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Daily News Blog


EPA Moves to Cancel d-CON Rodent Killing Products

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its decision to go ahead with the cancellation of 12 rodenticide products which posed “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” The decision came after manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser’s refusal to adopt EPA safety standards for its d-CON mouse and rat control products.

The action follows EPA’s Notice of Intent to Cancel (NOIC), issued in 2011, to Reckitt Benckiser and two dcon mouse prufe(1) other companies, Liphatech and Spectrum Group Division of United Industries Corporation, which voluntarily removed eight of their products from the market and were therefore not listed for cancelation by EPA.

EPA requires that rodenticide products sold to individual consumers are in tamper-resistant bait stations, rather than in pellet or powder form. Additionally, EPA recognizes the risks that rodenticide products containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone, and difenacoum pose to wildlife and will no longer allow them to be sold or distributed in the consumer market. However, use by professional applicators and in agriculture will still be permitted as long as they are in bait stations. EPA says this will reduce the amount of product in the environment, providing additional protection for wildlife from poisonings by these more toxic and persistent products. However, many wildlife poisonings do not come from direct contact with the bait. These rodenticides have been tied to the poisonings of federally listed threatened and endangered species, such as the San Joaquin kit fox and Northern spotted owl. Rodents can feed on poisoned bait multiple times before death, and as a result their carcasses contain residues that may be many times the lethal dose. Poisonings occur when predators or scavengers feed on these poisoned rodents.

While Beyond Pesticides commends EPA for following through with its NOIC in order to protect residential consumers and children, unfortunately, there are several shortcomings to its decision. Human and wildlife exposures to these toxic chemicals, though slightly minimized, will nevertheless continue because of their continued availability for use in agricultural production and to pest control operators. Pest control operators will still be allowed to use these chemicals in homes, at their discretion, which means residential exposures continue, albeit at slightly lower levels. These measures also do not apply to rodenticide field uses, or to tracking powder products, which may utilize any of the ten rodenticides, and thus continue to impact residential consumers and non-target wildlife.

EPA expects Reckitt Benckiser will request an administrative hearing to challenge the ruling, and if so  the company’s products can continue to be sold until a finding is made. EPA official Rusty Wasem estimated that if the company decides to challenge the decision, it will be another 12 to 18 months before the products are canceled.

For more information on rodenticides and their impacts on human health, wildlife, pets, and the environment, read Beyond Pesticides’ recent article in Pesticides and You. Or for least toxic control of mice and other pests, visit the alternatives page.

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

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency



Risk of Infant Leukemia Associated with Mother’s Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2012) A new study finds that a mother’s exposure to pesticides before, during and after pregnancy may increase the risk of infant leukemia diagnosed before the age of two. Researchers in Brazil found that children are twice as likely to develop the rare cancers if their mothers were exposed three months before conception when compared to mothers who reported no exposures. A mother’s exposure at any time to the insecticide permethrin also raised the cancer risk for infants. The results support recommendations for women of reproductive age to minimize their pesticide exposure before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and adds to the growing weight of evidence of the dangers of using synthetic pyrethroid pesticides.pregnant-cover

The study, entitled, “In utero pesticide exposure and leukemia in Brazilian children less than 2 years of age,” is published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Researchers asked mothers in Brazil about their pesticide exposure three months before pregnancy, while pregnant and three months after pregnancy when they were nursing. The women reported their home, work and agricultural contact with pesticides (at least once) between 1999 and 2007. Pesticide exposures from mothers of 252 children younger than two years old and diagnosed with either acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) or acute myeloid leukemia (AML) were compared to exposures from mothers of 423 children of the same age without cancer. Researchers found that children from birth to 11 months old whose mothers were exposed to pesticides during pregnancy are two times more likely to be diagnosed with ALL and five times more likely to be diagnosed with AML, compared to children of mothers who did not report such use. Children 12 to 23 months old whose mothers reported pesticide use during pregnancy are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with ALL compared to those who did not report such exposure.

The findings support previous studies that indicate maternal pesticide exposure may play a role in childhood leukemia. Prenatal pesticide exposure has been linked to leukemia in older children. Few of these studies have looked at infants and toddlers or considered household pesticide use during the prenatal period. Also, most of the studies focused on occupational exposures.

Permethrin belongs to the chemical class of synthetic pyrethroid pesticides, which are chemically formulated versions of the natural-based pesticide pyrethrum, made from extracts from plants in the chrysanthemum family. Synthetic pyrethroids are one of the most widely used class of insecticides around the home, due in part to the prevalent myth that it is “natural,” and safer than organophosphate insecticides, which have been phased-out of most residential uses. Unfortunately, they have not been widely evaluated for developmental toxicity, despite the fact that they are designed to be more toxic and longer lasting than pyrethrum, and therefore more potent to insects and pose elevated risks to humans. Permethrin is a possible human carcinogen and endocrine disruptor, and exposure can cause immunotoxicity, and reproductive effects.

Ignoring a wealth of independent data that links this class of chemicals to certain cancers, respiratory and reproductive problems, and the onset of insect resistance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its cumulative risk assessment for the pyrethroid class of insecticides in 2011, concluding that these pesticides “do not pose risk concerns for children or adults.” However, serious issues, such as the carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting potential of several pyrethroids, are not mentioned in EPA’s risk assessment even though a another study published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds that low-dose, short-term exposure to esfenvalerate, a synthetic pyrethroid pesticide, delays the onset of puberty in at doses two times lower than EPA’s stated no observable effect level.

Beyond Pesticides has long documented the increased risk pesticides pose to young children and pregnant mothers. Numerous studies have reported birth defects and developmental problems when fetuses and infants are exposed to pesticides. Synthetic pyrethroids are designed to be more toxic and longer lasting than pyrethrum, and therefore are more potent to insects and pose elevated risks to humans. Exposure to these chemicals can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, irritation, and skin sensations. Many synthetic pyrethroids have also been linked to disruption of the endocrine system, which can adversely affect reproduction and sexual development, interfere with the immune system, and increase chances of breast cancer. Synthetic pyrethroids have also been linked to respiratory problems such as hypersensitization, and may be triggers for asthma attacks.

Given such compelling research on the risks associated with childhood exposure to pesticides, it is concerning how prevalent and persistent pesticides are in our living environment, and particularly in our homes. A 2009 study from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found the pesticide permethrin in 89% of the 500 homes randomly selected for sampling. Another study conducted by the School of Medicine at The University of Texas San Antonio earlier this year found at least five pesticides in the air of 60% of 29 homes occupied by pregnant Hispanic women. In 2008, researchers at Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) found PBO in 75% of homes occupied by pregnant women in inner-city New York.

To see more scientific research on the effects of pesticides on human health, including birth defects, see our Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database. For more information on what you can do, see our materials for new parents with tips on food choices and safer pest management, specifically designed for new moms and dads.

Source: Environmental Health News

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



EU Report: Precautionary Approach Beneficial to Avoid Environmental Disasters

(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2013) A new report, “Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation,” from the European Environment Agency (EEA) concludes that concerns raised by the scientific community on bee death, genetically engineered (GE) food, and nanotechnology support the need for a precautionary approach to public policy. Significantly, the report concludes that the “precautionary principle,” whereby industry and policy makers are advised to take seriously early warnings about potential environmental impacts is “nearly always beneficial.” The report cites some industry efforts to undermine precautionary decision making.

The report features case studies on environmental impacts, such as mercury poisoning, effects on fertility caused by pesticides, and the impact of pharmaceuticals on some ecosystems, and raises questions about the potential wider impacts of GE crops, nanotechnology, nuclear power, and the effect of pesticides on bee populations.

The report lays the blame for numerous environmental crises squarely at the feet of corporations and policy makers who ignore early warnings about environmental impacts. “The historical case studies show that warnings were ignored or sidelined until damage to health and the environment was inevitable,” the EEA said. “In some instances, companies put short-term profits ahead of public safety, either hiding or ignoring the evidence of risk. In others, scientists downplayed risks, sometimes under pressure from vested interests. Such lessons could help avoid harm from emerging technologies.”

The agency also finds that risk assessments for new technologies should be improved and more clearly articulated. “No evidence of harm” has often been misinterpreted to mean ‘evidence of no harm’ when the relevant research was not available,” the report states. Currently, risk assessment approaches underestimate real-world risks and attempt to mitigate adverse impacts with tools that prove insufficient and impractical in real-world scenarios.  For instance, U.S. chemical risk assessment approaches make determinations that the risks are “reasonable” while failing to take into account numerous circumstances and realities that make some people and ecosystems more vulnerable to chemical exposures. EEA  goes a step further to accuse industry of working to undermine regulation by manipulating research and applying pressure on governments for financial benefit. The report states, industry interests have, “deliberately recruited reputable scientists, media experts and politicians to call on if their products were linked to possible hazards. Manufacturing doubt, disregarding scientific evidence of risks and claiming over-regulation appear to be a deliberate strategy for some industry groups and think tanks to undermine precautionary decision-making.”

On GE Foods

The report finds that GE crops provide no direct benefit to consumers, are over-hyped, not necessarily safe and are largely unsuitable for the great majority of the world’s farmers. It argues that “top-down” GE companies manipulate international patent and subsidy systems to gain maximum returns. “Modifying genotypes and capturing them as [intellectual property] through plant variety protection and patents is a far easier means of capturing financial benefits than attempting to [innovate] with cover crops, rotation schedules and composting, farmer-initiated training and education and small scale marketing and credit programs,” the report says.

The report notes, “Evidence is accumulating of inflated benefit claims and of adverse effects. The benefits that may have been overstated are the reduction in pesticide use, the reduced use of more toxic pesticides, higher yields and farmer income. The safety of GE crops is presumed when there is a lack of evidence of harm, as if this were equivalent to evidence of lack of harm, when it clearly is not. Hence many of the safety conclusions … are assumption-based, rather than evidence-based, reasoning.” In fact, GE crops are now being documented as being directly related to increased herbicide use as the rise of weeds resistant to GE technologies increases, leading to the degradation of habitat and ecosystems. Similarly, insect resistance  to GE technologies is also being observed. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that corn rootworm is now resistant to GE corn infused with a toxin derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, casting doubt on the future viability of GE corn. The growing number of resistant species can potentially rake up economic and environmental costs for farmers and the public and destroy the viability of biological controls that may be used in organic farming systems.

The study does not dismiss GE crops but says they have limited value as presently employed. “Despite more than 30 years of research and development and nearly 20 years of commercialization of GE crops, surprisingly only two traits have been significant in the marketplace – herbicide tolerance and insecticide production.”

On Emerging Nanotechnology

The report points out that nanotechnology development has occurred in the absence of “clear design rules for chemists and materials developers on how to integrate health, safety and environmental concerns into design.” While the emerging area of ‘green nanotechnology’ offers promise for the future with its focus on preventive design, it is important that research on the sustainability of materials is funded at levels significant enough to identify early warnings and potential harms, and that regulatory systems provide incentives for safer and sustainable materials.  Regulators and policy-makers have yet to address many of the shortcomings in legislation, research and development, and limitations in risk assessment. EEA concludes that as a result, “There remains a developmental environment that hinders the adoption of precautionary yet socially and economically responsive strategies in the field of nanotechnology. If left unresolved, this could hamper society’s ability to ensure responsible development of nanotechnologies.”

Recently, EPA announced plans to obtain information on nanoscale materials in pesticide products and to register nanoscale materials as new active pesticide ingredients. The agency stated it will gather information on nanoscale materials present in pesticide products to determine whether the registration of the pesticide product may cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment and human health.

On Emerging Bee Decline

Some European countries suspended neonicotinoid seed‑dressing insecticides, linked to bee decline. In Italy, after the ban, the number of reports of high mortality during spring decreased from 185 cases in 2008 to two cases in 2009. According to the report, evidence of the toxicity of neonicotinoids highlights the major weaknesses of regulatory risk assessment and marketing authorization of pesticides, and particularly neonicotinoids. These insights were recently confirmed by the European Food Safety Authority, which concludedthat neonicotinoids pose unacceptable risks to bees.

The report cautioned that when dealing with new technologies, in this case systemic insecticides, it is important to verify whether the methods already in use for risk assessment are relevant, given the specific new properties and characteristics of new risks. Systemic insecticides endure in the plant, throughout the life of the plant, with residues translocating to pollen and nectar. It also emphasizes the prioritization of the potential causal factors and addresses them separately before assessing potential correlation or synergies among them.

EEA finds that while honey bee losses can be influenced by many factors, this should not become an excuse for not dealing with particular clinical signs and particular causes. It states, “There are some harmful effects which occur only at the level of the system, such as a bee colony, which cannot be predicted from analyzing a single part of the system, such as an individual bee.” The report also notes that all key actors, including beekeepers and experts with relevant research experience, should be properly engaged so that the monitoring and regulatory processes do not become discredited and ineffective. In response, Bayer CropScience critiqued what it claims as bias against “Bayer-funded research” and against research that supports the use of neonicotinoids.

In 2012, beekeepers, Beyond Pesticides, the Center for Food Safety, and Pesticide Action Network North America filed an emergency legal petition with the EPA to suspend the use of clothianidin that is linked to honey bee deaths, urging the agency to adopt safeguards. The petition, which is supported by over one million citizen petition signatures, targets the pesticide for its harmful impacts on honey bees.  The legal petition cites that EPA failed to adequately review relevant data to support the “no unreasonable adverse effects” standards for pollinators. EPA has failed to act.

For more information on bee and pollinator health, see Beyond Pesticides’ Pollinator Protection Program page.

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



Triclosan and Its Toxic Breakdown Products Found Polluting Freshwater Lakes

(Beyond Pesticides, January 29, 2013) A new study has discovered the anti-bacterial chemical triclosan and several of its toxic derivatives in sediment samples taken from freshwater lakes. Research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology reveals the chemical to be present in increasing concentrations since it was first invented in the 1960’s. The results of this study put increased pressure on lawmakers and cosmetic companies to remove this chemical from consumer products. Beyond Pesticides and other groups, which have petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove triclosan from a vast array of consumer products, continues to urge cosmetic companies to take action on the chemical in the face of inadequate regulation to protect human health and the environment.

Scientists tested eight sediment samples from freshwater lakes across Minnesota, including Lake Superior. Bill Arnold, Ph.D., co-author of the study and professor at University of Minnesota notes, “We found that in all the lakes there’s triclosan in the sediment, and in general, the concentration increased from when triclosan was invented in 1964 to present day. And we also found there are seven other compounds that are derivatives or degradation products of triclosan that are also in the sediment an also increasing in concentration with time.” Some of the breakdown products that scientists discovered were polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), a group of chemicals known to be toxic to both humans and wildlife.

All of the lakes tested are end routes for wastewater treatment plants. Researchers explain that triclosan undergoes a chemical reaction in treatment plants during the last stage of the purification process, when chlorine is mixed with wastewater.

Dr. Arnold continues, “Triclosan goes through the wastewater treatment system, and the wastewater treatment plant actually does a pretty darn good job of removing it. 90 to 95 percent of it is taken out, but we use so much triclosan that the rest of it gets through, and three of the compounds we found are chlorinated triclosan derivatives, and they’re formed in the last step of wastewater treatment, when the wastewater is disinfected before it’s discharged and the disinfectant is chlorine. So that creates these three new compounds. And then triclosan and these three new compounds, when they’re exposed to sunlight, each of them undergoes a reaction that forms a dioxin, so that’s where the other four compounds come from.”

Dr. Arnold notes that triclosan and its breakdown contaminants have the potential to build up in the ocean, as well as in freshwater lakes. This current research follows a 2010 study which showed triclosan’s potential to disrupt aquatic ecosystems by inhibiting photosynthesis in algae and killing beneficial bacteria.

Other research on triclosan’s human health and environmental effects reinforce Beyond Pesticides’ message to regulators and cosmetic companies to stop the use of this chemical. Last year, researchers from the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) and the University of Colorado found that the chemical impairs muscle function in fish and mice and stated that the results they found show “strong evidence that triclosan could have effects on animal and human health at current levels of exposure.” Issac Passah, Ph.D., co-author of the muscle function study and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences  at UC Davis will be speaking at Beyond Pesticides’ 31st National Pesticide Forum. The forum takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico and runs from Friday, April 5th to Saturday the 6th.

Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones and possibly fetal development. It is also shown to alter thyroid function, and other studies have found that due to its extensive use in consumer goods, triclosan and its metabolites are present in umbilical cord blood and human milk. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also found that triclosan is present in the urine of 75% of the U.S. population, with concentrations that have increased by 50% since 2004.

Triclosan is present in hundreds of consumer products ranging from antibacterial soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, fabrics, toys, and other household and personal care products, appearing in some of these products in a formulation known as Microban. In the absence of overarching federal regulations, and in response to consumer outrage, a few large companies began phasing out or reformulating products to not contain triclosan. Last year, Johnson and Johnson announced it would begin removing the chemical from its consumer products, following a 2011 announcement by Colgate-Palmolive indicating that they would do the same (although the company is retaining use of triclosan in its Colgate Total brand toothpaste, a line the company claims fights gingivitis).

Beyond Pesticides, in partnership with Food and Water Watch and 80 other groups, submitted petitions to both FDA  and EPA  in 2009 and 2010 requiring that they end the use of all non-medically prescribed triclosan uses on the basis that those uses violate numerous federal statutes. Echoing these petitions, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) also submitted letters of concern to both EPA and FDA. In FDA’s response, the agency acknowledged that soaps containing triclosan offer no additional benefit over regular soap and water. FDA stated that “existing data raise valid concerns about the [health] effects of repetitive daily human exposure to these antiseptic ingredients” and announced plans to address the use of triclosan in cosmetics or other products. FDA also expressed concern about the development of antibiotic resistance from using antibacterial products and about triclosan’s potential long-term health effects. Additionally, Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) and two colleagues asked FDA to ban triclosan in 2010 due to the hazards that the chemical poses, including antibiotic resistance and potential health problems leading to higher health care costs.

In March of 2012, Canadian officials announced that they are set to declare triclosan toxic to the environment, an action that triggers a process to find ways to curtail a chemical’s use, including a possible ban in a range of personal-care products.

In the words of Dr. Arnold, co-author of the recent study, “I think this is a case where consumers can certainly put pressure on the market. So if consumers look at their products and don’t buy things with triclosan, they’re making their voice heard. Or they can also talk to the retailers and the manufacturers and tell them they don’t want this product if that’s the choice they make, if they don’t like the fact that it’s going beyond their sink and into the environment.”

Beyond Pesticides urges concerned consumers to join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge  to stop using triclosan today. Read the label of personal care products in order to avoid those containing triclosan. Encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, school, or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan.

For more information or to register for the 31st National Pesticide Forum, see Beyond Pesticides’ webpage.

Sources: Michigan Radio, Voice of America

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



Common Agricultural Pesticides Threatens Frog Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2013) Research published Thursday indicates that pesticides widely used on farms are highly toxic to frogs. Researcher Carsten BrĂźhl, Ph.D., at the University of Koblenz-Landau in Germany called the results “alarming” with the potential for “large-scale effects” on amphibians. Two chemicals commonly used in orchards and on grains demonstrated a 100% mortality rate when researchers applied doses recommended on the label, raising serious concerns about the strength of pesticide regulations. The research builds on BrĂźhl’s previous work on the ability of frogs to absorb pesticides through their porous skin, which is necessary for breathing underwater. More importantly, the study highlights the threats that pesticides post to biodiversity.

Amphibians are considered the most threatened and rapidly declining vertebrate group, with more than a third of all Common_Frog(Norway)amphibians listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) “Red List” of threatened species. The organization lists loss of habitat, climate change, and disease as the most serious threats to amphibian populations. The scientific community is increasingly recognizing the role of chemical pollutants in amphibian decline. Though sadly, regulatory agencies do not: pesticides are not even required to be tested on amphibians before the pesticide is approved. Brühl commented to The Guardian that “We could only find one study for one pesticide that was using an exposure likely to occur on farmland.”

This study, then, fills a research void in understanding the impacts of pesticides to amphibians. The study tested an array of seven insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides on the juvenile European Common Frog (Rana temporaria)  at three different doses, the recommended dose, a tenth the dose, and ten times the recommended dose. One of the most striking results was  for pyraclostrobin, a fungicide manufactured by BASF and sold as the product “Headline”: The product killed all of the frog within an hour when applied at label recommended rates. Others demonstrated acute toxicity even when researchers applied a tenth of the dose recommended on the label. For example, dimethoate, a toxic insecticide used on everything from asparagus and cherries, to tangerines and wheat, killed 40% of all frogs within a week of application.

The results confirmed research indicating that frog skin is highly permeable. Its skin is designed to allow easy gas, water, and electrolyte exchange, allowing them to breathe underwater and metabolize quickly. However, because frogs can absorb chemicals twice as quickly mammals, they are also extremely susceptible to changes in their environment.

The exposure of frogs to commonly used pesticides like Headline and Captain, both of which demonstrated a 100% mortality rate at recommended doses, is likely to have large scale negative impacts on amphibian populations worldwide. The use of Headline is ubiquitous, applied to 90 different crops from wheat production in Canada to soybean production in Argentina.

The manufacturer, BASF, responded by dismissing the report: “This study was performed under laboratory ‘worst-case conditions,’ under normal agricultural conditions amphibians are not exposed to such pesticide concentrations.” In fact, the study found frog mortality at application rates at a tenth of label requirements, which is similar to real life circumstances. Similarly, farmers often apply multiple sprays of various chemicals which were not assessed here, despite likely synergistic impacts. Finally, the impact of chemicals like pyraclostrobin and dimethoate, both with known development impacts, to frog health, reproduction, and survival were also not included in the analysis.

The role of environmental factors on growth and development in amphibians will be a topic of discussion at the 31st National Pesticide Forum on April 5-6, 2013 at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. Conference speaker Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D.,  professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, will discuss his research on pesticides, including atrazine, as a cause of serious deformities for amphibians. We invite you to join researchers, authors, organic business leaders, elected officials, activists, and others to discuss the latest pesticide science, policy solutions, and grassroots action. For more information, including a full speaker list please see the Forum webpage. Register now!


Source: Scientific Reports

Photo Source: Wikipedia

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



Corn Rootworm Resistance to Toxins in GE Crops, Says EPA

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded that corn rootworm is now resistant to genetically engineered corn infused with a toxin derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, in certain parts of the Corn Belt, casting doubt on the future viability of GE corn. The conclusion of the Insect Resistance Management (IRM) Team is based on several years of data indicating that the Cry3Bb1 protein strain of Bt is ineffective at controlling corn rootworm.

The press release on January 17 states: “The EPA IRM Team has concluded that corn rootworm may not be completely controlled by Cry3Bb1 in certain parts of the Corn Belt. While ‘confirmed resistance’ as defined in registration documents has not been met, given the nature of the data, the manufacturer, Monsanto, has agreed to several actions and changes related to the registration of Cry3Bb1 products to address these matters.”

Originally marketed by Monsanto in 2003, the protein Cry3Bb1 is designed to destroy the gut of the western corn rootworm. The rootworm has historically devastated corn fields, causing greatest damage in chemical-intensive agriculture during its larval stage by feeding upon the plant’s roots, inhibiting the plant’s ability to absorb moisture and nutrients while opening a pathway for attack from soil-borne pathogens. Monsanto genetically engineered corn plants to produce Cry3Bb1 derived from a gene in Bt in order to control these insects.

Before the introduction of insecticide-producing corn plants, Midwest farmers typically tried to keep pests like the rootworm in check by changing what they grew in a field each year, often rotating between corn and soybeans. That way, the offspring of corn-loving insects would starve the next year. As proponents of genetically engineered crops claimed they would reduce pesticide use and increase drought resistance, many large scale farms have shifted their practices. In fact, studies have shown since the widespread adoption of GE in the 1990s that, to the contrary, pesticide use increases with GE crops. Insect resistance, weed resistance, and cross contamination of other crops have also been documented. Research on corn rootworm by entomologists at Iowa State University, published in 2011, verified the first field-evolved resistance of corn rootworm to a Bt toxin. The researchers documented resistance to the Bt toxin Cry3Bb1, which has been inserted into nearly one third of the corn planted in the U.S. Additionally, data released in February of 2012 shows that more than 40% of American farmers are neglecting to comply with mandatory management practices for Bt planting that are designed to minimize the risk of insect resistance.

Not only does insect resistance to Bt and its strains raise concerns about their efficacy, but the continued use of Cry3Bb1 poses serious threats to public and environmental health. Indeed, one recent study, led by scientists at the University of Caen in France, demonstrates that at very high doses Bt is toxic to human cells, and glyphosate in the formulated product Roundup, which is used in high volume with GE herbicide- tolerant corn, damages human cells, even in extremely low doses. In their investigations, the researchers examined several products, including the Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac, other Bt toxins developed by Monsanto for inclusion in GE crops, as well as the glyphosate formulation Roundup. The study supports research published in the May 2011 edition of the journal Reproductive Toxicology which found that pregnant women and their fetuses were contaminated with pesticides and metabolites of the herbicide gluphosinate and the Cry1Ab protein.

In addition, Bt impacts on non-target organisms as well as environmental contamination cannot be dismissed. A study conducted by Hellmich et al. (2001) investigated the sensitivity of the monarch butterfly to Cry proteins and found that the first instars (stage between molts) were sensitive to Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac proteins, with Cry1Ab having the most impact on the species. Kim et al. (2008) also found that Cry1Ac lead to decreased survival rates and body weights among the non-target larvae of silkworms, Bomyx mori. These studies support the notion that non-target organisms are indeed at risk from exposure to GE crops on agricultural fields and the environment.

Beyond Pesticides believes that whether it is the incorporation into food crops of genes from a natural bacterium (Bt) or the development of a herbicide-resistant crop, the GE approach to agriculture and pest management is short sighted and dangerous. There are serious public health and pest resistance problems associated with GE crops. The failure of the EPA to properly exercise its authority to regulate the plant incorporated protected used in Bt corn products is unacceptable. EPA’s faulty determination of refuge requirements and registrants’ failed oversight of the corresponding compliance practices have contributed to the confirmed in-field emergence of western corn rootworm resistance to the Cry3Bb1 toxin. Confirmed in-field resistance combined with EPA’s outright acknowledgment of corn rootworm resistance to the Cry3Bb1 toxin makes it clear that the refuge requirements and compliance provisions underlying all Bt corn product registrations urgently need reconsideration. Failure or further delay on EPA’s part to implement refuge requirements and compliance activities that seek to preserve the efficacy of Bt corn products and extend their utility in the field will result in undue adverse environmental, human health and economic consequences, as well as undermine the use of Bt as a biological pest management tool in organic production.

For more news and information on GE crops, see Beyond Pesticides’ genetic engineering page, or for information on alternatives to GE crops and chemical dependence, visit our organic food and farming page.

Genetic engineering, food as well as the effects of pesticides on human health will be topics of discussion at the 31st National Pesticide Forum on April 5-6, 2013 at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. Conference speakers include Joel Forman, MD, author of the recent report “Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages,” and public interest attorney, activist and author Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, and many more.

Source: US Environmental Protection Agency

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



Funds from Atrazine Class Action Lawsuit Distributed

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2013) Checks are now being sent to 1,085 community water systems across the U.S. in the final phase of a $105 million settlement with Syngenta, the largest manufacturer of the toxic weed killer atrazine. The class action settlement, City of Greenville v. Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., Case No.: 3:10-cv-00188-JPG-PMF, stems from a lawsuit spanning eight years and is meant to help reimburse communities for past expenses associated with atrazine removal.Atrazine Settlment Map

“Science has been fighting an uphill battle against giant pesticide manufacturers like Syngenta who claim that a little weed killer in your drinking water won’t hurt you. Independent scientists now believe that even trace amounts can harm you and your children for generations to come,” the lead plaintiff’s lawyer Stephen M. Tillery told the media.

Atrazine is used nationwide to kill broadleaf and grassy weeds, primarily in corn crops. A potent toxicant, it is the most prevalent herbicide found in Minnesota’s waters. It is widely applied in the midwestern states and has been found in the drinking water supplies in the Midwest at high levels. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have determined that previous studies that assessed population-based exposure to atrazine were significantly and systematically underestimated. Atrazine is harmful to humans, mammals, and amphibians even when the amount used is less than the government allows. Atrazine is specifically associated with infertility, low birth weight, and abnormal infant development in humans. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service acknowledges that the chemical may also harm the reproductive and endocrine systems in fish species. A study by the U.S. Geological Survey found atrazine in approximately 75 percent of stream water and 40 percent of groundwater sampled near agricultural areas. In 2012, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) reintroduced a bill (H.R.4318) that would ban the production, sale, importation or exportation of any pesticide containing atrazine. However, as it currently stands, nearly 10 years after atrazine was banned in the European Union, the chemical is still sold in the United States.

The settlement formula allocates the proceeds among claimants by first awarding each claimant a payment of $5,000, which is equal to the approximate cost of 20 water tests. Each claimant is then allocated a percentage of the remaining fund based on evidence of: (1) the levels of atrazine in its water; (2) how often atrazine has been found in its water; (3) how long ago atrazine was found in its water; and (4) the claimant’s size. Generally, if a system processed more water or frequently had high concentrations of atrazine, it is eligible for more money. Plaintiffs that are a part of the class will not be able to sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit regarding the presence of atrazine in their drinking water or water sources for the next 10 years.

In approving the settlement back in October, United States District Judge J. Phil Gilbert noted that the case had been extremely hard-fought and that in the course of the litigation, the parties collected, reviewed, and produced more than 10 million pages of discovery. The Court found that: “The settlement was reached after arm’s-length negotiations in a matter where the plaintiffs faced a number of very serious obstacles to their claims – any one of which might leave them with no recovery whatsoever. Nevertheless, even with immense risks, Plaintiffs were able to secure a $105 million settlement fund. The amount represents approximately 76 % of the $139 million estimated by Plaintiffs’ expert to be the class’s maximum potential recovery for past damages. This is a substantial recovery in any litigation and is far greater than the percentages found adequate by numerous other courts.”

Community Water Systems will receive payments under the formula approved by the Court:

Dollar Amount – Number of Claims
$5,000 to $10,000 – 545
$10,000.01 to $25,000 – 165
$25,000.01 to $50,000 – 105
$50,000.01 to $100,000 – 99
$100,000.01 to $250,000 – 116
$250,000.01 to $500,000 – 38
$500,000.01 to $1,000,000 – 14
Above $1,000,000 – 3
Total Claims    1,085

Below is a rundown of some of the funds that have been distributed:


The state will receive over $15 million. Claims were filed by 143 cities and towns to help recoup the cost of removing atrazine from their drinking water. Of this, 46 cities will receive between $100,000 and $1.3 million. (Source: The Bengil Post)


Indiana will receive over $7 million. Fifty-one cities and towns in Indiana filed claims to help recoup the cost of removing atrazine from their drinking water, with 16 cities receiving at least $100,000. Indianapolis will receive checks of more than $1 million. (Source: The Indiana Lawyer, Courier Press)


Approximately $2 million is set to go to 106 Nebraska communities. The largest amount in the state will go to the city of Lincoln, at $800,000.  (Source: Journal Star)


Five Hancock County towns are receiving settlement checks for an atrazine problem that started 20 years ago. The City of Carthage will receive a check from the settlement fund for $123,618.39 to help reimburse the cost of removing atrazine from its drinking water supply. LaHarpe received $27,539.27; Nauvoo receives $9,227.01; Warsaw receives $8,967.88 and Hamilton receives $6,345.84.

“From 1994 to 1997, we were spending $25,000 to $30,000 to straighten out our atrazine problem,” Carthage mayor, Jim Nightingale told the Journal Pilot. “In 1995 we had a meeting with a meal and started brainstorming.”

Additionally, the city of Wilmington will receive $181,468.82. The city of Lima received $227,000. (Sources: Wilmington News Journal, The Lima News, Journal Pilot)


City of Cameron has received $274,785.51 (Source: My Cameron News)


Kaua’i will receive $6,692.96. According to Kaua’i Department of Water Manager and Chief Engineer David Craddick, “The money we received does not cover the full cost of testing for atrazine, but we would have received nothing if not for the diligence of the County Attorney and the Water Department lab personnel.”(Source: Kauia Department of Water)

For additional information on the settlement, visit www.atrazinesettlement.com.

Source: Korein Tillery Press Releases, January 16, 2013, October 23, 2012

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



Toxic Contamination Remains Widespread In the Chesapeake Bay

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2013) A new federal report finds toxic contamination remains widespread in the Chesapeake Bay, with severe impacts in some places, which health and environmental advocates say lends support to their push in Maryland for legislative action on pesticides and other hazardous chemicals. In spite of some cleanup, the health of the Bay has not significantly improved.

The report, “Technical Report on Toxic Contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay and its Watershed: Extent and Severity of Occurrence and Potential Biological Effects” is based on a review of integrated water-quality assessment reports from the jurisdictions in the Bay watershed (Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.), Federal and State reports, and articles in scientific journals. It notes that nearly three-fourths of the Bay’s tidal waters are “fully or partially impaired” by toxic chemicals, with people warned to limit fish consumption from certain areas. Contamination is severe in a handful of “hot spots” around the Bay, including Baltimore’s harbor, largely a legacy of past industrial and shipping activity.

ChesapeakeBayPrevious reports have called on federal, state and local government to accelerate research into what threats chemical contamination may pose to the Bay, and to step up efforts to reduce such toxic pollution that is increasingly linked to declines in frogs across the region and intersex fish seen in the Potomac River. According to this latest report, widespread contamination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), herbicides (primarily atrazine, simazine, metolachlor, and their degradation products), and mercury persists and indicates the extent of occurrence throughout the Bay watershed. Localized contamination of dioxins/furans, petroleum hydrocarbons, some chlorinated insecticides (aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, DDT/DDE, heptachlor epoxide, mirex), and some metals (aluminum, chromium, iron, lead, manganese, zinc) are also documented.

As a result of this widespread contamination, compromised fish health has been observed within populations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including an increased incidence of infectious disease and parasite infestations contributing to increased mortality in several species of fish; feminization (intersex, plasma vitellogenin) of largemouth and smallmouth bass and other signs of endocrine disruption; reduced reproductive success and recruitment of yellow perch in tributaries in certain highly urbanized drainage basins; and tumors in bottom-dwelling fish. Similarly, organochlorine pesticides have been found in eggs of predatory birds at concentrations associated with embryo lethality.

According to the report, several studies are cited in which PCB concentrations in addled bald eagle eggs may have been high enough to contribute to the failure to hatch. Even though PCBs were banned years ago over health concerns, residues linger and continue to show up in fish tissue. Detectable concentrations of PBDEs have been found in the eggs of predatory birds and in a few locations, eggshell thinning associated with p,p’-DDE is apparent, suggesting reproduction may be impaired.

“Since 2000, new concerns, such as intersex conditions in fish, have arisen,” the report says. “Although the causes are undetermined, there is increasing evidence that contaminant exposures may play a role.”
The report also notes there are other widely dispersed contaminants found around the Bay that pose disputed or unknown threats to wildlife and people, such as the agricultural herbicide atrazine, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, like triclosan and triclocarban.

A group of health and environmental advocates say this new report demonstrates the need for more information about pesticide use in Maryland. They point to its finding that researchers do not know enough about the use of some pesticides to determine the extent and severity of their contamination.

“Our current lack of information about pesticide usage results in dangerous data gaps,” said Robert Lawrence, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. “Environmental scientists and public health professionals need to know what, when and where pesticides are being used in order to identify which pesticides have adverse impacts on fish, wildlife, the ecosystem, and the health of the public.”

Pesticide reporting is one of Maryland’s environmental community’s top legislative priorities. A bill is planned that would require pesticide applicators and sellers of certain pesticides to report data on sales and use that they are already required to maintain. The bill, ‘The Pesticide Information Act’ would require pesticide use information be compiled and made available to health and environmental officials. The Maryland Pesticide Network ad Maryland Environmental Health Network called for state action to increase data collection and research into the use and potential effects of pesticides and other chemicals citing children and pregnant mothers are especially vulnerable to even tiny doses of pesticides and other chemicals. Beyond Pesticides encourages Maryland residents to sign the petition to pass this bill.

While the report does not address potential effects on human health except in recognizing fish impairments and the status of fish consumption advisories established by jurisdictions in the watershed, it provides considerations for developing reduction goals if established, and identifies research and monitoring that could be conducted to better define the extent and severity of groups of contaminants. The report also focuses on the severity of adverse effects of toxic contaminants on natural resources in the Bay and its watershed. The findings will be used by the regional partnership Chesapeake Bay Program to consider whether to establish new or updated goals for reduction of toxic contaminants.

Source: Baltimore Sun

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



EPA Challenged Over Conditional Registration of Nanosilver Product

(Beyond Pesticides, January 22, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently faced tough questioning from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit over its decision to conditionally approve a pesticide product containing nanosilver as the active ingredient. The antimicrobial pesticide product, HeiQ AGS-20, contains microscopic particles of silver and has been applied to textiles such as clothes, blankets, and pillowcases, in an attempt to suppress odor and bacterial growth. The main argument in the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) v. EPA lawsuit is that EPA was wrong to assume that 3-year-olds would be the most vulnerable consumers. Instead, NRDC attorney Catherine Rahm of Washington argued that, “Infants are more likely than any other subgroup to chew on fabrics that could contain this pesticide.”

In arguments over whether EPA lawfully granted conditional registration to HeiQ AGS-20, NRDC challenged EPA’s risk assessment for infants and children claiming the agency erred by assuming in its risk assessment that 3-year-olds would be the most vulnerable consumers. Up for debate is oral exposure to the product and whether 3-year-olds chew more aggressively than infants and produce more saliva, an important factor for extracting nanoparticles from products and becoming exposed. NRDC contends EPA’s assessment is flawed in distinguishing between the chewing action between infants and toddlers, and that infants are also at high risk from oral exposures. EPA however stated it has a long-standing practice of treating 3-year-olds as the most vulnerable consumer to textiles. Additionally, Judge Jay Bybee told EPA not to spend time arguing if NRDC has standing to bring its claim because, according to Judge Bybee, “We’ve got affidavits in the record from parents who said, ‘Look, we’re very concerned about this.'”

Judge Bybee also questioned EPA about the labels on products containing nanosilver, and expressed his concern that these labels may be misleading. The Judge stated, “”It’s going to be called ‘super coating that makes you not stinky.’ And that’s very different from saying, ‘This contains nanosilver that you don’t want to let your infants chew on.'”

A silver nanoparticle (or nanosilver) consists of many silver atoms or ions clustered together to form a particle 1-300nm in size. Due to their small size, these nanoparticles are able to invade bacteria and other microorganisms and kill them. Nanoparticles in soluble ionic form become toxic to bacteria. Just as the size and chemical characteristics of manufactured nanoparticles can give them unique properties, these same properties –tiny size, vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, high reactivity– can also create unique and unpredictable human health and environmental risks.

Because of their size, nanoparticles can be easily inhaled, absorbed by skin contact, or ingested. Little to no information is known about the fate or effects nanoparticles, specifically nanosilver, can have on the digestive tract, lung, or skin of those that are exposed to these particles. Research is still ongoing to investigate whether nanosize particles cause pulmonary inflammation as well as systemic effects, and whether they translocate from the lungs to other organs such as the liver, kidney or brain. Preliminary research with laboratory rats has found that nanosilver can traverse into the brain, and can induce neuronal degeneration and necrosis (death of cells or tissue) by accumulating in the brain over a long period of time. Low doses of nanosilver can also make bacteria stronger and more resistant.

Nanosilver may also have adverse environmental impacts. Textiles and clothing imbedded with nanosilver, when laundered, release these particles into the wash cycle where they can eventually make their way into waste and surface waters. One study found that socks impregnated with nanosilver release these particles when washed. Some socks lost the bulk of their nanosilver after two to four washings. Another study found nanosilver to cause malformations and to be lethal to small fish at various stages of development since they are able to cross the egg membranes and move into the fish embryos. A 2010 study by scientists at Oregon State University and in the European Union highlights the major regulatory and educational issues that they believe should be considered before nanoparticles are used in pesticides.

EPA published in the Federal Register on July 9, 2012 a notice announcing the establishment of a registration review docket for the registration review of nanosilver and requested public comment. The summary document: (i)identifies five registrants who have acknowledged that their seven products contain nanosilver and one registrant whose three products are suspected to contain nanosilver; (ii) explains what the Office of Pesticide Programs knows about nanosilver and the anticipated data and assessment needs; (iii) and contains a preliminary workplan and fact sheet, along with ecological risk assessment problem formulation and human health scoping sections describing scientific analyses expected to be necessary to complete nanosilver review. Comments can be seen at http://www.regulations.gov  in docket # EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0370. This comes after EPA announced plans to obtain information on nanoscale materials in pesticide products and to register nanoscale materials as new active pesticide ingredients. The agency stated it will gather information on nanoscale materials present in pesticide products to determine whether the registration of the pesticide product may cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment and human health. Unfortunately, this action to gather data on nanoscale materials was delayed for several months by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The Center for Food Safety is weighing its legal options related to a May 2008 petition on the use of nanosilver in consumer products. The petition, filed by the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the International Center for Technology Assessment, requested that EPA classify nanoscale silver as a pesticide, require nanosilver products to be regulated as pesticides, and take steps to ensure that retailers stop selling nanosilver products that have not been registered as pesticides (32 CRR 438, 5/5/08).

Nanosilver and other forms of nanotechnology has many useful and promising applications that can benefit mankind, but nanotechnologies are still new and even though they are having commercial success in the marketplace, there are big unanswered questions about their potentially harmful effects on our health and the environment.

For more information on nanosilver and nanotechnology please visit Beyond Pesticides Nanosilver webpage.

Source: The Recorder
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.



Acclaimed Scientists and Activists to Convene at 31st National Pesticide Forum

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2013) Joining the list of speakers at Beyond Pesticides’ 31st National Pesticide Forum are Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., the biologist best known for his research on the effects of atrazine on frogs, and Isaac N. Pessah, Ph.D., the Chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The conference will focus on cutting edge public health science, building resilience in our food system and communities, and bringing ecosystems back to balance, and will incorporate regional issues such as water and food sovereignty in the Southwest. The National Forum provides an opportunity for grassroots advocates, scientists, and policy makers to interact and strategize on solutions that are protective of health and the environment. The 31st National Pesticide Forum, Sustainable Families, Farms and Food: Resilient communities through organic practices, will be held April 5-6, 2013 (Friday afternoon and all day Saturday) at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. Registration information can be found in our online store.

Hand with a green plant on a background of the skyThe conference is convened by Beyond Pesticides, La Montanita Coop, and the University of New Mexico Sustainability Studies Program, and co-sponsored by local, state and regional public health and environmental organizations, including the New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s Organic Program, Amigos Bravos, Our Endangered Aquifer Working Group, Farm to Table,  Holistic Management International, and others to be announced. Contact us if your organization is interested in joining as a co-sponsor.

Featured Speakers

Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., has an undergraduate degree in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley, where he currently serves as a professor. He has published more than 40 papers, over 150 abstracts and has given more than 300 talks on the role of environmental factors on growth and development in amphibians. Through his research, he states, “I have come to realize that the most important environmental factors affecting amphibian development are synthetic chemicals (such as pesticides) that interact with hormones in a variety of ways to alter developmental responses.”

Isaac N. Pessah, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Pessah is a member of the Center for Neuroscience and the M.I.N.D. Institute. He is currently Chair of the Graduate Program in Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease prevention. He is a senior member of the NIEHS Center of Excellence in Toxicology (Leader of the Neurotoxicology Research Core) and the Superfund Basic Research Program. Among the research that Dr. Pessah has published, he has co-authored Triclosan impairs excitation–contraction coupling and Ca2+ dynamics in striated muscle, as well as Tipping the Balance of Autism Risk: Potential Mechanisms Linking Pesticides and Autism.

Matthew Chew, Ph.D., is an Assistant Research Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University School of Life Sciences. His research interests include invasive species ecology, restoration ecology, rangeland management, and biology. He is the author of numerous publications including, The Monstering of the Tamarisk: How Scientists Made a Plant into a Problem, and co-authored the The Rise and Fall of Biotic Nativeness: A Historical Perspective.

Bruce T. Milne, Ph.D., is the Director of the Sustainability Studies Program at the University of New Mexico and a Professor of Biology. The Sustainability Studies Program (SSP) at UNM spawns experiential learning, research, and service activities to implement practical solutions for a sustainable future for the bioregion, the Southwest, and the planet. Dr. Milne’s research focuses on ecology, landscape ecology, scaling, sustainability, and foodsheds.

Joel Forman, MD, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Community and Preventive Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York City. Dr. Forman is currently a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Environmental Health and a member of the CDC Lead in Pregnancy Workgroup. Dr. Forman is also one of the lead authors of the recent AAP report, Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages published in the journal Pediatrics.

Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of Center for Food Safety, is a public interest attorney, activist and author. He has been involved in public interest legal activity in numerous areas of technology, human health and the environment. He established the International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA) in 1994 and the Center for Food Safety(CFS) in 1997, and has written several books and given numerous public lectures on a variety of issues. He has lectured at dozens of universities throughout the country and has testified before congressional and regulatory hearings.

Other featured speakers, including the Beyond Pesticides Board of Directors, will be added shortly.

Performance Friday Night: A Sense of Wonder -followed by panel discussion

A Sense of Wonder, which is written, produced, and performed by Ms.Kaiulani Lee, is the story of Rachel Carson’s  love for the natural world and her fight to defend it. It is the story of the extremely private Ms. Carson thrust into the role of controversial public figure with the publication of Silent Spring. This powerful one-woman, two-act play brings to life on stage Ms. Carson’s passionate message on the adverse health and environmental effects of pesticides, just as these toxic chemicals were becoming an increasingly common part of modern life. Kaiulani Lee brings to the writing and acting of A Sense of Wonder and Can’t Scare Me, the story of Mother Jones more than 35 years of experience in theatre, film and television. Ms. Lee has starred in over a dozen plays on and off-Broadway. She has been nominated for the Drama Desk Award on Broadway and has won the OBIE Award for outstanding achievement off-Broadway.

For more information on the program, including a full list of speakers and registration information, please see www.beyondpesticides.org/forum.



Groups Say It’s Time to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticide as European Authority Finds Danger Unacceptable

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2013) The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) yesterday presented its report which finds that the neonicotinoid class of insecticides poses unacceptable hazards to bees. The report concludes that certain crops treated with neonicotinoid chemicals –imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam– are of “critical concern” for bee health. Beekeepers and environmental activists welcome these recent scientific findings that they say support a U.S. ban on these chemicals.

According to Jay Feldman, Executive Director, Beyond Pesticides, “The EFSA report confirms what we have been asking EPA to recognize. Clothianidin and other neonicotinoids are highly toxic to bees, and should be banned by EPA and removed from the environment.”

In its investigation, EFSA, which was tasked with assessing the risks associated with these chemicals to bee colony survival and development, found that systemic contamination of neonicotinoid-treated crops and contamination via dust place honey bees and the hives they return to at high risk. Exposure to contaminated dust pose a high risk to honey bees for all three neonicotinoids used on corn and certain other crops, as well as exposure to residues in nectar and pollen. High risks were also identified from exposure to guttation fluid from corn for thiamethoxam.

EFSA considered acute and chronic effects on bee larvae, bee behavior and the colony as a whole, and the risks posed through various exposure pathways e.g. nectar, pollen, guttation fluid, and soil, and found numerous data gaps that do not support the safety of these chemicals.

Clothianidin is of particular concern as the vast majority of corn grown in the U.S. is treated with the chemical, which is taken up by the plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen, nectar and guttation droplets from which bees then forage and drink. Like other neonicotinoids, it has cumulative, sublethal effects on insect pollinators that correspond to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) symptoms – namely, neurobehavioral and immune system disruptions.

Considering recent research has indicated that 9.5% of the total economic value of agricultural production for human consumption comes from insect pollination globally, the EFSA conclusion that neonicotinoids marks an important turning point in the pesticide dialogue. In 2012, beekeepers, Beyond Pesticides, the Center for Food Safety, and Pesticide Action Network North America filed an emergency legal petition with the EPA to suspend the use of clothianidin that is linked to honey bee deaths, urging the agency to adopt safeguards. The petition, which is supported by over one million citizen petition signatures, targets the pesticide for its harmful impacts on honey bees.  The legal petition cites that EPA failed to adequately review relevant data to support the “no unreasonable adverse effects” standards for pollinators. EPA has failed to act.



Elevated Chlorpyrifos Residues Detected in Indigenous Children

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2013) Children living near chemical-intensive or conventional plantations in Costa Rica are exposed to twice as much of the insecticide chlorpyrifos compared to children living near organic plantations, a study reports. More than half the children, mostly from indigenous tribes- Ngäbe and Bribri – have a higher daily exposures than allowed under U.S. federal standards. Chlorpyrifos is linked to neurological effects, especially in children, and is still permitted for use on crops.Jungleimage

The study, Indigenous children living nearby plantations with chlorpyrifos-treated bags have elevated 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy) urinary concentrations, was lead by Berna van Wendel de Joode, PhD (Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances (IRET), Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica). It was conducted in Costa Rica’s banana and plantain plantations in the Talamanca region, and targeted villages situated nearby to the plantations where blue bags treated with chlorpyrifos are routinely used to protect banana and plantain crops from pests. Two villages under study are near plantations that use chlorpyrifos-treated bags, while the organic village is near several plantations that use little or no insecticide. For 140 children, aged 6 – 9, mostly indigenous Ngäbe and Bribri, parent-interviews and urine samples were obtained. Chlorpyrifos’ environmental levels also were measured in hand wash and foot wash samples collected from some of the children. Levels also were measured in soil, house dust, mattress dust, drinking water, surface water, and air samples collected from inside or near the children’s homes or near the local school.

Children from the banana and plantain villages have statistically significant higher urinary concentration of chlorpyrifos metabolite than children from the referent village. Chlorpyrifos is detected in 30% of the environmental samples as well as in 92% of the hand/foot wash samples. For more than half of the children, their estimated intake exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chronic population adjusted dose, which characterizes the dietary risk of the chemical. For some, the acute population adjusted dose and the chronic reference dose were also exceeded.

This is the first study to specifically address children’s exposure from chlorpyrifos-treated plastic bags used in agriculture, and suggests that even in the absence of foliar and aerial applications of chlorpyrifos, the use of chlorpyrifos results in environmental exposure in children. It also underscores how federal agencies like EPA underestimate the impact of the chemical’s continued widespread use in agriculture. Chlorpyrifos is a frequent water contaminant and a long range contaminant, exposing communities and contaminating pristine areas far from where it was applied. Residues in food and water continue to put public health at risk. Volatilization drift —the evaporation of the pesticide after application— is also part of the problem for chlorpyrifos. Farmworker children are typically exposed by helping their parents in the fields, and from exposure to residues tracked into the home. Even though the  health effects were not measured directly in the children in this study, the link between pre-birth chlorpyrifos exposures to lower IQ, impaired memory, mental and motor development delays and higher rates of ADHD in children have been well documented in numerous studies.

Last year, EPA announced new mitigation measures to reduce bystander exposure to chlorpyrifos drift from agricultural fields, including the use of buffer zones for residential areas, schools, hospitals etc. Chlorpyrifos  was banned from residential applications after EPA determined that cumulative exposure resulted in serious adverse health outcomes, especially for children. Short term effects of exposure to chlorpyrifos include chest tightness, blurred vision, headaches, coughing and wheezing, weakness, nausea and vomiting, coma, seizures, and even death.

The researchers of this study conclude that interventions to reduce chlorpyrifos exposure, such as the substitution of the chlorpyrifos-treated bags by agro-ecological pest control methods, are likely to improve children’s health and environment in banana and plantain growing regions. Global regulatory and policy interventions related to chlorpyrifos have a potential to improve children’s health and environment in tropical regions from where fruits are exported to countries that are in the process of phasing out this chemical due to national health concerns. According to Environmental Health News, the banana industry uses more agrochemicals than any other industry except for cotton. Pesticides are heavily used to meet consumer demand for perfect, unblemished fruit and because bananas – mostly grown in large monocultures – are highly prone to pests and disease. However, there are alternative ways to manage pest in bananas. Options include planting several varieties of bananas and rotating crops to lessen the chance of pest infestation, using pheromone traps to lure away pests, digging trenches around the banana plants and removing diseased plants by hand to reduce the spread of infestations and disease, and boosting the soil with organic matter and beneficial organisms to strengthen plants and improve soil health.

The only way to know that you are not supporting chemical intensive agriculture is to buy organically produced food. Beyond Pesticides advocates for the national conversion to organic systems planning, which moves chemicals off the market quickly and replaces them with green management practices. The effects that chemicals, such as chlorpyrifos, have on the natural environment, in addition to untold damage it has caused families across the U.S. and elsewhere, is testimony to the need to adopt alternatives assessments that force chemicals off the market that can be replaced by safer or green practices.

Source: Environmental Health News
Photo: Environmental Health News

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



Common Practice for Monitoring Environmental Impact of Insecticides Deficient, Researchers Say

(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2013) Research published in the journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment calls into question the value of environmental monitoring, such as water sampling, on a fixed date schedule (i.e., once per month), finding that this approach underestimates actual risks. These findings could have a significant impact on how we assess the safety of both endangered species and drinking water supplies.

Researchers explain that, although insecticides are applied less often than herbicides and fungicides, they are usually applied in very large amounts when used in response to acute insect infestations. Scientists found that monitoring for insecticides at pre-set intervals, even weekly or daily, did not detect the occurrence of peak concentrations for these chemicals. Co-author of the study, Ralf Shulz, PhD, explains, “Accordingly, by way of example, on the basis of weekly monitoring of a typical agricultural stream none of the total of six insecticide concentration peaks per year described by model calculations is found. Daily sampling detects only two of the six peaks. Only event-related sampling enables the detection of all these peaks.” Authors of the study point to the need for events-related sampling, both to ensure more accurate detections are taken and to reduce costs. Events-related sampling includes monitoring directly after an insecticide application or heavy downpour. Dr. Shulz continues, “Assuming that the overall costs increase according to the number of fixed-interval samples, on the other hand, the event-related procedure greatly reduces the costs. Furthermore, the benefits are substantially greater. Current practice wastes considerable sums of money, as many of the fixed intervals do not coincide with periods of high insecticide concentrations.”

According to the U.S. Geographical Survey’s (USGS) National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA), the four most frequently detected agricultural insecticides in U.S. streams are diazinon, carbaryl, malathion, and chlorpyrifos. These highly toxic chemicals are either organophosphate or carbamate class chemicals. All four of these chemicals are extremely harmful to the nervous system, as they are cholinesterase inhibitors and bind irreversibly to the active site of an enzyme essential for normal nerve impulse transmission. Recent research  has shown organophosphates to cause lasting brain damage even at low-level exposure. In addition to contaminating local water supplies, heavy use of these toxic insecticides can result in significant harm to sensitive or endangered species. Large influxes of these chemicals can have a homogenizing effect on the composition of aquatic communities, in effect reducing ecological diversity and allowing the intrusion of opportunistic species.

The study adds a considerable layer of doubt to current resource monitoring methods. For instance, if a sample is taken at the wrong time it may reveal no detection when in fact the waterway may be under heavy pollution loads. Lead author of the study, Sebastian Stehle, PhD,  notes, “The values resulting from this sampling therefore give a completely false picture of the true impact of insecticides. Including results in the evaluation according to which no pollution has been detected distorts the evaluation and simulates a false sense of safety. Samples showing no evidence of insecticide pollution should therefore not be considered — at least as long as environmental impact monitoring takes place statically. Still better would be event-related sampling, at least in high-risk areas.”

Pesticides in waterways have been attributed to the feminization of male amphibians, and intersex fish- male fish producing eggs in the Potomac. Studies link increased seasonal concentration of pesticides in surface water with the peak in birth defects in infants conceived during the spring and summer months, when pesticide use increases and high concentrations of pesticides are found in surface waters. A 2009 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Poisoning the Well, found that atrazine goes undetected by regular monitoring, and in the 139 municipal water systems from which EPA collected data on a biweekly basis in 2003 and 2004, atrazine is found 90% of the time. Furthermore, 54 of these water systems had at least one spike above 3 parts per billion, atrazine’s current benchmark. Atrazine in drinking water was recently linked to menstrual irregularities in women.

Although EPA released new human health benchmarks for acute pesticide effects in drinking water last spring, the agency’s step forward falls short as these rules are voluntary guidelines without any enforcement mechanism. The new benchmarks fail to evaluate concerns resulting from chemical mixtures, synergistic effects, and health impacts associated with chronic low-dose exposure. Moreover, if highly toxic chemicals are entering U.S. waterways and not being detected by regular monitoring, Dr. Stehle’s research highlights another significant gap in our regulatory process, which puts both human health and the environment at risk.

In light of this important revelation, researchers laid out several cost-efficient ways to reduce overall contamination in waterways near farms. This includes simple practices such as widening border strips between farm and water resources, and edging fields with hedges in order to reduce spray drift. Apart from reducing pesticide contamination, Dr. Shulz notes, “…with these measures agriculture can make a very important positive contribution to the protection of nature and biodiversity in a ‘culture landscape of the future’.”

Organic farming is already taking this important step towards protecting and strengthening the natural landscape. Included within the Organic Foods Production Act  is a requirement to foster soil fertility through proper management practices. Organic food contributes to better health through reduced pesticide exposure for all and increased nutritional quality. In order to understand the importance of eating organic food from the perspective of toxic pesticide contamination, we need to look at the whole picture —from the farmworkers who do the valuable work of growing food, to the waterways from which we drink, the air we breathe, and the food we eat. Organic food can feed us and keep us healthy without producing the toxic effects of chemical agriculture. For more information on Organic Food see our program page, and for additional information on water contamination see our program page on Threatened Waters.

Source: ScienceDaily Press Release

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



Hazardous Aerial Spraying Used for Invasive Weed Management

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2013) Pennsylvania’s Presque Isle State Park, located on Lake Erie, recently contracted a commercial helicopter to spray herbicides on 170 acres of the park in an attempt to control an overgrowth of phragmites and narrow leaf cattail. This decision to aerial spray herbicides comes after the park has unsuccessfully tried to control these invasive plant species with ground level herbicide spraying since 1994. Presque Isle is the most popular destination along Pennsylvania’s six-mile Lake Erie coastline, and has over four million visitors a year. Presque Isle is home to over 330 types of birds and more than 800 species of native plants, many of which are rare, threatened, or endangered. This aerial herbicide application may have unintended health consequences for both human visitors and endangered animals that call this park their home. The October spraying also raises questions concerning how invasive species problems are framed, leading to unnecessary pesticide use.

Spraying pesticides aerially can lead to a higher rate of pesticide drift compared to ground application. Given that pesticides can drift even when applied from a truck or a handheld applicator, up to 40% of the pesticide is lost to drift during aerial applications. Even when used correctly, aerial pesticide spraying is notorious for drifting off-site,  as many pesticides are easily picked up by wind currents. Pesticide labels also often give inadequate information and unenforceable guidelines for applicators to reduce pesticide drift.

The application in Presque Isle State Park is also problematic because the park is on an island in Lake Erie. Lake Erie faces several daunting environmental challenges, such as a dead zone  along the bottom of the lake where there is so little oxygen fish can no longer survive. This dead zone is exacerbated by an excess of algae that grows along the lake floor. Algae feed on phosphorus and other nutrients that enter the lake as runoff from lawn fertilizers and sewage overflows. Extra herbicide drift from this aerial application add to the environmental stress already faced by Lake Erie.

The park decided to use aerial application as a method because it views phragmites and narrow leaf cat tail as an invasive species. Invasive species can cause environmental and economic harm, but this potential harm should not give land managers permission to rely on harmful chemicals to deal with these potential problems. However, the concept of what is or isn’t an invasive species is ill-defined. Some plants, such as kudzu, that are now considered invasive were once planted for erosion control by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). To deal with invasive species safely, it is important to look at the root causes of how these opportunistic plants can flourish in non-native habitats. Some ecologists argue the real drivers of plant “invasions” are frequently man made: climate change, nitrogen eutrophication, increased urbanization, and other land-use changes. Once invasive species enter an area, they often become established. Even with continuous herbicide spraying, it is unlikely that an invasive plant will ever be completely eradicated. The best management strategy for invasive species is not to spray harmful chemicals, but to prevent invasion in the first place or manage ecosystems that are healthier and less susceptible to invasion.

Beyond creating stronger ecosystems and working to prevent invasion, there are successful least-toxic weed management practices that can be used if an invasive species, such as phragmites, has been introduced into an area. Mowing can reduce plant biomass of phragmites and increase sunlight available to native plant species. Mowing should be carried out once per season during late summer/fall when plants are using most of their energy for seed and flower production. Another method is to flood the area in which phragmites are growing with water. A phragmites stand should be cut to its lowest level, and flooding should occur in late summer in order to maintain and promote native vegetation. Water levels must be maintained at a minimum of 1.5 meters taller than the entire stand and levels must be kept at this height for a period lasting at least six weeks.

Phargmites, like many other invasive species, also has alternative food or craft uses. Young phragmites stems, while still green and fleshy, can be dried and pounded into a fine powder, which when moistened are roasted like marshmallows, and the tiny reddish seeds can be ground into flour. Phragmites can also be dried and woven into mats and baskets.

For more information on invasive weeds and lest-toxic weed management please visit our Invasive Weed Management page.

Source: Public Works

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



EPA Excludes Details on Worker Protection Rule

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2012) Environmentalists, farmworkers, and farmworker advocates have become increasingly uncomfortable with the new proposal for pesticide safety measures which does not include details on how the proposed rule will protect agricultural workers, farmers, and applicators. These sentiments stem from the concern that this may mean less stringent regulations than those originally proposed.farm worker2

In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a  document proposing Worker Protection Standards (WPS) that would determine ways to increase training, improve safety requirements, provide clear emergency information, and create strong protection for applicators. However, a recent EPA handout distributed during a November 2012 Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC) meeting downplays the details within those goals, and brings into question the agency’s previous commitments.

Advocacy groups have raised pointed complaints on the new document’s prose: “I have to agree that we are just really in the dark,” said one environmental group lawyer, “It is mysterious that it’s taken them so long to come up with a draft to propose, and the fact that they are being kind of tight-lipped about it and that even the very minimal detail about the proposal that was in the 2010 document disappeared from the 2012 document.”

Although the EPA is currently evaluating comments, stakeholders will continue to be able to provide formal comments in the Federal Register after the rule is finalized, which is scheduled to occur at an unspecified date in 2013. (Note that the handout only provided one bullet point on the release date for publication for the proposed review as “Goal is 2013.”) This will represent the first time since 1995 that the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention has revised the WPS.

In the meantime, we will just have to wait for the finalized proposed rule—whose deadline has also been put into question, as EPA has already delayed the release of its proposal, notably failing to reach its May 2012 deadline. These delays are unconscionable particularly as the absence of the proposal allows further exposure and harm to farm workers and applicators that would otherwise be protected.

In the past, fears of delay have prompted several environmental advocacy groups to threaten EPA with legal action if the agency did not move more quickly on this proposal. In 2011, one such petition to EPA also suggested ways of strengthening the 2010 proposal to include monitoring on levels of exposure to organophosphate and n-methyl carbamate pesticides; expanding training required for farm workers and applicators; improving hazard communications and pesticide notification for farm workers; and finally providing for cleaning stations for workers to shower, change and store clothes.

As it was, the handout of 2010 provided key goals with points that explicitly delineated in further detail how to execute the goal, including: “[r]educe retraining interval,” “[e]xpand training contents” and “[e]liminate grace period.” In comparison, the 2012 handout on WPS contains only the goals, and eliminates the accompanying details on how to execute these goals.

The vague language of the new document and threats of further delays to releasing the Worker Protection Standards, is troubling for for farmworkers and applicators that would benefit from stronger protections from pesticide exposure.

Our food choices have a direct effect on those who grow and harvest what we eat around the world. This is why food labeled organic is the right choice. In addition to serious health questions linked to actual residues of toxic pesticides on the food we eat, our food buying decisions support or reject hazardous agricultural practices, protection of farmworkers and farm families.

For more information on the importance of eating organic food for you, workers and the environment, check out Beyond Pesticides’ Eating with a Conscience food guide and organic food program page.

Source: InsideDefense

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



Report Finds Children Across Maine at Risk from Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2013) The public health and environmental non-profit, Toxics Action Center (TAC) released a report in December that surveys pesticide use on public school grounds across the state of Maine and urges policy change to stop spraying. The report, “A Call for Safer School Grounds: A Survey of Pesticide Use on K-12 Public School Grounds in Maine,” is based on a survey of 209 Maine public schools and shows that 51% of schools surveyed spray pesticides, many of which have been linked to human health impacts, including kidney disease and links to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The report finds that the state’s Integrated Pest Management Policy (IPM) is inadequate in regulating pesticide application and informing the public on pesticide practices. Although IPM policies and records of pesticide applications are required to be kept by schools under Maine law, 32% of schools report that they do not keep records. TAC received IPM records from 9% of schools surveyed.

“Maine children are at risk from pesticide spraying in schools,” said Tracie Konopinski, Community Organizer with TAC, “[In November,] the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a report calling for reduced pesticide exposure for children. There are numerous studies cited within the AAP’s report that link chronic pesticide exposure to pediatric cancers and neurobehavioral and cognitive deficits like autism, attention disorders, and hyperactivity. Our report shows that despite policies aimed at reducing pesticide spraying, more than half of K-12 public schools polled in our report still have their finger on the pesticide trigger.”

The Maine state legislature currently requires that all Maine public and private schools adopt IPM practices and appoints an IPM coordinator to minimize the use of pesticides in schools and on school grounds. In 2011, a bill was introduced in the Maine state legislature to ban pesticides on school grounds. Ultimately, the bill was amended to continue to rely on IPM and instead require development of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and direct the Maine Board of Pesticides Control to assess compliance with current IPM regulations. Unfortunately, as the report points out, the implementation of both the IPM and BMP at Maine schools often fall short of what the law requires. Recent amendments to Maine’s school pesticide regulations introduced back in September would even further weaken the state’s IPM standards if adopted.

However, several Maine communities, including Camden and Scarborough, have taken matters into their own hands and passed policies on the municipal level to curb the use of synthetic pesticides on town‐owned land.

The report, available at www.toxicsaction.org offers the following recommendations:

1) Keep our children safe. The Maine state legislature should ban the use of pesticides on public school grounds. There is considerable scientific evidence that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 12, and childhood exposure to some of the most common pesticides on the market may greatly impact the development of the central nervous system.

2) The Maine state legislature should ban the use of pesticides for solely aesthetic reasons. Using pesticides for aesthetic reasons is an unnecessary risk to children’s health. Athletic fields and playgrounds are commonly treated for aesthetic reasons, leaving students at the greatest risk of exposure.

3) The Maine state legislature and the Maine Department of Education should ban the use of broad-based pesticides such as Weed and Feed and Roundup on public school grounds. Broad-based pesticides, which are designed to kill a number of unwanted weeds and pests, are among the most harmful types of pesticides. Weed and Feed and Roundup are made from 2,4-D and glyphosate, respectively, among the most toxic chemicals used in any pesticide products. Our survey results show Weed and Feed and Roundup to be the two most commonly used pesticides on school grounds in Maine.

4) Schools must prepare more specific Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policies to alert parents about pesticide applications when necessary. Because pesticides are toxic, IPM policies and records need to be available online so that parents can see what is being applied at their children’s schools and take proper precautions.

5) The Maine Department of Education should promote organic turf management practices. Schools that manage their grounds exclusively through organic lawn care are very rare. Only 9 schools reported the use of organics.Despite this, there is a wide body of evidence demonstrating that organic lawn maintenance can save money and protect children’s health.

State Representative Mary Nelson (D-Falmouth), who supports these recommendations, said, “We need strong action that puts us on a faster track to reducing human exposure to pesticides. I call on my colleagues in the Maine House and Senate to follow the lead of communities like Scarborough and limit the use of pesticides at schools and day care centers in order to protect children’s health and promote safe schools.”

Schools and day care centers must nurture a healthy environment in which children can grow and learn. Children are especially sensitive to pesticide exposure as they take in more pesticides relative to their body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxic chemicals. Even at low levels, exposure to pesticides can cause serious adverse health effects. Numerous studies document that children exposed to pesticides suffer elevated rates of childhood leukemia, soft tissue sarcoma and brain cancer. Studies also link pesticides to childhood asthma, respiratory problems, and learning disabilities and inability to concentrate. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides’ Children and Schools page. To see more scientific research on the effects of pesticides on human health, see our Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database.

Beyond Pesticides works extensively to promote sound IPM and organic policy in communities throughout the country. To this end, we support the implementation of strong Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy in Maine and throughout the U.S., although the term IPM has been misused to characterize pesticide-dependent management systems. With proper design and preventive practices, there is little to no need to use any pesticide product. Existing buildings can be repaired and retrofitted and grounds can be planted with tolerant, native species, with nonsynthetic fertilization that supports healthy soils and virtually eliminates the use of pesticides.

Source: Toxics Action Center Press Release

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



Lower Asthma Rates in Boston Attributed to IPM in Public Housing

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2013) Boston health officials say new city data indicate that asthma incidences have dropped nearly by half since 2005. This is attributed to Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and Boston Public Health Commission implementation of an integrated pest management (IPM) program in low-income housing to reduce the number of cockroaches and rodents, while reducing the use of pesticides, which, along with cockroach and rodent droppings, can aggravate asthma symptoms.

The data, covering 2006 through 2010, show the rate of adults who reported having asthma symptoms in the authority’s units dropped from 23.6 percent in 2006 to 13 percent in 2010, the latest year available. At the same time, asthma rates in other low-income housing in Boston, not run by BHA, remained relatively unchanged. Public health analysts studied data from a biennial telephone survey of Boston adults between 2006 and 2010. The survey asks residents a wide range of questions, and analysts compared the answers from roughly 300 housing authority residents to others not living in city-run housing.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, health authorities found extremely high infestations of roaches and rodents in BHA buildings, and equally concerning, housing leaders were seeing desperate residents resorting to the use of powerful, toxic pesticides to try to rid their apartments of the pests. In 2005, housing authority and health officials launched a new Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to dealing with vermin. According to Beyond Pesticides, IPM is a program of prevention, monitoring, and control that eliminates or drastically reduces the use of pesticides. This is accomplished by utilizing a variety of methods and techniques, including cultural, biological, and structural strategies. It also stipulates the use of least-toxic chemical options only as the last resort.

Instead of having BHA contractors come in to apply pesticides after a problem was discovered, the new program utilized three-pronged IPM approach – promptly removing trash, and fixing and preventing leaks, which contribute to friendly places for pests to live. Residents were also instructed to remove clutter and trash from their homes and to promptly notify management of leaks, holes, or pests found in their apartments. New residents also received a brochure and viewed a video about IPM methods that they can practice in their homes. Similarly, contractors were required to aggressively pinpoint problem areas that need fixing. Boston Public Health Commission says pest-related violations have also decreased since the program was launched.

Doug Brugge, PhD, MS, a Tufts University School of Medicine professor who researches asthma in Boston’s neighborhoods, said that the city’s program and findings are intriguing, but that more detailed analysis needs to be done to say with certainty that the pest-control initiative is what reduced asthma rates. “These are substantial efforts to improve the conditions of housing in Boston, especially for people with respiratory illnesses like asthma,” Dr. Brugge said. Dr. Brugge added other factors may have also played a role, such as improve access to health care. Commission researchers are taking a closer look at the relationship between the levels of roach and rodent infestations and a variety of health problems, including asthma, stress, and depression among the authority’s 27,000 residents.

Similar results were seen on Florida when a study found that from 2003 to 2008 the use of insecticides was reduced by about 90% in University of Florida (UF) housing buildings after an IPM program was implemented, further demonstrating that pest pressure can be effectively managed with IPM is used  for institutional pest problems.

IPM is a term that is used loosely with many different definitions and methods of implementation. IPM can mean virtually anything the practitioner wants it to mean. Beware of chemical dependent programs masquerading as IPM. Those who argue that IPM requires the ability to spray pesticides immediately after identifying a pest problem are not describing IPM. Conventional pest control tends to ignore the causes of pest infestations and instead relies on routine, scheduled pesticide applications. Pesticides are often temporary fixes, ineffective over the long term. Studies such as this one documenting the UF IPM program demonstrate that this approach is not necessary to control pest problems.

There are alternatives to pesticides for managing insects, rodents and weeds effectively without exposing your family to harmful toxic chemicals, especially incorporating the principles of IPM into your home.  Beyond Pesticides’ The Safer Choice brochure focuses on what you can do to manage your home, school and community without poisoning your children, families, pets, and the environment.

Beyond Pesticides is a strong advocate for defined structural IPM practices and is working to champion the use of these methods particularly in schools and hospitals, where vulnerable populations are at elevated risk from pesticide exposure. Beyond Pesticides’ Healthy Schools Project aims to minimize and eliminate the risks posed by pesticides through the adoption of IPM policies and programs at the local, state, and federal level, thereby fostering a healthier learning environment. Central to this effort are activities aimed at public education on pesticide hazards and the efficacy of alternatives, and the continued development of model communities that serve as examples.

For more information on structural IPM, please visit Beyond Pesticides’ “What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?”  page. If you would like to know if there are Pest Management Service providers that use IPM and least-toxic practices, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Safety Source database.

Source: Boston Globe



Researchers Find Further Proof of a Link between Pesticides and Parkinson’s

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2013) Neurologists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have published their latest research linking pesticide exposure to Parkinson’s disease. Appearing in the online edition of PNAS, the UCLA scientists’ work details the series of events that can occur after individuals are exposed to the pesticide benomyl, which was phased out in 2001. Researchers believe their findings on the series of events the pesticide sets in motion could be applicable even to Parkinson’s patients who have not been exposed to benomyl.

According to scientists, exposure to benomyl prevents the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) from keeping in check a naturally occurring toxin in the brain called 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde (DOPAL). Without ALDH regulating DOPAL, the toxin accumulates, damages neurons, and increases an individual’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Researchers postulate that this process may be occurring in people with Parkinson’s who were never exposed to pesticides. The findings of this research provide insight into possible treatments to slow the disease, such as developing new drugs to protect ALDH activity.

Although the exact cause of Parkinson’s is still unknown, until this research scientists were focusing in on the protein a-synuclein as a pathway to the disease. The protein, present in all Parkinson’s patients, is thought to create the conditions for Parkinson’s when it binds together and becomes toxic, killing neurons in the brain.

Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, affecting one to two percent of people over the age of 65. Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells in the substantia nigra region of the brain are damaged or destroyed and can no longer produce dopamine, a nerve-signaling molecule that helps control muscle movement. Often by the time Parkinson’s symptoms manifest themselves, more than half of these molecules, known as dopaminergic neurons, have already been lost.

People with Parkinson’s have a variety of symptoms, including loss of muscle control, temors, sluggish movement, muscle stiffness, and lack of coordination. They may also experience anxiety, constipation, dementia, depression, urinary difficulties, and sleep disturbances. Over time, symptoms intensify. At least one million Americans have Parkinson’s and about 50,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Although medical treatments may improve symptoms, there are none that can slow down or halt the progression of the disease.

While certain genetic variations may cause an inherited form of Parkinson’s, lead author of the study Arthur G Fitzmaurice, Ph.D. notes that that only a small fraction of the disease can be blamed on genes. “As a result, environmental factors almost certainly play an important role in this disorder. Understanding the relevant mechanisms — particularly what causes the selective loss of dopaminergic neurons — may provide important clues to explain how the disease develops,” Dr. Fitzmaurice explains.

Previous studies have linked the pesticides paraquat, maneb, rotenone, and ziram to increased incidences of Parkinson’s disease.

Pesticides are long suspected of being tied to Parkinson’s, at least in part, because of the high rate of the disease among farmworkers. Farmworkers have nearly double the risk for the disease if exposed to pesticides, with a dose-effect for the number of years of exposure. However, even individuals who simply lived near agricultural fields are at risk. Exposure to the pesticides, paraquat and maneb, within 500 meters of an individual’s home, has been shown to increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s by 75 percent, according to a University of California, Berkeley study. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) found suggestive but limited evidence that exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War is associated with an increased chance of developing ischemic heart disease and Parkinson’s disease in Vietnam veterans. Another publication found that rural residents who drank contaminated well water had an increased (up to 90 percent) risk of developing Parkinson’s. French researchers also found that among men exposed to pesticides such as DDT, carriers of the gene variants are three and a half times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those with the more common version of the gene.

Last year, researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine took some of the first steps toward understanding the link between pesticides and Parkinson’s, and unraveling the molecular dysfunction that occurs when proteins are exposed to environmental toxicants. UCLA’s earlier research, published in November 2012 found that exposure to pesticides and suffering a head injury are associated with a three-fold increase in one’s chances of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Senior author of the new study Jeff Bronstein, M.D., Ph.D. notes, “We’ve known that in animal models and cell cultures, agricultural pesticides trigger a neurodegenerative process that leads to Parkinson’s. And epidemiologic studies have consistently shown the disease occurs at high rates among farmers and in rural populations. Our work reinforces the hypothesis that pesticides may be partially responsible, and the discovery of this new pathway may be a new avenue for developing therapeutic drugs.”

Registrants of the pesticide benomyl voluntarily cancelled their Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration in 2001, with all sales and distribution of benomyl products ending in 2002. Both benomyl and its primary metabolite carbendazim (MBC) (which was illegally found in incoming shipments of orange juice from Brazil to the U.S. early last year) are of toxicological concern. Studies show benomyl and MBC to be teratogenic (causing birth defects), and both are considered possible human carcinogens by EPA.

Studies like these demonstrate the long-lasting toxicological effects that can result from pesticide use, even after the chemical has been removed from the marketplace. A 2006 study linked low-level but still environmentally relevant levels of the pesticide dieldrin, banned in 1987, to the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Dieldrin still exists in the environment, and was discovered as recently as July of last year at levels above what EPA considers acceptable in the private wells of many Connecticut residents. For additional information on how EPA ignores toxic exposures in its risk assessment process for approving pesticides, see Beyond Pesticides’ article Taking Off the Blindfold published in the Winter 2006 issue of Pesticides and You.

For more information on the latest research linking pesticides and Parkinson’s disease, see Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide Induced Diseases Database (PIDD), or read the Parkinson’s Disease article from the Spring 2008 issue of Pesticides and You.

Source: UCLA Newsroom

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



SW Oregon To Vote on GE Crop Ban as New Mexico and Washington Consider Labeling Initiatives

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2013) After organic seed farmers found genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets planted by Syngenta AG, a multinational Swiss corporation, within four miles of their farms, a local branch of GMO-Free Oregon filed a petition to ban GE crops in Jackson County. Farmers have already been forced to throw away seed or till under crops so they do not accidentally use GE tainted crops. GMO-Free Jackson County, which is located in the Southeast corner of the state of Oregon collected 6,700 signatures with the county’s election offices in an effort to place a ballot measure on the May 2014 primary ballot. 4,462 signatures are required to get on the ballot, but they must be reviewed by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to make sure they are valid first. If too many signatures are ruled invalid, organizers will have one year to gather more. Another chapter of GMO-Free Oregon, GMO-Free Benton County, which is located in the Willamette Valley, has also been working on a ban of GE crops in its county.

Allowing GE crops to be grown close to organic produce increases the risk of cross contamination, as pollen from GE crops has the potential to drift. If organic farmers’ crops become polluted with genetically engineered pollen, they may be subject to financial losses. Cross contamination has become a problem in Jackson County because the sugar beets that are being grown for Syngenta can cross pollinate with Swiss chard, which is grown for seed. Chard is in the same family as sugar beets and accepts beet pollen.

According to the Mail Tribune, Chuck Burr, a Jackson County farmer, had to throw away $4,700 worth of chard seed after learning it might have been contaminated with GE sugar beet pollen. Mr. Burr also believes that the geography of Oregon also makes cross pollination more likely. Mr. Burr argues that GE crops “should be limited to planting in wide open regions, such as the Great Plains, not in narrow valleys such as the Rogue Valley.”

Glenda Ponder of Abbie Lane Farm also told the Mail Tribune that the growth of GE sugar beets close to her farm “ties our hands for saving our chard seed and planting or selling it as organic. Selling organic seed is a good way to make money, but we can’t do it.”

Genetic drift also puts non-GE farmers risk of being sued for patent infringement by the company that manufactures the seed; if GE contamination is found on farms that do not grow genetically engineered crops, the farmer can be accused of using GE seed without paying for it. Beyond Pesticides is involved in litigation against Monsanto to preemptively protect farmers from this. The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, challenges Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed. In March 2012, plaintiffs appealed the District Court’s denial to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which scheduled oral argument in the case to be heard on January 10, 2013.

Oregon is no stranger to fights centered on genetic drift. In August of 2012, the Oregon Court of Appeals ordered a temporary halt to the state’s plan to allow GE canola to be planted in parts of the Willamette Valley, Oregon. The order has been in effect until the court rules on a lawsuit filed by opponents of GE canola planting who say it threatens the state’s $32 million specialty seed industry. The lawsuit and court order was in response to new rules, not subject to required public comment, that would allow for the planting of GE canola in areas previously deemed off-limits. Willamette Valley farmers who grow related plants for seeds to sell to production growers and gardeners feared canola will cross-pollinate with other crops, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and turnips, and that could contaminate their seeds.

Oregon may also be gearing up for a GE labeling fight similar to California’s recent Proposition 37. California’s proposition 37 would have required GE foods and processed food that contain GE ingredients to be labeled. Proposition 37, which received 4.2 million votes in support in the recent 2012 presidential election, lost by a 6.2% margin. After this defeat GMO Free Oregon submitted initial language for a proposed GE labeling measure that is similar to California’s proposition 37. If the measure proceeds through the state elections process smoothly GMO Free Oregon will be collecting signatures this summer to place the measure on the ballot for the upcoming November election. If the measure receives enough signatures this would be the second time in ten years Oregon voters will have weigh in on GE labeling.

In other states, a bill (SB 18) introduced by State Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) in the New Mexico legislature will require labeling of foods containing GE crops, and in the state of Washington the sponsor of labeling Initiative 522 submitted more than the required number of signatures that will require the legislature to consider its adoption or place it on the ballot.

For more information on the environmental hazards associated with GE technology, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Genetic Engineering webpage. Beyond Pesticides believes that it is important to fight for the integrity of organic food because of its human and environmental health benefits. For more information on how to fight for strong organic standards please visit our Keeping Organics Strong page.

Source: Mail Tribune

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



EPA Proposes to Clarify Exempt Minimum Risk Pesticide Ingredients

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2013) On December 31, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to clarify its labeling requirement for disclosure of all active and inert ingredients in “minimum risk pesticide products,” exempt from registration under Section 25 (b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The rule (77 FR 250) reorganizes the list of eligible active and inert ingredients by adding identifiers that will clarify for the public, and more importantly for federal and state inspectors, which ingredients are permitted in minimum risk pesticide products. The modification would require labels to use common chemical names in the list of ingredients as well as the contact information for the manufacturer.

The lack of clarity on minimum risk pesticide product labels in the past has made it difficult for enforcement officials who must use their own judgment on the applicability of vague descriptors such as cedar leaf oil and cedar wood oil, which are exempt under the current listing of “Cedar Oil” under CFR Section 152.25. While EPA has attempted to improve labeling clarity of minimum risk pesticide products by updating its website, stakeholders have found the measure insufficient.

Regulatory Background
Currently, EPA is empowered under FIFRA 25 (b)(2) to exempt pesticide products that pose a “minimum risk” to humans and the environment, codified in 40 CFR Section 152.25 (g), which was issued in March 1996 (later re-designated as 40 CFR Section 152.25 (f)). Thus, manufacturers of minimum risk pesticide products are not required to register their products with the EPA, pay registration fees, or report to the EPA on their production. In order to receive minimum risk designation, pesticides must meet the following specific criteria:
1. Only specified and approved active and inert ingredients may be used;
2. Those active ingredients must be listed on the label whether their name and weight in the formula;
3. Those inert ingredients must be listed on the label with their name (no weight required);
4. The product may not claim to control or mitigate microorganisms that threaten human health OR claim to control insects or rodents with specific diseases;
5. Finally, the product label may not display false or misleading information as listed in 40 CFR 156.10(a)(5)(i) through (viii), including information on the effectiveness, composition, and value.

The importance of the restrictions to ingredients used in minimum risk pesticide products cannot be understated. Enforcement officers use those ingredients listed under 40 CFR Section 152.25 (f) as a guideline for exemption of minimum risk pesticide products. These inert ingredients are described as “substances for which there is no information to indicate that there is a basis for concern.” While no new active ingredients have been added since the bill was adopted in 1996, several new inert ingredients have been added on to what was historically known as List 4(A) (which has been retained on an interim basis for FIFRA Section 25(b) as well as the National Organic Program). This in turn has obfuscated exactly what inert ingredients are actually eligible for exemption as ingredients in minimum risk pesticide products. Until now EPA has simply responded by updating its website.

The proposal, however, would further specify active ingredients, indicate the common chemical name on the label, name the chemical as determined by the Chemical Abstract Services (CAS), provide specifications if needed. The CAS registry number provides a universal means of identifying chemical substances, providing an easier way to identify designated minimum risk pesticide products. Additionally, EPA is proposing to include information from the United States Pharmacopeia, which sets standards for chemical formulas. The proposal would also codify the existing list of inert ingredients in the CFR reference section.

Inert Ingredients in Context
The 25(b) pesticide product category limits the allowability of inert ingredients to those that are thought to be not hazardous. However, in general, despite their name, “inert” ingredients are neither chemically, biologically or toxicologically inert. In general, inert ingredients are minimally tested, however, many are known to state, federal and international agencies to be hazardous to human health. A 2009 study finds that an inert ingredient in the popular herbicide RoundUp, polyethoxylated tallowamine or POEA, is more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers call “astonishing.” POEA is a surfactant, or detergent, derived from animal fat. It is added to Roundup and other herbicides to help them penetrate plants’ surfaces, making the weed killer more effective.

Limited review of inert ingredients in pesticide products has highlighted a primary flaw with the regulatory process for all ingredients in pesticides. Rather than adopt a precautionary principle when it comes to chemicals with unknown toxicity or uncertainties, EPA appears to allow chemicals to remain innocent until proven guilty, and relies on a flawed risk assessment process that does not adequately address exposure and hazard. Once proven guilty, these pesticides, both active ingredients and inerts, have already left a toxic trail on the environment and people’s well-being.

Inerts in Organic Agriculture
In October 2012, the National Organic Standards Board made a landmark decision to require a review of so-called “inert ingredients.” The recommendation contains new regulatory language, a series of steps to use in preparing for inerts review, screening guidelines that the Technical Evaluation Reports (TERs) will address, a tentative list of the proposed groups, and a rough timeline for review and completion. An Inerts Working Group (IWG) consisting of representatives of the NOSB, NOP, and EPA in consultation with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and Washington State Dept. of Agriculture (WSDA) developed the process and will continue to fine-tune it. The review of inert ingredients will be performed by the Crops Subcommittee.

The recommendation created a four-year time frame to evaluate inert ingredients currently in use in organic agriculture that are not exempt from pesticide registration under FIFRA section 25(b). This includes former EPA List 4(B) and List 3 inerts in pheromones that were identified through information supplied by the Material Review Organizations OMRI and WSDA. It also will include inert ingredients that have been previously petitioned, and a call for other (inert) ingredients to be identified by manufacturers. This list so far is 126 individual substances. The IWG is working to categorize the substances in the “other” category into additional or existing groups. The full group listing, including the list of chemicals, will be presented at the Spring 2013 NOSB meeting. It is expected that 4-6 groups of chemicals will be evaluated every year during the four year period beginning in 2013. Although this proposal will require a large amount of work, rulemaking is expected to be completed by October 2017.

Take Action
Beyond Pesticides supports the continued effort to clarify the use of inert ingredients in all pesticides, including but not restricted to minimum risk pesticide products exempt under FIFRA. EPA is currently seeking comment on several issues, including: the format of the ingredient lists; the information in the new format of the ingredient lists; the proposed reference to a website that contains a table formatted to include more information on exemptions from the requirement of a tolerance; EPA’s methodology for estimating the costs associated with the proposed label changes; the proposed time frame of two years from the effective date of the final rule for compliance; how the changes will impact state and local agencies; effective methods and venues for communicating these proposed changes to affected entities; and products that would need to be reformulated as a result of the proposed changes.
Submit your comments by going to www.regulation.gov referencing docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0305 FRL-9339-1, no later than April 1, 2013.

Source: Environmental Expert

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



FDA Moves Forward on Genetically Engineered Salmon

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2012) On December 21, just as everyone was gearing up for the holidays, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its release of a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact on the genetically engineered (GE) AquaBounty AquaAdvantage salmon. The FDA action is widely viewed as confirmation that the Obama Administration is prepared to approve shortly the first GE animal intended for human consumption in the face of widespread opposition from the public.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Obama Administration continues to push approval of this dangerous and unnecessary product,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety. “The GE salmon has no socially redeeming value; it’s bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment. FDA’s decision is premature and misguided.”

AquaBounty claims that the company’s process for raising GE fish is safer than traditional aquaculture, yet documents released by the Canadian government show that a new strain of Infectious Salmon Anaemia, the deadly fish flu which has been devastating fish stocks around the world, contaminated their Canadian production site. This information was not included in the FDA’s review and hidden from the public. Many additional long standing concerns regarding impacts to wild species and the environment raised during a Senate hearing last year remain unanswered in the latest FDA review documents.

In order to create the transgenic fish, Aquabounty genetically engineered an Atlantic salmon by inserting a Chinook salmon growth-hormone gene, as well as a gene sequence from an ocean pout. The company claims this engineering causes the GE salmon to undergo an increase in growth rate that allows the fish to reach market size in half the normal time. Consumer groups Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch and Consumers Union submitted a formal petition to the agency in February 2012 to classify and evaluate the GE salmon as a food additive.

The FDA decision ignores calls from more than 40 members of the U.S. Congress who have repeatedly urged FDA to conduct more rigorous review of environmental and health safety, and halt any approval process until concerns over risks, transparency and oversight have been fully satisfied. The public filed nearly 400,000 comments demanding FDA reject this application. Additionally, more than 300 environmental, consumer, health and animal welfare organizations, salmon and fishing groups and associations, food companies, chefs and restaurants filed joint statements with FDA opposing approval.

“We need a robust regulatory system that puts environmental, human health, economic and animal welfare risks first,” said Mr. Kimbrell. “Putting a GE animal on the path to consumer use without proper safeguards and with no mandatory labeling requirement proves that the system FDA has in place gives us none of that.”

Take Action: FDA is accepting public comment on the draft EA and the Finding of No Significant Impact concerning Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon until February 25, 2013 under docket ID number FDA-2011-N-0899 at regulations.gov. Documents related to FDA’s announcement can be found on the agency’s website.

Source: Center for Food Safety Press Release

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



New Jersey Legislators Seek Ban on School Playing Field Pesticides in 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, January 2, 2013) As the medical community weighs in, the new year begins with a push in New Jersey to adopt the Safe Playing Fields Act (S1143 / A2412), straightforward common sense legislation to remove children from harm’s way by stopping hazardous lawn pesticide use on school grounds. The bill’s sponsors, state Senators Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) and Robert Gordon (D-Bergen) –who moved Senate Bill 1143  through the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee with unanimous support in December, are seeking a full Senate vote this month. The bill prohibits lawn pesticides on playing fields of child care centers and schools, kindergarten through eighth grade.

On December 14, 2012, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wrote a letter to legislators in support of the legislation, citing the recent policy position and technical report that AAP released last year. In its letter, the AAP chapter said:

“The NJ Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) represents 1650 pediatricians. The national Academy is a professional membership organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical sub-specialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. AAP recently issued a policy statement and technical report, Pesticide Exposure in Children (see attached); the past decade has seen an expansion of the evidence showing adverse effects after chronic pesticide exposure in children. The strongest links between pesticides and health effects to children involve pediatric cancer and adverse neuro-development. However, low birth weight, preterm birth, congenital abnormalities, cognitive deficits and asthma at times are pesticide-induced.”

The New Jersey Safe Playing Fields Act passed the same committee in 2011. Organizers in the public health and environmental community will emphasize medical support for eliminating children’s exposure to pesticides, while industry continues to cite EPA standards as adequately protective of children. The New Jersey Green Industry Council, which represents the lawn care and chemical industry, has stated that, “Nobody is arguing that these aren’t toxic substances, but what we don’t agree on is that there is, in fact, a lot of testing and training with these products.” This stands in contradiction to the findings of the AAP, which concluded in a December 2012 article in its magazine Pediatrics, that, “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity.”  This is not the first time that the medical community has warned public officials and the general public that the hazards of legal and common pesticide use under EPA standards is not adequately protective of the public’s health. In 1997, the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association (AMA) said, “Particular uncertainty exists regarding the long-term health effects of low dose pesticide exposure…Considering [the] data gaps, it is prudent … to limit pesticide exposures … and to use the least-toxic chemical pes­ticide or non-chemical alternative.” See Medical Community takes a Stand on Pesticides in the Fall 2012 issue of Pesticides and You.

The New York Safe Playing Fields Act was signed into law in May 2010, preceded by Connecticut’s school playing field pesticide ban (P.A. 09-56).

For information on starting the new year off right with an organizing campaign in your community to stop hazardous and unnecessary pesticide use and adopt organic practices, please contact Beyond Pesticides’ information program at [email protected] or see our Tools for Change webpage.

Source: NJSpotlight

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



Happy New Year From Beyond Pesticides to You!

Beyond Pesticides wishes our members and friends a happy, healthy, and organic New Year! Our Daily News is taking a holiday break and will return on Thursday, January 3, 2013 with renewed energy and vision to continue charging ahead.

We look forward to working with you to make 2013 a fruitful, pesticide-free year for you, your family, your community and those most vulnerable. We are thankful for all our members and supporters who enable Beyond Pesticides to be a strong voice that works to protect our air, land, water, and food at home, in the workplace, and in local communities from policies that allow practices resulting in unnecessary and unsustainable poisoning and contamination.

We hope you will consider a charitable donation to Beyond Pesticides. Whether you become a member, give the gift of membership, donate, or buy a gift from our online shop, your contribution can do a world of good. These unique gifts help protect human health and the environment from toxic pesticides, and will be enjoyed by your friends and loved ones throughout the New Year.

As you reflect upon the passing year and contemplate your wishes for the next, we ask you to consider Beyond Pesticides vision for the future:

1. A ban on the pesticide clothianidin implicated in honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Our pollinators are in trouble and urgent action is needed to stop the precipitous decline of honey bee colonies. Working with our partners at the Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, and Sierra Club, we filed an emergency legal petition this year to immediately stop the use of the pesticide clothianidin. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied our petition, but in response we issued a 60 day notice letter to the agency, announcing our intent to sue. We thank all those involved and ask for your continued support in 2013 to remove this dangerous chemical from our environment. For more information on CCD, including links to scientific studies and additional Daily News stories, see our “Pollinator Protection” program page.

2. Advancing organic standards so that the organic brand continues to be a safe place for consumers to go for food grown without harmful synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, GMOs, antibiotics, sewage sludge or irradiation.

We made so much progress this year upholding organic integrity. From organic beer to infant formula and inert ingredients, Beyond Pesticides works to provide consumers with the tools they need to become involved in process of approving new inputs for organic production and processing. Currently, USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) has delayed compliance with organic laws. Please take action and urge NOP to complete its rule making process by December 26th, 2012. For more information on organic standards, view our “Keeping Organic Strong” webpage, where you’ll find an overview of the issues and results from the most recent National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting.

3. A sensible public health approach to mosquito management and West Nile virus that eschews community-wide spraying in favor of a monitoring, cultural controls, and least-toxic alternatives.

2012 was likely the second worst year ever for West Nile virus in the United States. Across the nation, as communities were sprayed with pesticides concerned citizens fought back for a safer, more rational approach to mosquito management. We encourage concerned citizens to get a head start on this year’s mosquito season. Please, attend community meetings, speak with your neighbors, and get active about stopping these unnecessary pesticide applications. For more information, start with our recent Pesticides and You article “Back to the Future: Communities are doused with pesticides in response to West Nile Virus outbreak” and view our “Mosquito Management” webpage.

4. The spread of community ordinances that embrace organic land management practices that protect human health and ecological diversity.

All every level across the country citizens are urging their elected representatives to implement least-toxic practices that reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous pesticides. In addition to the ordinance in Durango, CO, Beyond Pesticides has worked with localities throughout the U.S. in an effort to promote organic land care systems. In 2012 Richmond, CA approved a pesticide reform ordinance targeting the use of toxic chemical pesticides within city boundaries. Washington D.C. also recently passed legislation which restricts the use of pesticides on District property, near waterways, and in schools and day care centers. Ohio’s Cuyoga County successfully banned a majority of toxic pesticide uses on county property, prioritizing the use of natural, organic, horticultural and maintenance practices with an Organic Pest Management (OPM) program. For more information, visit Beyond Pesticides “Lawns and Landscapes” webpage, and seek out our “Tools for Change.”

5. A halt to the planting of GE crops on federal lands and the adoption of a national labeling law for GE food.

This year surely had its ups and downs for the burgeoning food movement. While the USDA continues to fast-track new GE crops, more and more studies are showing the negative impact of these crops and the cultural practices surrounding their use. Meanwhile, a federal judge has ruled GE crops are acceptable on Midwest wildlife refuges, but not on those in the Southeast.
As the legal and scientific debates continue on, a growing number of consumers are working for policy changes which would require mandatory labeling of GE food. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides “Genetic Engineering” page.

6. Working to ban pesticide products that are known hazards to human and environmental health.

This year saw a number of successes in efforts to ban toxic chemicals from our households and environment. In August, Johnson and Johnson announced its intent to phase out the harmful antibacterial triclosan from its products. In September, after 2,000 emails generated from Beyond Pesticides’ supporters, the EPA announced its final intent to phase out the use of the organophosphate insecticide azinphos-methyl (AZM), which has been proven harmful to farm-workers and the environment. We currently need your help now to get dangerous rodenticides off of the market. Please take action and tell EPA to go through with their intent to cancel dangerous rodent poisons.

7. The passage of federal legislation to protect children from the dangers of pesticides in school.

With the recent policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urging doctors and regulators to help prevent childhood exposure to toxic chemicals, the time is now for federal legislation to protect children. Beyond Pesticides is a long-time supporter of the School Environment Protection Act, which would provide a national standard to protect children from toxic exposure in the classroom. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides “Children and Schools” webpage.

Thanks so much for a great year! We look forward to seeing you all at Beyond Pesticides’ 31st National Pesticide Forum, April 5-6 2013, at the University of Albuquerque in New Mexico.

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