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Daily News Blog

17
Aug

Montgomery County, MD Council Appeals Circuit Court Ruling Overturning Cosmetic Pesticides Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, August 17, 2017) Yesterday, the Montgomery County, Maryland County Council voted to direct the Office of the County Attorney to appeal a Circuit Court ruling issued early this month that overturned a law enacted by the Council in 2015, the Healthy Lawns Act, to restrict the use of lawn and landscape pesticides on private property. The lawsuit did not challenge the right of the county to restrict pesticides on its own property, county land. The court ruling stated, “Maryland’s comprehensive program of pesticide regulation occupies the field of pesticide use and thus impliedly preempts the ordinance.” The court also held that the County’s ban on the application of certain pesticides on private property conflicted with Maryland law. In October 2015, the Council enacted Bill 52-14, Pesticides – Notice Requirements – Cosmetic Pesticide Use Restrictions, which would have prohibited the use of certain registered pesticides on private property starting on January 1, 2018. The County is one of the few local jurisdictions to have such restrictions. The Council enacted this legislation with a focus on pesticides that included chemicals linked to the risk of developing cancer. Complete Lawn Care, Inc., et al. v. Montgomery County invalidated . . .

16
Aug

Millions of Eggs in Europe Found Contaminated with Insecticide Fipronil

EU(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2017) Millions of eggs and egg products have been pulled from supermarket shelves in 15 countries in Europe after it was discovered that the eggs were contaminated with the insecticide fipronil. Now,  the European Commissioner in charge of food safety has called for a meeting of ministers and national regulatory agencies to discuss the widespread European contamination. However, fipronil is not allowed for use in food production in Europe, raising concerns over food safety and regulatory oversight. This incident reminds U.S. consumers about the disarray of the U.S. food safety system, as reported by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2014. According to the GAO report, Food Safety: FDA and USDA Should Strengthen Pesticide Residue Monitoring Programs and Further Disclose Monitoring Limitations, there is a lack of government coordination on food safety and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test food for several commonly used pesticides with established tolerance levels. The report sounds an alarm that GAO began sounding  in the 1980’s in several reports that identify shocking limitations of  FDA’s approach to monitoring for pesticide residue violations in food. (See Beyond Pesticides’ coverage.) Since that report, FDA . . .

15
Aug

Beyond Pesticides Journal Articles Link Pesticides to Soil Microbiota and Gut Microbiome Poisoning and Resulting Diseases

(Beyond Pesticides, August 15, 2017) With increasing scientific understanding about the importance of beneficial bacteria in soil and the human body —microbiota in the soil and microbiome in the human gut, the summer 2017 issue of Beyond Pesticides’ journal, Pesticides and You, publishes two critical articles to advance the importance of community discussion and action on organic and sustainable practices. The lead article, Sustaining Life: From Soil Microbiota to Gut Microbiome by professor of geomorphology (University of Washington) and author David Montgomery, PhD, contains excerpts from Dr. Montgomery’s talk to Beyond Pesticides’ 35th National Pesticide Forum, documenting the importance of soil microbiota to healthy soil, resilient plants, and sustainability. His piece explains the essentiality of bacteria in the human gut to a healthy life, with profound implications for both agriculture and medicine. Dr. Montgomery points to a “bonafide scientific revolution” in recognizing the failure to nurture the ecosystem in nature and the human body and the associated adverse health effects resulting from pesticide use –21st century diseases, including asthma, autism, bacterial vaginosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome, multiple sclerosis, obesity, Type 1 and 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s. Also in the . . .

14
Aug

Ask Your Senators to Co-Sponsor Bill to Ban Chlorpyrifos, the Neurotoxic Pesticide that Harms Children—After EPA Reversal

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2017) Ask your U.S. Senators to co-sponsor legislation to ban the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed the previous administration’s proposal to discontinue its food uses. [The bill is currently co-sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).] With EPA’s own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is time for Congress to intervene to get this highly toxic pesticide off the market. In March 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed a 2015 proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos. A revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances would have effectively banned the chemical from use in agriculture. Instead, Administrator Pruitt’s decision indicated the agency will continue to study chlorpyrifos and would not take any action until 2022. EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have developmental delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and neurodevelopmental . . .

11
Aug

Monsanto Papers Redux: More on Industry Suppression and Regulatory Collusion

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2017) On August 1, a second round of internal Monsanto documents became public, stirring up additional questions and speculation about Monsanto’s potential malfeasance — i.e., its efforts to hide information about impacts of its popular glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup. This follows on the heels of the March 2017 unsealing, by federal judge Vince Chhabria, of internal Monsanto documents — the “Monsanto Papers” — that evidenced questionable research practices by the company, inappropriate ties to a top EPA official, and possible “ghostwriting” of purportedly “independent” research studies. This latest release, of more than 700 documents, came courtesy of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, one of many law firms representing thousands of families who claim that exposure to Roundup caused non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL), a blood cancer, in their loved ones. Such litigation has been triggered, in part, by the 2015 finding of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a branch of the U.N.’s World Health Organization) that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The plaintiffs allege that the combination of glyphosate and surfactants used in Monsanto’s Roundup products is even more toxic than glyphosate alone, and that Monsanto has sought to cover up . . .

10
Aug

Reports of Increasing Honey Bee Colonies Mask Continuing Pollinator Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2017)  New data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (ISDA) earlier this month, indicating a slight increase in the number of honey bee colonies, is masked by beekeepers’ efforts to split hives in the face of losses. The USDA reports that Colony Collapse Disorder losses (CCD) are down 27% compared to the past year. While these numbers may seem to be a positive sign after over a decade of consistent pollinator declines, they are more indicative of a beekeeping industry that is using every available tactic possible to stay viable. With the continued use of highly toxic neonicotinoid insecticides in farms, gardens, and public spaces throughout the country, the long-term health honey bees and other pollinators continue to be in jeopardy. According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the number of beekeeping operations with five or more colonies reported a total of 2.89 million colonies in April 2017, a 3% increase from April 2016, when numbers stood at 2.80 million. News media such as Bloomberg hailed this report in an article headlined “Bees Are Bouncing Back From Colony Collapse Disorder.” However, a closer look into the numbers and beekeeper accounts reveals . . .

09
Aug

Glyphosate Stresses Tadpoles to Produce More Venom

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2017) Common toad tadpoles express more venom when chronically exposed to glyphosate herbicides, a study published last month in Proceedings of the Royal Society B indicates. Glyphosate, an increasingly controversial chemical found in Roundup brand herbicides produced by Monsanto, has been linked to a range of adverse impacts in both wildlife and people. The results of this research indicate a need to reduce the use of glyphosate in our environment to ease chronic stressors to sensitive wildlife like amphibians. Scientists tested the effects of formulated glyphosate products on toad tadpoles through experiments in a laboratory setting, as well as a mesocosm, a controlled outdoor environment that replicates natural conditions. Tadpoles in the lab were split into a series of groups which were each exposed to varying levels of glyphosate, some for the duration of the experiment, and others for 9 day periods during different stages in their development. For mesocosm tadpoles, researchers set up large plastic tubs and created small self-sustaining ecosystems with pond water and beech leaves. Glyphosate herbicides were added to certain tubs at either low or high concentrations. Both lab and mesocosm experiments had control tadpoles not . . .

08
Aug

Crop Damage from Monsanto’s Herbicide Dicamba Being Investigated in 17 States, Pointing to New Formulation Used in GE Fields

(Beyond Pesticides, August 8, 2017) More than 1,400 official complaints of crop damage related to the herbicide dicamba have been recorded across 17 states this year, leading some to question a new formulation of the chemical used in genetically engineered (GE) fields. Dicamba, a toxic pesticide prone to drift off the target site, has been used in agriculture for decades. However, new GE crops developed by Monsanto must be paired with specific formulations of dicamba, and until now many believed these drift incidents were the result of illegal formulations of dicamba being applied to fields. But the extent of damage now being observed, covering over 2.5 million acres, is casting doubt on this theory, and raising more questions as to whether the new dicamba formulation is actually the cause of the widespread drift damage. Fruits and vegetables, as well as other crops that are not genetically engineered to tolerate dicamba are often left cupped and distorted when exposed to the chemical. Monsanto, DuPont Co. and BASF SE sell new formulations of the herbicide for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton, and state enforcement officials and farmers have attributed last year’s damage incidents to off-label uses of older dicamba . . .

07
Aug

Action: Oppose Release of Genetically Engineered Moth in New York

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2017) Help stop a dangerous plan hatched in New York to control a caterpillar in cabbage. Under the plan, up to 10,000 genetically engineered (GE) male diamondback moths (DBMs) will be released each week during the cabbage planting cycle (which runs about three to four months). According to USDA, “The males are genetically engineered with a lethal gene that they pass on to females when they mate.” Because of the widespread release, this plan –a first of its kind in food crops– will contaminate organic farms with genetically engineered material. And, this is all being done based on a cursory environmental assessment, without an in-depth environmental impact assessment. This is an issue that affects all of us –not just New Yorkers–because the moths do not respect state boundaries, and this action would set a precedent for other states. Inadequate Environmental Review Following a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Cornell University’s proposed release, there is an urgent need to ensure that the state of New York addresses contamination issues that APHIS failed to consider. At the top of the list is . . .

04
Aug

Court Overturns Montgomery County, MD Pesticide Restrictions, Groups Say Decision Defies Local Authority to Protect Health

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2017) A Circuit Court for the state of Maryland  on Thursday struck down key components of the landmark Healthy Lawns Act pesticide ordinance passed in Montgomery County, Maryland in 2015. The court’s decision, issued by Judge Terrence McGann, eliminates pesticide use restrictions on private property, but does not touch provisions limiting toxic pesticides used on public, county owned land. Grassroots advocates who supported passage of the Healthy Lawns Act to protect children, families and the environment are dismayed by the court’s ruling, but nevertheless vow to keep up the fight for protections from hazardous pesticides used in their community. “The court should have recognized that, in restricting lawn pesticides throughout its jurisdiction, Montgomery County is exercising a local democratic principle under Maryland and federal law to ensure the safety of the community, including children, pets, and the environment, from a known hazard not adequately regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the state,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “After extensive hearings and study, the county council understands that toxic chemicals are dangerous and not needed to have beautiful lawns and landscapes,” Mr. Feldman said. By . . .

03
Aug

Chronic Pesticide Exposure at Work Tied to Breathing Disorders

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2017) Working in close contact with pesticides over the course of one’s lifetime increases the risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other breathing disorders, according to a study published in Thorax by a team of Australian researchers. While cigarette smoke remains the single leading cause of lung disease worldwide, there is growing interest in understanding the environmental exposures of individuals that develop breathing problems, but have never smoked. Given the growing list of pesticide-induced diseases, the study’s results reinforce calls for a change in pest management approaches that safeguard farmwokers and pest control operators. Researchers’ examination of pesticide exposure made use of a health study that first began in Tazmania in 1968, and tracked asthma prevalence in participants at ages 12, 18, and 30. With this background data in hand, researchers followed up with a subset of study participants, now roughly 45 years old, and were able to further analyze 1,255 participants via in-person laboratory tests. “Our study looked at long-term exposure to pesticides,” said Sheikh Alif, PhD, lead researcher of the study at the University of Melborne to Reuters. “[I]t is thought that long-term exposure to pesticides . . .

02
Aug

August’s PolliNATION Pollinator of the Month – The Pollen Wasp

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2017). August’s PolliNATION Pollinator of the Month is the Pollen Wasp! Pollen wasps, of the small subfamily Masarinae are the only “vegetarian” wasp in the family Vespidae., They feed solely on nectar and pollen, unlike their more aggressive Vespid wasp cousins. There are 300 species of pollen wasp from 14 genera spread across the globe, however, in the U.S., all 14 species of pollen wasps originate from the genus Pseudomasaris. Range Pollen wasps are found throughout the world, though they tend to concentrate in arid areas of southern Africa, and North and South America. They are not documented in the tropics or in Antarctica. In the United States, they can be found from Washington to as far south as New Mexico, and as far east as Nebraska. They are solitary pollinators who make their nests out of mud, often attached to branches, rocks, or hanging off ledges. Diet and Pollination Pollen wasps differ from their omnivorous Vespid wasp relatives by rearing their young on nectar and pollen, rather than other insects. They are the only Vespid species which do so. Their nests, made up of a mixture of soil . . .

01
Aug

Government and Chemical Industry Collusion Going Back Decades Showcased in “Poison Papers”

(Beyond Pesticides, August 1, 2017) A collection of long archived documents dating back to the 1920s were released last week showcasing the efforts of the chemical industry and the federal government to conceal from the public the real dangers associated with the use and manufacture of chemical products. The Bioscience Resource Project and the Center for Media and Democracy released more than 200,000 pages of these documents now accessible on the “Poison Papers” website. First reported in The Intercept, the project, “Poison Papers,” makes publicly available documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others. Activist Carol Van Strum stored much of these documents in her rural Oregon barn. Ms. Van Strum’s activism on pesticides and other toxic chemicals began in the mid-1970s, when she and her neighbors in Oregon filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service to stop the spraying of 2,4,5-T, a dangerously toxic herbicide that made up one-half of the ingredients in the deadly Agent Orange (the other ingredient was the still widely used herbicide 2,4-D). The spraying directly doused her four children, who developed headaches, . . .

31
Jul

Take Action: Stop Fraudulent Organic Food Imports

(Beyond Pesticides, July 31, 2017)  At a time when the U.S. market demands more organic corn and soybeans than are supplied by domestic organic growers, those same growers are threatened by the flooding of the market with cheaper fraudulent grains. The resulting impacts of eliminating market opportunities while at the same time threatening the value of the organic label hurt organic farmers in this country. The National Organic Program (NOP) must take action to protect the organic label. According to the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), the U.S. currently produces only about 60% of the organic corn and 10-30% of the organic soybeans the market demands, while demand is increasing by about 14% per year. Meanwhile, the U.S. market is being flooded with fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans. In May, the Washington Post documented three large shipments –totaling 7 percent of annual organic corn imports and 4 percent of organic soybean imports— originating from questionable overseas certification and fraud. >>>Act now to tell NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and your Congressional delegation to protect the organic label for the sake of farmers and consumers! OFARM says, “For . . .

28
Jul

Toxic Ingredients Found in Various Mac and Cheese Products

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2017) According to a report released earlier this month by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging, a national alliance of leading public health and food safety groups, toxic, hormone disrupting, industrial chemicals have been found in 10 varieties of macaroni and cheese products. The coalition is calling on food companies, especially the Kraft Heinz Company, maker of the iconic boxed mac and cheese, to eliminate sources of these chemicals from their cheese products. The tested mac and cheese products contained elevated levels of phthalates, chemicals used in industrial processing of plastics, adhesives and rubber, among other things, as well as “inert” ingredients in pesticide products. The study tested 30 items of individual cheese products from various manufacturers that were purchased at retail grocery stores in the U.S and shipped to the lab, unopened, in their original packaging. The cheese product items tested include nine of Kraft’s many cheese products. Results found that nearly every cheese product tested contained 10 different phthalates, with six found in a single product. Eight of the nine Kraft mac and cheese products tested contained phthalates. DEHP, a phthalate currently banned in . . .

27
Jul

Bill to Ban Neurotoxic Chlorpyrifos Introduced in the U.S. Senate

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2017) Earlier this week U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a bill that would ban use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos. The Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act, S. 1624, comes one week after an appeals court refused to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make a decision over whether to ban the chemical. Removing this neurotoxic insecticide from the environment would significantly reduce health risks for children and farmworkers in underserved rural communities, build pressure to address all toxic organophosphates, and help push U.S. agriculture in a more sustainable direction. As with other organophosphate class chemicals, chlorpyrifos, first registered in 1965 by Dow Chemical, is derived from nerve agents used during World War 2. The chemical is linked to a range of negative health and environmental outcomes that warrant its prohibition. Children are at particular risk from the chemical due to their developing immune, organ, and nervous systems.  As with other organophosphate nerve agents, the chemical acts on the body’s nervous system, inhibiting the movement of neurotransmitters called cholinesterase. Chlorpyrifos chemically binds to the site where cholinesterase would in the body, . . .

26
Jul

Campbell’s Soup Parts with Grocery Manufacturers Association over GE Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2017) Campbell Soup Co. announced that it will leave the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) by the end of the year over concerns that the trade association no longer represents its views concerning labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food. Campbell’s President and CEO Denise Morrison said that while the company does not question the safety of GE food, it recognizes that most consumers want to see GE ingredients on the label. Meanwhile, Campbell’s has supported the GMA digital disclosure and lists ingredients that “may be derived from crops grown from genetically engineered seeds” on its website. The move by Campbell Soup comes as USDA is pondering possible disclosure options under the “compromise” bill on labeling genetically engineered food passed last year by the U.S. Congress. The company says, “While this legislation offers a range of disclosure options for manufacturers, we will introduce an on-pack statement as we know that’s what the overwhelming majority of Americans support. We’re working on language that provides specific ingredient information and supports the science that GMOs are safe.” A number of other companies have also announced their intention to label GE ingredients, while similarly maintaining their safety. USDA’s Agricultural . . .

25
Jul

EPA Rejects Pesticide Use in Cannabis Production, Paves Way for Organic Marijuana

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2017) With the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in dozens of states, the question of pesticide use in commercial cannabis production and resulting residues in a range of products is a burning issue. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) injected itself into this question when last week it issued a notice of intent to disapprove the planned registration of four pesticides for cannabis production by the state of California. Given cannabis’ narcotic status by the federal government, EPA does not register pesticides for use in marijuana production. However, states and previously EPA have considered using a Special Local Needs (SLN) permit under the nation’s pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (Section 24c), to allow this unregistered pesticide use to meet an “existing or imminent pest problem.” While reports suggest that EPA’s rejection is likely politically motivated based on the current administrator’s opposition to cannabis legalization in general, the agency’s determination is consistent with Beyond Pesticides’ letters to states and EPA, which encourage the burgeoning industry to root itself in organic production, without the use of toxic pesticides. “The cannabis industry has the opportunity to develop with organic soil . . .

24
Jul

National Academy of Sciences Urges EPA to Study Low Dose Endocrine Disruption

(Beyond Pesticides, July 24, 2017) A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) is recommending to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a strategy to evaluate the evidence of adverse human health effects from low doses of exposure to chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system. NAS believes that EPA’s current process, which utilizes traditional toxicity testing, would miss some effects that occur at doses lower then what EPA evaluates. EPA’s Endocrine Disruption Screening Program (EDSP) is currently screening chemicals for their potential to interact with the endocrine system, but the program is years behind schedule and has been criticized for using outdated methods. Endocrine disruptors are substances that can cause a variation in normal hormone function. Even small alterations in hormone concentrations, particularly during embryonic development and developmental phases of life, can have lasting and significant effects. Mounting science is showing that disruptions to the hormone system can occur at very low doses that according to NAS, are lower than those used in traditional toxicity testing by EPA. This means that some effects may be missed. EPA’s methodologies have been criticized over the years for failing to adequately capture . . .

21
Jul

Sustained Glyphosate Use Reveals Risks to Soil and Environmental Health

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2017) A March 2017 review of studies on the agricultural use of glyphosate (the active ingredient in “Roundup” and other formulated herbicides) points to widespread persistence in soils subject to long-term, intensive glyphosate use, and myriad resulting concerns about impacts on soil and environmental health. The review, by Robert J. Kremer, PhD, of the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources, cites concerns that include: reduction of nutrient availability for plants and organisms; disruption to organism diversity, especially in the areas around plant roots; reductions of beneficial soil bacteria; increases in plant root pathogens; disturbed earthworm activity; reduced nitrogen fixing at plant roots; and compromised growth and reproduction in some soil and aquatic organisms. Globally, glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide compound: in 2017, worldwide use is estimated to be approximately 1.35 million metric tons. Use in the U.S. has risen dramatically — from 2.72–3.62 million kg in 1987 to approximately 108 million kg in 2014, and 15-fold since 1996, when genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced. Use has grown for a number of reasons, including more-intensive use as resistance to the herbicide grows. Researchers have found that, . . .

20
Jul

Urgent/by Monday: Help Stop Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides from Killing Bees and Contaminating Waterways!

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2017) In its recently released 2017 Preliminary Aquatic Risk Assessment for Imidacloprid, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that this neonicotinoid insecticide is not only toxic to bees but also, is destroying life in the nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes. This assessment finds that aquatic invertebrates, especially aquatic insects basic to aquatic food chains, are sensitive to imidacloprid, and that current imidacloprid levels detected in streams, rivers, lakes, and drainage canals exceed acute and chronic toxicity endpoints. Impacts occur at low concentrations, and can result in decreased species abundance, altered predator-prey relationships, and reduced nutrient cycling. Impacts to other wildlife that depend on these species raise serious cause for concern. Comment by July 24 and tell EPA to cancel these neonicotinoids to protect sensitive species and ecosystems. See sample comment language, below. Clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran are too toxic for honey bees and native bees EPA also finds that the other neonicotinoids –clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran– pose risks to bees both on and around treated fields, but the agency has not evaluated risks from soil, surface water, or contaminated seed dust, which underestimates exposure risks and continues to put our native bees at . . .

19
Jul

Pesticide Caused Disruption of Ecological Balance Increases Parasitic Disease`

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2017) Research connects a healthy environment to overall public health, linking diseases to pesticide caused disruption of ecological balance. A new study, published by University of South Florida scientist Jason Rohr, PhD and colleagues, finds that the use of agricultural chemicals, predominantly in developing countries, is associated with increases in transmission risk for schistosomiasis, a disease caused by infection from a parasitic flatworm that lives in freshwater snails. The findings point to the need for an increased focus on alternative pest management approaches that promote, rather than degrade natural ecological services. Previous research published by Dr. Rohr and colleagues found that amphibians exposed to pesticides had higher rates of parasitic infection, and increased fertilizer use resulted in an increase in algae that snail parasite hosts feed on. For the current study, researchers investigated the human epidemiologic risks associated with common farm chemicals. To investigate pesticide effects on the ecosystem, scientists used mesocosms, an experiment designed in a controlled outdoor environment that replicates natural conditions. Algae, parasite-carrying snails, and snail predators (crayfish and water bugs) were added to a series of 60 tanks set up by researchers. The ecological effects of introducing chemical fertilizer, the . . .

18
Jul

Take Action: Comment to Stop U.S. Senate from Undermining Value of USDA Organic Food Label

(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2018) The value of the organic label is under attack in the U.S. Congress. If proposed changes are adopted, the public will not be able to rely on the label to identify the stark differences between current organic and chemical-intensive food production practices. Beyond Pesticides has long advanced organic agriculture as a means of protecting  farmers, farmworkers, consumers, biodiversity, and the environment. The U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee is accepting comments now on Farm Bill proposals that will erode the meaning of organic. Although there are about 400 days to go before 2012 Farm Bill funding ends, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R, KS) is taking the opportunity of Senate hearings to attack those institutions that make organic agriculture standards clear, transparent, and subject to Congressionally mandated public oversight. In particular, Sen. Roberts and others are attacking the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which is an impediment to organic factory farms. Organic production is subject to rigorous oversight through a certification and inspection process, not found in conventional agriculture, but needing continual improvement to keep pace with the tremendous growth of the organic sector. We want to protect and strengthen these . . .
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