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Daily News Blog

22
Nov

At Thanksgiving Dinner, Giving Thanks to Those Who Provide

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22-23, 2017) As we sit with friends and family this Thanksgiving, let us appreciate how our delicious meal got to your table. The turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and cider all originated in fields far from our homes, and those working in those fields deserve our thanks. They deserve our thanks because many of these workers work long hours, under deplorable conditions, and are exposed to pesticides that put their health and that of their families at risk. So, as we enjoy our pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and apple crumble, remember all the hardworking farmworkers who have helped to bring our meal to the Thanksgiving table. At the same time, we give thanks for the environment that is so plentiful and nurturing of life, and remember the importance of pollinators and biodiversity in sustaining life. Celebrating Thanksgiving and looking toward another year coming to an end, provides an opportunity for us to remember to remain vigilant, and raise our voices against efforts to erode our environmental protections that safeguard human health and preserve biodiverse ecosystems. Thanking Farmworkers Farm work is hard and dangerous work. Each year millions of farmworkers, including seasonal and . . .

21
Nov

Herbicide Caused Antibiotic Resistance Not Regulated

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2017) Both the active and inert ingredients in common herbicides induce antibiotic resistance in human pathogenic bacteria, according to the latest research from New Zealand scientists, published in Microbiology this week.  Previous research from the same team found in 2015 that commercial formulations of Roundup (containing glyphosate and inert ingredients) and Kamba (containing 2,4-D, Dicamba, and inert ingredients) caused antibiotic resistance to develop in Salmonella eterica and Escherichia coli, but this new research drills down into what ingredients in these formulations resulted in the effect. Lead author of the study, Jack Heinemann, PhD, University Canterbury’s School of Biological Sciences, explains that ultimately this research indicates that, “The sub-lethal effects of industrially manufactured chemical products should be considered by regulators when deciding whether the products are safe for their intended use,” Scientists parsed out the effects of individual active and inert ingredients by obtaining pure, technical grade dicamba, 2,4-D, and glyphosate, as well as the inert co-formulants “Tween80” and “CMC,” which are respectively, used to reduce surface tension and regulate the viscosity in a formulated herbicide, though also used as emulsifiers in foods like ice cream and in medicines. The . . .

20
Nov

Take Action: Oppose Legislation Weakening Endangered Species Protection from Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2017) The pesticide industry is drafting legislation that threatens to remove provisions of the Endangered Species Act that protect species from pesticides. Tell your Congressional delegation to oppose all efforts to reduce endangered species protections from pesticides. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of America’s most effective and important environmental laws. It represents a commitment to protect and restore those species most at risk of extinction. Recent polling shows 84 percent of Americans support the Endangered Species Act, and 87 percent agree that it is a successful safety net for protecting wildlife, plants, insects, and fish from extinction. Although many species –including the bald eagle, Florida manatee, and California condor— have been protected and brought back from the brink of extinction under the ESA, an estimated 500 species have disappeared in the past 200 years. An important provision of the ESA is the requirement that each federal agency that proposes to authorize, fund, or carry out an action that may affect a listed species or its critical habitat must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. In the case of pesticides, EPA is . . .

17
Nov

Trump Administration Seeks Delay in Court-Ordered Review of Neurotoxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2017) The Trump Administration is asking a federal court to delay a prior agreement that National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issue findings on the risk of three highly toxic organophosphate pesticides to endangered species. The move is widely seen by environmental advocates as influenced by the chemical industry, in particular the new agrichemical conglomerate DowDuPont, which completed a megamerger in September. The Trump Administration’s ongoing willingness to do the bidding of the chemical and pesticide industry means that voters must speak out to their elected representatives to stem the tide of chemical poisonings in the U.S. In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which requires the agency’s pesticide registration process to include consultations with federal wildlife agencies, including NMFS and the Fish and Wildlife Service. In this case, the pesticides in question are chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon, three highly toxic chemicals used as nerve agents during WW2 and registered as pesticides since the 1960s. EPA’s failure to consult with these agencies is a chronic problem in the pesticide registration and . . .

16
Nov

Over One million People Ask Government to Block Bayer-Monsanto Merger

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2017) With a petition signed by over one million people, farming, consumer, and environmental groups called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) this week to block the proposed merger of Bayer (BAYN) and Monsanto (MON). The signatures were delivered as two new reports reveal devastating impacts that will be caused by the merger on consumers and farmers, including higher food prices, less innovation, limited seed choices, and escalating dependency of toxic chemical inputs in food production.  On Tuesday November 14, 2017, Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs and the Open Markets Institute released an analysis, “Bayer-Monsanto Merger: Big Data, Big Agriculture, Big Problems,” which  explores the implications of a combined biotechnology, chemical, and seed platform owned by Bayer and Monsanto and how it may impact competition and farmer choice. The release of the analysis coincided with a hearing on technology in agriculture and data-driven farming in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation. Consumer Federation of America also released a report, “Mega-Mergers in the U.S. Seed and Agrochemical Sector the Political Economy of Tight Oligopolies on Steroids and the Squeeze on Farmers and Consumers.” The report . . .

14
Nov

Research Shows Common Insecticides Harm Songbird Migration, Raises Concerns of a New Silent Spring

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2017) Songbirds exposed to widely used insecticides fail to properly orient themselves for migration, according to a study published by Canadian scientists in Scientific Reports. With the organophosphate chlorpyrifos and the neonicotinoid imidacloprid applied to millions of acres of farmland throughout North America, this new research adds weight to arguments that pesticides are a likely cause in the decline of migratory bird populations. “Studies on the risks of neonicotinoids have often focused on bees that have been experiencing population declines. However, it is not just bees that are being affected by these insecticides,” said Christy Morrissey, PhD, biology professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Researchers captured 57 white crowned sparrows in northern Canada, and held them in an outdoor pen for roughly two weeks, during which time all the birds either gained or maintained their weight. The songbirds were then split into three groups, one exposed to imidacloprid, another to chlorpyrifos, and the last untreated and acting as a control. The imidacloprid and chlorpyrifos exposed groups were each further separated by exposing a portion to the insecticide at 10% of the lethal dose that would kill 50% of a . . .

14
Nov

EU Fails to Approve Continuing Glyphosate Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2017) The European Commission has again been unable to come to a consensus over renewing approval for Monsanto’s popular herbicide,  glyphosate.  Member states voted last week, but failed to approve, continued use even after months of deliberation over the controversial herbicide. Glyphosate (Roundup) is also up for review in the U.S., but many expect the herbicide to be reregistered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), despite health concerns. The proposal to renew the European Union (EU) license for glyphosate for another five years failed to a reach a qualified majority, meaning a decision has again been postponed, according to reports. The current license is due to expire on December 15, 2017, but there is an 18-month grace period. Fourteen countries voted in favor of the renewal, nine against, while five, including Germany, abstained from voting. According to reports, a qualified majority requires that 55 percent of EU countries vote in favor and that the proposal is supported by countries representing at least 65 percent of the total EU population. France, which voted against the proposal, said it would only support a renewal for three-year phase-out. The proposal could now be referred to an appeals committee, . . .

13
Nov

Action Needed: Oppose Proposed Monsanto-Bayer Merger

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2017) Proposed Bayer-Monsanto merger is bad for farmers, bad for consumers. Tell the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to Block This Dangerous Merger! In late 2016, Monsanto and Bayer announced a $66 billion merger. The Department of Justice is in the midst of reviewing it, and a decision is expected in late 2017. Should this merger go through, only four companies in the world will control all seed and agricultural chemical business: Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-DuPont, ChemChina-Syngenta, and BASF. Tell the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to stop the Bayer-Monsanto merger, which would have severe repercussions for farmers and consumers. Should Bayer and Monsanto merge, the entity will become: the world’s largest vegetable seed company, with a virtual lock on broccoli, carrots, and onions the world’s largest cotton seed company, responsible for the seed for about 70% of all the cotton grown in the U.S. along with another company (Dow-DuPont), in control of 77% of all the seed corn in the U.S. the world’s largest manufacturer and seller of herbicides the world’s largest owner of the intellectual property/patents for herbicide-tolerance seed traits: 69% of all herbicide tolerance traits approved for use in the U.S. for alfalfa, . . .

10
Nov

Arkansas State Plant Board Votes to Continue Ban on Monsanto’s Dicamba Herbicide into Next Summer

(Beyond Pesticides, November 10, 2017) On the heels of Beyond Pesticides’ campaign to ban the herbicide dicamba –with thousands of people urging the state to act in the of massive crop damage, the Arkansas State Plant Board (ASPB) voted earlier this week to prohibit the use of the weedkiller in agriculture during the next growing season. If officially approved by a subcommittee of the state legislature, the new regulations will make dicamba applications between April 16 and October 31, 2018, illegal for Arkansas farmers. The move by the State Plant Board is a huge blow to multinational agrichemical companies Monsanto and BASF, both of which have developed genetically engineered (GE) soybean crops tolerant of dicamba herbicides. 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. According to ASPB, during the public comment period over 29,000 individuals provided input, with the overwhelming majority in strong support of the state’s plan to restrict the . . .

09
Nov

Veterans’ Coverage of Agent Orange-Related Diseases Delayed

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2017) Vietnam veterans suffering from certain Agent Orange-related health conditions will continue to wait for compensation. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin announced last week he intends to delay a decision to expand coverage to new illnesses. Despite a robust review by the National Academy of Medicine, which recommended expanding disability compensation for bladder cancer, hyopothyroidism, high blood pressure, and Parkinson’s-like tremors due to past exposure to the toxic herbicide cocktail, the VA decided to take no action. “After thoroughly reviewing the National Academy of Medicine (NAM)’s latest report regarding Veterans and Agent Orange, and associated data and recommendations from the NAM Task Force, I have made a decision to further explore new presumptive conditions for service connection that may ultimately qualify for disability compensation,”  Secretary Shulkin said in a press release last week.  “I appreciate NAM’s work and the commitment and expertise of VA’s NAM Task Force, and look forward to working with the Administration on the next steps in the process.” Given a promise from VA Secretary Shulkin to provide a decision on the new ailments by November 1st, Veterans groups are crying foul, and . . .

08
Nov

Monsanto Pulls New Seed Treatment Product after Complaints of Skin Irritation, Blames Users

(Beyond Pesticides, November, 8, 2017) Farmers who purchased and handled Monsanto’s new treated seed product, NemaStrike, for nematode or roundworm control (nematicide) have been reporting skin irritation, including rashes that occurred after use. Now the seed giant is pausing a full rollout of the product, while blaming farmers for not using gloves and other protective equipment to handle the treated seeds. This is another blunder from Monsanto and the latest incident highlighting the deficiencies in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pesticide registration process in light of the millions of acres of crop damage from Monsanto products green-lighted by EPA. While touting that NemaStrike went through three years of extensive field trials and “extensive evaluations” by EPA, Monsanto stated in a bulletin to its customers on its website that it will pause commercialization of the product in light of reports of skin irritation from users. These adverse reactions to the product are being blamed on the failure of users to wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling the treated seeds. This is not the first time that Monsanto has tried to shift responsibility for the toxic effect of its products to users. Last . . .

07
Nov

Organic Board Member’s Farewell Highlights Industry Influence over USDA Organic Program

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2017) At the end of a contentious meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that resulted in a de facto approval of hydroponics in organic production, retiring board member Francis Thicke, Ph.D., in one of the farmer positions, highlighted ways that big ag has perverted the mission of organic, as originally conceived by organic practitioners, consumers, and environmentalists. Dr. Thicke mentioned “organic” CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) dairies with 15,000 cows in a desert feedlot, “organic” chicken CAFOs without outdoor access, fraud in “organic” grain shipments, and, now, “organic” hydroponics. His frustrations mirror those of hundreds who protested against “organic” hydroponics at the Jacksonville, Florida meeting and in written comments. Beyond Pesticides continues to believe that organic is the solution to pesticide poisoning and contamination and works to ensure the integrity of USDA organic label, while seeking to strengthen it through the public NOSB process and legislative initiatives. At the same time, we share Dr. Thicke’s frustrations with the influence of big business and continue to promote consumer actions, litigation, and organizing strategies to thwart the takeover of organic by big ag. We have important work to do to . . .

06
Nov

Take Action: Tell Your U.S. Representative to Support Organic in the Next Farm Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2017) The next Farm Bill will be up for negotiation soon. Bi-partisan legislation to address two issues that are important for organic agriculture –increasing funding for organic research and strengthening enforcement of the organic standards: The Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) will provide $50 million in funding annually for the USDA’s flagship organic research program, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).  The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act of 2017 will improve oversight of organic imports. This action will allow you to send messages to your U.S. Representative requesting that they co-sponsor the bills or thanking the member if she/he is already a co-sponsor. Ask your U.S. Representative to support organic in the next Farm Bill by co-sponsoring these two bills. If your Representative is already a co-sponsor, send a thank you. Organic is one of the fastest growing sectors in U.S. agriculture. The bi-partisan Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) introduced by U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will help more farmers transition to organic production in response to growing demand in the marketplace. Organic research helps farmers become more productive, efficient, and profitable and leads to the . . .

03
Nov

High Levels of Pesticides in Produce Linked to Pregnancy Loss

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2017) Eating foods high in pesticide residue is associated with a lower probability of live births and a higher probability of pregnancy loss for women using in vitro fertilization and other techniques in attempts to become pregnant, according to new research published by Harvard University doctors in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Internal Medicine in late October. While eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables remains part of a healthy lifestyle, this new research, the first to evaluate the relationship between dietary pesticide exposure and reproductive success in women, raises serious concerns. “I was always skeptical that pesticide residues in foods would have any impact on health whatsoever,” says Jorge Chavarro, MD, co-author of the research and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health to TIME. “So when we started doing this work a couple of years ago, I thought we were not going to find anything. I was surprised to see anything as far as health outcomes are concerned.” Scientists began with a group of 325 women enrolled in an ongoing research project, called the Environment and Reproductive . . .

02
Nov

November’s PolliNATION Pollinator of the Month: The Baltimore Oriole

(Beyond Pesticides, November 2, 2017) The Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula) is Maryland’s state bird and the namesake of its professional baseball team. The Baltimore oriole (and all American orioles) are actually members of the blackbird family, and are related to the tricolored blackbird. For a time, the Baltimore oriole was “lumped” together with the Bullock’s oriole to the west under the name “northern oriole.” The “splitters” have won out again, and the two are recognized as separate species, except in the Western prairies, where they hybridize. In fact, the Baltimore oriole shows more genetic similarities to the Altamira oriole (which lives in Mexico, northern Central America, and a tiny part of Texas), and especially to the black-backed oriole (from Mexico). Fun fact: The Baltimore orioles’ slender beaks allow them to feed in an unusual way. By first piercing soft fruits with their closed bills, the birds open their mouths to cut a strip through the juicy fruit, allowing them to drink the gushing liquid with their brushy-tipped tongues, in a process called “gaping.” Range Baltimore orioles are commonly found during spring and summer months in the eastern and central U.S., and in . . .

01
Nov

Amount of Monsanto’s Glyphosate/Roundup in Human Body Skyrockets

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2017) The explosion of genetic engineering (GE) in agriculture over the past three decades has led to significant increases in the amount of the weedkiller glyphosate being found in the human body, according to new research from University of California, San Diego. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is the most widely used herbicide in the world, owing that title to its use in “Roundup Ready” GE cropping systems and residential yards. “Our exposure to these chemicals has increased significantly over the years but most people are unaware that they are consuming them through their diet,” said study coauthor and director of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego, Paul J Mills, PhD. Scientists conducted their study based on participants in the Rancho Bernardo Study on Aging, a prospective study of over 6,000 adults over 50 years old living in Southern California. Of the 1,000 active participants, 100 had urinary glyphosate residues tested in between 1993 to 1996, and 2016 to 2016. Glyphosate residues in these individuals increased significantly from the mid-1990s to today. Between 1993 and 1996 average glyphosate residues in urine was recorded . . .

31
Oct

Industry Influence Undermines Protection from Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2017) Scientists warn that inadequate federal testing, disproportionate industry influence, and subverted regulatory oversight threaten decades of progress on protecting people from hormone disrupting chemicals. This from a new paper with findings that regulators face a critical need to fully understand and address the hazards from these dangerous substances. Hormone disrupting chemicals, also known as endocrine disruptors, are substances that have been shown to interfere with the hormone system, leading to long-term health impacts ranging from cancer to neurological developmental impairments. Even small alterations in hormone concentrations, particularly during “critical windows” of 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 are lower than those used in traditional toxicity testing. Now, commentary from scientists at Rutgers University and North Carolina State University, “Endocrine disrupting chemicals and behavior: Re-evaluating the science at a critical turning point,” states that inefficient federal testing and outsized industry influence in Washington threaten decades of progress. “The significant progress made over the past couple of decades to understand endocrine disrupting chemical-related effects and mitigate exposures is now . . .

30
Oct

Deadline Today: Stop Monsanto from Poisoning Farms and Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2017) Tell the Arkansas State Plant Board to stand up to Monsanto, and protect farmers by banning dicamba’s use in Arkansas agriculture. Comment period closes today, Monday, October 30, 2017, at 4:30pm (Eastern Time). Your comments are needed to stop the disaster in Arkansas being created by Monsanto’s new genetically engineered (GE) cropping system, which relies on the toxic pesticide dicamba. If Arkansas bans dicamba, other states should and will follow —given the chemical industry’s takeover of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is allowing this extremely hazardous pesticide use. This is a problem that has regional and national implications, given the breakdown of the EPA and its pesticide program. We cannot let this failure of protection stand in Arkansas or anywhere in the country. Promoted by Monsanto as a way to address rampant Roundup (glyphosate) resistance, Monsanto’s new GE soybeans are now able to withstand both glyphosate and dicamba, an older herbicide with a range of documented health effects —from neurotoxicity to reproductive problems. Dicamba is also highly volatile and, as a result, has drifted across crop fields throughout the region, damaging high value fruit tree and organic . . .

27
Oct

Pesticide Residues Difficult to Wash Off Food

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2017) In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists at University of Massachusetts, Amherst identify a novel approach to reduce toxic pesticide residues on conventional food. The method the authors describe is cumbersome and unlikely to be widely used by consumers. At the same time, study results confirm that eating organic products is the best way for individuals and families to eliminate pesticide residues from their diet. For the current study, researchers looked at how much of two common pesticides, one, the fungicide thiobendazole, and the other, the insecticide phosmet, remained on apples after submersion for 24 hours. Both pesticides penetrated the skin of the apples, though thiobendazole, a systemic fungicide, made its way deeper into and past the apple’s skin. Thiabendazole penetrated 80 micrometers into the apple while phosmet penetrated 20 micrometers. Researchers looked at three different methods to reduce the pesticides on apples: tap water, a bleach solution, and baking soda. Compared to the others, baking soda was found to be by far the most effective method to reduce pesticide residue, with 80% of thiabendazole and 95% of phosmet removed. “If factory washing . . .

26
Oct

EPA Curtails Public’s Ability to Make the Agency Obey the Law

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2017) In mid-October, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced another action in his effort to remake the agency by issuing a directive that aims to stop the practice — often referred to as “sue and settle” — of settling lawsuits with outside (often, environmental) groups. It’s the Administrator’s contention that such groups have had undue influence on regulation. He has indicated that his action will not prevent EPA from reaching settlements with “outside litigants,” but that he does want to disallow agreements that would change a discretionary duty to a nondiscretionary duty. However, responding to Administrator Pruitt’s comment about the days of “regulation through litigation” being over, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) notes, “That’s really just a twisted way of saying that the days of holding the EPA accountable are over. The effect won’t just be the EPA wasting taxpayer money as it fights unwinnable lawsuits, but also prolonging delays that allow polluters to keep on polluting.” The agency’s press release quotes Mr. Pruitt: “‘The days of regulation through litigation are over. . . . We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve . . .

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 . . .

24
Oct

Agricultural Intensification over Last Three Decades Reduces Insect Population by 75%

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2017) Over 75% of insect abundance has declined over the last 27 years, according to new research published by European scientists in PLOS One. The dramatic drop in insect biomass has led to equally dramatic pronunciations from highly respected scientists and entomologists. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon,” study coauthor David Goulson, Ph.D. of Sussex University, UK, told The Guardian. “If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.” Looking at the range of mechanisms that could be driving this slow moving catastrophe, researchers could suss out only one plausible large-scale factor: agricultural intensification. The current study, which looked at 63 nature preserves located in Germany, follows a similar study released in 2013 that was conducted in a singular German nature preserve. That study, originally published only in German, but available translated by Boulder County Beekeepers, found that 75% of insect biomass declined in the Orbroich Bruch Nature Reserve in Krefeld, Germany from 1989 to 2013. That study was limited to a singular nature preserve, and while scientists who worked . . .
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