(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2017) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that label changes to the herbicide dicamba would be made to try to minimize drift that has left thousands of acres of crops already damaged this season. The label changes include making dicamba “restricted use,” which allows only certified applicators to apply the chemical. Dicamba drift has been damaging farmers’ crops for at least two years due to the approval of new dicamba-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) crops. Advocates says that the new changes do not ensure that drift will be eliminated. According to EPA, the agency reached an agreement with the makers of dicamba, (Monsanto, BASF and DuPont) to restrict its application. This comes after hundreds of official complaints of crop damage related to dicamba across 17 states this year alone, leading to questions about the new formulation of the chemical used in genetically engineered (GE) crop productioon. New GE crops developed by Monsanto must be paired with specific formulations of dicamba, and thus led to a vast increase in dicamba use over the past couple growing seasons. Dicamba-based herbicide use has climbed dramatically as farmers have adopted, especially, Monsanto’s . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2017) Exposure to the second most commonly used herbicide in the U.S., atrazine, results in a higher proportion of male frogs in populations of Blanchard’s cricket frogs, according to researchers from Ohio’s Miami University. While it may be ostensibly easy to dismiss the results of this study as limited to a single frog species, the Blanchard cricket frog, with its populations concentrated in heavily farmed Midwestern states, is likely an important indicator of broader ecological impacts. Ultimately, only a transition away from toxic herbicides and towards integrated organic systems will successfully address the ongoing effects of industrial agrichemicals on amphibians. Miami researchers exposed frogs to varying concentrations of atrazine, 0.1, 1, and 10 μg/L, in the laboratory, in order to investigate sex ratios and potential effects on survival of the population. Although no significant effects were seen on survival rate during the course of the study, sex ratios were significantly altered at the 0.1 and 10 μg/L exposure concentrations. At these levels, populations developed 51 and 55% fewer males respectively than control frogs. Researchers point out that such significant results seen at such low concentrations likely indicates that . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2017) Effective immediately, the European Parliament has banned Monsanto lobbyists, excluding the chemical company from access to committee meetings and digital resources, as well as no longer permitting Monsanto lobbyists to meet with any Member of the European Parliament (MEP). This limit to its influence is a serious blow to Monsanto’s advocacy campaign to promote the safety of its weedkiller glyphosate, (Roundup). The decision to ban came amid mounting public pressure to deny European Union re-licensing of glyphosate, one of the world’s most widely used herbicides. (See glyphosate listing in Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticides Gateway, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.) Glyphosate is classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Monsanto, the world’s largest GE-seed and seventh-largest pesticide company, is eager to suppress IARC’s ranking. In fact, before being banned, the European Parliament had questioned Monsanto’s funding of counter-studies in order to discredit independent scientists working to limit the public’s exposure to toxic chemicals. In a related development, independent scientists sent a letter to the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology, calling for the retraction of a 2016 paper that refuted glyphosate’s . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2017) In a letter to the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology, scientists called for the retraction of a 2016 paper that refuted glyphosate’s cancer risks after it was learned that the paper was secretly edited and funded by Monsanto, manufacturer of glyphosate. The paper in question, “An Independent Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate,” is a review of the 2015 decision by an expert Working Group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to designate glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup, as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A). However, a new report this summer discovered conflict of interests not revealed at publication. Contrary to the journal’s conflict-of-interest disclosure statement, Monsanto directly paid at least two of the scientists who authored the paper, and a Monsanto employee substantially edited and reviewed the article prior to publication, in clear contradiction to the disclosure statement. The retraction-request letter highlights a range of failures involved in the published review: Failure to disclose that at least two panelists who authored the review worked as consultants for, and were directly paid by, Monsanto for their work on the . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2917) Tell your U.S. Senators to oppose the Trump Administration’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Michael L. Dourson, Ph.D., who has spent a good deal of his career helping chemical companies resist restrictions on their toxic compounds. The U.S. Senate’s August 20 hearing on Dr. Dourson’s nomination, was abruptly postponed on August 19, with no reason offered, but later held on October 4 under a cloud of controversy. Write your U.S. Senators now! Critics, including former EPA officials, Congressional Democrats, and public health scientists say that Dr. Dourson’s close ties to the chemical industry should disqualify him from becoming the country’s chief regulator of toxic chemicals. U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said, “Dr. Dourson’s consistent endorsement of chemical safety standards that not only match industry’s views, but are also significantly less protective than EPA and other regulators have recommended, raises serious doubts about his ability to lead those efforts. This is the first time anyone with such clear and extensive ties to the chemical industry has been [nominated] to regulate that industry.” Dr. Dourson’s professional history provides important . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2017) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can better reduce risks from illegal pesticides by effectively identifying imports for inspection and sampling. This, according to a report from EPA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released last month. The report finds low rates of inspection and sampling across the U.S. to stop the importation of pesticide products that violate federal laws, and recommends increased training and coordination between U.S. Customs and Border Protection to deter the import of harmful pesticides. EPA’s OIG conducted the report to determine whether EPA is effectively identifying imported pesticides for inspection and sampling to deter imports of harmful pesticides and protect human health and the environment. The report, published September 28, 2017, finds there is limited assurance that imports in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which regulates the use and importation of pesticide products, will be identified or prevented entry into the U.S. According to the report, EPA is at risk of not effectively identifying imported pesticides for inspection and sampling. For instance, EPA regions did not meet the voluntary frequency goal of inspecting two percent of all shipments of . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2017) Honey throughout the world is contaminated with neonicotinoid insecticides, chemicals implicated in global decline of pollinator populations. The extent of contamination recorded in the new Science study —with the chemicals detected on every continent except Antarctica, even in honey produced in small isolated islands— is symptomatic of a world awash in toxic pesticides. The results call into question globalized mores that have permitted chemical insecticides to pervade the environment, and signal the need to transform pest management to integrated organic systems that respect nature. Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and transported into the pollen, nectar, and guttation (drops of xylem sap) drops the plant produces. They are mobile in soil, so quantities of the chemical that are not taken up by plants after an application leach through the soil column into local waterways. Pollinators come into contact with these insecticides through their normal course of foraging and pollination. Out of 198 honey samples collected as part of a global citizen science project and subsequently tested by Swiss scientists, 75% of samples contained a measurable level of neonicotinoids. Broken down by region, North . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2017) Last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) registration of neonicotinoid pesticides – acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid, and the agency’s failure to first consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the pesticides’ impact on threatened or endangered species. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenges the failure of the federal government to evaluate the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”) on threatened and endangered species, like the rusty patched bumble bee, the black-capped vireo, and the San Bruno elfin butterfly. The suit cites widespread presence of neonics in the environment which presents serious risks to wildlife across large portions of the country. It contends that they pose significant adverse consequences to threatened and endangered species. According to the lawsuit, because of toxicity and pervasive environmental contamination, NRDC is now challenging EPA’s registrations of pesticide products containing one of three main neonic active ingredients—acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid—and seeks vacatur of those registrations until EPA complies with the law. “The EPA ignored endangered bees, butterflies, and birds when it approved the widespread use of . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 10, 2017) The comment period closes Wednesday, October 11 at 11:59 pm EDT for the Fall 2017 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. In addition to the other priorities in our previous alert (hydroponics, marine materials, and “inerts”), we focus attention here on eliminating the incentive to convert native ecosystems into organic crop production, strengthening and clarifying the requirements for the use of organic seed, exempt/uncertified handler and brokers, and the need for a comprehensive review of sanitizers used in organic. New to Regulations.gov? See our two-minute tutorial. Comment now! Beyond Pesticides provides you with our positions, which you can use as the basis for your comments. If you have limited time, you can use the sample comments on priority issues below. If you have more time, please use the information on our website to develop your own comments. If you paste our comments into regulations.gov, please first put a personal note of concern in order to reflect the importance of these issues to you as an organic consumer, farmer, or other concerned party. Some major issues being considered at the Fall meeting are: Eliminating the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems into . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2017) Once people go organic, they are increasingly unlikely to go back to conventional foods, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research published by Dutch social scientists. Organic food products are a rapidly growing industry in the U.S., with consumers spending $43 billion in 2016, an increase of $4.2 billion from the previous year. Given its benefits for health, water quality, workers, wildlife, and the wider environment, it is little wonder that more and more people are voting for the future of ecologically and public health-sensitive farming systems with their food dollars and buying organic. For the study, researchers tracked over 8,700 consumers for 20 months, using the loyalty card for a major Dutch food retailer. They found that most consumers start by consuming organic dairy products first, milk being the primary entry point into organic. Over time people are likely to not only stick with organic certified milk, but expand their purchases into other organic products. John Thøgersen, PhD, coauthor of the study and professor at the Aarhus University of Business and Social Science in Denmark, explains the process in a press release as follows: “In connection with . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2017) Research published in the International Journal of Cancer links the residential use of pesticides to an increased risk of childhood brain tumors in children. According to the study, mothers who use pesticides in the home while pregnant put their children at 1.4 times the risk of developing a brain tumor under the age of 15. The study findings point to the need to eliminate the residential use of toxic chemicals by increasing education around alternative pest management practices in the home and garden, as well as regulatory action to remove toxic pesticides from the market. The team of researchers used data drawn from population-based, case-control studies conducted in France, ESCALE and ESTELLE, which investigated the role of infectious, environment, and genetic factors in common cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, and brain tumors). From the data, researchers identified 3,102 control mothers, and 437 mothers whose children had developed a brain tumor. These mothers were interviewed via phone over their use of pesticides in and around the home during their pregnancy. Scientists determined that use of pesticides in the home put children at 40% increased risk of brain tumors, with insecticides being . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2017) Beetles in the family Cantharidae are known as soldier beetles, a name that is based on the resemblance of the elyra (wing cover) to certain military uniforms. They superficially resemble fireflies (family Lampyridae), but lack light-emitting organs and the covering obscuring the head of fireflies. Like fireflies, soldier beetles are distasteful to most predators. Range There are 16 genera containing 455 species of soldier beetles native to North America, including Chauliognathus marginatus, which is commonly seen on goldenrod in late summer and early fall. Worldwide, there are about 5,100 species in 160 genera, widely distributed in all but polar regions. Most frequently active in summer and early fall, adults can be found on various flowers including sunflowers, tansy, zinnia, marigold, goldenrod, and coneflower. Females lay eggs in clusters in the soil. Larvae are mostly carnivorous, feeding on soil insects. They live through the winter under loose soil, and become active during spring. Larvae normally pupate in early summer and adults first emerge in mid-summer. Physiology The soldier beetle’s body is around ½ to ¾ inch long. Adults are black or brown, usually with red to yellow markings, an . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2017) On August 20, the U.S. Senate was to have held a hearing on the Trump Administration’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for chemical safety, Michael L. Dourson, PhD. The hearing was abruptly postponed on August 19, with no reason offered, and has not yet been rescheduled. Dr. Dourson has spent a good deal of his career helping companies resist constraints on their use of potentially toxic compounds in consumer products. Critics, including former EPA officials, Congressional Democrats, and public health scientists say that these ties with the chemical industry, in particular, should keep him from becoming the country’s chief regulator of toxic chemicals. U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) said, “Dr. Dourson’s consistent endorsement of chemical safety standards that not only match industry’s views, but are also significantly less protective than EPA and other regulators have recommended, raises serious doubts about his ability to lead those efforts. This is the first time anyone with such clear and extensive ties to the chemical industry has been [nominated] to regulate that industry.” Dr. Dourson is perhaps the most recent example of the “revolving door” phenomenon — the movement of people between . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, October 2, 2017) Elementary school students at New York City’s PS 290 are taking a stand against toxic pesticide use in New York City parks, supporting Intro 800, a bill introduced by Manhattan Councilmember Ben Kallos. “We’re going to make a great big fuss,” the children in Mrs. Paula Rogivin’s kindergarten class chanted in a skit performed in front of the NYC Committee on Health this week. Since New York City (NYC) passed Local Law 37, Pesticide Use by City Agencies, in 2005 to stop toxic pesticide use on City owned and leased land, it turns out that some pesticides known to be hazardous were not captured by the law. As a result, the proposed legislation is intended to strengthen restrictions to ensure more comprehensive restrictions that limit pesticides to biological pesticides. Local Law 37 restricts the use of acutely toxic and carcinogenic pesticides as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and developmental toxicants as defined by the state of California under Prop 65. Exemptions allowing the use of these pesticides are granted based on a waiver review process that requires evidence that the chemicals are necessary to protect public health. . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2017) Protect polar bears and “big charismatic wildlife!” But do not ignore the microscopic organisms essential to ecological sustainability. That is the take from a new study at University of California Berkeley, which, for the first time, links global climate change to the loss of a “shockingly high” number of critical microbial species essential to ecological systems, biodiversity, and organic land management. Other studies link chemical-intensive agriculture, and its reliance on petroleum-based substances, to adverse effects on soil organisms and insects and birds essential to ecological balance, while indicating the importance of organic management practices in protecting biodiversity and curtailing global climate change. As stated in the study, “Models predict that up to 30% of parasitic worms are committed to extinction, driven by a combination of direct and indirect pressures.” Furthermore, for those species “successfully tracking climate change,” the search for food and water, in once unavailable habitat, will cause them to “invade” and to “replace” native plants and animals with “unpredictable ecological consequences.” Lead author of the study, Ph.D. candidate Colin Carlson, states that for symbiotic parasites, those with numerous beneficial roles, “a loss of suitable habitat” comes as a result of . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2017) Response to the recent and powerful hurricanes that buffeted the Caribbean and continental U.S. focused first and rightly on the acute potential impacts: risks to life and limb; loss of power; damaged transportation systems; food and fuel shortages; exposure to pathogens and infectious diseases (via compromised drinking water, exposure to sewage or wastewater from overwhelmed systems, and simple proximity to other people in storm shelters); damage to and destruction of homes and buildings; and mental health issues. Yet, as has become more evident with the experience of many ferocious and flooding storms in recent memory —Katrina (2005), Ike (2008), Irene (2011), Isaac (2012), Sandy (2012), and Harvey, Irma, José, and Maria (all in 2017)— another significant threat to human health accompanies such events. Processing and storage facilities for petroleum products, pesticides, and other chemicals can be compromised by floodwaters, releasing toxicants into those waters and the soil, and explosions and fires from damaged chemical facilities can add airborne contaminant exposure to the list of risks. The chemicals in floodwaters can also infiltrate into groundwater or water treatment systems, and some can be dragged back out to sea as floodwaters recede. If . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2017) Adverse health effects caused by exposure to the widely used herbicide atrazine pass down from parents to their children through multiple generations, according to new research published by scientists at Washington State University. This burgeoning area of study on ‘transgenerational’ impacts calls into question the current methodology for assessing toxicity and risk from chemical exposure. With the current U.S. regulatory system permitting food and communities to be awash in toxic pesticides, the results of the study have grave implications for future generations. Scientists began their research by exposing rats to atrazine while still in the womb. The parents of these rats were the F0 generation, while their atrazine exposed offspring were F1. Rats in the F1 generation did not exhibit any incidence of disease or adverse health, however they had lower weights than F1 rats in the control group that were not exposed to atrazine. F1 rats were then bred to produce the F2 generation. Although rats in the F2 generation were never exposed to atrazine, they displayed a range of diseases. Males exhibited early onset puberty, diseases of the testis, and mammary tumors. Females exhibited mammary tumors . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September, 26, 2017) A congressionally mandated study belatedly released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) questions the feasibility of electronic disclosures as a means of providing consumers with information on genetically engineered (GE) food ingredients. The study, which should have been published in July 2017 by law, confirms concerns held by many that “electronic and digital disclosures” (QR codes) will pose technological challenges for consumers, limiting access to food information. The study was required by the 2016 Federal Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standards Act (the “GE Labeling Act”) to help inform the establishment of federal standards for labeling by July 2018. USDA issued the study just days after the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit challenging the agency’s unlawful withholding of the required study. Twelve days after the lawsuit was submitted on August 24, USDA publicly released the study p. The labeling law allows USDA to consider several options: on-package text, a GE symbol on packages, or “electronic or digital disclosures,” which would require shoppers to use a smart phone to scan packages to access a website or call a 1-800 number for every single product to find out if it was produced with genetic . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 25, 2017) As the comment period officially begins for the Fall 2017 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting, a major controversy is coming to a head on allowing hydroponics to be certified organic. Contrary to prior recommendations of the NOSB, the National Organic Program has allowed some hydroponics operations to be certified. The NOSB will consider motions at this meeting that could stop this practice. Make your voice heard on this and other issues by submitting comments NOW on what materials and practices are allowed in organic production! An easy way to speak out is to go to our website, find our positions, write your comments (using our summary –feel free to cut-and-paste our comments), and submit your comments on the government website. [Unfortunately, for those who are not familiar with commenting on these critical organic integrity issues, this action requires that you post your comments on the government’s ‘regulations.gov’ website. We have simplified this process through our Keeping Organic Strong webpage.] Submit your comments now. Beyond Pesticides provides you with our positions, which you can use as the basis for your comments. Please feel free to develop your . . .
(Beyond Pesticides in Gardnerville, Nevada, September 22, 2017) For the second year, the Washoe Tribe has brought a 450 head herd of goats to its tribal land to manage weeds on its rangeland at the Stewart Ranch. The program, led by the Washoe Tribal Environmental Protection Department (WEPD), is being conducted with the Washington, DC-based organization Beyond Pesticides and Goat Green LLC., a goat grazing company based in Wyoming. “We are goal oriented and want to heal all components of this living system including diversity in desired plants, recycling of all nutrients, water retention in the soil to prevent erosion and decrease runoff to the river. The goat herd is a living tool and we work with deep respect for the land, water, animals and culture of the Washoe people,” says Lani Malmberg, co-owner of Goat Green, LLC. The program is being launched as a pilot, an alternative to using herbicides for managing invasive weeds, including Perennial Pepperweed, Hoary Cress, Canada Thistle, Russian Knapweed and others. Goat grazing has been demonstrated to be an effective tool because the herd eats unwanted vegetation then cycles nutrients back into the soil, thus fertilizing. Goats . . .