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Daily News Blog

26
May

U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Rollback Waterway Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2017) On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would reverse an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirement to obtain a permit before spraying pesticides on or near waterways. The passage of HR 953, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (known by environmentalists as the “Poison Our Waters Act”), is the latest update in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback commonsense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. It will now move forward to be considered by the Republican-majority Senate, where it will most likely pass and be signed into law. HR 953, if signed into law, would reverse a 2009 decision issued by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case of National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA, which held that pesticides applied to waterways should be considered pollutants under federal law and regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA), through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Prior to the decision, the EPA, under the Bush Administration, had allowed the weaker and more generalized standards under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to be followed. . . .

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 . . .

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 . . .

23
May

G20 Health Ministers Craft Plan to Address Antimicrobial Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2017) Health ministers from the G20 nations, the largest advanced and emerging economies, identified Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) as a “current and increasing threat and challenge to global health” and committed the member countries to several actions aimed at reducing the occurrence of AMR. The outcome of the first meeting of G20 health ministers, the Berlin Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers, addresses a wide range of global health issues, including AMR. The G20 declaration contains little more than a mention of antimicrobials in agriculture, but both it and the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Declaration support WHO’s Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. WHO’s action plan includes measures of effectiveness of actions, including member state adoption of “policies on use of antimicrobial agents in terrestrial and aquatic animals and agriculture, including: implementation of Codex Alimentarius and OIE [Organization for Animal Health] international standards and guidelines as well as WHO/OIE guidance on the use of critically important antibiotics; phasing out of use of antibiotics for animal growth promotion and crop protection in the absence of risk analysis; and reduction in nontherapeutic use of antimicrobial medicines in animal health.” The G20 meeting . . .

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 . . .

19
May

European Union Plans to Propose a 10-year Extension for the Approval of Glyphosate Use

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2017) In spite of a growing body of evidence implicating glyphosate in a wide range of human illnesses and environmental impacts, the European Union (EU) plans to propose a 10-year extension for the approval of glyphosate use. Previously, the European Commission (the Commission), which is in charge of the approval, 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 European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), and whose report was issued in March 2017. According to ECHA’s assessment, glyphosate is not carcinogenic. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup brand of weed-killers, and research by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found that it is a probable human carcinogen. Since IARC’s findings were released, Monsanto has made several efforts to discredit the research of this well respected, international body, including attempting to influence government agencies. According to a Bloomberg BNA article, “The commission will discuss with EU member nations the prospect of a 10-year reauthorization, said Anca Paduraru, spokeswoman for the . . .

18
May

Soft Drink Company Faces Pressure Over Use of Pesticides in its Supply Chain

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2017) A pesticide reduction plan proposed by investors in the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) lacks a positive vision that could accomplish the investors’ goals. The shareholder proposal at DPS, which makes Mott’s, 7UP, Snapple, and Canada Dry, was filed by the Green Century Equity Fund, a company that offers environmentally and socially responsible mutual funds, seeks to pressure DPS to reduce toxic pesticide use in its supply chain. According to their press release, the shareholder proposal suggests that DPS “use quantitative metrics to track the amount of pesticides avoided, publish goals to reduce pesticide use or toxicity, and/or provide incentives to growers to minimize the use of pesticides.” However, the shareholder group could better achieve its goals by asking that DPS use certified organic ingredients. Beyond Pesticides has long sought a broad-scale marketplace transition that does not simply reduce or minimize pesticide use, but prohibits the application of toxic synthetic pesticides by law and promotes the widespread transition of conventional farmland to organic production, which is protective of health and the environment. Certified organic production, with its requirement of a detailed organic system plan and methods to foster and . . .

17
May

Fraudulent Claims Undermine Organic Integrity

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2017 Fraud among producers portraying products of chemical intensive agriculture as organic –including those recently identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP)— is costly to organic producers and consumers. Imported grains –corn and soybeans that are largely fed to livestock whose products are sold as “organic”— are the focus of claims that USDA is not doing enough to protect the integrity of the organic label. The fraudulent documents that are the subject of the USDA alert are typically produced with the intent to circumvent U.S. organic regulations and are often forged along the supply chain with the goal of increasing the value of agricultural commodities imported to the United States. The arrival of soy and corn crops labeled as organic but later testing positive for residues of pesticides prohibited in organic production, has been well documented in recent years. USDA encourages certifying agents and organic operators to remain vigilant when purchasing organic products from suppliers, and warns of fines for up to $11,000 for anyone found in violation of selling products fraudulently labeled as organic. Additionally, the agency encourages anyone . . .

16
May

Spending Bill Found to Include Taxpayer-Funded Program to Promote GMOs

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2017) Buried in the spending bill passed earlier this month to avert a government shutdown is a provision that allots $3 million for a federal outreach campaign promoting agricultural biotechnology and genetically engineered (GE) crops. The bill tasks the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in coordination with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to use these funds, “for consumer outreach and education regarding agricultural biotechnology and biotechnology-derived food products and animal feed…” According to the Washington Post, Democrats in Congress made a failed bid to move the funding towards FDA-run pediatric medical projects, but faced unanimous Republican opposition. Under the provision, FDA and USDA will spend taxpayer money to create, “science-based educational information on the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian impacts of such biotechnology, food products, and feed.” If such an endeavor were made truly in the public interest, educational materials produced by these agencies would reveal significant adverse effects in every listed topic. GE crops, particularly those engineered to tolerate continuous applications of herbicides like glyphosate, are damaging to the environment. Significant increases in herbicide use as a result of these crops has . . .

15
May

Pruitt’s EPA Delays New Rules to Protect Pesticide Applicators

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2017) Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the direction of new Administrator Scott Pruitt, announced that it will delay for one year the implementation of a final rule that revised and updated protections for certified pesticide applicators –the workers who apply the most hazardous pesticides, restricted used pesticides. The new rules require increased training for certified applicators and increase the minimum age of a worker to 18 years, updates to which industry has objected. Against the backdrop of recent high-profile poisonings, the delay requested by industry interests places these workers and the public at continued risk. The Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule was made final on January 4, 2017, revising regulations regarding the certification of applicators of restricted use pesticides (RUPs). The rule was scheduled to go into effect March 6, 2017, but was delayed to March 21, 2017 by the new Trump Administration, which placed a mandatory freeze on all new regulations coming out of federal agencies. Now the Pruitt-led EPA states in the notice that it has “determined that the effective date of the revised Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule should be . . .

12
May

Exposure to Heavy Pesticide Use Can Impact Neurobehavioral Performance in Children

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2017) Researchers from the University of California San Diego, School of Medicine, in collaboration with scientists from Ecuador and Minnesota, have found that exposure to heavy pesticide use during peak periods can impact neurobehavioral performance in children. The study focused on exposure to organophosphate pesticides, which have been associated with a broad range of diseases in both children and adults. The study, published in NeuroToxicology, involved 308 non-worker Ecuadorian children between the ages of 4 and 9. Neurobehavioral performance for each child was tested once between 63 and 100 days after the Mother’s Day flower harvest, which is a period of high pesticide use in Ecuador. The researchers found that children examined sooner after Mother’s Day had lower scores than children who were tested later. “Children examined sooner after the flower harvest displayed lower performance on most measures, such as attention, self-control, visuospatial processing (the ability to perceive and interact with our visual world) and sensorimotor (eye-hand coordination) compared to children examined later in a time of lower flower production and pesticide use,” said Jose R. Suarez-Lopez, MD, PhD, and lead author of the study, to ScienceBlog. Dr. Suarez-Lopez . . .

11
May

Judge Rules that EPA Neonicotinoid Registrations Violated Endangered Species Act

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2017) On Monday, a federal judge in California ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it issued 59 neonicotinoid insecticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for pesticide products containing clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The original lawsuit against EPA, Ellis v. Housenger, was filed in March 2013, by beekeeper Steve Ellis and a coalition of other beekeepers and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides. The 2013 lawsuit focused on the EPA’s failure to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides and challenged EPA’s oversight of the bee-killing pesticides, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, as well as the agency’s practice of “conditional registration” and labeling deficiencies. According to George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety’s legal director and the lead plaintiffs’ counsel, “This is a vital victory. Science shows these toxic pesticides harm bees, endangered species and the broader environment. More than fifty years ago, Rachel Carson warned us to avoid such toxic chemicals, and the court’s ruling may bring us one step closer to preventing another Silent Spring.” The judge presiding over the case rejected claims by pesticide producers and their supporters that the plaintiffs failed to establish a . . .

10
May

Local Pesticide Ordinances Under Attack in the State of Maine

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2017) Local authority to restrict pesticides is under attack in Maine, as Governor Paul LePage has introduced a bill that would explicitly preempt the right of municipal governments to restrict pesticide use on private property. The bill, LD 1505, mirrors chemical industry efforts to suppress or preempt local democratic action to adopt public health and environmental protections in order to allow the unimpeded marketing of hazardous products. Those industry groups that are leading the charge to preempt local government action have a vested economic interest in selling toxic products and services and stifling the market from moving toward greener alternatives. Passage of the bill in Maine would serve as a huge blow to many local communities that currently regulate pesticides more stringently than the state, as the bill also includes language voiding any local regulations that predate the bill. Communities that restrict pesticides recognize that pesticides released in the environment know no boundaries, so that use can contaminate air, water, and land throughout the community. The effort in Maine to preempt local pesticide ordinances is likely being advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), given that the language is modeled after the organization’s . . .

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 . . .

08
May

Beyond Pesticides Sues Mott’s for Labeling Pesticide-Laden Applesauce “Natural”

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2017) – A national environmental health organization last Friday sued Mott’s, under consumer protection law, for false and misleading “natural” labeling of applesauce products containing a toxic pesticide. The suit argues that the finding of residues in the company’s applesauce of the neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid, which is particularly toxic to pollinators, disqualifies the products from being labeled “natural” or as containing “all natural ingredients.” The case is filed under the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act against Mott’s parent company, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. The plaintiffs maintain that by using “natural” or “all natural ingredients” labeling, Mott’s leads consumers to believe that its applesauce products do not contain synthetic substances. Plaintiffs claim that defendants know or should have known that many consumers buy foods labeled as “natural” in an attempt to “limit the amount of pesticides they and their families ingest” or eliminate the use of synthetic ingredients that adversely affect pollinators. “People are looking for food products that are healthy for their family, children, and the environment, and deceptive “natural” labeling of products grown with pesticides undermines their best intentions,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond . . .

05
May

Walmart and True Value Pledge to Phase Out Bee-Toxic Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2017) Walmart and True Value have announced that beginning on Wednesday they will be phasing out neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides from all retail supply chains. These announcements follow numerous scientific studies that have consistently implicated neonics in the decline of honey bees and other wild pollinators. The decision stems from an ongoing consumer and environmental campaigns urging retailers to stop selling plants treated with neonics and to remove products containing them from store shelves. Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides, or whole plant poisons, taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed in the pollen, nectar, and dew drops. They are also highly persistent, with research showing the potential for certain chemicals in the class, such as clothianidin, to have a half-life of up to 15 years. Studies show significant cause for concern when it comes to pollinators and exposure to these pesticides. Although little substantive action on these chemicals has been taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency agreed that the pesticides do harm bees, though only in the limited situations and constrained scenarios that were actually investigated by EPA. The European Commission (EC) has proposed a complete ban . . .

04
May

Bumblebee Exposure to Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Egg Development

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2017) This week, a study released in the Proceedings of the Royal Society found evidence of reduced egg development and impact on feeding behavior in wild bumblebee queens after exposure to the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam. The study, led by researchers from the University of London, investigates the impact of field-relevant levels of thiamethoxam exposure on four wild species of bumblebee queens. In a BBC News article, lead author, Dr. Gemma Barron, Ph.D., stated, “We consistently found that neonicotinoid exposure, at levels mimicking exposure that queens could experience in agricultural landscapes, resulted in reduced ovary development in queens of all four species we tested. These impacts are likely to reduce the success of bumblebee queens in the spring, with knock-on effects for bee populations later in the year.” The study focuses on sublethal effects of neonicotinoids, as wild bumblebees are more likely to be exposed to low doses of these chemicals, rather than higher lethal levels. The queen bumblebees of four species were collected in the spring of 2014, with a total of 506 being used in the initial study groups. These queens were divided into three treatment groups and exposed . . .

03
May

Neoniocotinoid Pesticides Impair Bees’ Ability to Fly

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2017) Last week, researchers at the University of California San Diego revealed the first ever link between the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and the ability of bees to fly. Published in Scientific Reports, the study, “A common neonicotinoid pesticide, thiamethoxam, impairs honey bee flight ability,” builds on previous findings that neonicotinoid use interferes with bees’ ability to navigate, and concludes that exposure to thiamethoxam affects honey bee flight patterns as well as their physical ability to fly in ways that may be detrimental to their survival. The study is the latest in a growing body of science linking pesticide use to honey bee declines, raising concerns about overall honey bee health and longevity in the face of continued neonicotinoid use. According to the study, both acute and chronic exposure to thiamethoxam revealed significant alterations of the ability of bees to fly -affecting flight distances, duration of flights, and flight velocity. Researchers noted significant differences in bee behavior based on short versus long term exposure, which they summarized as having an “excitatory short-term effect and a depressive longer-term effect” on the bees’ ability to fly. This means that when bees . . .

02
May

Polli-Nation Pollinator of the Month: Mexican Long-tongued Bat

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2017) The Mexican long tongued bat is the pollinator of the month for May.  The Mexican long tongued bat, scientific name Choeronycteris mexicana, is a species of bat aptly named for its tongue, which has the remarkable ability to extend to nearly a body length. It is less-commonly referred to as the hog-nosed bat. Range The Mexican long-tongued bat’s range extends from the southwest of the United States through Mexico and into Central America, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In the United States, the bat is restricted to the far-south of California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. It is found in most areas of Mexico but is absent from the Yucatan peninsula and the gulf coast. Further south, the bat is also found in southern Guatemala and El Salvador in addition to northern Nicaragua. The Mexican long-tongued bat participates in seasonal migrations rather than hibernation. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department admits that the study of the bat’s migratory patterns has been inadequate. However, it is known that the females establish maternity roosts in the southwest of the United States in late . . .

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 . . .

28
Apr

35th National Pesticide Forum Begins Today at University of Minnesota!

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2017) Beyond Pesticides’ 35th National Pesticide forum, Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, begins today and continues until tomorrow night at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis, MN! Walk-in registration begins this afternoon at 4:00pm, and the first session, Pesticides 101, starts at 4:30pm. Speakers during the conference range from distinguished scientists, professors, lawyers, public servants, farmers, and environmental organizers. You won’t want to miss out on this important opportunity to share in efforts to build local, state and national strategies to protect human health and the environment. Registration is $45 for the general rate and $20 for students, which includes access to all sessions as well as organic food and beverages. In addition to spending time with scientists and experts on the cutting edge of research, and the opportunity to network, we will serve light hors d’oeuvres and organic beer and wine tonight, and organic breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks tomorrow. Again, walk-in registrations are encouraged. Tonight’s events will include two keynote sessions and a book signing. The speakers are as follows: Jim Riddle, an organic farmer, gardener, inspector, educator, policy . . .
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