(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2017) Campbell Soup Co. announced that it will leave the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) by the end of the year over concerns that the trade association no longer represents its views concerning labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food. Campbell’s President and CEO Denise Morrison said that while the company does not question the safety of GE food, it recognizes that most consumers want to see GE ingredients on the label. Meanwhile, Campbell’s has supported the GMA digital disclosure and lists ingredients that “may be derived from crops grown from genetically engineered seeds” on its website. The move by Campbell Soup comes as USDA is pondering possible disclosure options under the “compromise” bill on labeling genetically engineered food passed last year by the U.S. Congress. The company says, “While this legislation offers a range of disclosure options for manufacturers, we will introduce an on-pack statement as we know that’s what the overwhelming majority of Americans support. We’re working on language that provides specific ingredient information and supports the science that GMOs are safe.” A number of other companies have also announced their intention to label GE ingredients, while similarly maintaining their safety. USDA’s Agricultural . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2017) With the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in dozens of states, the question of pesticide use in commercial cannabis production and resulting residues in a range of products is a burning issue. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) injected itself into this question when last week it issued a notice of intent to disapprove the planned registration of four pesticides for cannabis production by the state of California. Given cannabis’ narcotic status by the federal government, EPA does not register pesticides for use in marijuana production. However, states and previously EPA have considered using a Special Local Needs (SLN) permit under the nation’s pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (Section 24c), to allow this unregistered pesticide use to meet an “existing or imminent pest problem.” While reports suggest that EPA’s rejection is likely politically motivated based on the current administrator’s opposition to cannabis legalization in general, the agency’s determination is consistent with Beyond Pesticides’ letters to states and EPA, which encourage the burgeoning industry to root itself in organic production, without the use of toxic pesticides. “The cannabis industry has the opportunity to develop with organic soil . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 24, 2017) A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) is recommending to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a strategy to evaluate the evidence of adverse human health effects from low doses of exposure to chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system. NAS believes that EPA’s current process, which utilizes traditional toxicity testing, would miss some effects that occur at doses lower then what EPA evaluates. EPA’s Endocrine Disruption Screening Program (EDSP) is currently screening chemicals for their potential to interact with the endocrine system, but the program is years behind schedule and has been criticized for using outdated methods. Endocrine disruptors are substances that can cause a variation in normal hormone function. Even small alterations in hormone concentrations, particularly during embryonic development and developmental phases of life, can have lasting and significant effects. Mounting science is showing that disruptions to the hormone system can occur at very low doses that according to NAS, are lower than those used in traditional toxicity testing by EPA. This means that some effects may be missed. EPA’s methodologies have been criticized over the years for failing to adequately capture . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2017) A March 2017 review of studies on the agricultural use of glyphosate (the active ingredient in “Roundup” and other formulated herbicides) points to widespread persistence in soils subject to long-term, intensive glyphosate use, and myriad resulting concerns about impacts on soil and environmental health. The review, by Robert J. Kremer, PhD, of the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources, cites concerns that include: reduction of nutrient availability for plants and organisms; disruption to organism diversity, especially in the areas around plant roots; reductions of beneficial soil bacteria; increases in plant root pathogens; disturbed earthworm activity; reduced nitrogen fixing at plant roots; and compromised growth and reproduction in some soil and aquatic organisms. Globally, glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide compound: in 2017, worldwide use is estimated to be approximately 1.35 million metric tons. Use in the U.S. has risen dramatically — from 2.72–3.62 million kg in 1987 to approximately 108 million kg in 2014, and 15-fold since 1996, when genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced. Use has grown for a number of reasons, including more-intensive use as resistance to the herbicide grows. Researchers have found that, . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2017) In its recently released 2017 Preliminary Aquatic Risk Assessment for Imidacloprid, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that this neonicotinoid insecticide is not only toxic to bees but also, is destroying life in the nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes. This assessment finds that aquatic invertebrates, especially aquatic insects basic to aquatic food chains, are sensitive to imidacloprid, and that current imidacloprid levels detected in streams, rivers, lakes, and drainage canals exceed acute and chronic toxicity endpoints. Impacts occur at low concentrations, and can result in decreased species abundance, altered predator-prey relationships, and reduced nutrient cycling. Impacts to other wildlife that depend on these species raise serious cause for concern. Comment by July 24 and tell EPA to cancel these neonicotinoids to protect sensitive species and ecosystems. See sample comment language, below. Clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran are too toxic for honey bees and native bees EPA also finds that the other neonicotinoids –clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran– pose risks to bees both on and around treated fields, but the agency has not evaluated risks from soil, surface water, or contaminated seed dust, which underestimates exposure risks and continues to put our native bees at . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2017) Research connects a healthy environment to overall public health, linking diseases to pesticide caused disruption of ecological balance. A new study, published by University of South Florida scientist Jason Rohr, PhD and colleagues, finds that the use of agricultural chemicals, predominantly in developing countries, is associated with increases in transmission risk for schistosomiasis, a disease caused by infection from a parasitic flatworm that lives in freshwater snails. The findings point to the need for an increased focus on alternative pest management approaches that promote, rather than degrade natural ecological services. Previous research published by Dr. Rohr and colleagues found that amphibians exposed to pesticides had higher rates of parasitic infection, and increased fertilizer use resulted in an increase in algae that snail parasite hosts feed on. For the current study, researchers investigated the human epidemiologic risks associated with common farm chemicals. To investigate pesticide effects on the ecosystem, scientists used mesocosms, an experiment designed in a controlled outdoor environment that replicates natural conditions. Algae, parasite-carrying snails, and snail predators (crayfish and water bugs) were added to a series of 60 tanks set up by researchers. The ecological effects of introducing chemical fertilizer, the . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2018) The value of the organic label is under attack in the U.S. Congress. If proposed changes are adopted, the public will not be able to rely on the label to identify the stark differences between current organic and chemical-intensive food production practices. Beyond Pesticides has long advanced organic agriculture as a means of protecting farmers, farmworkers, consumers, biodiversity, and the environment. The U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee is accepting comments now on Farm Bill proposals that will erode the meaning of organic. Although there are about 400 days to go before 2012 Farm Bill funding ends, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R, KS) is taking the opportunity of Senate hearings to attack those institutions that make organic agriculture standards clear, transparent, and subject to Congressionally mandated public oversight. In particular, Sen. Roberts and others are attacking the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which is an impediment to organic factory farms. Organic production is subject to rigorous oversight through a certification and inspection process, not found in conventional agriculture, but needing continual improvement to keep pace with the tremendous growth of the organic sector. We want to protect and strengthen these . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2017) Last week, Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a legal petition demanding major updates and improvements to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current review of pesticides. The petition specifically seeks to compel EPA to require that pesticide companies provide safety data on all ingredients of a pesticide products, or formulations, both active and inert. The agency generally only requires data on a pesticide product’s active ingredient, despite evidence of potential hazards associated with synergism between ingredients, including inert (undisclosed) ingredients, and other pesticides applied in combination. According to Amy van Saun, attorney with CFS, “EPA’s job is to ensure pesticides are safe for children, families, and the environment, but numerous pesticides have other ingredients or combined effects that are causing significant risks and harm. EPA’s outdated and insufficient safety assessment endangers the public welfare and must be brought into the 21st century.” The CFS petition requests the following actions from EPA: Revise pesticide registration regulations to take into account all pesticide ingredients (active, inert and adjuvant) and their effects on the environment. Revise pesticide registration regulations to require whole pesticide formulation and tank mixture testing to take into account synergistic effects. Revise pesticide . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2017) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking input into draft regulations that will determine whether genetically engineered (GE) ingredients [or genetically modified organisms (GMO)] are identified on products labels, or hidden behind high tech codes. Let USDA know by Monday, July 17 what you think and how important clear and meaningful labeling is. A “compromise” bill on labeling genetically engineered food was passed last year by the U.S. Congress, leaving it to USDA to decide which foods would be labeled, and how they would be labeled. In preparation for drafting regulations, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posed 30 questions regarding the implementation of the law. AMS is accepting input until Monday, July 17. Commenting provides a chance to help shape USDA’s proposal. The law includes labeling options other than on-package labeling, such as QR codes and websites, which would only serve to hide the information this law was passed to provide. It also allows USDA to decide which GE ingredients must be disclosed. Beyond Pesticides is telling USDA the following: The definition of “bioengineering” must include all forms of genetic engineering including newer forms like CRISPR and RNA interference . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2017) Over the past week, both Arkansas and Missouri issued bans on the sale and use of the weedkiller dicamba by farmers because of crop damage associated with the pesticide’s drift off treated fields. On Friday, July 7, the Arkansas Agriculture Department announced this emergency 120-day ban, which raised civil penalties for misuse of the toxic herbicide from $1,000 to a maximum of $25,000. The same day, the Missouri Department of Agriculture announced a temporary “Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order” on all dicamba products in the state labeled for agricultural use. Dicamba has been linked to damage of the kidney and liver, neurotoxicity, and developmental impacts. The chemical has a strong propensity to volatilize small particles of the herbicide into the air and drift far off-site. Sensitive crop species can be damaged by dicamba at levels in the parts per million. As of July 7, nearly 600 complaints of dicamba danage have been filed by Arkansas farmers in 23 different counties. In Missouri, as of July 3, there are 123 cases of dicamba injury complaints under investigation and according to the Missouri Soybean Association, “more than 200,000 Missouri soybean acres . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2017) In a move that threatens to further the spread of antibiotic resistance, researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) mining a collection of antimalarial drugs for potential new herbicides. Joshua Mylne, PhD, a senior lecturer in the School of Molecular Sciences (SMS) who directs the project, got started based on work he did while in the Australian Army Reserve. There he discovered that “malarial parasites are actually closely related to plants.” Due to widespread resistance of weeds to the popular herbicide glyphosate, Dr. Mylne began investigating antimalarial drugs as potential replacements. Malaria parasites are actually protozoans in the genus Plasmodium. Their crucial connection with plants is that the parasite contains a plastid similar to the chloroplast in plants. Like the chloroplast in plants, this plastid is critical for the survival of the parasite. Along with organic chemist Keith Stubbs, PhD, associate professor in SMS, Dr. Mylne began screening chemicals in the “Malaria Box,” an open source collection of potential anti-malarial drugs that have never been commercialized. Of the 20 chemicals tested on the small weed Arabidopsis thaliana, 11 were found to have some herbicidal activity. They were then compared to the . . .
(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 . . .
(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. . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 7, 2017) The active ingredients in commonly used bug sprays such as RAID leave significant residues that persist for over a year in the home, according to a study published by Brazilian researchers in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The pesticides tested, synthetic pyrethroids, have been linked to a range of health effects, most notably in children. The results of this study add to calls for homeowners to rethink a chemical-based approach to home pest control, in favor of simple, non-toxic practices. In the recent study, researchers compared the breakdown time of two synthetic pyrethroids, cypermethrin and beta-cyfluthrin, between laboratory conditions and those in an average home. Under lab conditions, with temperature controlled and without sunlight or ventilation, both active ingredients broke down little within the 112 day test period observed. However, the test house, where insecticides were applied according to indoor label conditions, displayed breakdown times similar to the lab results during the first 112 days. Researchers continued their observation of pyrethroids in the home for up to a year, finding after that period 44% of beta-cyfluthrin and 70% cypermethrin remained in household dust samples from the singular, . . .
(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 . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2017) The Hoverfly is July’s pollinator of the month. Hoverflies, also known as flower flies and syrphid flies, are members of the “true fly” order Diptera, family Syrphidae. There are roughly 200 genera and 6,000 species of hoverflies throughout the world. Range Hoverflies are commonly seen in in flowering landscapes across the globe. According to the United States Forest Service (USFS), there are almost 900 species of the family in North America. They live in a range of habitats, including decaying wood, still and moving freshwater, on plants, and sometimes even in other insects’ nests. They are not often found in desert regions, and no known species have been discovered in Antarctica. Diet and Pollination The diet of hoverflies varies widely among species. In general, they are vital pollinators for a range of common flowering plants. Most adult flower flies have generalized mouthparts structured to sap up nectar and harvest pollen from open flowers; others use a long, beak-like proboscis to imbibe nectar from tube-shaped flowers; and some reportedly feed on the honeydew secreted from aphids. Because certain syrphid flies will feed on human perspiration, they are often mistaken for . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 3, 2017) A two-year long study conducted at 33 sites in multiple European countries to assess the effects of neonicotinoid (neonics) insecticides on three bee species in real-world environmental conditions confirms that these pesticides have a deleterious effect on bee survival. The study, the largest of its kind, explored the role of the agricultural use of neonics as seed coatings on bee health and fnds that the pesticides are persistent in the environment, contaminating pollen and nectar that bees forage, reducing colony fitness. The results of the study support ongoing calls for a ban on neonics, including a European Union (EU) wide ban proposed earlier this year. The new research, published in the prestigious peer-review journal Science, which was in part funded by Bayer and Syngenta – manufacturers of the pesticides, encompassed large field experiments to assess the effects of neonic-treated crops on various bee species –honey bees (Apis mellifera), bumble bees (Bombus terrestris), and solitary bees (Osmia bicornis)– across three European countries (Germany, Hungary and the United Kingdom). The study examines the impacts of clothianidin and thiamethoxam, the neonics frequently used as seed coatings of oil seed rape . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 30, 2017) Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), met privately with Dow Chemical’s CEO several weeks before reversing EPA’s tentative decision to ban chlorpyrifos, according to records recently obtained by the Associated Press (AP). A copy of Mr. Pruitt’s schedule reveals he met with Dow CEO, Andrew Liveris, on March 9 at a Houston hotel and “twenty days later Pruitt announced his decision to deny a petition to ban Dow’s chlorpyrifos pesticide from being sprayed on food.” At a hearing this week, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) pressed Mr. Pruitt to name a peer-reviewed study that indicates that chlorpyrifos is safe. Mr. Pruitt answered by saying that “he had relied on ‘interagency dialogue’ with USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] before denying the petition to ban the chemical.” In a congressional hearing earlier this month regarding chlorpyrifos’ safety, Mr. Pruitt stated that his decision was founded on “meaningful data and meaningful science.” However, AP followed up with EPA to provide details on this science, and Mr. Pruitt’s office replied with quotes from trade groups and USDA, but failed to provide any scientific studies on the chemical’s safety. In March . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2017) On June 16, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) decided to classify bisphenol A (BPA) as an endocrine disruptor, and as a substance of “very high concern” due to “probable serious effects to human health.” The classification follows a proposal by the French food security agency (ANSES), which was made earlier this year. The committee, comprised of representatives from all 28 European Union EU countries, agreed to the classification unanimously. With pressure from environmental groups and others, the European Commission (EC) is working to define scientific criteria that will be used to identify endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and lead to more effective regulation in EU countries. In June 2016, the EC issued weak regulations on endocrine disruptors in pesticide products, undermining the precautionary legal standard that governs pesticide usage in Europe. Many scientists and advocacy organizations criticized the proposed regulations for creating an impossibly high burden of proof for defining harm from endocrine disrupting pesticides and other products. EDCs contained in common household products such as detergents, disinfectants, furniture, plastics, and pesticides, interfere with the body’s hormone system either by mimicking naturally produced hormones, blocking hormone receptors in cells, or effecting the . . .
(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 . . .