recently classified as a cancer-causing agent based on laboratory studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO). The corporation has developed and produced many other toxic chemicals, including: Lasso, an herbicide that is now banned in Europe; PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), one of the 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) that affect human and animal fertility; and 2,4,5 T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid), a dioxin-containing […]

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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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06
Nov

NY State Senator Calls For Statewide Triclosan Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2015) New York State Senator Tim Kennedy (D-NY) has called for a statewide ban on triclosan, one of the most prevalent antibacterial compounds found in common household products. Minnesota is the only state to have passed a triclosan  ban. If passed, the New York Bill (Bill S6070) would prohibit the sale of cleaning products containing triclosan, triclocarban, or derivatives of similar antibacterial compounds, and mark a clear victory for human health and safety interests within the state. Triclosan has been used for over 30 years in the U.S., mostly in a medical setting, but more recently in consumer products. Beyond Pesticides has generated extensive documentation  of the potential human and environmental health effects of triclosan and its cousin triclocarban, called on manufacturers to stop using triclosan in its products and retailers to stop carrying these products, and previously petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the cancellation of registered products that contain the antibacterial pesticide. In May 2015, EPA issued its long-awaited response to the Citizen Petition filed by Beyond Pesticides and Food & Water Watch, denying the request. When introduced to the market in 1972, triclosan was confined to hospital and health care settings. Since […]

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04
Nov

California Study Links Glyphosate Use and Environmental Injustice

(Beyond Pesticides November 4, 2015) On Monday, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Environmental Health, El Quinto Sol de America, Californians for Pesticide Reform, the Center for Food Safety and the Pesticide Action Network released a report with findings that that more than half of the commercial glyphosate sprayed in California is applied in the state’s eight most impoverished counties. Glyphosate is a phosphanoglycine herbicide that inhibits an enzyme essential to plant growth.  Commonly known as Roundup, glyphosate is classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for the Research of Cancer (IARC), based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals, and is currently under review to receive a similar designation from the state under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). The report,  Lost in the Mist:  How Glyphosate Use Disproportionately Threatens California’s Most Impoverished Counties, found that 54 percent of glyphosate spraying in California is applied in eight counties, many of which are located in the southern part of the Central Valley. The analysis finds that the populations in these counties are predominantly Hispanic or Latino, indicating that glyphosate use in California is distributed unequally along […]

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03
Nov

EPA Takes Long-Awaited Action to Eliminate Neurotoxic Chlorpyrifos in Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to revoke all food tolerances for the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos (also known as Dursban), a neurotoxic pesticide produced by Dow AgroSciences that poses particular risks to children and farmworkers. If EPA’s rule is finalized, chlorpyrifos would be effectively eliminated from use in agriculture 15 years after consumer uses were discontinued. However, other non-food uses, including golf courses, turf, green house and mosquito control are not affected by this decision and will remain. EPA’s proposed rule came on the day of a court-ordered deadline from the U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Ninth Circuit, M. Margaret McKeown. In August of this year, Judge McKeown ordered EPA to respond to a petition filed by Pesticide Action Network North America and the Natural Resources Defense Council nearly nine years ago. The lawsuit called on the agency to ban all uses of the insecticide in light of scientific evidence and public comments ignored by the agency after its cumulative risk assessment for organophosphate insecticides. In 2012, EPA imposed “no-spray” buffer zones around public spaces, including recreational areas, schools, and homes to reduce bystander exposure risks. Earlier this year, the agency […]

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30
Oct

Inspector General Finds EPA Pesticide Petition Process Plagued by Delays

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2015) The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Program (OPP) needs policies and procedures to manage pesticide petitions in a transparent and efficient manner, according to new report  that  highlights inadequacies in the way the agency responds to petitioners. The report, published by EPA’s Office of Inspector General, an independent office within EPA that investigates agency compliance with laws governing its programs, concludes that the lack of transparency and efficiency “leaves petitioners unaware of petition status, which can result in unreasonable delay lawsuits costing the agency time and resources.” While the public has the right to submit pesticide petitions to EPA and the agency is required to respond to these petitions “within a reasonable time,” there are no set requirements for what constitutes a specific time frame. However, petitioners can file a lawsuit claiming unreasonable delay if the petitioner finds that EPA has not responded within what the petitioner considers a reasonable amount of time. Of the 40 public petitions received by OPP from Fiscal Year 2005 through 2014, nearly a quarter of them are  associated with unreasonable delay lawsuits. The specific issues contributing to these delays involve: Petition documentation not being readily accessible; Some […]

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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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28
Oct

Lawsuit Seeks to Stop Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticide Sulfoxaflor in EU

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2015) On the heels of a recent federal court decision that rejected the U.S. registration of sulfoxaflor, which cited inadequate and flawed review of the science on the chemical’s toxicity to bees, European beekeepers filed complaint that that asks the European Court of Justice to take the same action. The complaint  asks the court to cancel sulfoxaflor’s authorization. Sulfoxaflor is a neonicotinoid-like chemical that, like neonicotinoids, is highly toxic to bees. Three of the most widely used neonicotinoids are currently under a two-year European-wide moratorium which began December 2013, due to concerns about risks to bee populations. European beekeepers, Bee Life European Beekeeping Coordination, the Italian National Beekeeping Union (UNAAPI), and PAN Europe, filed the complaint which cites a published  negative opinion on Dow AgroScience’s sulfoxaflor by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). According to EFSA, the pesticide is categorized as ”˜highly toxic to bees’ and it identified crucial toxicity data gaps, which according to the beekeepers, makes a proper risk assessment for bees impossible. Despite these facts, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG Sante) and the EU member states authorized sulfoxaflor in July 2015, completely bypassing the pesticide regulation, the complaint […]

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27
Oct

Lawsuit Challenges EPA on Toxic Herbicide Cocktail for GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2015) Late Friday,  a coalition of public health, conservation and food safety groups filed their opening brief in the ongoing legal challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of the herbicide Enlist Duo for use on genetically engineered corn and soybeans. Enlist Duo, a blend of glyphosate and 2,4-D, was approved on October 15 for use on genetically engineered (GE) crops, despite concerns for human and environmental contamination. The challenge was originally brought in November 2014, shortly after the EPA approved the controversial herbicide for 6 Midwest states. Since then, EPA has expanded its approval to a total of 15 states, with more expected. Counsel from the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice are jointly representing Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, CFS, the Environmental Working Group, the National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America. “The Enlist Duo approval violated the laws protecting our communities, land, and farms,” said George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety senior attorney, counsel in the case. “Regulators bowed to the chemical industry, but we are committed to holding them accountable.” The groups argue that in its approval of Enlist Duo, a combination of the herbicides […]

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19
Oct

Monsanto Faces Lawsuits on Cancer Linked to Roundup

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2015) Monsanto, the major producer of Roundup (glyphosate), has found itself in hot water recently, as personal injury lawsuits pile up over the link between glyphosate exposure and non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). Personal injury law firms around the U.S. have found a multitude of plaintiffs and are preparing for what could be a “mass tort” action against Monsanto for knowingly misinforming the public and farmworkers about the dangers of the chemical. The latest lawsuit was filed October 14 in Delaware Superior Court by three law firms representing three plaintiffs. One plaintiff in the Delaware lawsuit, Joselin Barrera, 24, a child of migrant farmworkers, relates  her non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) to glyphosate exposure. Elias de la Garza, a former migrant farm worker and landscaper diagnosed with NHL, has a similar claim. These follow other lawsuits filed last month in New York and California that  accuse Monsanto of knowing that glyphosate was hazardous to human health. Monsanto “led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup was safe,” the lawsuit states. Glyphosate is touted as a “low toxicity” chemical and “safer” than other chemicals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry […]

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08
Oct

Colorado Consumers Sue Over Illegal Pesticides in Marijuana

(Beyond Pesticides October 8, 2015) Colorado’s largest pot grower, LivWell Inc., was sued over illegal pesticide use in a law suit filed Monday in Denver District Court. Two marijuana users, one of whom suffers from a brain tumor and holds a medical card to use the product, allege that the grower used a potentially dangerous pesticide in the production of marijuana they later purchased. The suit asks for an undisclosed amount of damages and also claims that an implied promise to consumers was breached when LivWell sold high-grade and medical-grade marijuana treated with unapproved pesticides to consumers. The main pesticide at issue in this case is myclobutanil  or Eagle 20, which is the same product that led to tens thousands of plants being  quarantined last spring after testing positive for the  fungicide during a routine inspection by the Denver Department of Environmental Health. Growers claim that without the fungicide their plants are endangered. The 40-page lawsuit claims that myclobutanil, when heated, breaks down to “poisonous hydrogen cyanide” and alleges that consumers who smoke marijuana treated with Eagle 20 ingest the gas.” While neither plaintiff alleges they were sickened from ingesting the marijuana they purchased at LivWell, both claim they would […]

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24
Sep

Bayer Fined $5.6 Million for 2008 Factory Explosion

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2015) Seven years after an explosion that killed two factory workers in Institute, West Virginia, Bayer CropScience is facing federal fines. Bayer is the manufacturer of neonicotinoid pesticides that are linked to severe decline in pollinator populations. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $5.6 million settlement with Bayer to resolve the 2008 violation of federal chemical  accident prevention laws. As a result, Bayer must commit to spending $4.23 million to improve emergency preparedness and institute response  measures to protect the Kanawha River, pay a $975,000 penalty, and spend approximately $452,000 to implement a series of reforms to improve safety at chemical storage facilities across the United States. On August 28, 2008, a pesticide waste tank exploded inside the Bayer plant, instantly killing one worker and sending another to the hospital where he would eventually die. Although Bayer officials assure the public that the explosion was secure and released no chemicals, residents living near the plant complained of air pollution exposure and related illnesses. The tank contained waste products from thiodicarb, including methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), hexane, methomyl, and dimethyl disulfide, all of which are acutely toxic […]

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14
Sep

Court Rejects USDA Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit on Organic Rule Change

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2015) On Thursday September 10, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in a bench ruling, rejected the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)  motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit (Case3:15-cv-01690) that challenges the National Organic Program’s (NOP) failure to follow proper legal procedures  in making a substantial rule change to the organic standard. This court ruling allows the case to move forward  on the  proper procedure and the importance of formal notice and public comment regarding  the rules for organic food production. The lawsuit, filed earlier this year by the Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), challenges the contaminated compost guidance  released by USDA, which weakens the long- standing prohibition of synthetic pesticide contaminants. Prior to the new contaminated compost guidance, organic regulations expressly prohibited fertilizers and compost from containing any synthetic substances not included on organic’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. Plaintiffs allege that the USDA’s decision weakens the integrity of organic food production, not only by creating inconsistent organic production standards but also by undermining the essential public participation function of organic policy making under the Administrative Procedure […]

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11
Sep

Federal Court Overturns EPA Approval of New Bee-Killing Insecticide Sulfoxaflor

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2015) On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unequivocally rejected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) unconditional registration of the systemic and bee-toxic pesticide sulfoxaflor. The Court concluded that EPA violated federal law and its own regulations when it approved sulfoxaflor without reliable studies regarding the impact that the insecticide would have on honey bee colonies. The Court vacated EPA’s unconditional registration of the chemical, meaning that sulfoxaflor may no longer be used in the U.S. However, while the decision is good news for now, it still leaves the door open for sulfoxaflor’s future use once EPA obtains the necessary information regarding impacts to honey bees and re-approves the insecticide in accordance with law. The case is Pollinator Stewardship Council, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Bee Advisory Board, American Beekeeping Federation, Thomas Smith, Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson v. U.S. EPA (9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals,  No. 13-7234). Dow AgroSciences (a Dow Chemical company)  joined  the case as an intervenor to support EPA. EPA initially proposed to conditionally register sulfoxaflor and requested additional studies to address gaps in the data regarding the pesticide’s effects on bees. A few months later, however, EPA unconditionally registered […]

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