• Archives

  • Categories

    • Agriculture (500)
    • Announcements (458)
    • Antibacterial (104)
    • Aquaculture (19)
    • Beneficials (8)
    • Biofuels (5)
    • Biological Control (1)
    • Biomonitoring (14)
    • Cannabis (11)
    • Children/Schools (190)
    • Climate Change (23)
    • Environmental Justice (77)
    • Events (68)
    • Farmworkers (82)
    • Fracking (1)
    • Golf (10)
    • Health care (27)
    • Holidays (24)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (33)
    • International (251)
    • Invasive Species (24)
    • Label Claims (32)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (160)
    • Litigation (247)
    • Nanotechnology (52)
    • National Politics (323)
    • Pesticide Drift (87)
    • Pesticide Regulation (542)
    • Pesticide Residues (70)
    • Pets (14)
    • Resistance (49)
    • Rodenticide (16)
    • Take Action (313)
    • Uncategorized (18)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (271)
    • Wood Preservatives (21)
Daily News Blog

29
Feb

Glyphosate Residues in Popular German Beers

(Beyond Pesticides, February 29, 2016) Last Thursday, the Munich Environmental Institute stated that it had found traces of glyphosate, the widely used and controversial weed-killer, in 14 of Germany’s most popular beers. These findings are a potential blow to Germany’s Beer Purity Law, which is highly regarded in German beer culture. Industry and German government immediately sought to downplay the results, saying that the levels found did not pose a risk to humans. However, according to the study’s results, all levels found were above the glyphosate residue level allowed in drinking water. Consumers have a right to be worried about the findings, as glyphosate was classified in March 2015 as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Tbeerfullhe results, published in German, are broken down by beer and by micrograms per liter in picture format. The researchers cite the laboratory test results of the 14 beers, which found glyphosate levels between 0.46 and 29.74 micrograms per liter. The highest reading is 300 times the legal limit for drinking water in Germany, which is 0.1 microgram per cubic meter. Hasseroeder, a beer brewed in Saxony-Anhalt in eastern Germany and owned by Anheuser Busch Inbev, contained the highest trace of glyphosate at 29.74 micrograms per liter. The smallest amount, 0.46 micrograms per liter, was found in Augustiner, made in Munich. Other popular beers in the study, which can also be commonly found in the U.S., were Beck’s Pilsner and Franziskaner Weissbier. Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk (BfR) assessment said the levels do not pose a risk to consumers’ health. In contrast, geneticist Sophia Guttenberger of the Munich institute said glyphosate should simply be neither “in beer nor in our bodies.”

The German purity law, or the “Reinheitsgebot,” is one of the world’s oldest food safety laws and is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year. Under the law, brewers have to produce beer using only malt, hops, yeast and water. The simple recipe, which was initially implemented as a health measure, has helped make German beer so famous abroad. While this may have been a sufficient health measure in 1516, we know that current food safety standards must be scrutinized and monitored at a much higher degree. The Brauer-Bund beer association said there were government controls in place in breweries to ensure that no harmful substances made their way into the production process and echoed BfR’s previous statements. While government agencies and industry alike claim harmful substances are not entering the human diet, the current research shows otherwise.

In July 2015, the Soil Association disclosed findings of glyphosate residues in bread being sold in the UK. The results of that study show that glyphosate use in the UK increased by 400% in the last 20 years and is one of the three pesticides regularly found in routine testing of British bread –appearing in up to 30% of samples tested by the UK government. In August 2015, a research study published in Environmental Health linked long-term, ultra-low dose exposure to glyphosate in drinking water to adverse impacts on the health of liver and kidneys.

A scientific review was released earlier this month by a group of 14 scientists in which they expressed concern over the widespread use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), the lack of understanding regarding human exposure, and the potential health impacts. According to the report, BfR, along with a few U.S. agencies, such as the National Toxicology Program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have not adequately kept up with cutting-edge research. “It’s time to call on the global science and regulatory community to step back and take a fresh look at glyphosate since everyone on the planet is or will be exposed,” said senior author Charles Benbrook, an agricultural economist and consultant at Benbrook Consulting Services.

In addition to impacts on human health, glyphosate has been linked to adverse effects on earthworms and other soil biota, as well as shape changes in amphibians. The widespread use of the chemical on genetically engineered (GE) crops has led it to be implicated in the decline of monarch butterflies, whose sole habitat to lay their eggs, milkweed plants, are being devastated as a result of incessant use of glyphosate.

Beyond Pesticides advocates for a regulatory approach that prohibits high hazard chemical use and calls for alternative assessments. The organization suggests an approach that focuses on safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as organic agriculture. Thus, the best way to avoid glyphosate residues in beer, bread and other foods is to buy and support organic agriculture and the USDA organic label. Our database, Eating With a Conscience (EWAC) provides information on the pesticides that could be present in the food we eat, and why food labeled organic is the right choice. EWAC also includes information on the impacts chemical-intensive agriculture has on farm workers, water, and our threatened pollinators.

Beer labeled organic must by law be brewed with hops that are grown with organic practices, which prohibit the use of glyphosate. Beer drinkers in the U.S. can find some great organic breweries, such as Peak Organic Brewery, Wolaver’s Fine Organic Ales, Bison Brewing, and Fish Tale Organic Ales. Other breweries may have a bottle or two that are organic, even if the whole brewery is not, so just look for the USDA organic label on the bottle to be sure.

Source: Reuters

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Share

26
Feb

Feminine Hygiene Products Tainted with Glyphosate, Other Toxic Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2016) Feminine care products sold in France may contain “potentially toxic residues,” according to a study conducted by 60 Millions de Consommateurs, a French consumer rights group. The study finds traces of chemicals, such as dioxins and insecticides, in 5 of 11 products tested. A separate analysis conducted by Corman, a manufacturer of feminine care products, also finds residues of the weedkiller glyphosate, which was classified in March 2015 as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Tampons-Researchers at 60 Millions reported finidng traces of halogenated waste, a by-product related to the processing of raw materials, in Tampax Compak Active Regular Fresh tampons. The
researchers also detected residues of organochlorine and pyrethroid pesticides, linked to a wide range of adverse health impacts, in some Always sanitary towels. Highly toxic dioxins, which can be cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems and damage the immune system, according to the World Health Organization, were also found in products by OB and the European Nett brands.

Corman, which makes Organyc panty liners, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency that it conducted its own analysis that confirmed the trace amounts of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weedkiller, in its cotton-based products. A spokesperson for Corman said residual traces of glyphosate were found in one sample that “should not have been present in organic cotton.”

The findings caused the company to withdraw a batch of 3,100 boxes of sanitary towels on sale in France and Canada.

Glyphosate, produced and sold by Monsanto, is touted as a “low toxicity” chemical and “safer” than other chemicals by industry. However, glyphosate has been shown to have detrimental impacts on humans and the environment. Given its widespread use on residential and agricultural sites, its toxicity is of increasing concern. Previous studies have linked the toxicant to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

“Even though the percentage of residual toxins found in the specific sample was minimal and not proven to be dangerous we decided to withdraw products from one lot as a precaution,” the spokesman added. “For us, the most important thing is the safety and health of our customers.”

The report has caused France’s National Institution for Consumers to demand that the government enforces stricter controls on feminine hygiene products and greater transparency through labeling, The Local reported.

Beyond Pesticides has long advocated a regulatory approach that prohibits high hazard chemical use and requires alternative assessments. Beyond Pesticides points out that the current pesticide regulatory system relies on risk assessments that allow public exposure hazards and uncertainties deemed acceptable by EPA, despite he availability of less or non-toxic alternative practices and products that are effective, such as organic agriculture.

Sources: Independent

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides

Share

25
Feb

Irvine, CA Adopts Organic Management Policy for City Property

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2016) On Tuesday, the City Council of Irvine, California, with a population of over 250,000 people, voted unanimously to stop the use of hazardous pesticides on city property. The Council adopted an organic management policy that limits the use of synthetic pesticides on city property, which includes 570 acres of parks, more than 800 acres of right-of-way, 70,000 trees and nearly 1.5 million square feet of facilities. The policy permits pesticides  “only when deemed necessary to protect public health and economic impact.”

non toxic irvineThe vote capped a campaign led by the local advocacy group Non Toxic Irvine, which has been advocating that the city nix synthetic pesticides in favor of better plant management and materials compatible with organic practices. The group is led by local mothers concerned about the synthetic pesticide health risks related to children. Kathleen Hallal, a leader with Non Toxic Irvine, said, “It is not radical for a city to use organic methods. It’s radical to use toxic methods to control weeds and pests around our children.”

According to the Orange County Register, in May 2015, the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) agreed to end the use of glyphosate (RoundUp) on all school properties. The school board was persuaded by the presentation by Non Toxic Irvine, which pointed to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for the Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, or chemical that causes cancer in humans based on laboratory testing. Glyphosate is a phosphanoglycine herbicide that inhibits an enzyme essential to plant growth. Since this decision, Joe Hoffman, Director of Maintenance and Operations, established a Pest Management Team to come up with a pest management plan that does not include synthetic pesticides. The IUSD has also implemented pilot sites on school grounds and playing fields at Canyon View Elementary, in response to community health concerns and in order to test the effectiveness of organic practices.

In the last few months, Non Toxic Irvine has shifted its focus to the city in order to seek a change in policy that would affect all city property. After receiving a petition with hundreds of signatures from Change.org, Irvine Mayor Steven Choi ordered a temporary moratorium on pesticide spraying by city maintenance staff. Non Toxic Irvine then met with the City of Irvine’s Landscape Maintenance Superintendent to discuss organic land management, where they discussed the elimination of synthetic pesticides from city property. In January, Irvine Councilmembers Christina Shea and Beth Krom placed the toxic chemicals discussion on their February agenda with an opportunity to vote. That discussion took place on Tuesday and resulted in a unanimous vote to eliminate the use of synthetic pesticides.

What started as a group of concerned mothers, Non Toxic Irvine has grown into an advocacy group that is determined to transition all of Irvine to organic practices. The group’s concerns stem from numerous studies about the effects of glyphosate on children and those associated with cancer. As a result of the IARC listing, California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced that it intended to list glyphosate and three other chemicals as cancer-causing chemicals 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 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) be listed as known cancer-causing chemicals. The major manufacturer of the toxic herbicide, Monsanto, has since sued the state, fearing consumer blowback should it be required to label its flagship product Roundup as carcinogenic.

Concern over unnecessary cosmetic pesticide use has been echoed across the nation by grassroots coalitions of mothers, health activists, and environmental advocates. In Montgomery County, Maryland, legislation introduced by Councilmember George Leventhal, successfully advanced by the parent group Safe Grow Montgomery, allows only lawn care products to be used on private and public property that are compatible with organic practices. Maryland is one of only seven states that has not preempt local jurisdictions from restricting pesticides more stringently than the state.  The Safe Grow Montgomery group worked with Beyond Pesticides to educate the public about the dangers of pesticides, the involuntary poisoning of children and pets, water pollution, and the widespread decline of pollinators. With state preemption law in California, Irvine is not able to expand this policy to restrict the use of toxic pesticides on private property. However, Irvine joins dozens of communities across the country that have not let the issue of state preemption get in the way of passing policies that are still protective of human health and the environment, even if they are unable to restrict pesticide use on privately owned land. In 2012, Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Council voted to limit the use of chemical insecticides, weed killers and other pesticides on county property. That same year, Richmond, California’s City Council unanimously approved a pesticide reform ordinance targeting the use of toxic chemical pesticides within city boundaries. Just this month, the city council of St. Paul, MN adopted a resolution to make the city more pollinator friendly by banning bee-toxic neonicotinoids and other pesticides “proven to be harmful to pollinators” and require an updating of its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, prioritizing non-chemical methods.

Contact Beyond Pesticides at [email protected] for support of  campaigns to adopt local organic policies and transition to organic practices.

 All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Orange County Register

Share

24
Feb

Colorado Legislature Considers Pesticide-Free Marijuana Bill

(Beyond Pesticides February 24, 2016) Last Friday, Colorado’s House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee heard a proposal to create a contaminant-free certification system for marijuana sold within the state. This program, intended to resemble the federal National Organic Program, was offered as a legislative response to protect consumers after the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) failed to implement meaningful regulations to keep marijuana users within the state safe from the harms associated with unregulated pesticides use on cannabis crops. If the proposal moves forward, Colorado will becomes the first state to establish and regulate an organic label in its marijuana industry, paving the way for other states with legalized marijuana industries to follow suit. Massachusetts and New Hampshire require that cultivation practices are consistent with USDA national organic standards.

gavel“Consumers have a right to know what they’re putting in their body,” said Colorado Rep. Jonathan Singer, co-sponsor of HB16-1079, which requires that CDA set up an independent program to certify that cannabis sold in the state is pesticide-free. Companies that meet the standard would then be able to use special labeling to alert consumers that their products are entirely pesticide-free. The program will also attempt to address concerns over the use of the word “organic” in marijuana production, a practice that has been investigated by the Colorado Attorney General in the absence of federal regulation.

Consumer confusion over organic marijuana emerged as an area of concern in Colorado in 2015 and shows no signs of slowing down. Beginning in May of 2015, City of Denver health authorities seized thousands of marijuana plants from growers suspected of using off-limits chemicals on their plants and required companies to issue dozens of recalls over the course of the year. Recently, as a result of an executive order issued by Governor Hickenlooper that declares pesticide-laden marijuana a “public safety risk,” the state Marijuana Enforcement Division has also begun to seize plants that test positive for illegal pesticides. Invoking their authority for the first time, Colorado marijuana regulators announced that they had put a large number of plants and products on hold from two cultivation facilities in Colorado Springs over concerns they were treated with unapproved pesticides.

Officials said the inspectors had identified the presence of myclobutanil on plants from each location. Myclobutanil is a powerful fungicide that, when heated, converts to a potentially hazardous form of hydrogen cyanide. Myclobutanil is also the subject of a lawsuit brought by two Colorado consumers against the state’s largest marijuana grower challenging the use of illegal pesticides in marijuana they later consumed, one of them being a medical card holder with a brain tumor. The lawsuit, was dismissed earlier this month when Denver District Judge Eric Eliff sided with the industry, saying that the consumers behind the case were not actually harmed, dealing a large blow to the plight of consumers trying to protect themselves from the potential harm associated with consuming cannabis treated with illegal pesticides.

While in theory developing an organic label for the marijuana may protect consumers by offering them a way to tell if the marijuana they purchase was treated with pesticides, in execution such a program may not be so simple. Organic standards are currently regulated federally, and marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, making it so the entire program would have to be regulated and enforced by the state. As written, the legislative measure does not specify what growers would have to do to get the certification or how much it would cost them. It, instead, directs the state’s agricultural department to get a third party to draft the regulations, a likely high-cost undertaking for the state. Finally, the bill doesn’t specify which pesticides would be off-limits for organic growers, opening the door for an organic program that does not mirror the standards of the federally administered organic label, further misleading consumers. On the flip side, however, any program that informs consumers about the pesticide content in the marijuana they purchase is an improvement to Colorado’s current regulatory system.

For more information on what the states on doing in the face of a hands-off federal policy to assess the dangers of pesticides used in the production of cannabis, read Beyond Pesticides’ report, Pesticide Use in Marijuana Production: Safety Issues and Sustainable Options.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: USA Today

 

Share

23
Feb

California Health Advocates Continue Call for Increased Buffer Zones Near Schools

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2016) A coalition of local parents and community health groups from California’s Central Valley are calling on the state to set one mile buffer zones around schools in order to reduce children’s exposure to highly toxic pesticides. The request comes after research from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found widely used fumigant pesticides in central California interact synergistically and increase health risks.

spraydriftAlthough California is subject to regressive pesticide preemption laws, county agricultural commissioners have the authority to regulate and enforce pesticide use at the local level. While the state currently sets minimum buffer zones around schools at 500 ft., certain California counties require increased levels of protection around these sensitive sites. However, activists charge that state standards and even locally wider buffer zones are not adequately protecting community health, and comprehensive statewide regulations are needed. In July of 2015, after years of pressure from activists, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) held a series of workshops to gather community input on new rules governing pesticide use near schools. According to The Desert Sun, CDPR is expected to release its first draft of the new regulations for public comment at the end of February.

The stakes are high for families living in the Central Valley. Fumigant pesticides are highly toxic and have a strong propensity to drift far off a target site. UCLA’s recent report found that mixtures of fumigant pesticides may increase the possibility of gene mutations and decrease the body’s ability to repair damaged DNA. The Fresno Bee reported that a nine year old boy, who lives and goes to school close to an orange grove where pesticides are often applied, tested positive for over 50 different chemicals, based on a hair sample provided to researchers. “I was concerned and upset,” the boy’s mother said to the paper.

While increased buffer zones may provide some reprieve from pesticide trespass, it will not eliminate health concerns for children in the region. Virginia Zaunbrecher, JD, of UCLA’s Science and Technology program remarked to Fresno Bee, “In general, a buffer zone is going to decrease exposure, but it’s not going to eliminate exposure.” Beyond Pesticides has long encouraged a minimum two mile buffer zone for agricultural pesticide use around sensitive areas. Also important for communities isan adequate route of communication and notification when pesticide applications will be taking place.

“We can work with growers. We don’t have to tell them to stop using them, but we have to learn about the cross-sectionality that these pesticides have,” said Michelle Hasson of the Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability to The Desert Sun. “If we’re going to use the most hazardous pesticides, they can’t be along a school bus route. There are alternatives.” These statements point to the overwhelming obstacles adversely affected low-income and minority communities are subject to in this fight for health-protective policies.

More than a decade ago, six families filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that details the dangerous levels of pesticides at Latino public schools throughout California that exposed Latino kids to chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, neurodevelopmental disorders and other serious health problems. The complaint urged EPA to enforce the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits recipients of federal funds from engaging in discriminatory practices. In 2011, as a result of a settlement agreement EPA reached with CDPR, EPA found that CDPR’s past renewal of the toxic fumigant methyl bromide discriminated against Latino school children whose schools are located near agriculture fields, conceding that unintentional adverse and disproportionate impact on Latino children resulting from the use of methyl bromide during that period could have occurred. Methyl bromide is still widely used in California to grow strawberries, despite its ban under the Montreal Protocol. However, little was done to remedy these exposures and so a lawsuit was filed in 2013 against EPA’s continuing failure to protect Latino students. The case was subsequently moved for dismissal in federal court in part due to lack of jurisdiction.

In the county of Kauai, Hawaii, even a modest proposal to implement California’s current 500 ft buffer zones around sensitive sites like schools and hospitals was met with intense opposition from agrichemical industry interests. Although a law was passed, it was struck down in the courts, and a state proposal currently faces significant hurdles.

Ultimately, what is needed to truly protect community health is a transition away from toxic pesticides towards agricultural practices which promote pest resilience and decrease the need for toxic chemicals. A wide variety of alternative practices and products are now coming online to assist growers in preventing pest problems before they start. Organic agriculture, which requires farmers to improve soil health and craft an organic system plan to guide pest control decisions, represents a viable path forward for agriculture in California and beyond. As researchers from Washington State University established earlier this month, the transition to organic agriculture is essential to a healthy, sustainable future for people and the planet.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Desert Sun, Fresno Bee

Share

22
Feb

Scientists Express Concern Over Widespread Use of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2016) A scientific review was released last week by a group of fourteen scientists in which they expressed concern over the widespread use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), the lack of understanding regarding human exposure, and the potential health impacts. Along with the reasons for concern, the scientific panel called for increased government scrutiny of glyphosate and further testing. In an excerpt from the review, the scientists’ state that,“A thorough and modern assessment of GBH toxicity will encompass potential endocrine disruption, impacts on the gut microbiome, carcinogenicity, and multigenerational effects looking at reproductive capability and frequency of birth defects.”

roundupThe study, published in the journal Environmental Health, was authored by 14 health scientists mostly from universities. Pete Myers, founder and chief scientist at Environmental Health Sciences is the lead author of the report.
“It’s time to call on the global science and regulatory community to step back and take a fresh look at glyphosate since everyone on the planet is or will be exposed,” said senior author Charles Benbrook, an agricultural economist and consultant at Benbrook Consulting Services.

According to the report, federal health agencies, such as the U.S. National Toxicology Program, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have not adequately kept up with cutting-edge research. “Since the late 1980s, only a few studies relevant to identifying and quantifying human health risks have been submitted to the U.S. EPA,” the authors write, adding that such assessments need to be based on “up-to-date science.”

According to a separate report authored by Dr. Benbrook, published in early February, two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years. And, in 2014, enough glyphosate was sprayed to leave more than three-quarters of a pound of the active ingredient on every harvested acre of cropland in the U.S., and remarkably, almost a half-pound per acre on all cropland worldwide (0.53 kilogram/hectare).

Glyphosate, touted as a “low toxicity” chemical and “safer” than other chemicals by EPA and industry, is widely used in food production, especially with herbicide-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) crops, and on lawns, gardens, parks, and children’s playing fields.

Following the carcinogenic classification by International Agency for Research on Cancern (IARC), a research study published in Environmental Health linked long-term, ultra-low dose exposure to glyphosate in drinking water to adverse impacts on the health of liver and kidneys. The study focuses on GHBs, rather than pure glyphosate, unlike many of the studies that preceded it. In addition to impacts on human health, glyphosate has been linked to adverse effects on earthworms and other soil biota, as well as shape changes in amphibians. The widespread use of the chemical on genetically engineered (GE) crops has led it to be implicated in the decline of monarch butterflies, whose sole habitat to lay their eggs, milkweed plants, are being devastated as a result of incessant use of glyphosate. All of these findings support the review’s conclusion that “a fresh and independent examination of GBH toxicity should be undertaken.”

In the face of these widespread health and environmental impacts, and in the absence of real action to restrict this chemical at the federal level, it is up to concerned citizens to advocate for changes in public land management practices within their community. Whether it’s your local government, homeowner’s association, or child’s playing field, concerned residents can make positive change and get glyphosate and other unnecessary toxic chemicals out of your community. It takes a lot of work and commitment, but it can be done with perseverance. Get your community campaign going with Beyond Pesticides’ “Start Your Own Local Movement” fact sheet. Although glyphosate is an important chemical to remove from use in your community, recall that a range of chemicals are linked to public health impacts, and a comprehensive approach that encourages organic land management is the best long-term solution.

Another way to avoid glyphosate and other harmful pesticides is to support organic agriculture and eat organic food. Beyond Pesticides has long advocated for organic management practices as a means to foster biodiversity, and research shows that organic farmers do a better job of protecting biodiversity than their chemically-intensive counterparts. Instead of prophylactic use of pesticides and biotechnology, responsible organic farms focus on fostering habitat for pest predators and other beneficial insects, and only resort to judicious use of least-toxic pesticides when other cultural, structural, mechanical, and biological controls have been attempted and proven ineffective.

Tell EPA and USDA to stop glyphosate use now by signing Beyond Pesticides’ petition. After you sign the petition, we encourage you to craft your own unique letter to your local, state, and federal representatives, as well as officials at EPA and USDA. Let them know that you’re not okay with a carcinogen on our lawns and in our food.

Source: Environmental Health; Environmental Health News

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Share

19
Feb

Hazards Linked to Still Unregulated Pesticide Mixtures

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2016) Pesticide mixtures are more harmful than individual pesticides, according to a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) study that focuses on three commonly used fumigants – chloropicrin, Telone, and metam salts. The study also concludes that, while California law requires the Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) and county agricultural commissioners to assess these kinds of cumulative risks when regulating pesticides, they have so far failed to do so.

driftThe report, titled Exposure and Interaction – The Potential Health Impacts of Using Multiple Pesticides: A Case Study of Three Commonly Used Fumigants, was published by the Sustainable Technology and Policy Program, based in the UCLA School of Law and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. The case study of the three fumigants, which are commonly applied together in California on high value crops, such as strawberries, tomatoes, tree nuts, and stone fruits, finds that:

  1. These pesticides may interact to increase the health risk for California farm workers and residents,
  2. Workers and residents are regularly exposed to two or more of these pesticides simultaneously, and
  3. DPR does not regulate the application of multiple pesticides to prevent or decrease risks to human health, despite having authority to do so.

While chloropicrin, Telone (also known as 1,3-D), and metam salts are toxic when used individually, the UCLA report demonstrates that their combined effect may be even greater because the pesticides may interact to increase damage to cells, leading to an increased risk of cancer. The report notes that the fumigants analyzed in the study can reduce the body’s ability to remove or neutralize toxic substances. The study hypothesizes that pesticide mixtures may increase the possibility of gene mutations and decrease the body’s ability to repair damaged DNA.

“People are exposed throughout their lifetimes to mixtures of chemicals and other agents, including pesticides,” said Timothy Malloy, a professor at the School of Law, faculty director of the Sustainable Technology and Policy Program and one of the report’s authors. “Increasingly, research shows that pesticide mixtures can interact to cause larger-than-anticipated impacts on public health. Farm workers and local residents are especially at risk, given that they may be exposed to two or more pesticides simultaneously or in sequence.”

The report also shows that some California communities are being exposed simultaneously to these chemicals. Using data from the Pesticide Research Institute, which collaborated with UCLA, the report examines the area near Rio Mesa High School in Ventura County from July 26 to August 3, 2013. The model shows exposure to multiple pesticides at locations including schools, day care centers, and parks.

“Fumigant pesticides are highly toxic chemicals that are likely to vaporize and drift away from the farms where they’re applied and affect people in surrounding schools, houses, businesses and fields,” said John Froines,Ph.D., an author of the report and a professor emeritus of environmental health sciences at the Fielding School of Public Health.

The report acknowledges that assessing the risks of multiple exposures is challenging, but it also finds that it is essential for fully understanding potential adverse effects. The report recommends that DPR and agricultural commissioners evaluate pesticide mixtures and implement regulations to more adequately protect human health, including:

  • Testing pesticides that are sold as part of a mixture for interactive toxic effects before approving their use.
  • Requiring evaluation of products that are not used as part of a mixture but are used in combination or sequentially with other pesticides to determine the likelihood of interactive effects.
  • Considering pesticides’ interactive effects — which may occur either because the pesticides are marketed in combination or because they are commonly used together — in performing risk assessments and establishing management requirements.

The UCLA study contributes to the growing body of research on the interactive effects of pesticides on human health and the environment. For example, Tyrone Hayes, PhD, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley conducted research on the interactive effects of atrazine and other pesticides in a study on frogs. The study compared the impact of exposure to realistic combinations of small concentrations of corn pesticides on frog metamorphosis. The study concluded that frog tadpoles exposed to mixtures of pesticides took longer to metamorphose to adults and were smaller at metamorphosis than those exposed to single pesticides, with consequences for frog survival. The study revealed that “estimating ecological risk and the impact of pesticides on amphibians using studies that examine only single pesticides at high concentrations may lead to gross underestimations of the role of pesticides in amphibian declines.” (Watch Dr. Hayes’ talk, Protecting Life: From Research to Regulation.)

Similarly, pesticide products available for sale are often chemical mixtures of active ingredients that create a cocktail of toxins while studies on pesticide combinations have demonstrated neurological, endocrine, and immune effects at low doses. For example, research conducted by Warren Porter, PhD., professor of zoology and environmental toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, examined the effect of fetal exposures to  a mixture of 2,4-D, mecoprop, and dicamba exposure —frequently used together in lawn products like Weed B Gone Max and Trillion— on the mother’s ability to successfully bring young to birth and weaning. Researchers began by testing pesticide concentrations diluted to levels that are considered “safe” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The results were striking: Dr. Porter found that, “This common lawn pesticide mixture is capable of inducing abortions and resorptions of fetuses at very low parts per billion. The greatest effect was at the lowest dose.”

EPA’s risk assessment process also fails to look at chemical mixtures and synergistic effects, as well as certain health endpoints (such as endocrine disruption), disproportionate effects to vulnerable population groups, and regular noncompliance with product label directions. These deficiencies contribute to its severe limitations in defining real world poisoning, as captured by epidemiologic studies in Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database.

Another toxic fumigant, methyl bromide, has been linked to serious human health impacts. The substitute fumigants for methyl bromide also have severe negative health and environmental impacts. For instance, sulfuryl fluoride was also put forward as an alternative, but due to concerns of fluoride overexposure, EPA cancelled sulfuryl fluoride use on stored food products in 2011, however Congress has held up the decision (See When Politics Trumps Science and Health Suffers). The highly controversial methyl iodide, which was also put forward as an alternative, is known to cause miscarriages, thyroid dysfunction, and cancer. It was approved by California state pesticide regulators in 2010, but the manufacturer eventually agreed to stop producing the chemical in 2013.

For more information on pesticide synergy, see Synergy: The Big Unknowns of Pesticide Exposure. For information on individual pesticide health effects, see the Pesticide Gateway.

Sources: UCLA Newsroom Press Release

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides

Share

18
Feb

Congressional Reps Want EPA Review of Glyphosate-2,4-D Mixture Enlist Duo

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2016) Last week, 35 members of Congress, led by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) and Peter DeFazio (OR-4), signed a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, challenging EPA’s review process for the glyphosate and 2,4-D herbicide mixture, known as Enlist Duo. It is produced by Dow AgroSciences for use in genetically engineered crops. The letter requests “more information about EPA’s plan to reevaluate Enlist Duo’s health and environmental risks.” The letter comes just weeks after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from EPA to vacate its own decision to approve the toxic herbicide cocktail. Because of the court’s decision, EPA is solely responsible for the decision about Enlist Duo’s registration.

threeenlistsystemcomponentsEnlistDuoherbicideEnlisttraitsEnlistAhead“This is part of a vicious cycle that is leading to more potent, dangerous chemicals being widely used on crops across the United States,” said Rep. Blumenauer. He continued, “With the rise of herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops, herbicides are more widely sprayed causing weeds to grow more resistant – ultimately, requiring the application of even stronger herbicides. EPA must take action to make sure products entering the market to be used on our food are safe for human health and the environment.”

In November, 2015, EPA voluntarily revoked the registration of Dow’s Enlist Duo based on new information on the toxic effects associated with the synergistic interactions of the chemical cocktail, including 2,4-D, glyphosate, and other undisclosed ingredients, to plants outside the treated area. In January, 2016, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the revocation in a three-sentence order that gave no reasoning. With EPA facing pressure from environmental groups and Dow’s legal team, it will have to choose whether it will cancel the pesticides, acknowledging the imminent hazard and removing it from the market immediately, or undergo a lengthy cancellation process that may not resolve the issues at hand.  Additionally, to protect farmers and dealers, EPA could issue a product notice immediately, identifying new issues and findings that were not available at the time of registration.

Enlist Duo has been marketed as a “solution” for the control of glyphosate-resistant weeds brought on by the widespread use of the chemical on glyphosate-tolerant (Roundup Ready) crops over the last decade. These super weeds now infest tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmland. However, independent and USDA scientists predict that the Enlist Duo “crop system” will only foster resistance to 2,4-D in addition to glyphosate, thus continuing the GE crop pesticide treadmill and escalating the cycle of more toxic pesticides in the environment. Additionally, the health effects of both 2,4-D and glyphosate are well documented. 2,4-D has been linked to soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), neurotoxicity, kidney/liver damage, and harm to the reproductive system. Glyphosate has been recently classified as a human carcinogen based on laboratory studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March.

In the letter addressed to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the U.S. Representatives suggest EPA use the “utmost caution in assessing the safety of Enlist Duo before approving it for continued use.” It goes on to cite the concerns of the future analysis process: “We are troubled by reports that the EPA plans to conduct an extremely limited reanalysis of Enlist Duo’s harms, questioning only whether a larger no-spray zone is needed to protect endangered plants that grow close to farm fields.” The legislators suggest that EPA review WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer’s finding that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans” and investigate studies that indicate Enlist Duo’s fatal effect on the monarch butterfly population.

“The relentless pursuit of herbicide-resistant crops by corporate agriculture has created a toxic treadmill in our food system,” said Rep. DeFazio. “It’s hard to believe that we are now debating whether or not a probable carcinogen such as glyphosate is safe to use on the food that we feed our children. The EPA needs to stand up against the pressures from the pesticide and agriculture industry and thoroughly assess the environmental and health impacts of this toxic chemical and reject it if the science shows there will be harm.”

Beyond Pesticides has long advocated a regulatory approach that prohibits high hazard chemical use and requires alternative assessments. Beyond Pesticides suggests an approach that rejects uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations filled with uncertainty, and instead focuses on safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as organic agriculture, which prohibits the vast majority of toxic chemicals.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source:  Rep. Peter DeFazio

Share

17
Feb

Organic Dairy and Meat Higher in Essential Nutrients

(Beyond Pesticides, February 17, 2016) After reviewing a prolific scientific database, researchers find that organic meat and milk have 50 percent more important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that are important in human nutrition. Organic meat has slightly lower concentrations of saturated fats, while organic milk contains 40 percent more linoleic acid, and carries slightly higher concentrations of iron, vitamin E and some carotenoids. While this new information certainly adds to the debate over the benefits of organic, it strengthens the argument that there is a nutritional advantage to eating organic that complements the environmental benefit of  avoiding toxic pesticide use.

The new findings, reported in two studies by scientists from the United Kingdom, Poland, Norway, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Greece and Turkey, “ Higher PUFA and omega-3 PUFA, CLA, a-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta- and Redundancy Analyses” and “Composition differences between organic and conventional meat; a systematic literature review and meta-analysis,” both published in the British Journal of Nutrition, compare the compositional differences between organic and conventional (non-organic) milk and dairy, as well as organic and conventional meat.  The researchers reviewed 196 research studies of milk and 67 papers on meat to identify clear differences between organic and conventional milk and meat, in terms of fatty acid composition, and in the concentrations of certain minerals and anti-oxidants. The reviews include several studies of mothers and children and the consequences of organic milk and dairy consumption.

coworganicOrganic milk, according to the findings, contains substantially more omega-3 fatty acids, including in excess of 50% more nutritionally desirable very long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA, DPA and DHA. The results also show significantly higher levels of polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), vitamin E (a-tocopherol), and iron, but a lower ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fat, and lower levels of selenium and iodine in organic milk. Additionally, the researchers point out the more desirable fat profiles in organic milk are closely linked to outdoor grazing and low concentrate feeding in dairy diets, as prescribed by organic farming standards. Interestingly, some of the studies reviewed show that the use of traditional breeds and low milking frequency also contribute to milk quality differences. Similarly, for organic meat, there are significantly higher levels of polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) and omega-6 fatty acids, but lower concentrations of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and a lower omega-6/omega-3 fat ratio.

“Several of these differences stem from organic livestock production and are brought about by differences in production intensity, with outdoor-reared, grass-fed animals producing milk and meat that is consistently higher in desirable fatty acids, such as the omega-3s, and lower in fatty acids that can promote heart disease and other chronic diseases,” said Professor Carlo Leifert, PhD, of the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group at the University of Newcastle, and lead author of both studies. Omega-3 is much more prevalent in grass than in grain, which is why organic livestock and milk contain higher levels.

These new studies add to the mounting evidence which shows that organically grown foods contain higher essential nutrients than conventionally grown foods. A similar study, also from the University of Newcastle, finds that organic farmers who let their cows graze as nature intended are producing better quality milk, with significantly higher beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins than their conventional counterparts.

Other studies that have looked at organic produce also report better nutritional profiles. For instance, a ten-year University of California study, which compared organic tomatoes with those chemically grown, found that they have almost double the quantity of disease-fighting antioxidants called flavonoids. A comprehensive review of 97 published studies comparing the nutritional quality of organic and conventional foods show that organic plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, grains) contain higher levels of eight of 11 nutrients, including significantly greater concentrations of the health-promoting polyphenols and antioxidants.

Importantly, studies find that consumers are exposed to elevated levels of pesticides from conventionally grown food. Organic foods have been shown to reduce dietary pesticide exposure. and children who eat a conventional diet of food produced with chemical-intensive practices carry residues of organophosphate pesticides that are reduced or eliminated when they switch to an organic diet. One 2015 study from the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) shows that children, especially those in low-income and agricultural families, who switched to an organic diet. reduced their bodies’ level of pesticides.

Beyond Pesticides advocates in its program and through its Eating with a Conscience website choosing organic because of the environmental and health benefits to consumers, workers, and rural families. The Eating with a Conscience database, based on legal tolerances (or allowable residues on food commodities), describes a food production system that enables toxic pesticide use both domestically and internationally, and provides a look at the toxic chemicals allowed in the production of the food we eat and the environmental and public health effects resulting from their use. For more information on the benefits of organic agriculture, see Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Food program page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Guardian; Nafferton Ecological Farming Group

Share

16
Feb

Intersex Fish at National Wildlife Refuges Considered for Further Study

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2016) Last Thursday, officials reported that federal scientists for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are recommending follow up studies for a portion of the Wallkill River in Sussex County, NJ, in addition to five other national wildlife refuges in the Northeast that were previously found to contain small-mouth bass with intersex characteristics. A study conducted by FWS and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) points out that smallmouth and largemouth bass are showing intersex features, but researchers have not pinpointed the cause. Scientists hope a follow up study will provide answers.

wallkill-riverIntersex fish and other species are characterized by one sex exhibiting traits of the opposite sex. In the case of the FWS/USGS study, researchers found testicular oocytes —female eggs found inside male testicles—in male smallmouth and largemouth bass. The source of intersex effects can be hard to pinpoint, but pesticides are often cited as a cause given that they widely pollute waterways that fish populate. Those chemicals have properties that disrupt the endocrine system and affect the reproductive system, causing development issues such as testicular oocytes. According to the USGS press release for the study, “Estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals are derived from a variety of sources, from natural estrogens to synthetic pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals that enter the waterways. Examples include some types of birth control pills, natural sex hormones in livestock manures, herbicides and pesticides.”

In statements to Scott Fallon, a writer for The Record, Fred Pinkney, Ph.D., a FWS contaminants biologist who coauthored the first study, said, “A follow-up study would include more fish samples and also tests for chemicals in the water for 30 to 60 days.” Leadership at FWS and USGS still has to sign off on additional research. Funding has not yet been earmarked for a follow-up study.

Advocates for the Wallkill River were pleased that that the agency is looking at further studies. “What we’d like to find out is a short list of compounds that are causing these changes in the fish,” stated Dan Shapely, Hudson River Riverkeeper who monitors water quality in the Wallkill, a tributary of the Hudson River.

Fish and other aquatic organisms face numerous risks from pesticide exposures, even at low levels. In fact, USGS scientists identified pesticides as one of the contaminants in the Potomac River linked to intersex fish observed there. Atrazine, one of the most commonly used herbicides in the world, has been shown to affect reproduction of fish at concentrations below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) water-quality guidelines. Concentrations of atrazine commonly found in agricultural streams and rivers have been associated with a reduction in reproduction and spawning, as well as tissue abnormalities.

In fish and humans, endocrine disrupting effects include direct effects on traditional endocrine glands, their hormones and receptors, such as estrogens, anti-androgens, and thyroid hormones, as well as signaling cascades that affect many of the body’s systems, including reproductive function and fetal development, the nervous system and behavior, the immune and metabolic systems, the liver, bones and many other organs, glands and tissues. Hundreds of scientific articles have been published across the globe demonstrating a broad selection of chemicals that interfere with the normal development at all ranges of exposure. Scientists discovered effects for some widely used chemicals at concentrations thousands of times less than federal “safe” levels of exposure derived through traditional toxicological tests. Whatever the exposure level, neither fish nor humans are protected from most endocrine-disrupting chemicals present in waterways.

Beyond Pesticides continues to fight to prevent water pollution and harmful agricultural practices. Visit the Threatened Waters page and learn how organic land management practices contribute to healthy waters in the article, “Organic Land Management and the Protection of Water Quality.”

Source: northjersey.com; The Record

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Share

12
Feb

Study Blames Pollinator Decline on Disease, Despite Overwhelming Evidence Pointing to Bee-Killing Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2015) A new study published last week asserts a viral epidemic driven by parasitic mites is contributing to the global decline in bees, problematically underplaying the significant impact that bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides have on pollinator populations, as supported by a growing body of scientific literature, especially findings that show bees’ increased vulnerability to parasites and viruses.

BeesResearchers of the study, titled “Deformed wing virus is a recent global epidemic in honeybees driven by Varroa mites” and published in the journal Science, conclude that the deformed wing virus (DWV), which is typically transmitted through its main vector, the Varroa mite, is globally distributed and recently spread from a common source, European honeybee Apis mellifera. Lead researcher Lena Bayer-Wilfert, PhD, of the University of Exeter, said European bees are at the heart of the global spread of what she calls a “double blow” for colonies. “This is clearly linked to the human movement of honey bee colonies around the globe,” she told BBC News.

Co-researcher Professor Roger Butlin of the University of Sheffield said DWV was a major threat to honey bee populations across the world with the epidemic “driven by the trade and movement of honeybee colonies.” Professor Stephen Martin of the University of Salford, another co-researcher, said the combination of the virus and the mite were at the heart of the crash in honeybee populations. “It supports the idea that DWV is the main cause for the colony losses associated with Varroa and that this comes from European bees,” he said, according to BBC.

The new study, however, fails to acknowledge the role that neonicotinoids are playing in the pollinator decline. Other studies on the subject reveal a clear link between these chemicals and the synergistic effects they have on bees when combined with parasites and disease, such one published by Di Presco et al. (2013), which found that the neonicotinoid clothianidin reduced insect immunity, as well as promoted of viral replication in honey bees by up to 1,000-fold, after exposure to field-realistic and sublethal doses. A review of recent literature concludes that the weight of evidence “strongly confirms that systemic insecticides, notably the neonicotinoids…, are the primary factor in the death of millions of bee colonies globally.”

Neonicotinoid are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets from which bees forage and drink. They are particularly dangerous because, in addition to being acutely toxic in high doses, they also result in serious sublethal effects when insects are exposed to chronic low doses, as they are through pollen and water droplets laced with the chemical, as well as dust that is released into the air when coated seeds are planted with automated vacuum seed planters. These effects cause significant problems for the health of individual honey bees as well as the overall health of honey bee colonies. Effects include disruptions in bee mobility, navigation, feeding behavior, foraging activity, memory and learning, and overall hive activity.

Beyond Pesticides has long advocated a regulatory approach that prohibits high hazard chemical use and requires alternative assessments. Farm, beekeeper, and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides, have urged EPA to follow in the European Union’s footsteps and suspend the huge numbers of other bee-harming pesticides already on the market. We suggest an approach that rejects uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations, and instead focuses on safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as organic agriculture, which prohibits the use of neonicotinoids. See how you can help through Bee Protective.

Sources: Science; BBC

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Share

11
Feb

Organic Agriculture Essential to a Sustainable Future

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2016) Last week, two Washington State University (WSU) researchers published a review study in the journal Nature Plants that deemed organic agriculture as a necessary tool for feeding the global population sustainably. In their review, which analyzed hundreds of studies about organic and conventional agriculture, soil science and agroecology professor John Reganold, Ph.D., and doctoral candidate Jonathan Wachter referred to organic agriculture as an untapped resource for feeding the Earth’s population, “especially in the face of climate change and other global challenges.” Using over 40 years of science, this study, entitled “Organic Agriculture in the 21st Century,” aptly refers to organic agriculture as the solution to the globe’s current and future food crises and conventional farming as an undeniable catalyst in the Earth’s demise.

Comparison chart of ecological, environmental, and economic benefits in conventional and organic agriculture.

Comparison chart of ecological, environmental, and economic benefits in conventional and organic agriculture (click to see larger image)

In his blog post about the new study, Dr. Reganold explains the recent increase in agreement about the benefits and necessities of organic agriculture: “Hundreds of scientific studies now show that organic agriculture can produce sufficient yields, is profitable for farmers, protects and improves the environment, and is safer for farmworkers. Thirty years ago, there were just a couple of handfuls of studies comparing organic with conventional agriculture. In the last 15 years, the number of these kinds of studies has skyrocketed.” Using those studies, Dr. Reganold and Mr. Wachter compared organic and conventional agriculture across the four goals of sustainability identified by the National Academy of Sciences –productivity, economics, environment, and social well-being.

The study addresses critics of organic agriculture, who believe that chemical-intensive agriculture produces higher yields than organic. However, while Dr. Reganold notes that organic agriculture may produce about 10 to 20 percent less than its chemical-intensive counterpart, it thrives in environmental advantages. According to the WSU press release on the study, “Numerous studies in the review also prove the environmental benefits of organic production. Overall, organic farms tend to store more soil carbon, have better soil quality and reduce soil erosion. Organic agriculture creates less soil and water pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s more energy efficient because it doesn’t rely on synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.”

But the researchers argue that too much reliance is placed on the quantity of food rather than the quality and necessity. Dr. Reganold asserts that “we already produce enough food to more than feed the world’s 7.4 billion people but do not provide adequate access to all individuals.” The study also points to changing global conditions that may affect the way conventional farmers improve their yield. For example, drought is an increasing concern for farmers and conventional agriculture struggles to keep up with its organic counterpart in that sense. The study argues that because of climate change, extreme drought conditions could bode disastrous for conventional farming systems, yet feasible for organic farms because soil retention is naturally higher. “In severe drought conditions, which are expected to increaase with climate change, organic farms have the potential to produce high yields because of the higher water-holding capacity of organically farmed soils,” Dr. Reganold said. On the same note, the study points to the numerous benefits of organically-managed soil, such as carbon storage, overall quality, and reduced erosion.

One of the challenges of organic agriculture is some of the current policies governing organic farmers. The study acknowledges obstacles, such as “the costs of transitioning to organic certification, lack of access to labor and markets, and lack of appropriate infrastructure for storing and transporting food.” According to Dr. Reganold, policies should be put in place that:

  • “Offer greater financial incentives for farmers to adopt conservation measures and scientifically sound sustainable, organic, and integrated crop or livestock production practices.
  • Expand outreach and technical assistance that will provide farmers with better information about these transformative practices.
  • Increase publicly funded research to improve and expand modern sustainable farming.”

Good organic practices work to build the soil and maintain an ecological balance that makes chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides unnecessary. Claims that organic agriculture cannot feed the world because of lower yields are contested by scientific studies showing that organic yields are comparable to conventional yields and require significantly lower inputs. Therefore, organic agriculture is not only necessary in order to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals, it is necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of food production, the environment,, and the economy.

For further information, check out our webpages on Organic Agriculture.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source:  Nature Plants, Union of Concerned Scientists

Share

10
Feb

Hawaii Pesticide Disclosure Bill Passes Committee

(Beyond Pesticides February 10, 2016) Last week Hawaii’s House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, chaired by Representative Chris Lee, unanimously passed a measure to require large-scale, outdoor commercial agricultural businesses to publicly disclose outdoor application of pesticides in various environmentally sensitive areas. House Bill 2574 will make the reporting guidelines for the voluntary Kauai program mandatory across the state and will also establish “disclosure and public notification requirements for outdoor applications of pesticides in and in the proximity of schools, health care facilities, child care facilities, elder care facilities, and other environmentally sensitive areas,” according to the bill. The bill’s next step is the Agriculture Committee, where chair Representative Clift Tsuji has killed pesticide-related bills in the past.Hawaii

House Bill 2574 is the latest in a string of laws proposed by local and state governments within Hawaii to try to protect citizens from the harms of toxic pesticides. In 2015, Hawaiian legislators proposed House Bill 1514 to establish school and hospital buffer zones. The bill, which would have prohibited farmers from using large amounts of pesticides within a specified distance of schools and hospitals, stemmed from concerns about the impact of genetically-engineered (GE) farming and its inherent dependency on increasing pesticide use. The measure sought to require companies’ disclosure of the pesticides used and the volume of use. Despite having strong backing from neighbor island residents and the Hawaii chapter of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), the bill was eventually rejected by the state House Agriculture Committee. This rejection is concerning for proponents of HB 2574, as many fear under Representative Tsuji’s leadership the newly proposed language may meet the same fate.

Aside from the state-level attempts to curb pesticide use in Hawaii, recent years have seen several local jurisdictions also attempting to pass their only legislation on pesticide and pesticide-related issues, which are all too often met with defeat under industry pressure. Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island all passed laws attempting to regulate the seed industry, but a federal district court judge ruled that Hawaii counties do not have that power. A federal court also blocked a local pesticide and GE law passed in Kauai, which was designed to protect local residents and Kauai’s environment from the year-round spraying of large quantities of restricted use pesticides by multinational chemical companies by ruling that Hawaii state law preempts local authority to restrict pesticides. The county of Hawai’i chose to appeal a similar decision by a federal court that invalidated its 2013 county law restricting GE crops on the island. Other counties have not fared so well in the face of federal opposition, as evidenced in Maui’s 2015 decision not to defend its own GE moratorium bill in the face of a challenge from the chemical industry, much to the disappointment of activists that supported the original measure.

There is hope for the new bill will fair better that its predecessors, as the agriculture committee has already received at least 625 pages of written testimony it will consider in making its final decision. Center for Food Safety, Americans for Democratic Action and the Pesticide Action Network have all voiced their support for the bill, advocating for the importance of mandatory reporting requirements for pesticides used within the state, despite efforts from Syngenta to maintain the voluntary reporting requirements that currently serve as law.

Residents living on the Hawaiian Islands are subject to a particularly pronounced form of environmental assault, as the state’s premiere growing conditions have made it a prime target for agrichemical companies to test new, experimental forms of GE crops. Data released in 2014 reveals that high levels of restricted use pesticides, in some cases almost double the pounds per acre average of other states, are being used in Kauai County. According to the Center for Food Safety, in 2014 alone, there were 1,381 field test sites in Hawaii, compared to only 178 sites in California- a large agricultural state. Most of these crops are engineered to tolerate herbicides. Testing these crops means repeated spraying of dangerous chemicals near neighborhoods, schools, and waterways.  Residents of the Hawaiian Islands who live, work, or go to school near these fields are subject to incessant pesticide spraying, as the climate provides a year-round growing season for GE crops. A May 2014 report found 25 herbicides, 11 insecticides and 6 fungicides in Hawaii’s waterways, underscoring resident concerns for both the land and human health.

Beyond Pesticides continues to be an ardent supporter of common sense protections from pesticides and their associated use on GE crops. If you too support these issues, please consider joining us in person to help us continue the fight against pesticide use. This spring Beyond Pesticides is convening, with local and regional partner organizations, the 34th National Pesticide Forum from April 15-16 in Portland, Maine. Early bird registration is currently in effect, so make your plans to register today!

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Garden Island

Share

09
Feb

Bayer Refuses to Cancel Insecticide Toxic to Aquatic Life

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2016) Last week, Bayer CropScience reneged on an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to voluntarily cancel the conditionally registered insecticide flubendiamide if the agency received data that identified adverse ecological effects. Based on the data, EPA found that the chemical causes “unreasonable adverse effects” to benthic organisms living in sediment near agricultural fields. Bayer’s defiance in the face of EPA’s finding points to a fundamental weakness in the agency’s conditional pesticide registration process, which allows toxic chemicals onto the market without a complete and comprehensive assessment of their potential harm, in this case to wildlife and the vital ecosystem services they provide.

bayerlogoIn 2008, EPA granted Bayer a “conditional” registration for flubendiamide, a classification that allows a new pesticide to be registered and used in the field, despite outstanding data points on its toxicological impact. In this case, original data submitted to EPA by Bayer showed concern over the effect of the chemical and its breakdown product on freshwater benthic invertebrates, species such as crustaceans and aquatic insects that live in stream sediment and provide important ecosystem services such as decomposition and nutrient cycling. In response, rather than declining to proceed with registration of the chemical, EPA negotiated a deal with Bayer to conditionally register the chemical for five years with additional label restrictions, while it waited for more data on the harm to benthic species. As part of the additional data requirements, EPA requested a study to investigate the utility of 15 ft buffer zones (part of the new label requirements EPA assumed would mitigate hazards to benthic organisms). In a novel move, EPA’s agreement with Bayer indicated that the pesticide’s conditional registration would expire in 2013, and if additional data revealed “unreasonable adverse effects,” it would notify the company requesting, which would then voluntarily withdraw the chemical from the market.

EPA wrote (p.10): “If there are risk concerns at that time that result in the Agency being unable to determine there are no reasonable adverse effects to the environment, the registrants have agreed that the pesticide will be voluntarily canceled.”

Fast-forward to last week, when EPA sent a letter to Bayer indicating that “…the continued use of the currently registered flubendiamide products will result in unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” “In fact,” wrote Jack Housenger, Director of EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, “EPA’s most recent analysis suggests that the continued use of flubendiamide is expected to have significant negative impact on invertebrates of aquatic systems, which could lead to negative impacts on other taxa as well.”

Bayer’s response does not appear to honor its 2008 agreement with EPA. Rather than cancelling flubendiamide, Bayer lashed out at EPA’s interpretation of the data and conclusion that the chemical results in unreasonable adverse effects to benthic organisms. Further, Bayer asserts that EPA’s “forced ‘voluntary’ cancellation request…is unlawful.” “In making this demand,” Bayer wrote, “EPA relies on an unlawful condition of registration that EPA devised in an effort to bypass required statutory cancellation proceedings, deny Bayer and Nichino due process rights in their registrations granted by Congress, and shield EPA’s future scientific and regulatory determinations from required interagency and scientific peer review.”

The matter will now be brought to an administrative judge.

The back and forth between EPA and Bayer reveal an agency hoisted by its own petard. Rather than reject the pesticide for its adverse impacts, or require the additional data before it is used in the field, EPA allowed a pesticide known to harm aquatic organisms to go to market with only a promise that it would be withdrawn if warranted by additional data. EPA has historically opted to work with pesticide manufacturers to have them voluntarily cancel harmful products, rather than go through an objectively costly process of cancellation proceedings. Bayer’s actions show the danger of making deals with a multinational corporation that puts profit motives above environmental health.

This scandal further highlights the failure of EPA to manage its pesticide registration system. In 2013, the Government Accountability Office scolded the agency for its conditional registration process, writing, “Specifically, EPA does not have a reliable system, such as an automated data system, to track key information related to conditional registrations, including whether companies have submitted additional data within required time frames.” A significant issue related to this problem was the handling of the conditional registration for another of Bayer’s products, neonicotinoid pesticides. Despite data showing adverse effects to honey bees, and a leaked EPA analysis indicating a field study provided by Bayer was inadequate, the agency provided the chemical clothianidin with a conditional registration. EPA later reversed its stance on the field study and provided clothianidin with a full registration after it indicated that it was able to generate enough data by combining the defunct field study with other proprietary studies Bayer conducted. Now, as part of a review of another neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, EPA is finally confirming that these chemicals harm pollinators.

The flubendiamide incident with Bayer shows that even when conditional registration data is submitted and adequately reviewed, EPA is unable to effectively execute its statutory obligation to prevent unreasonable adverse effects on the environment. A prudent approach to protecting environmental health would be to halt the use of conditional registrations, as the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency recently decided to do. Rather than provide avenues for chemical companies to game the system and poison the environment, EPA should take strong action to encourage pest prevention and readily available alternatives to toxic pesticides.

For more information on how pesticides endanger the health and quality of our nation’s waters, see Beyond Pesticides’ Threatened Waters program page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source Reuters, EPA letter, Bayer letter

 

Share

08
Feb

Loss of Soil Microbial Diversity Negatively Affects Ecosystem Services

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2016) A recent study has revealed that a decrease in soil biota, resulting from an increase in arid zones due to climate change, impacts the services that soil provides, from decomposition of organic matter to nutrient cycling and carbon fixing. “As the aridity of soils goes up, the microbial diversity and abundance is reduced,” Brajesh Singh, Ph.D., a professor at Western Sydney University and an author of the paper, said. “As the soils’ multi-functions are reduced, so there are social and economic consequences.” Unfortunately, climate change is not the only cause for concern. Studies have shown that conventional agriculture, intrinsically linked with the dependence on pesticides, can also reduce diversity in soil biota.

earthwormsThe study, published in Nature Communications, used two large-scale databases with contrasting geographic coverage (from 78 global drylands and from 179 locations across Scotland) and found that soil microbial diversity positively relates to multi-functionality in terrestrial ecosystems. Put simply, when soil diversity is high, the soil can function more efficiently and provide a multitude of ecosystem services. The researcher’s models indicate that microbial diversity was as important as or more important than other multifunctionality predictors, such as mean annual temperature and altitude in the two data sets, and than mean annual precipitation in the Scotland data set. Similar results were found after including ecosystem type as a predictor in the analysis, finding that any loss in microbial diversity will likely reduce multi-functionality, negatively impacting the provision of services, such as climate regulation, soil fertility, and food production.

Constant application of pesticides in industrialized agriculture can also reduce soil diversity and therefore reduce soil functionality. A 2015 study demonstrated that glyphosate, the controversial and toxic active ingredient in Roundup, reduces activity and reproduction in two species of earthworms and increases soil nutrient concentrations to dangerous levels. Another study on worms found that chronic and acute exposure to glyphosate and mancozeb promotes neurodegeneration in GABAergic and DAergic neurons in Caenorhabditis elegans, a type of roundworm. In 2014, researchers also found that earthworms exposed to fungicides in conventionally-farmed soil are at a stark disadvantage to worms in land managed organically.

Soil biota is essential to ecosystem functioning because it breaks down organic matter, enables chemical elements to be reused, and fixes nitrogen, which is necessary for nutrient in the ecosystem. Earthworms are an intrinsic part of soil biota, providing support for important ecosystem functioning. Their burrows, sometimes deep into the soil, create pores for moisture and oxygen to travel, and their waste becomes part of the soil structure. They also break down dead organic matter and incorporate new organic matter into soil systems.

Relying on the promotion of chemical-intensive agricultural practices is not a sustainable solution. These chemical inputs contaminate waterways leading to eutrophication and “dead zones,” where nothing is able to live or grow. Chemical-intensive agriculture depletes organic matter in the soil and undermines biological systems necessary to sustain life. Conversely, increasingly organic agriculture is understood as a sustainable agricultural system that restores and regenerates the environment and long-term security.

While some argue that organic is too expensive, the simple fact is that chemical companies are permitted to externalize the social costs of their products in the form of eutrophication, soil erosion, harm to wildlife, health care costs to consumers, and numerous other adverse effects. If consumers paid the true cost of chemical-intensive food production, prices for conventionally grown goods would certainly be more expensive than organic products, which are certified through a process that protects human health and the environment.

The study concludes with an important message for a wide variety of decision makers: “The message for scientists, policy makers, educators and organizations involved in understanding biodiversity patterns, microorganisms and ecosystem functioning is clear: losses in microbial diversity derived from human activities and climate change will reduce the rates at which multiple ecosystem functions and services are being maintained. By providing evidence for the relationship between microbial diversity and multifunctionality, our findings advance key ecological topics such as biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships in microbial communities. These findings emphasize the need to develop approaches and policies to protect soil microbial diversity from global environmental drivers such as land use, nitrogen enrichment and climate change, so that the multifunctionality of terrestrial ecosystems is to be preserved for future generations.” The researchers call for a shift in policy to protect soil biodiversity and to secure the important ecosystem services that soil provides, but it is also important to note that a further decline in soil biodiversity would most likely impact economic gains as well. The European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) estimates soil organisms and their role in agricultural productivity to be worth $25 billion a year, globally.

Good organic practices work to build the soil and maintain an ecological balance that makes chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides unnecesary. Claims that organic agriculture cannot feed the world because of lower yields are contested by scientific studies showing that organic yields are comparable to conventional yields and require significantly lower inputs. Therefore, organic agriculture is not only necessary in order to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals, it is necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of food production, ecosystem functionality, and the economy.

For further information, check out our webpages on Organic Agriculture.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald; Nature Communications

 

Share

05
Feb

Monsanto’s Glyphosate (RoundUp) Reported Most Used Herbicide Globally

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2016) According to a report published earlier this week, Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and Globally, glyphosate, manufactured by Monsanto and known by its product name Roundup, is the most widely and heavily applied weed-killer in the history of chemical-intensive agriculture both in the U.S. and globally. Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., author of the study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe, reports that to date 18.9 billion pounds (8.6 billion kilograms) of glyphosate have been used globally, with an estimated 19% of the use coming from the U.S. The report also points out that glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since “Roundup Ready” genetically engineered crops (GE) were introduced in 1996.
spraydriftDr. Benbrook’s research concludes that, “Genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops now account for about 56 % of global glyphosate use. In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use.”

According to the report, two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years. And, in 2014, enough glyphosate was sprayed to leave more than three-quarters of a pound of the active ingredient on every harvested acre of cropland in the U.S., and remarkably, almost a half pound per acre on all cropland worldwide (0.53 kilogram/hectare).

Glyphosate has long been touted as a “low toxicity” chemical and “safer” than other chemicals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry. However, the recent classification by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the GE crop herbicide glyphosate as a human carcinogen, based on laboratory animal studies, has brought serious human health issues to light.

Since IARC’s classification last year, Monsanto has been named in numerous lawsuits accusing the company of knowing of the dangers of glyphosate for decades. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), joined by dozens of global food, farming and environmental justice groups, announced last month that they will put the U.S.-based transnational corporation on trial next year on World Food Day, October 16, 2016, for crimes against nature, humanity, and ecocide in The Hague, Netherlands, home to the United Nation’s International Court of Justice. Monsanto is also facing numerous personal injury lawsuits over the link between glyphosate exposure and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Personal injury law firms around the U.S. have found a multitude of plaintiffs and are preparing for what could be a “mass tort” action against Monsanto for knowingly misinforming the public and farmworkers about the dangers of the chemical.

Yet, Monsanto continues to deny glyphosate’s hazards. After the state of California proposed to list glyphosate as a known human carcinogen under its Proposition 65 law, Monsanto subsequently filed a lawsuit against the state of seeking to prevent the listing .

As Dr. Benbrook’s paper notes, other recent studies have found connections between glyphosate exposure and a number of other serious health effects, including liver and kidney damage and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, among others.

“My hope is that this paper will stimulate more research on glyphosate use and human and environmental exposure patterns to increase the chance that scientists will quickly detect any problems that might be triggered, or made worse, by glyphosate exposure,” Benbrook added.

Dr. Benbrook previously published the first peer-reviewed study looking at the impacts of GE herbicide-tolerant crops on pesticide use. His 2012 study, Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. —the first sixteen years, found that contrary to often-repeated claims that today’s genetically-engineered crops have and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in GE weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied. Meanwhile, empirical evidence has emerged that documents reduced efficacy of glyphosate as weed resistance to the herbicide escalates. The occurrence of super weeds coincides strongly with the use of toxic herbicides on genetically engineered (GE) crops. For example, because of widespread pigweed resistance to glyphosate, the Texas Department of Agriculture, in June, 2014, requested an exemption to permit growers to spray three million acres of cotton fields with a pesticide not registered for this use. The pesticide, propazine, in the same family as the endocrine disruptor atrazine,could not be permitted by EPA because, as the agency said, “Currently, registered uses already show unacceptable risk levels. . .”

Last summer, Dr. Benbrook and pediatrician Philip J. Landrigan, M.D released a prospective article on the effects of glyphosate and GE crops, highlighting the flaws of past glyphosate studies. They found that previous research has only considered pure glyphosate formulations, “despite studies showing that formulated glyphosate that contains surfactants and adjuvants is more toxic than the pure compound.” This is important given that other research focusing on glyphosate-based herbicides (GHBs), rather than pure glyphosate  links long-term, ultra-low dose exposure to glyphosate in drinking water to adverse impacts on the health of liver and kidneys.

“The dramatic and rapid growth in overall use of glyphosate will likely contribute to a host of adverse environmental and public health consequences,” Dr. Benbrook wrote.

As evidence of the hazardous effects of and the prolific use of glyphosate continue to mount, environmental groups like Beyond Pesticides are urging localities to ban or restrict the use of the chemical, and to support organic agriculture. By utilizing ecological pest management strategies, organic practices, and solutions that are not chemical-intensive are the most appropriate and long-term solution to managing unwanted plants, or weeds. Additionally, organic agriculture is an ecologically-based management system that prioritizes cultural, biological, mechanical production practices, and natural inputs. By strengthening on-farm resources, such as soil fertility, pasture and biodiversity, organic farmers can minimize and even avoid the production challenges that most genetically engineered organisms have been falsely-marketed as solving. To learn more about organic agriculture, see Beyond Pesticides Organic Program Page.

Source: Environmental Sciences Europe, EWG Press Release

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Share

04
Feb

Study Finds Bed Bugs Highly Resistant to Neonic Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2016) According to a study published in Oxford University Press, entitled High Levels of Resistance in the Common Bed Bug, bed bugs have developed resistance to neonicotinoids (neonics). Neonics have become one of the most widely used active ingredients to control bed bugs since the insects’ have exhibited resistance to other chemicals, including synthetic pyrethroids. Troy Anderson, Ph.D., entomologist at Virginia Tech and Alvaro Romero, Ph.D., entomologist at New Mexico State, studies found higher neonic efficacy for neonics used on lab bed bugs as compared with bed bugs found in domestic settings. With the resurgence of bed bugs across the U.S., exterminators have relied heavily on insecticides to manage the pesky pests, despite questions about efficacy due to resistance, and viability of alternative, non-toxic solutions.

Bed BugimageTo test the tolerance and ineffectiveness of pesticides used on bed bugs, Drs. Anderson and Romero used four popular neonics (imidacloprid, acetamiprid, dinotefuran,
thiamethoxam) to compare their effectiveness in wild and isolated bed bug populations. Bed bugs isolated in a lab died quickly from a small amount of neonics, however, those same chemical treatments used on bed bugs found in Cincinnati and Michigan were ineffective. The isolated group of bed bugs had never been previously exposed to neonics. They also compared New Jersey laboratory bed bugs without previous exposure to neonics to those from Cincinnati and Michigan and found that it required more of the insecticide to kill.

According to the study, “It only took 0.3 nanograms of a substance called acetamiprid to kill 50 percent of the nonresistant bedbugs from [the isolated] lab — but it took more than 10,000 nanograms to kill 50 percent of the Michigan and Cincinnati bedbugs. . .Just 2.3 nanograms of another substance called imidacloprid was enough to kill 50 percent of [the isolated] bedbugs, but it took 1,064 nanograms to kill the Michigan bedbugs and 365 nanograms to kill the Cincinnati bedbugs.”

Neonics have become a popular chemical bed bug tool as many other pesticides have become resistant to bed bugs. In 2013, a study found that pyrethroid pesticides were ineffective on bed bugs due to resistance-associated genes on the outer layer of their shell. These pesticides are still on the market despite known risks, such as respiratory and reproductive problems. Due to the lack of government oversight and the regulation of these harmful chemicals, the public is being exposed to unnecessary hazards. The bed bug insecticide propoxur, was cancelled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after decades of proven toxic hazard studies and reviews. The carbamate insecticide was implicated as a known carcinogen and found to cause kidney and liver damage and neurotoxic effects.

The cause of the resistance is hard to pinpoint, according to the report. “Variation in resistance among populations could be due to the background of detoxifying enzymes induced by previously used insecticides, different metabolic pathways that each neonicotinoid is subjected to, the type of resistance mechanisms involved in each strain, and intensive selection with neonicotinoids.”

“While we all want a powerful tool to fight bed bug infestations, what we are using as a chemical intervention is not working as effectively it was designed and, in turn, people are spending a lot of money on products that aren’t working,” said Dr. Anderson.

With resistance constantly building, the pesticide treadmill continues as consumers turn to even more toxic chemicals to treat these difficult pests. Fortunately, the chemical treatments that are more harmful to humans than bed bugs are also not actually necessary and the clear solution is to switch to natural alternatives that are non-toxic and safe to use around children, pets, and waterways. For bedbugs, a least-toxic approach, which includes methods such as vacuuming, steaming, and exposing the bugs to high heat, can help to manage an infestation without the dangerous side effects. This approach, as well as taking steps such as sealing cracks and crevices, reducing clutter and encasing mattresses, can also help to prevent an infestation in the first place.

For more information on treating bedbugs, read our factsheet, “Got Bed Bugs? Don’t Panic” on our ManageSafe Bed Bug Page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Oxford University Press

Share

03
Feb

With Zika Virus, Widespread Pesticide Spraying Not the Long-Term Solution, says Entomologist

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2016) Speaking to The Guardian, a leading Kenyan entomologist warns that spraying pesticides will fail to deal with the Zika virus. Just recently the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a public health emergency over growing concerns that the virus is linked with microcephaly. Aerial and ground applications of pesticides have long been used for mosquito control, but many believe that these methods fail to sufficiently control mosquito populations, promote resistance and kill other species that would have acted as a natural predator to mosquitoes.

Aedes_aegypti_feedingDino Martins, PhD, a Kenyan entomologist in an interview with The Guardian said that while pesticides can reduce the population of flying adult mosquitoes that transmit the virus, they will fail to deal with the epidemic that threatens to become a global pandemic, and warns that spraying landscapes is extremely dangerous.  “It is a quick fix but you pay for it. You kill other species that would have predated on the mosquitoes. You also create a mosaic of sprayed and unsprayed low densities of chemicals that fosters the rapid evolution of resistance.”

Mosquitoes have very short life cycle (a week or less), increasing the probability that each succeeding generation is an opportunity for random mutations to occur that predispose a group of mosquitoes to be immune to pesticides. “[W]hen you use chemicals, you are actually applying a selection pressure on mosquito populations that will drive them to become resistant,” says Dr. Martins. Already there is emerging resistance to insecticides among Anopheles mosquitoes. Additionally it is impossible to fumigate every corner of habitat where mosquitoes might breed.

Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito and has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. The virus has been detected in several Latin American countries, including Brazil where the outbreak was first observed and linked to increased cases of microcephaly. According to Dr. Martins, the explosion of mosquitoes in urban areas, which is driving the Zika crisis, is caused by a lack of natural diversity that would otherwise keep mosquito populations under control, and the proliferation of waste and lack of disposal in some areas which provide artificial habitat for breeding mosquitoes.

Dr. Martins, who runs the Mpala Research Centre, a field station affiliated with Princeton, Smithsonian Institution, Kenya Wildlife Service and National Museums of Kenya, says, “We are basically fighting an arms race with mosquitoes rather than cleverly understanding its life cycle and solving the problem there. Resistance can never evolve to getting rid of the breeding sites. But resistance will always evolve to the use of pesticides.”

Dr. Martins believes that attention must be paid to eradicating mosquitoes at the larval stage of their life cycle. “It might seem easier to just to spray but pesticides will not work long term,” he says. “We need to ask – what is the weakest point in the life cycle of this vector? For me, it is the larvae because they are fixed and findable. You can destroy them right there. Once the mosquitoes fly, it is far harder … We need more investment in mosquito control at early rather than late stages.”

Whether its Zika, Chikungunya, or West Nile virus, combating mosquito-borne infections should include good surveillance and scientific understanding for controlling mosquito populations. A large part of this, as Dr. Martins noted, has to do with understanding the life cycle of mosquitoes and their biology. Another large part of this has to do with the inability, especially in an urban environment, to hit target insects with typical ground spraying from trucks or by aerial application. The efficacy of adulticidal pesticide applications (aerial or ground spraying) has been called into question over the years. Usually, this is the least efficient mosquito control technique that only targets adult mosquitoes. Further, the drifting spray impacts other non-target organisms like pollinators, birds, fish and amphibians. Commonly used mosquito pesticides like permethrin, resmethrin, naled and malation are all associated with some measure of human and ecological health risks, especially among people with compromised immune systems, chemically sensitized people, pregnant women, and children with respiratory problems, such as asthma.

Most experts agree that an efficient mosquito management strategy emphasizes public awareness, prevention, and monitoring methods. However, if these methods are not used properly, in time, or are ineffective, communities must decide whether or not to use pesticides. They must determine if they should risk exposing vulnerable populations to potentially harmful diseases caused by mosquitoes or to chronic or deadly illnesses caused by pesticides.

What you can do?

Beyond Pesticides says the ideal mosquito management strategy comes from an integrated approach that emphasizes education, aggressive removal of standing water sources, larval control, monitoring, and surveillance for both mosquito-borne illness and pesticide-related illness. Control of disease-carrying mosquitoes can be successful when emphasis is placed on public education and preventive strategies.

Individuals can take action by eliminating standing water, introducing mosquito-eating fish, encouraging predators, such as bats, birds, dragonflies and frogs, and using least-toxic larvacides like bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti). Community based programs should encourage residents to employ these effective techniques, focus on eliminating breeding sites on public lands, and promote monitoring and action levels in order to determine what, where, and when control measures might be needed. Through education of proper cultural controls, and least-toxic and cost effective biological alternatives, the use of hazardous control methods, such as toxic pesticides, can be eliminated.

  • Clean up– Cut back any overgrown vegetation – mosquitoes use these areas to hide. Ensure waterways are clear of debris; eliminate pooled or stagnant waters from debris, containers, drains, and anywhere that pools water. Watch out for leaky faucets. Mosquitoes can breed in puddles the size of dimes, so keep a keen eye out for stagnant water!
  • Natural Predators– Use indigenous fish populations, like bluegills or minnows, to eat mosquito larvae in shallow waters and ornamental pools. Copepod crustaceans can also be used to eat mosquito larvae in ditches, pools and other areas of stagnant water. Don’t forget about bats either! One bat can consume 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour, and many bats are in trouble from a disease wiping out their population. Help conserve these important mammals while keeping the mosquito population down by installing a bat house!
  • Behavior Modification–As indicated above, wear long sleeves and long pants/skirts, and use least-toxic mosquito repellent when outdoors. Try to avoid being outside at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Attentive Monitoring– Check sources of water for signs of mosquito larvae often.
  • Least-toxic Pesticide Options– Use Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bt), a biological larvicide (“mosquito dunk”) that prevents mosquitoes from developing into breeding, biting adults in standing waters that cannot be drained.
  • Take Action– Let your local council members, mayor, or state delegates know that safer, more sustainable options exist. Download our sample letter to send to public health officials in your area.

Beyond Pesticides’ Mosquito Management program page has a list of resources that can help you and your community safely manage mosquitoes, including least-toxic mosquito repellents, bed nets, and proper clothing that can be used to keep mosquitoes safely at bay.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Guardian

Share

02
Feb

Local Hardware Store Acts to Protect Bees, Promote Natural Alternatives

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2016) Boulder, Colorado’s McGuckin Hardware is setting an example for hardware stores across the country by removing bee-toxic neonicotinoids from its store shelves, and working to reorient its customers toward natural, holistic practices. McGuckin’s change is the latest in a movement among local hardware businesses to take a stand against toxic pesticides that are harmful to pollinators and unnecessary to control problem pests. “We wanted to be one of the first to get rid of them,” said Steve Wilke, McGuckins marketing communications specialist in a piece published in Hardware Retailing, a newsletter run by the North American Retail Hardware Association.

Local and national advocates are praising McGuckin’s shift away from products that harm pollinators. “People are very excited about the dramatic steps McGuckin’s has taken to get neonics out of our environment,” said David mcguckinWheeler of the local pollinator-advocacy organization Bee Safe Boulder. Bee Safe Boulder is a coalition of concerned Boulder residents that successfully fought for the passage of a pollinator resolution in the City of Boulder, Layfayette, and Boulder County, Colorado. The organization also has a project aimed at encouraging local retailers to stop selling plants coated in neonicotinoids; 18 retailers in the area, including McGuckin Hardware, have signed the group’s pledge.

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 it emits. 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. Study after study has showed 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 recently agreed that the pesticides do harm bees, though only in the limited situations and constrained scenarios that were actually investigated by EPA.

In 2014, Friends of the Earth, Beyond Pesticides and other allies released a report that found over half of garden plant samples purchased at major retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot contained neonicotinoid pesticides. In response, concerned residents donned bee outfits and took to the streets to encourage national retailers – Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace, and TrueValue, to remove toxic neonicotinoids and plants coated with the chemical from store shelves.

While national retailers have been responsive (Lowe’s and Home Depot have committed to phasing out neonicotinoids, and Ace has provided some indication it will move in that direction), local retailers such as McGuckin Hardware and Eldredge Lumber and Hardware in York, ME, have outpaced these chains. These stores are now working on educating customers on a systems approach to pest management, rather than one centered on toxic pesticides, or even least-toxic replacement pesticides. “It’s our hope that people will stop looking for that silver bullet approach,” said Steve Wilke of McGuckin. “We’re kind of treading carefully moving forward to prevent another (neonicotinoid) situation.”

Eliminating the sale of harmful pesticides doesn’t mean that retailers will have nothing left to sell their customers. Last year Beyond Pesticides released The Well Stocked Hardware store, an on-line toolkit with example products to help hardware stores replace their stock of toxic pesticides with products that support a systems approach. Beyond Pesticides also highlighted the actions of Eldredge Lumber through the video Making the Switch. You’re protecting your environment, you’re protecting your family, your children and grandchildren, and your neighbors. Nobody wants to have pesticides drifting into their front or year yard, and people are just loving it, they’re feeding into it. I couldn’t be happier,” says owner Scott Eldredge in the video.

Beyond Pesticides encourages concerned residents to share these materials and encourage your own local hardware store to follow suit. If they already are, let us know by sending an email to [email protected] For folks not near a forward-thinking hardware business, see the comprehensive directory of companies and organizations that sell organic seeds and plants. Included in this directory are seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs, as well as live plants and seedlings.

Source: Hardware Retailing

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

 

 

 

Share

01
Feb

City of St. Paul, MN Acts to Protect Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2016) Last Wednesday, the city council of St. Paul, MN adopted a resolution to make the city more pollinator friendly by banning bee-toxic neonicotinoids and other pesticides “proven to be harmful to pollinators” and require an updating of its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, prioritizing non-chemical methods. The resolution recognizes that its authority to restrict pesticide use on private land has been preempted by the State of Minnesota and then directs the city to encourage property owners within its jurisdiction to practice pollinator stewardship.

StPaul_LogoUnder the new resolution, St. Paul has committed to:

  • Develop or update an IPM program that requires site inspections, monitoring and prevention strategies, an evaluation on the need for pest control, and when pest control is warranted the use of structural, mechanical, biological, organic, and other nonchemical methods will be utilized first.
  • Eliminate the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, and other pesticides proven to be harmful to pollinators, on city grounds, with specific exceptions for golf course areas and certain athletic fields.
  • Require all city departments with any inventory of materials containing neonicotinoids, and other pesticides proven to be harmful to pollinators, to discontinue their use and properly dispose of them unless a justifiable need has been identified by another department.
  • To the best of its ability, the city will source plant material and trees from nurseries that do not use neonicotinoids, or other pesticides proven to be harmful to pollinators.
  • Explore piloting an alternative pest management system on a portion of a golf course tee, green or fairway, and on a premier athletic field in 2016.
  • Reduce the use of all pesticides and systemic insecticides wherever possible and phase out entirely as safer and reasonable alternatives become available.
  • Provide education to city employees that promotes and assists in protecting pollinators and provides ideas in creating favorable pollinator habitat; communicate to the public, through City websites, signage and other means, efforts to protect pollinators including the delineation of parks and public spaces that are pesticide free zones.
  • Continue to advocate at the State and Federal level for increased authority to address the nonagricultural use of pesticides and for other pollinator friendly policies.

The resolution commitments focus heavily on neonicotinoids, which affect the central nervous system of insects and have consistently been implicated as a key factor in pollinator declines, not only linked to acute exposure and immediate bee deaths, but also sub-lethal exposure that adversely affects bee reproduction, navigation, and foraging. The science has become increasingly clear that pesticides, either working individually or synergistically, play a critical role in the ongoing decline of honey bees. Pesticide exposure can impair both detoxification mechanisms and immune responses, rendering bees more susceptible to viruses, parasites, and other diseases, and leading to devastating bee losses. By encouraging citizens and department heads to refrain from using neonicotinoids, the city of St. Paul is taking a commendable step to help protect these vulnerable pollinator populations.

St. Paul’s resolution highlights the powerful change residents can make when they become engaged with their local elected officials. Large and small, communities throughout the country are determining that the risks associated with pesticide use are simply not worth their health, the health of pollinators, or the wider environment. In August 2015, the City of Minneapolis, MN passed an organic, pollinator friendly resolution, committing the City to adopt clear guidelines against the use of synthetic pesticides. Communities in Colorado, including Lafayette, Boulder County, and the City of Boulder have restricted the use of bee-toxic pesticides on public spaces. In a watershed moment for the movement against toxic pesticide use, Montgomery County, Maryland successfully passed the strongest restrictions on public and private cosmetic pesticide use in the United States, expanding upon the trail blazed by Takoma Park, MD in 2013, and Ogunquit, ME in 2014. The absence of regressive state-level preemption laws enabled these communities to extend their policies to restrict toxic pesticide use on private property.

Local Ordinances Under Attack
Since the passage of local ordinances in Maine and Maryland, some legislators in those states have or are planning to introduce legislation to take away local authority and reverse the local action and/or prevent other jurisdictions from acting. The Beyond Pesticides report on state preemption law and its importance in the local democratic process illustrates the benefits of permitting local governments to make decisions that respond to the concerns of their residents, as well as the negative ramifications of state preemption laws. The absence of preemption laws in the seven states that have preserved local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state has been a commanding factor in several pesticide ban victories. If you would like to see a similar ordinance passed in your area, click here to let Beyond Pesticides know!

Starting your own local movement takes a lot of work and commitment, but can be done with perseverance. It’s important to find support –friends, neighbors, and other people who share your concerns about environmental health. It’s also essential to connect with local politicians and government officials. For help getting your movement off the ground, contact Beyond Pesticides at 202-543-5450 or [email protected].

Source: Twin Cities Pioneer Press

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Share

29
Jan

Court Rejects EPA’s Bid to Revoke Use of Dow’s 2,4-D/Glyphosate (Enlist Duo) Pesticide in GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, January 29, 2016) This week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed a victory to Dow Chemical Company and its efforts to keep the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo on the market, despite new safety concerns identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Enlist Duo has been marketed as a “solution” for the control of glyphosate-resistant weeds in genetically engineered (GE) crops, brought on by the widespread use of Monsanto’s Roundup on glyphosate-tolerant (Roundup Ready) crops over the last decade. EPA asked the court at the end of November, 2015 to vacate its 2014 approval of Enlist Duo based on new information on the toxic effects associated with the synergistic interactions of the chemical cocktail of 2,4-D, glyphosate, and other undisclosed ingredients in the product to plants outside the treated area, including endangered plants. The three-sentence order, which does not include the judge’s reasoning, denied EPA’s request.

threeenlistsystemcomponentsEnlistDuoherbicideEnlisttraitsEnlistAheadWhile considering other legal options, EPA can choose to exercise it administrative powers by canceling specific uses or the entire registration of Enlist Duo under its pesticide cancellation process, and within that process could choose to identify an imminent hazard and remove the pesticide from the market immediately, while it faces additional challenges from Dow. Otherwise, the normal cancellation process could take years before the matter is resolved. Additionally, to protect farmers and dealers, EPA could issue a product notice immediately, identifying new issues and findings that were not available at the time of registration. EPA, according to the Chicago Tribune, criticized Dow for failing to disclose information from a patent filing which states that the glyphosate and 2,4-D in Enlist Duo are more effective at killing weeds in combination than individually. Did Dow withhold from the EPA registration process product safety information it was or should have been aware of at the time it submitted, and until it completed, its registration application? This question raises issues of fraud or noncompliance.

Super weeds, associated with crops that are genetically engineered for herbicide tolerance, now infest tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmland. Moreover, independent and USDA scientists predict that the Enlist Duo “crop system” will only foster resistance to 2,4-D in addition to glyphosate, thus continuing the GE crop pesticide treadmill and escalating the cycle of more toxic pesticides in the environment. Additionally, the health effects of both 2,4-D and glyphosate are well documented. 2,4-D has been linked to soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), neurotoxicity, kidney/liver damage, and harm to the reproductive system. Glyphosate was classified as a human carcinogen based on laboratory studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in March, 2015. Then, in June, 2015, 2,4-D was classified as a carcinogen by IARC.

The latest court action follows on the heels of a  year-long legal challenge filed by a coalition of conservation groups, including Beyond Pesticides, seeking to rescind the approval of the hazardous herbicide blend, and challenging EPA’s failure to consider the impacts of Enlist Duo on threatened and endangered plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. In response to this legal challenge, as well as evidence that surfaced suggesting that EPA ignored evidence of kidney problems that Dow’s own researchers said were caused by 2, 4-D, EPA asked the court to revoke the registration of Enlist Duo while it reevaluated the synergistic effects of the chemicals in the product. The agency action to revoke the registration was challenged by Dow which, in the wake of this decision, will continue to be able to sell Enlist Duo in the interim time it will take EPA to make a full, secondary evaluation of the weedkiller, posing a continued threat to human health and public safety, and endangered plants.

EPA wants to figure out whether bigger no-spray zones are needed to protect endangered plants on the edges of farm fields. Environmental groups in this case have argued that EPA has never evaluated the effect that Enlist Duo would have on the declining monarch butterfly population or its effects on public health, both of which they feel should be evaluated in EPA’s current review. This case highlights the problems caused by EPA’s trend of approving pesticides without adequate review.

Beyond Pesticides has long advocated a regulatory approach that prohibits high hazard chemical use and requires alternative assessments. Beyond Pesticides suggests an approach that rejects uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations filled with uncertainty, and instead focuses on safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as organic agriculture, which prohibits the the vast majority of toxic chemicals.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Chicago Tribune

 

Share

28
Jan

Oregon Proposes Legislation to Protect Farmers and Consumers from GE Contamination

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2016) Last week, Oregon Representative Paul Holyey introduced legislation that would protect traditional crops against contamination from their genetically engineered counterparts. As it stands, local governments are preempted (disallowed) from taking actions that protect traditional farmers from contamination by genetically engineered (GE) crops. With the help of advocates representing family farms and food safety, The Transgenic Contamination Prevention Bill (HB 4122) will repeal sections of Senate-passed Bill 863, which preempts local governments, and restore the right of local jurisdictions to regulate the planting of GE seed. The law, Bill 863, dubbed Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act by environmentalists, farmers and consumers, was passed in 2013 and signed into law by then-Governor John Kitzhaber. The new language in HB 4122 seeks to correct the chemical company-driven legislation of the former bill and restore protection for traditional and organic farmers.

sad-farmerIn May, 2014, the voters of Jackson and Josephine Counties, Oregon, passed a ballot initiative, Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 15-119, which sparked the backlash in the state legislature. A federal court decision upheld the ballot initiatives, and the county laws were grandfathered in, or allowed to stay in effect.

Center for Food Safety’s attorney, George Kimbrell, expressed support in the organization’s press release, “Consumers want to be able to buy food that has not been genetically engineered, and part of that is making sure farmers can grow crops that are not contaminated by genetically engineered crops…Farmers deserve the right to grow crops and harvest seeds that have not been contaminated by genetically engineered crops and the state has no rational basis for prohibiting local governments from protecting farmers from GE crops.”

Supporters of the new bill, including Center for Food Safety, Friends of Family Farmers, and Our Family Farms Coalition, spoke last week about the accomplishment of getting the bill introduced, but know the fight is far from over. Once introduced, the bill had the difficult task of receiving a committee assignment. On Monday, Our Family Farms Coalition announced that HB 4122 had been assigned to the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness, a committee they believe will give the bill a fair hearing. Advocacy groups representing farmers are asking locals to help keep the pressure on legislators to speak in support of HB 4122.

This legislation is one of many across the country seeking to create “GE-free” zones or GE labeling laws. Organic farming communities have had to contend with chemical company influence, preemption, and lengthy legal battles.

Traditional farmers in communities like Jackson County, Oregon have been fighting to keep their crops protected from GE contamination. In June 2015, a federal judge released a ruling rejecting a request by two alfalfa farms to overturn the ban on GE crops in Jackson County, Oregon. That ruling was challenged, and in December, a federal court finally approved the consent decree to protect the GE zone. Organic farming communities have had to contend with chemical company influence, preemption, and lengthy legal battles. Vermont became the first state to require mandatory GE labeling in 2014. Ballot initiatives in California, Washington State, Oregon, and Colorado were all rejected in close votes after chemical companies poured millions of dollars in TV ads to discredit the efforts. Maine and Connecticut also passed legislation in 2014 on GE labeling, however, these laws contain a “trigger clause” that delays implementation until similar legislation is passed in neighboring states, including one bordering state in the case of Connecticut.

Despite the perseverance of food safety and environmental groups, they still have many hurdles.

Still looming is the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act (DARK Act), officially known as the Safe and Accurate Labeling Act, which is up for a vote in Senate, the last stage before heading to the president’s desk. In July of last year, the House of Representatives passed the bill, HR 1599, which would preempt states from requiring GE labeling, and only allow voluntary labeling by food companies. This also means that the work done at the local level to protect farmers and consumers from GE contamination on crops and food could be halted.

Beyond Pesticides advocates in its organic food program and through its Eating with a Conscience (EWAC) website choosing organic because of the environmental and health benefits to consumers, workers, and rural families. For more information on the benefits of organic agriculture, see Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Food program page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Center for Food Safety

Share

27
Jan

Clean Water Protections In Trouble Again In the Senate

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2016) Last week the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee added an amendment to the Sportsman Act of 2015 that would remove important protections from pesticides sprayed into our nation’s waterways. After years of failed attempts to pass a version of the amendment as a stand-alone bill called the “Sensible Environmental Protection Act,” the latest attack against clean water was put forth by Senator Deb Fisher (R-NE), and passed by a committee vote of 12-8. It now moves to the Senate floor in a piece of bipartisan legislation.

Capitol-SenateThis amendment would reverse a 2009 federal court decision in National Cotton Council v. EPA that directed EPA to require permits from applicators who spray over “navigable waters,” as outlined in the Clean Water Act (CWA). The bill’s proponents claim that the need for water permits is duplicative, given that pesticide applicators also comply with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the law that requires applicators to follow instructions on pesticide labels.

However, the fact is that CWA permits let authorities know what is sprayed and when it is sprayed, so that the public may know what chemicals are used in their waterways and the potential dangers to sensitive aquatic ecosystems. Existing pesticide regulations under FIFRA do not achieve these protections and, contrary to the assertions made by supporters of the bill that it will harm farmers, most agricultural pesticide applications are exempt from CWA permit requirements.

Under this dangerous amendment to the Sportsman Act of 2015, pesticide applicators would be able to discharge pesticides into waterways with no EPA oversight under the standards of the CWA and the permitting process, which takes into account local conditions that are not addressed under FIFRA. Furthermore, permits do not prevent applicators from using pesticides, especially for public health emergencies. The permits do require basic protections for water quality and aquatic wildlife. Applicators must simply record their pesticide applications and monitor application sites for any adverse incidents, which must be reported. For many states, the cost of the permit is as low as $25. The myth that the CWA permits for pesticide discharges near waterways are overly expensive and burdensome for farmers has not been substantiated.

Already, nearly 2,000 waterways are impaired by pesticide contamination and many more have simply not been tested. The potentially high cost of public health problems, environmental clean-up efforts, and irreversible ecological damage that can result from unchecked, indiscriminate pollution of waterways is being ignored by opponents of CWA regulation.

Recent studies showing frequent discoveries of intersex fish in our nation’s rivers and streams as a result of the use of endocrine disrupting pesticides drives this point home. Hundreds of scientific articles have been published across the globe demonstrating how a broad selection of chemicals that disrupt the hormone system can interfere with normal development at even near-undetectable ranges of exposure. Scientists discovered effects for some widely used chemicals at concentrations thousands of times less than federal “safe” levels of exposure derived through traditional toxicological tests. Whatever the exposure level, neither fish nor human are protected from most endocrine-disrupting chemicals present in our waterways.

The reality is that including a CWA permitting process encourages pesticide users to seek alternative approaches to pest management if their current methods are going to contaminate nearby sources of water. Such a provision is not duplicative or burdensome, but simply an example of good governance.

Beyond Pesticides continues to fight to prevent water pollution and harmful agricultural practices. Visit our Threatened Waters page and learn how organic land management practices contribute to healthy waters in the article, “Organic Land Management and the Protection of Water Quality.”

Source: Feedstuffs

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides

Share
  • Archives

  • Categories

    • Agriculture (500)
    • Announcements (458)
    • Antibacterial (104)
    • Aquaculture (19)
    • Beneficials (8)
    • Biofuels (5)
    • Biological Control (1)
    • Biomonitoring (14)
    • Cannabis (11)
    • Children/Schools (190)
    • Climate Change (23)
    • Environmental Justice (77)
    • Events (68)
    • Farmworkers (82)
    • Fracking (1)
    • Golf (10)
    • Health care (27)
    • Holidays (24)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (33)
    • International (251)
    • Invasive Species (24)
    • Label Claims (32)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (160)
    • Litigation (247)
    • Nanotechnology (52)
    • National Politics (323)
    • Pesticide Drift (87)
    • Pesticide Regulation (542)
    • Pesticide Residues (70)
    • Pets (14)
    • Resistance (49)
    • Rodenticide (16)
    • Take Action (313)
    • Uncategorized (18)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (271)
    • Wood Preservatives (21)