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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'National Politics' Category


17
Dec

Records Show Suspended Oregon Pesticide Spray Company Continues Operations

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2015) On September 25, Applebee Aviation’s license to spray pesticides commercially was suspended for one year, after an employee complained of chemical exposure and violated worker protection rights. After Applebee Aviation’s one-year suspension was issued, it  continued to operate and illegally sprayed at least 16 sites, according to reports.  Two of those sites were public parks, 71 acres in total, overseen by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). A series of back-and-forth communications between the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Applebee Aviation has resulted in a restraining order, $180,000 in fines, a five-year license revocation, and over 800 acres of state and private land illegally sprayed. According to recent investigations, ODF knew about the license revocation before Applebee Aviation illegally sprayed state forests. In April 2015, Applebee Aviation employee Darryl Ivy, a truck driver, spent 17 days on a spray crew in Oregon timber country. During that time, he and his crew were routinely exposed to aerial sprays. Mr. Ivy took shelter in his truck while a “milky chemical mixture” rained overhead and stained his vehicle. In the emergency room, Mr. Ivy’s urine showed elevated levels of the herbicide atrazine, a known endocrine disruptor. He suffered […]

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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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04
Dec

Home Depot Announces Phase Out of Bee-Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2015) Home Depot, the world’s largest home-improvement chain, has announced that it will no longer use  neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides (which have emerged as the leading class of pesticides responsible for bee declines) in  80 percent of its flowering plants, and that it will complete its phase-out in plants by 2018. This follows the announcement made by Lowe’s earlier this year to phase out the sale of products containing neonicotinoid pesticides within 48 months. On its Eco Options gardening page, Home Depot says the following: “Our live goods suppliers have reduced the number of plants that they treat with neonicotinoids, so that now over 80% of our flowering plants are not treated HomeDepotWinBPwith neonicotinoids. We will continue this decrease unless,  1) it is required by state or federal regulation, or  2) undisputed science proves that the use of neonicotinoids on our live goods does not have a lethal or sub lethal effect on pollinators. Otherwise we will have a complete phase-out of neonicotinoid use on our live goods by the end of 2018.” “It’s important that retailers begin to make the switch toward safer products for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects,” said Jay Feldman, executive director […]

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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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30
Nov

Studies Add to Mounting Evidence of Neonic Dangers

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2015) Last week, two studies were published that link neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticide exposure to detrimental effects in bees and butterflies. The first study, published in the international scientific journal Nature, found that bumblebees exposed to neonics suffered pollination services impairment that reduces their delivery to apple crops. The second study, published in the United Kingdom journal Peer J, used over 1,000 sites cataloged from 1984 to 2012 in the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) database to point to the strong association between neonic use and butterfly population decline. These studies contribute to the mounting evidence that neonic insecticides are linked to pollinator decline. Neonics have increasingly been the subject of recent studies that highlight a causal relationship between neonic exposure  and harmful effects to pollinators, like foraging and reproductive complications. These effects are being identified by scientists all over the world, gradually negating industry criticism of study design. Andre Gilburn, PhD, and ecologist at the University of Stirling, led the butterfly study. He said, “Our study not only identifies a worrying link between the use of neonicotinoids and declines in butterflies, but also suggests that the strength of their impact on many species could be huge.” […]

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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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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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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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26
Oct

Major Popcorn Supplier to Eliminate Neonic Treated Seeds

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2015) Last week, Pop Weaver, the second largest popcorn supplier in the country, released an official statement on its commitment to “removing 50 percent of its neonicotinoid usage in 2016, 75 percent in 2017, with a long-term commitment of further reducing usage by working with agricultural universities and those companies supplying neonicotinoids to the seed industry.” Widely-used neonicotinoids (neonics), which as systemic chemicals move through a plant’s vascular system and express poison through pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets, have been identified in multiple  peer-reviewed studies  and by beekeepers  as the major contributing factor in bee decline. This commitment is a response to a campaign led by Center for Food Safety (CFS), which asked citizens to sign a petition asking Pop Weaver, and other large popcorn suppliers, to protect bees and other pollinators by phasing out the use of neonicotinoid-coated corn seed. Over 37,000 people have signed their petition. Americans eat, on average, 17.3 billion quarts of popcorn each year; each American eats about 68 quarts. According to CFS, there are roughly 40 insecticides currently registered for use as an active chemical on popcorn, including 3 bee-toxic neonicotinoid chemicals: clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid. Between  79 and 100 […]

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23
Oct

Fresh Produce Tainted With Illegal Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2015) Tests on produce collected by California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) for 2014 show high levels of  illegal toxic pesticide residues. The CDPR report found 1 percent of produce containing an excess amount of pesticide residues, and an additional 5.5 percent of produce tested contained illegal residues of pesticides that are not allowed for use on that product. Additionally, the data shows residues of a banned  chemical, which was taken off the market  over 20 years in the U.S. due to health concerns related to farmworker exposure. These findings showcase issues related to  system-wide failure in  enforcement. Advocates stress that violations may continue to occur due to inadequacies in regulations governing enforcement authorities, which include warnings or low fines for violators. In raising concerns about the safety of food grown with chemical-intensive methods, advocates point to the need to expand the transition to organic agriculture for better protection of public health and safety. The highest percentage of illegal pesticides was found on cactus pads and cactus fruit imported from Mexico. Some of the other tainted fruit and vegetables include limes, papaya, summer squash, tomatillos, chili peppers, and tomatoes, also from Mexico, ginger imported from China, […]

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22
Oct

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

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

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21
Oct

Industry Celebrates 25 Years of Undermining Public Health

(Beyond Pesticides, October 21, 2015) Last week, Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE), an umbrella group representing pesticide manufacturers, celebrated its 25th year anniversary, touting its efforts to roll back critical protections from pesticide use in the U.S. The group emphasizes its role in quashing local government’s right to restrict pesticide use within its jurisdiction  after the Supreme Court, in Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Ralph Mortier (1991), upheld local  authority under federal pesticide law. RISE, formed out of the National Agricultural Chemicals Association to fight government regulation at the federal, state, and local level, launched with a  plan to defeat those opposing pesticide use in favor of sustainable practices, including concerned mothers, progressive businesses, and local and national health and environmental advocates. The platform  RISE articulates  showcases its plans to influence regulators and consumers to allow the widespread and less restricted use of pesticides. In the 1990’s, RISE joined with another industry group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), to seek the adoption in state legislatures across the country pesticide preemption laws, which were adopted in over 40  states. These laws prevent local governments from adopting  their own restrictions governing pesticide use  on private property. At one point, the […]

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13
Oct

Majority of EU Countries Opt-Out of Approved GE Crops

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

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09
Oct

EPA Seeks Public Opinion on Continued Use of Neurotoxic Organophosphate Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 9, 2015) Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released preliminary human health and ecological risk assessments for seven organophosphate pesticides (OPs) and announced the public open comment period for those chemicals. These risk assessments come as a result of the required periodic registration review, as required by  the Federal Insecticide, Fungicides, and Rodenticide Act. In general, OPs are highly toxic and many have been voluntarily removed from the market, considerably restricted, or denied reregistration. Unfortunately, EPA continues to rely on risk mitigation for individual OPs instead of phasing them out altogether. Seven OPs ­ ­—dimethoate, dictrotophos, chloyrophos-methyl, tribufos, terbufos, profenofors, and ethoprop—are among the first wave of chemicals whose preliminary risk assessments have been completed under the registration review program. Each of these was found by EPA to inhibit the enzyme acetylcholine esterase (AchE), which ultimately leads to neurotoxic  central nervous system effects. This information is not new, however. In 2012, University College London found long-term low-level exposure to OPs produces lasting damage to neurological and cognitive functions. In 2013, at least 25 children died after eating school lunches contaminated by OPs. One OP in particular, chlorpyrifos, chlorpyrifos (Dursban), is currently under petition for the same […]

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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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07
Oct

Maryland County Bans Cosmetic Lawn Pesticides on All Land in County, One Million People Protected

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2015) The largest county in the country to act to ban pesticides will forbid toxic pesticides on public and private land within its jurisdiction, based on legislation passed yesterday by a 6-3 vote. The ban, an historic public health measure, will protect one million people in a county outside Washington, DC, as it allows time for transition, training, and a public education program over the next several years. The amended bill was enacted with the support of Council President George Leventhal (the lead sponsor of the original bill), Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Nancy Navarro, Hans Riemer and Council Vice President Nancy Floreen, who voted in favor. Maryland is one of seven states that has not taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state. One of the cities within the county, Takoma Park, passed a similar ordinance back in 2013. The Town of Ogunquit, Maine  adopted a similar ordinance by ballot initiative in November, 2014. “Today’s action is another step in the ongoing effort to make Montgomery County the healthiest, safest county in the country,” said Council President Leventhal. “Countless studies have linked pesticides to a wide range of health […]

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06
Oct

Maryland County Bans Cosmetic Lawn Pesticides on All Land in County, One Million People Affected

(Breaking News, October 6, 2015, Washington, DC) The largest county in the country to act to ban pesticides will forbid toxic pesticides on public and private land within its jurisdiction, based on legislation passed today by a 6-3 vote. The ban, an historic public health measure, will protect one million people in a county outside Washington DC, as it allows time for transition, training, and a public education program over the next several years. Maryland is one of seven states that has not taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state. The Montgomery County Parks Department has fought against the bill, suggesting that fields cannot be managed with organic practices. Extensive testimony on alternatives has educated council members on the viability of organic practices. There is movement across the country to adopt ordinances that stop pesticide use on public property and, where allowed, private property. Pesticides when used move off the target site through drift and runoff, exposing non-target sites and people. The legislation passed today is a major victory for public health and environmental protection. While the chemical lawn care industry strenuously opposed the bill, in testimony before the Council an industry spokesman […]

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06
Oct

Reproductive Health Experts Call for Action on Toxic Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2015) Last week, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) released a statement encouraging broad-based policy measures that prevent exposure to toxic environmental chemicals. “The global health and economic burden related to toxic environmental chemicals is in excess of millions of deaths and billions of dollars every year,” the report unequivocally states. FIGO’s statement follows a similar call to action from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2013 and the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012. The piece lays out broad themes surrounding exposure to toxic chemicals, including issues of environmental justice, prenatal exposure and subsequent health effects, and overall global health and economic burden. Based on these impacts, several recommendations are submitted for obstetricians, gynecologists, midwives, women’s health nurse practitioners, nurses, and other health professionals to follow to achieve a goal of “prevention for all.” FIGO highlights how people of low-income, particularly in poverty-stricken countries, bare a higher burden of toxic exposure than richer nations. “[A]t every stage of development, the consequences of exposure to toxic chemicals —including morbidity and mortality, loss of family income and productivity, and environmental degradation— are disproportionately borne by people with low incomes,” the piece states. FIGO […]

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25
Sep

Study Finds No Benefit to Bee-Toxic Neonic Use

(Beyond Pesticides, September 25, 2015) Neonicotinoid-treated seeds do not reduce crop damage from pests, adding to a growing body of evidence questioning the benefits of using these bee-toxic insecticides, according to a study  published in the journal BioOne. Widely-used neonicotinoids (neonics), which as systemic chemicals move through a plant’s vascular system and express poison through pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets, have been identified in multiple  peer-reviewed studies and by beekeepers  as the major contributing factor in bee decline. The study,  titled Impact of Western Bean Cutworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Infestation and Insecticide Treatments on Damage and Marketable Yield of Michigan Dry Beans, examines the relationship between western bean cutworm infestation and damage in dry beans, and the use of seeds treated with the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, as well as soil treated with aldicarb, another systemic insecticide. Researchers have concluded that neither thiamethoxam nor aldicarb reduced cutworm damage. In fact, plots treated with these insecticides had a higher percentage of defects due to feeding by pests when compared to untreated plots, which researchers believed is  attributable to factors such as fewer natural enemies. There have been additional reports and studies published over the past few years questioning the benefits of neonic use. In […]

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16
Sep

Despite Evidence of Harm and Lack of Need, USDA Supports Unrestricted Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2015) In a letter posted to the federal docket, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that it is opposed to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent proposal to restrict pesticides highly toxic to bees on sites where managed bees are present, saying the measure “has not established the need for such a prohibition.” In its position, USDA  cites economic impacts to farmers and lack of a cost/benefit analysis. USDA’s critique of EPA’s proposal contrasts with a decision handed down last week by a federal court that ruled EPA should not ignore risk concerns for bees and rejected the registration of a pesticide known to be highly toxic to bees, highlighting a lack of collaboration and understanding between federal agencies in advancing  pollinator protection. USDA communicated its challenge to EPA despite the growing body of science on the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides and findings in Europe that their restriction does not undermine crop productivity. Last May,  EPA announced a new proposal  to temporarily prohibit foliar applications of pesticides that are acutely toxic to bees during plant bloom and when managed bees are on site and under contract. The proposal received a mixed response, with many from […]

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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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