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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'State/Local' Category


25
Oct

Farmers Challenge Oregon County’s Ban on Aerial Pesticide Spraying Adopted by Ballot Initiative

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2017) Oregon is the most recent site of an effort by a locality to establish more-protective pesticide regulations than are provided by the state. Voters in Lincoln County, on the north-central Oregon Coast, approved a ballot measure earlier this year that established a ban on aerial spraying of pesticides in the county. Immediately, county landowners Rex Capri and Wakefield Farms, LLC, both of whom use aerial spraying on their properties, filed a legal challenge to the ordinance created through that vote. The issue is whether the state of Oregon has the legal authority to stop its local political subdivisions from adopting more rigorous than those enacted by the state. When the state of Maine considered legislation to preempt its local jurisdictions (take away their authority to act) this summer, Beyond Pesticides wrote, “The democratic process is foundational to the culture of Maine and the country. LD 1505 betrays the democratic process. Maine communities want to be able to adopt standards that exceed or are more stringent than state standards as a matter of public health and environmental protection, or quality of life. Why would a town or city want to do use its local authority to adopt […]

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02
Oct

Schoolchildren Lead the Charge Against Roundup and Other Toxic Pesticides in New York City Parks

(Beyond Pesticides, October 2, 2017) Elementary school students at New York City’s PS 290 are taking a stand against toxic pesticide use in New York City parks, supporting Intro 800, a bill introduced by Manhattan Councilmember Ben Kallos. “We’re going to make a great big fuss,” the children in Mrs. Paula Rogivin’s kindergarten class chanted in a skit performed in front of the NYC Committee on Health this week. Since New York City (NYC) passed Local Law 37, Pesticide Use by City Agencies, in 2005 to stop toxic pesticide use on City owned and leased land, it turns out that some pesticides known to be hazardous were not captured by the law. As a result, the proposed legislation is intended to strengthen restrictions to ensure more comprehensive restrictions that limit pesticides to biological pesticides. Local Law 37 restricts the use of acutely toxic and carcinogenic pesticides as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and developmental toxicants as defined by the state of California under Prop 65. Exemptions allowing the use of these pesticides are granted based on a waiver review process that requires evidence that the chemicals are necessary to protect public health. Otherwise, City agencies are encouraged […]

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22
Sep

Washoe Tribal Council Brings Goats to Its Rangeland to Manage Invasive Weeds

(Beyond Pesticides in Gardnerville, Nevada, September 22, 2017) For the second year, the Washoe Tribe has brought a 450 head herd of goats to its tribal land to manage weeds on its rangeland at the Stewart Ranch. The program, led by the Washoe Tribal Environmental Protection Department (WEPD), is being conducted with the Washington, DC-based organization Beyond Pesticides and Goat Green LLC., a goat grazing company based in Wyoming. “We are goal oriented and want to heal all components of this living system including diversity in desired plants, recycling of all nutrients, water retention in the soil to prevent erosion and decrease runoff to the river.  The goat herd is a living tool and we work with deep respect for the land, water, animals and culture of the Washoe people,” says Lani Malmberg, co-owner of Goat Green, LLC. The program is being launched as a pilot, an alternative to using herbicides for managing invasive weeds, including Perennial Pepperweed, Hoary Cress, Canada Thistle, Russian Knapweed and others.  Goat grazing has been demonstrated to be an effective tool because the herd eats unwanted vegetation then cycles nutrients back into the soil, thus fertilizing.  Goats get a drink and deliver water to dry sites […]

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18
Sep

Action: Tell California To Ban Chlorpyrifos, a Dangerous Developmental Poison!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2017) Ask California to ban the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos that’s on the food we eat from California –since the administrator of EPA refused to take the action agency scientists said is necessary to protect children. Tell California to ban chlorpyrifos! In view of EPA’s retraction of its proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of the highly neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos, despite its own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is especially important that California take action to ban the chemical. California, the home of the largest agriculture industry in the country, used over 1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos on over a million acres in 2012. EPA’s assessment is also support for the classification of chlorpyrifos as a developmental toxicant, an issue being considered on a parallel track by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which oversees the “Prop 65” list. EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. […]

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13
Sep

Monarch Butterflies at Risk of Extinction; Pesticides, Habitat Loss to Blame

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2017) According to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation, Monarch butterfly populations from western North America have declined far more dramatically than was previously known and face a greater risk of extinction – 86 percent in the next 50 years. The researchers do not know the exact cause but identify habitat loss and widespread pesticide use as likely culprits. Migratory monarchs in the west could disappear in the next few decades if steps are not taken to recover the population, the study’s lead author, Cheryl Schultz, PhD, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver states. “Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts. In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000,” she said. Western monarchs (Danaus plexippus) have a spectacular migration. They overwinter in forested groves along coastal California, then lay their eggs on milkweed and drink nectar from flowers in the spring in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah. They then return to their coastal overwintering sites in the fall. Eastern monarch, whose numbers are also in decline, travel instead across the border into Mexico to wait out the winter. The researchers from […]

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31
Aug

Birth Abnormalities Linked to Pesticide Exposures

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2017) Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara report in a new study that exposure to pesticides as a result of living near agricultural areas increases the risk of giving birth to a baby with abnormalities. These results are more significant for those exposed to very high levels of pesticides, underscoring the continued risks faced by farmworkers and farmworker families, especially mothers living near chemically-intensive treated fields. The study, “Agricultural pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes in the San Joaquin Valley of California,” looked at individual birth and demographic characteristics for over 500,000 birth observations between 1997 and 2011 in the agriculturally dominated San Joaquin Valley, California. The researchers, who report their findings as, “the most comprehensive to date, bringing together the largest data file ever compiled on street-address level birth outcomes and fine scale exposure to agricultural pesticides,” analyzed residential agricultural pesticide exposure during gestation, by trimester, and by toxicity influences on birth outcomes: birth weight, gestational length, or birth abnormalities. Adverse birth outcomes increased by 5–9% among those exposed to very high quantities of pesticides (e.g., top 5th percentile, i.e., ~4,200 kg per square mile applied over gestation). According to the results, “ The magnitude of effects were further enlarged […]

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29
Aug

Neurotoxic Pesticide Detected in Air at High Levels in California County

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2017) Air monitoring in Kern County, California, finds levels of the highly neurotoxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, in excess of the levels of concern established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for pregnant women. Chlorpyrifos is linked to low IQs, autism and other developmental neurological effects. Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt refused to ban chlorpyrifos to the dismay of many scientists, medical professionals, and farmworker organizations. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) released its 2016 air monitoring data where it was revealed that chlorpyrifos air concentrations for a one-month period at the air monitoring site on the campus of Shafter High School in Kern County was 39.4 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) – more than 18 times higher than EPA’s level of concern for pregnant women (2.1 ng/m3).  Shafter High School is some distance from fields in an area where chlorpyrifos use is not as high as in other parts of Kern County or elsewhere in California. More than 1.1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos was used in California in 2015, and more than a quarter of that is used in Kern County. High chlorpyrifos levels at a school means that children and unsuspecting teachers and […]

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23
Aug

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Expansion of Aquaculture Industry that Decimates Marine Life

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2017) The Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with an expansion of industrial shellfish aquaculture on the Washington state coast without any water quality or marine life protections from pesticide use and habitat loss. This is just the latest in efforts to protect sensitive coastal areas in Washington from shellfish farming that is contributing to increased pesticide use and environmental degradation. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington earlier this month, challenges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issuance of a nationwide permit (NWP 48), which, according to the suit, “greenlights a massive expansion of shellfish aquaculture with entirely inadequate protections.” The Corps has a duty to protect public water from adverse impacts, but potential environmental impacts have not properly assessed or considered, the suit claims, in violation of the Corps’ environmental protection mission. The lawsuit argues that the Corps, when it approved the Washington state permit, violated numerous environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedure Act. According to CFS, the permit issued will allow shellfish aquaculture acreage […]

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04
Aug

Court Overturns Montgomery County, MD Pesticide Restrictions, Groups Say Decision Defies Local Authority to Protect Health

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2017) A Circuit Court for the state of Maryland  on Thursday struck down key components of the landmark Healthy Lawns Act pesticide ordinance passed in Montgomery County, Maryland in 2015. The court’s decision, issued by Judge Terrence McGann, eliminates pesticide use restrictions on private property, but does not touch provisions limiting toxic pesticides used on public, county owned land. Grassroots advocates who supported passage of the Healthy Lawns Act to protect children, families and the environment are dismayed by the court’s ruling, but nevertheless vow to keep up the fight for protections from hazardous pesticides used in their community. “The court should have recognized that, in restricting lawn pesticides throughout its jurisdiction, Montgomery County is exercising a local democratic principle under Maryland and federal law to ensure the safety of the community, including children, pets, and the environment, from a known hazard not adequately regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the state,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “After extensive hearings and study, the county council understands that toxic chemicals are dangerous and not needed to have beautiful lawns and landscapes,” Mr. Feldman said. By passing the Healthy Lawns Act, the Montgomery […]

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11
Jul

Doctor in South Florida Sues to Block Hazardous Mosquito Spray

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2017) South Florida resident Michael Hall, M.D., filed an emergency request in federal court last week to block Miami-Dade County’s continued use of the organophosphate insecticide naled to control mosquito populations. There have been two rounds of aerial naled applications in Miami-Dade this year. Widespread use of the chemical in efforts to control the transmission of Zika last year prompted protests from residents complaining of health effects from the spraying, and calls to focus on less toxic, alternative methods of mosquito breeding prevention and control. The present use of naled in Miami-Dade is not focused on Zika control, but addressing the native salt marsh mosquito, which does not transmit human diseases, but can be a significant nuisance in shoreline areas. According to WLRN, officials are no longer using naled for Zika control as the mosquito species that carries it, Aedes aegypti, usually stays well hidden under vegetation and shrubbery. A study released last year confirmed that the county’s use of naled did little to reduce mosquito populations. “Naled, a potent organophosphate adulticide applied aerially, produced a transitory suppression in Wynwood but lost efficacy after two or three applications. In Miami Beach, aerial application of naled produced […]

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10
Jul

California Lists Glyphosate as a Carcinogen but Controversy Remains

(Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2017) The state of California has listed glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular Roundup, as a known carcinogen under its Proposition 65 law. This listing went into effect July 7, 2017. Now, state officials have to develop guidelines for product labels and determine what level of exposure to the pesticide will put people at risk for developing cancer. Some have argued that the state’s proposed levels are not protective enough. Meanwhile, the state continues to face pressure from Monsanto, maker of glyphosate, which continues to challenge the decision to list the chemical as a known cancer-causing agent. California’s decision to list glyphosate as a carcinogen was prompted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) finding in 2015 that it is a “probable” human carcinogen. This classification was based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Later that year, California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced that it intended to list glyphosate as a cancer-causing chemical under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65).  Under California law, Proposition 65 requires that certain substances identified by IARC be listed as known cancer-causing chemicals. Glyphosate’s listing became effective […]

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06
Jul

Washington Oyster Growers Request Approval to Apply Neonicotinoid in Aquatic Environments

(Beyond Pesticides, July 6, 2017) The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) is evaluating a new permit application for the use of imidacloprid, a toxic neonicotinoid, to combat a growing native population of burrowing shrimp that threatens oyster beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor in Washington state. The application was recently submitted to Ecology by a group of oyster farmers from the Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association (WGHOGA), who “propose to use the pesticide to treat tide lands to support their aquaculture practices.” Imidacloprid is known to be toxic to bees and aquatic organisms, raising questions on the impacts of its use on the long-term ecological health of the bays. In April 2015, much to the dismay of activists and concerned local residents, Ecology approved a permit submitted by oyster farmers for the use of imidacloprid to combat burrowing shrimp in these aquatic ecosystems. But with a nationwide public outcry, the permit was withdrawn in May 2015. The recent request that was submitted differs in several ways from this 2015 permit, including: The new permit proposes treating 485 acres in Willapa Bay and 15 acres in Grays Harbor, compared to 2,000 acres combined from both water bodies in the 2015 permit. The oyster farmers […]

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28
Jun

Manslaughter Charges Filed by State AG Against Officials for Flint, MI Water Poisoning

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2017) In a move that could portend broader action in the case of environmental crimes, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed charges of involuntary manslaughter against five state officials in a death resulting from Flint’s water crisis. While most criminal charges resulting from environmental mishaps and disasters are filed against corporations or their CEOs, one law review article notes, “Prosecutors have become aggressive in seeking out responsible parties. The net of criminal liability is no longer limited to those directly involved in causing the disaster, but may now extend to those involved in the response, as well as officials whose derelictions in office helped create the risk.” In announcing the charges, the Attorney General stated, “All defendants charged with involuntary manslaughter are charged in relation to the death of Robert Skidmore, 85, of Mt. Morris, Michigan. Skidmore died of Legionnaires’ disease after many others had been diagnosed with the illness, yet no public outbreak notice had been issued. The charges allege failure to notify and lack of action to stop the outbreak allowed the disease to continue its spread through Flint’s water system.” Involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and/or a $7,500 […]

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23
Jun

Portland, Maine City Council Urged to Stop Hazardous Lawn Pesticide Use and Go Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2017) In a packed hearing room, the Portland, Maine City Council Sustainability and Transportation Committee heard community members testify in support of an ordinance to restrict pesticides on playing fields, parks, and private lawns for nearly three hours on Wednesday night. The hearing focused on a draft pesticide policy that was recently released by the Pesticide and Fertilizer Task Force, set up by Mayor Ethan Strimling. A range of community members testified, including doctors, parents, organic land managers, an organic products retailer, and public health advocates. Beyond Pesticides’ executive director, Jay Feldman, was at the hearing to support the adoption of ordinance language similar to that adopted by neighbor city South Portland in September 2016. In reaction to the Task Force proposal, which advances an undefined integrated pest management (IPM) approach that allows the use of “least toxic” pesticides, Mr. Feldman testified, “An ordinance requires specificity if it is to accomplish the goals that the community embraces –safe playing fields, parks, playgrounds, and a community that does not allow the poisoning of soil, air, and water.” The lack of specificity in the draft contrasts with the South Portland ordinance, which adopts a list of allowed materials and envisions […]

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15
Jun

Aerial Mosquito Spraying Linked to Elevated Autism Rates

(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2017) Communities exposed to frequent aerial spraying for mosquito control experience elevated rates of autism diagnoses, according to new research. The study identifies the frequent use of synthetic pyrethroid insecticides, which are linked to neurocognitive and behavioral impacts, among other health effects. Pediatric researchers at Penn State University and the University of California examined communities in eight zip codes in Onondaga County, New York with frequent aerial spray programs for mosquito control, and contrasted these findings with communities in 16 zip codes that do not employ similar pesticide use programs. According to the study, between 2007 and 2009, the average yearly pesticide burden across the eight aerial exposed zip codes was approximately 11,000 kilograms, compared to approximately 4,000 kilograms of pesticide exposure across the 16 control zip codes. The study finds that the zip codes with frequent aerial pyrethroid exposure are 37% more likely to have higher rates of childhood developmental delays and autism spectrum disorder. The researchers acknowledge that the study establishes a correlational, not a causal, link between pyrethroid exposure and autism/developmental disorders, it adds to a growing body of research demonstrating an exposure-effect relationship between the two. Other studies have similarly linked developmental disorders and autism […]

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14
Jun

Agricultural Herbicide Use Threatens Oak Trees

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2017)  Oak trees in Iowa may be the latest victim of widespread chemical-intensive agriculture, according reports in the Des Moines Register. The newspaper indicates that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has received roughly one thousand calls this spring from residents concerned about the state of their oak trees. Leaves are ‘tattered’ down to the vein, in an appearance one would first think was related to pest damage, according to the newspaper article. However, foresters with IDNR indicate the cause is likely the use of chloroacetanillide herbicides, which are applied throughout the state and region. Advocates say that this situation contributes to mounting environmental problems associated with chemical-intensive food production that support the need for the adoption of non-toxic weed management strategies. Past research has found associations between the use of chloroacetanillide herbicides, such as acetochlor and metolachlor, and oak leaf tatter syndrome. State officials indicate that the increase in resident complaints is likely related to a colder March, which may have retarded leaf development. By the time leaves began unfurling in early spring, herbicide use was at its height, leading to high ambient concentrations of the chemicals in the atmosphere, according to IDNR officials […]

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12
Jun

Crops Damaged by Drift Widespread from Herbicide Dicamba Applied to GE Plants

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2017) Once again, there are reports that soybean and cotton fields are being damaged by off-site drift of the toxic herbicide dicamba. Last summer, farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee reported widespread crop damage from dicamba drift, which led to reduced yields. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a criminal investigation at several Missouri locations into what they said was the illegal spraying of dicamba in October 2016. This year, reports of dicamba drift and damage are already being reported in Arkansas, and 25 formal complaints have already been filed, according to the state Plant Board. In summer 2016, illegal applications of dicamba damaged thousands of acres of soybeans, cotton, ornamental trees and fruits and vegetables. After numerous complaints, EPA launched a criminal investigation into the illegal spraying of dicamba, an investigation that is still ongoing. Many suspect that farmers who planted Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® and XTENDFLEX® Cotton, the new dicamba-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) seeds in the region, when faced with a proliferation of pigweed, illegally sprayed dicamba across their fields leading to drift and off-site crop damage to other farmers. This year, although it is too early to say how many acres have been affected or what specific […]

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25
May

Maui County Kicks Off Pesticide-Free Pilot Program to Transition to Organic Management

(Beyond Pesticides, May 25, 2017) Four parks in Maui, Hawaii, have kicked off a year-long pesticide-free pilot program to transition to organic management. A series of training events in the county over the past few weeks focused on soil-based approaches to land management, a more effective solution than solely switching from synthetic to organic pesticides. Last Wednesday, Beyond Pesticides’ executive director, Jay Feldman, and Chip Osborne, president of Osborne Organics, taught training sessions with county Parks and Recreation staff, “discussing lawn care that relies less on outside products and aims to feed the soil, not just the plant.” Beyond Pesticides worked to support the pesticide-free parks movement in Maui by sponsoring these training sessions for Maui County Parks, Department of Transportation, Maui public schools, several local resorts, and golf course management groups. Beyond Pesticides is working with Maui County to provide guidance on transitioning its parks to organic practices. Analysis of soil samples at each site has been conducted, which will provide a baseline to implement cultural changes to improve the biological health of the soil, making it more resistant to weed and insect pressures. The next step includes creation of a report and action plan for each county park by Beyond Pesticides and Osborne […]

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24
May

DuPont Worker Sues Company for Retaliation Over Pesticide Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2017) A Hawai’i woman is suing her former employer, DuPont Pioneer, stating that the company retaliated against her for bringing up concerns over pesticide safety. Shanbnell Grilho, who worked for DuPont Pioneer on Oahu’s North Shore, alleges the company required her to apply hazardous herbicides without the proper training or protection, and ultimately fired her after fabricating allegations against her. This lawsuit is the latest claim against multinational pesticide companies operating in Hawai’i, which have been at the center of local and state-level disputes over their use of toxic pesticides where Hawai’i residents live, work, and play. In her complaint, Ms. Grilho indicates that she began working at DuPont Pioneer as a temporary employee, during which time she was awarded a raise and named DuPont Pioneer employee of the month. At the time she did not have to apply pesticides. However soon after her award, she was hired as a full time employee and required to work with Roundup, Liberty, and Honcho herbicides, which contain the active ingredients glyphosate, glufosinate, and glyphosate, respectively.  “DuPont Pioneer required plaintiff to apply herbicides and biocides while wearing a backpack sprayer, driving an ATV while applying herbicides with a backpack […]

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22
May

Maine Committee Votes to Reject Governor LePage’s Pesticide Preemption Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, May 22, 2017) Last week, the Maine Legislature’s Committee on State and Local Government unanimously voted to reject a bill that would have prohibited the right of municipal governments to restrict pesticide use on private property. This victory protects the 27 cities and towns across Maine which are exercising their right to adopt pesticide restrictions that incentivize land management practices supporting healthy environments and allows other communities to follow suit. Opponents of the Governor’s bill successfully argued that its weakening of local control could violate the Maine Constitution. Proponents of the bill included industry trade groups, lawn care companies, and golf courses, who argued that the legislation was necessary to address the growing “patchwork” of local regulations. There is no evidence of this, and on the contrary, there has been a long history of local communities adopting ordinances to respond to matters of public health and welfare. According to the Portland Press Herald, the bill, LD 1505, was a “late introduction on behalf of [Governor] Paul LePage and reportedly mirrored model legislation promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy group that works with state lawmakers.” This group and others aim to suppress or preempt local […]

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09
May

San Juan Capistrano, CA Passes Organic Landscape Policy for City Lands

(Beyond Pesticides, May 9, 2017) Last month, San Juan Capistrano (SJC) became the latest community in Orange County, CA to pass an organic landscaping policy for city parks and open spaces. The city’s move follows the passage of an organic land care policy in nearby Irvine, CA last year, and like Irvine, was brought forward by a strong contingent of local advocates, health practitioners, and city officials working together to safeguard public health and the environment. By a vote of 4-0-1, San Juan Capistrano’s City Council put the community on the cutting edge of local changes to pesticide use that are taking place across the country. SJC’s policy is the result of persistent pressure and engagement by community group Non-Toxic San Juan Capistrano with city officials. A change.org petition hosted by the group, which received over 300 signatures, detailed the discussions and responses the group received from local leaders. At the time the City Council took up the issue at a mid-April meeting, Mayor Kerry Ferguson made a strong statement indicating that, “Chemical pesticides and herbicides have been proven to be toxic to children, pets, and the general public.” Mayor Ferguson further said, “While [chemical pesticide] use is somewhat limited […]

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01
May

Infected Mosquito Trial Launched Against Zika and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2017) The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District released 20,000 male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria near Key West, as a trial strategy to manage mosquitoes that carry Zika and other viruses. The district and others have been exploring new ways to suppress infected Aedes aegypti mosquito populations, which thrive in urban environments and can spread Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya. It is unclear what impacts, if any, these infected mosquitoes will have on non-target organisms or public health. The trial is the second U.S. test conducted with the naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, developed by the Kentucky-based company MosquitoMate. The first test occurred in Clovis, California, last year. In September 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which registers mosquito control products, approved and expanded an experimental use permit (EUP) for Wolbachia pipientis-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (not to be confused with genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes).  According to the agency, Wolbachia are naturally occurring bacteria commonly found in most insect species, but not in the Aedes aegypti. This strain of Wolbachia is extracted from Aedes albopictus embryos and microinjected into Aedes aegypti embryos. Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are shipped to testing sites where they are released and mate with wild-type Aedes aegypti females that do not carry Wolbachia. After mating, the […]

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27
Apr

Groups File Amicus in Support of Montgomery County, MD Pesticide Restrictions

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2017) Nine organizations filed an Amicus brief this week in support of a 2015 landmark Montgomery County, Maryland ordinance that restricts the use of toxic pesticides on public and private land within its jurisdiction. The law, intended to protect children, pets, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards of lawn and landscape pesticide use, is facing a legal challenge filed in November last year by the pesticide industry group Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE). The plaintiffs, which include local chemical lawn care companies and a few individuals, allege that the local ordinance is preempted by state law, despite the fact that Maryland is one of  seven states  that has not explicitly taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state. The law at issue, 52-14 (the Healthy Lawns Act), which restricts the cosmetic lawn care use of toxic pesticides on public and private land, protects over one million people, the largest number to be covered by any local jurisdiction to date. Passing the Montgomery County Council by a vote of 6-3, the bill allows time for transition, training, and a public education program over several years. In limiting the pesticides […]

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