(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2017) A new report released last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of the Inspector General finds that the agency must collect and assess information on chemical mixtures and potential synergistic effects in order to improve oversight over pesticide registrations and management of developing herbicide resistance. Synergy results when the mixture of chemicals creates effects greater than the aggregation of individual effects, leading to underestimated toxic impacts on human and environmental health. EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention states it will consider how best to use synergistic effects data for pesticide registration decisions by 2019. The report, released June 21, 2017, EPA Can Strengthen Its Oversight of Herbicide Resistance With Better Management Controls, is the result of an assessment into EPA’s management and oversight of resistance issues related to herbicide-resistant genetically engineered (GE) crops. The report finds, “EPA uses the pesticide registration process to collect information on human health and environmental risks from pesticides used on herbicide-resistant weeds, but no information is collected regarding synergism.” It states that information on synergy is important because it allows EPA “a greater ability to assess human health and environmental . . .
(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 . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2017) On Tuesday, a lawsuit was filed in a Wisconsin federal court against Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup brand herbicides, and Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, a marketer of Roundup brand products. The complaint, filed by six consumers from states around the country, focuses on the promotion, marketing, and sale of Roundup brand products, rather than physical injury from the pesticide products. The lawsuit alleges that the Monsanto and Scotts label, advertise, and promote their Roundup products with the “false statement that Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, targets an enzyme that is not found ‘in people or pets.’” Plaintiffs assert that this is a false and deceptive claim, as this enzyme is found in the gut bacteria of people and pets and glyphosate can disrupt the health and functioning of their immune system. This suit follows on the heels of and mirrors the lawsuit filed by Beyond Pesticides and Organic Consumers Association in April 2017 against Monsanto for misleading the public by labeling the weedkiller Roundup as “target[ing] an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets.” Monsanto aggressively markets Roundup as safe for humans and animals, despite newer studies indicating that . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2017) More than 200 international scientists and medical professionals have signed the Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban, which states that triclosan and its chemical cousin triclocarban pose a risk to human health, and urges the international community to limit use of these antimicrobials, which are associated with bacterial resistance and no more effective than soap and water. In 2016 after manufacturers failed to prove efficacy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates cosmetic triclosan products, announced that manufacturers must, by September 2017, remove triclosan from over the counter hand soaps. The agency still allows the chemical in toothpastes and other products, such as hand wipes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates triclosan in household items, textiles and plastics, still permits wide use of the chemical in a range of products. The Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban is “based on extensive peer-reviewed research,” and “concludes that triclosan and triclocarban are environmentally persistent endocrine disruptors that bioaccumulate in and are toxic to aquatic and other organisms.” The statement includes evidence of human health threats, and provides recommendations intended to mitigate harm from triclosan, triclocarban, and other similar antimicrobials. The . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 20, 2017) As Pollinator Week 2017 kicks off, the Arkansas State Plant Board’s (ASPB) Pesticide Committee coincidentally voted unanimously to recommend a ban on the use and sale of the habitat-eliminating herbicide dicamba in the state. Motivated by the crop damage caused by dicamba drift on to neighboring cropland, the full ASPB is expected to issue its recommendation today, which, if passed, will be sent to Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) for final approval. The move is the latest in a series of crises that began when multinational chemical company Monsanto began selling soybeans genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate dicamba without its accompanying herbicide, leading to off-label uses of older dicamba products. The growth of herbicide use in genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops is contributing to a loss of habitat for pollinators. Of particular note is the loss of milkweed habitat caused by herbicide drift. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk Management Approach to Identifying Options for Protecting the Monarch Butterfly (June 24, 2015), “Numerous publications have highlighted the importance of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.) as a critical food resource for monarch butterfly larvae (Danaus plexippus L.), and have emphasized the . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2017) Farmworker and health organizations have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following the agency’s announcement last month that it will delay for one year the implementation of a final rule that revised and updated protections for certified pesticide applicators. Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice are co-counsel on the case. The rule, the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule, includes much needed requirements like mandatory age minimums, as well as better training for pesticide applicators to protect workers and the public from poisoning by the most toxic pesticides. First enacted in 1974, the Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule was revised and made final on January 4, 2017, and was scheduled to go into effect March 6, 2017. It outlines regulations regarding the certification of applicators of restricted use pesticides (RUPs)- some of the most hazardous pesticides. The rule ensures that applicators of RUPs get adequate training and establishes a minimum age of 18 for pesticide applicators. It also requires that applicators be able to read and write; increases the frequency of applicator safety training to every year; and improves the quality of information that workers receive about the pesticides that they apply in . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 16, 2017) In recognition of the importance of pollinators to food production during National Pollinator Week, June 19-25, Beyond Pesticides and the Center for Food Safety are teaming up with restaurants in the Nation’s Capital for the second annual “Made by Pollinators” campaign. The campaign will bring awareness to the issue of pollinator decline, which pesticides play a leading role in through lethal and chronic effects on these critical species. Participating restaurants, including Busboys and Poets, Lavagna, Logan Tavern, Restaurant Nora, Tabard Inn, and Vegetable and Butcher, will educate the public on the importance of pollinators by annotating their menus or offering pollinator-inspired specials that contain ingredients reliant on pollinators for production. One out of every three bites of food requires pollination, a fact these environmentally conscious restaurants will share with their patrons during National Pollinator Week 2017. Busboys and Poets remarked that, “Without bees, we wouldn’t be able to serve 99% of our menu. Our participation in Pollinator Week is a small step toward a movement to promote the health of our planet’s ecosystems.” By sourcing a multitude of their ingredients from organic farms, Busboys and Poets does their part to support pollinator health. Lavagna . . .
(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 . . .
(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 . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2017) Prenatal exposure to commonly used mosquito and agricultural insecticides is associated with decreased motor function in infants, according to a study published in Environment International by a team of Chinese and U.S. researchers. The results of the study should give pause to insecticide-heavy efforts to control mosquitoes as the season ramps up this summer and fall. Frequent spraying as part of efforts to control Zika in Southern Florida last year resulted in large protests and calls for a preventive management approach not dependent on toxic chemicals. For the current study, over 350 pregnant Chinese mothers were tested for the presence of organophosphate pesticides in their umbilical cord blood. Researchers looked at exposure to the insecticides naled, methamidophos, trichlorfon, chlorpyrifos, and phorate. After giving birth, their children’s motor function was tested at both six and nine months of age. Tests included an analysis of the infant’s reflexes, locomotion, grasping, stationary and visual-motor integration abilities. Scores were categorized based on gross, fine, and total motor skills, and standardized quotients were created for each of the categories. Of the over 300 mothers, roughly 240 had detectable levels of one of the insecticides . . .
(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 . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2017) Last week, it was revealed that the inspector general for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating potential collusion on glyphosate-related matters between Monsanto and former EPA official, Jess Rowland. In a letter sent to U.S. Representative Ted Lieu, obtained by HuffPost, EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. stated that he has asked the “EPA OIG Office of Investigations to conduct an inquiry into several agency glyphosate review-related matters.” According to Michael Hubbard, a retired Special Agent in Charge for the EPA’s criminal investigations division, in an interview with HuffPost, “Inspectors general have wide-ranging authority to investigate matters of corruption at federal agencies. With confirmation that the IG’s office is taking up a probe, it’s likely that IG investigators will begin interviewing Rowland’s former colleagues and bosses, pulling records and looking through his emails.” In March 2017, Congressman Lieu issued the following statement regarding the released files and questions on glyphosate safety. “Reports suggest that a senior official at the EPA worked to suppress a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review of glyphosate, and may have leaked information to Monsanto. I believe that a Department of . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2017) On Monday, numerous organizations filed an administrative appeal to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seeking to reverse Scott Pruitt’s order to continue allowing the toxic organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos in agriculture, and revoke all tolerances (allowed food residues) of the chemical. On the same day, Attorneys General (AGs) from seven states announced legal objections to Scott Pruitt’s order, also calling for a reversal of the decision and a revocation of all tolerances. Allowing the continued use of chlorpyrifos runs counter to findings of independent science and EPA’s own scientists, which establish unacceptable risks to humans and the environment. The administrative appeal, filed by Earthjustice on behalf of 12 environmental, labor, and civil rights organizations, resulted from the decision by EPA to allow the use of chlorpyrifos while it studies the safety of the chemical. The seven AGs, in their filing, are charging that EPA wrongfully approved the continued use of chlorpyrifos in agriculture without first gathering and assessing the full safety data, as required by the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Many environmental groups spoke out in favor of these filings. “There’s a good reason this dangerous toxin . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 7, 2017) Fruit flies that developed a genetic resistance to the insecticide DDT have lower success at mating than those without similar changes, according to a study published last month in the journal Behavior Genetics. The results were surprising to researchers, given that the resistance developed through changes to a single allele (a variation of a single gene). “It is amazing that even if all the genes are exactly the same, having this one gene expressed at a higher level has all these effects,” said Professor Nina Wedell, PhD, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, UK to Phys.org. The study raises possible concerns about the effect of pesticide exposure to non-target (not the focus of pesticide use) insects that are integral to a healthy ecology and food web. In conducting their investigation, researchers studied the biological fitness costs associated with the development of an insecticide resistance gene. After scientists bred resistant flies in the lab, they set up a series of “competitive mating trials,” comparing both courtship behavior and the impact of size on male fruit flies’ mating success. In general, resistant males . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 6, 2017) Last week, the U .S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to show that its conditional registration of the antimicrobial, nano-silver pesticide product “NSPW-L30SS” (previously “Nanosilva”) is in the public interest and revoked its registration. The case, brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), challenged the approval of the novel nanotechnology which was marketed for use in an unknown number of textiles and plastics. The decision underscores the need for EPA to ensure pesticide products, including nanomaterials, meet the standards of federal pesticide law. According to the Center for Food Safety, the Court’s decision is the first of its kind to address EPA’s responsibilities in issuing conditional registrations of new pesticide products like NSPW-L30SS. In its ruling, the Court ruled that EPA had failed to show that “conditional approval” of NSPW-L30SS as a new pesticide supported a public interest finding by the EPA with substantial evidence. EPA had conditionally registered the controversial pesticide back in 2015. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA can only conditionally register new active . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 5, 2017) Following the recent proposed 10-year extension for the approval of glyphosate use in the European Union (EU), internationally recognized toxicologist Dr. Christopher Portier, Ph.D. has delivered a letter to the European Commission (the Commission), calling the scientific findings of these agencies into question. Dr. Portier is former associate director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and director of NIEHS’ Office of Risk Assessment Research. According to the letter, both the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (EChA) “failed to identify all statistically significant cancer findings in the chronic rodent carcinogenicity studies with glyphosate.” Previously, the Commission, which is in charge of the approval of glyphosate, was forced to issue a limited license extension for the chemical because member states could not reach a consensus. The Commission was holding out for further information on carcinogenicity, which was assessed by the ECHA, and whose report was issued in March 2017. According to ECHA’s most recent assessment, glyphosate is not carcinogenic. Dr. Portier asks that the evaluations by EFSA and EChA be “repeated for all toxicological endpoints and the data underlying these evaluations be publicly released.” . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 2, 2017) According to a new study, levels of triclosan spike in the bodies of children after they brush their teeth or wash their hands. Triclosan, a controversial antimicrobial, is frequently added to consumer care products. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of triclosan in hand soaps, but it is still allowed in toothpaste and numerous plastic and textile products regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many companies had previously decided, due to consumer pressure, to remove triclosan from hand soaps years ahead of the FDA decision. Researchers collected and tested the urine of 389 mothers and their children –three times during pregnancy, and then took between 1-6 samples from children between the ages of 1 and 8 years old. The researchers found triclosan in over 70% of samples taken. In the group of 8 year olds, they report that levels were 66% higher in the children that used hand soap. For those that wash their hands over five times a day, the levels increase more than four times in comparison to children who wash their hands once or less per day. For . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2017) The hawk moth is the pollinator of the month for June. Hawk moth is the common name for Sphingidae, a family of over 1,400 moth species. They are also commonly referred to as sphinx moths. This family is divided into two subfamilies, five tribes, and 205 genera. The voracious tomato hornworms and tobacco hornworms are larvae of two hawk moth species. Range According to a study by the University of Nebraska, hawk moths can be found in all parts of the world except Greenland. Some areas only host these moths for part of the year because many species make seasonal migrations to find reliable food sources and to breed. The study notes that some hawk moth species can even be found in Antarctica and the North Pole. Diet and Pollination The hawk moth drinks nectar from sweet-smelling flowers, many of which bloom at night. Most hawk moth species have a long proboscis. This hollow, tongue-like appendage is used to access nectar deep inside flowers. The family has the longest tongues in the moth and butterfly order. In some species, the proboscis reaches over a foot in length. These . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, May 31, 2017) Neonicotinoid-treated corn seeds produce lethal and sub-lethal exposure risks to honey bees and do not increase yields for farmers, according to a recent study by researchers at Purdue University. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, Planting of neonicotinoid-treated maize poses risks for honey bees and other non-target organisms over a wide area without consistent crop yield benefit, examines neonicotinoid (neonic) dust drift during corn planting in Indiana and the likelihood of honey bee exposure during foraging. The study results and subsequent analysis using public data of apiary locations indicate that over 94% of honey bee foragers in Indiana are at risk of exposure to varied levels of neonics, including lethal levels, during corn sowing. Researchers also performed a three-year field assessment of the purported benefits from neonic seed coatings for pest management, finding that there is no evidence of increased corn yields compared to sites with no neonic seed treatments. According to the lead author of the study, Christian Krupke, Ph.D., in an interview with Purdue Extension, “There was a misconception that any bees not living near corn were likely to be fine. But . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, May 30, 2017) U.S. beekeepers lost an unsustainable 33% of their hives over the past year, according to new data from the Bee Informed Partnership. While this year’s numbers are lower than those recorded last year, which found nearly half of U.S. honey bee colonies died off, there is no cause for celebration. Declines are still well above acceptable loss rates of 15% or less, and the data indicate a continuing trend of substantial losses during the summer months. Without real changes to U.S. policy that effectively eliminate pollinator exposure to highly toxic and persistent pesticides such as neonicotinoids, there is little likelihood that these unsustainable losses will subside. Despite the overall dour projections for U.S. pollinators, Bayer, the major manufacturer of neonicotinoid pesticides implicated in pollinator declines, attempts to spin the news in its favor. Last week, the company put out a press release titled “Welcome News for Honey Bees,” and went on the praise itself for its efforts to protect pollinators. The chemical industry continues to use public relations tactics, in a similar vein to those previously employed by the tobacco industry, to downplay the nature of the crisis, . . .