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Daily News Blog

18
May

The Controversy Heats Up on the Cancer Causing Properties of Roundup

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2016) The controversy continues on glyphosate’s (Roundup) cancer causing properties, as some question the influence of the chemical industry and Monsanto, Roundup’s manufacturer, on newly announced¬†findings, according to The Guardian.¬†A joint review by the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO) on¬†glyphosate, released this week,¬†seems to contradict earlier findings (at least based on food exposure) of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (the preeminent scientific body on carcinogenesis in the world), which classified Roundup as a “probable human carcinogen.”

NotsureifRoundupReadyThe Guardian disclosed, “Professor Alan Boobis, who chaired the UN‚Äôs joint FAO/WHO meeting on glyphosate, also works as the vice-president of the International Life Science Institute (ILSI) Europe. The co-chair of the sessions was Professor Angelo Moretto, a board member of ILSI‚Äôs Health and Environmental Services Institute, and of its Risk21 steering group too, which Boobis also co-chairs.¬†In 2012, the ILSI group took a $500,000 donation from Monsanto and a $528,500 donation from the industry group Croplife International, which represents¬†Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and others, according to documents obtained by the US right to know campaign. Boobis was not able to comment on the issue, and ILSI‚Äôs office in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for more information.”

Separating independent scientific findings or interpretation of data from those influenced by chemical industry interests has been a long standing problem in the public debate and media discussion on pesticide hazards. It is not uncommon for scientific interpretation by those affiliated with the chemical industry to be given equal weight to independent peer reviewed studies. Aaron Blair, Ph.D. chaired the IARC review. Dr. Blair ran the National Cancer Institute’s Occupation Studies Branch and is the author of over 450 publications on occupational and environmental causes of cancer.

The review, put out through a joint FAO/WHO meeting on pesticide residues in food, does not look at other sources of exposure.¬†“In view of the absence of carcinogenic potential in rodents at human-relevant doses and the absence of genotoxicity by the oral route in mammals, and considering the epidemiological evidence from occupational exposures, the meeting concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet,” the committee said.

The committee added that glyphosate is unlikely to be genotoxic, or harmful to cells’ genetic material, to humans. However, one scientist who was a part of IARC’s expert panel that reviewed glyphosate spoke of glyphosate’s genotoxic potential, stating that the herbicide can damage human DNA, which can result in increased cancer risks.

The review also assessed diazinon and malathion and concluded that these pesticides were unlikely to cause cancer through exposure from the diet.

In separate document published along with the joint FAO/WHO statement, the WHO denied that the conclusions by the joint group and by IARC were contradictory. It said they were “different, yet complementary,” with the IARC assessment focused on hazard while the other looked at risk.

Months after the IARC review, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an independent agency funded by the European Union, published a different assessment, saying glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.‚ÄĚ However, EFSA‚Äôs report is limited in that it reviewed glyphosate alone, unlike IARC which reviewed glyphosate and its formulated products, which are more relevant for evaluating risks to human health. Further, EFSA notes that the ‚Äútoxicity of the formulations should be considered further‚ÄĚ as studies that evaluated glyphosate formulations did find positive results of genotoxicity both in vitro and in vivo. EFSA also notes that other toxic outcomes, such as long-term toxicity and carcinogenicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity and endocrine disrupting potential of glyphosate formulations, should be clarified and addressed further.

EU’s pesticides committee is due to meet later this week to decide whether to re-license glyphosate. The U.S. EPA is being investigated for withdrawing a report saying the chemical is probably not carcinogenic.

Glyphosate residues have been detected in foods and products that are not typically associated with heavy glyphosate use, and even in organic foods and products, in which the use of glyphosate is prohibited. This pervasive pesticide exposure suggests that glyphosate cannot be contained to the target pest or crop and represents an exposure problem (or contamination, since it involves unintended exposure) much broader than risk assessors have assumed.

In March 2016, Moms Across America released a report on glyphosate residues in California wines. The report finds that all of the ten wines test positive for glyphosate.  Other recent reports of the widespread presence of glyphosate residues find the chemical in breast milk, in nearly 100% of Germans and in German beers, feminine hygiene products, and bread. Other sources of exposure include agricultural spraying. A 2015 report found that 54 percent of glyphosate spraying in California is applied in eight counties, many of which are located in the southern part of the Central Valley. The analysis finds that the populations in these counties are predominantly Hispanic or Latino, indicating that glyphosate use in California is distributed unequally along both socioeconomic and racial lines.

While glyphosate is touted as a ‚Äúlow toxicity‚ÄĚ chemical and ‚Äúsafer‚ÄĚ than other chemicals by industry, it has been shown to have detrimental impacts on humans and the environment. Given its widespread use on residential and agricultural sites, its toxicity is of increasing concern. A mounting body of data has found that formulated glyphosate (Roundup) products are more toxic than the active ingredient, glyphosate, alone. Roundup formulations can induce a dose-dependent formation of DNA adducts (altered forms of DNA linked to chemical exposure, playing a key role in chemical carcinogenesis) in the kidneys and liver of mice. Human cell endocrine disruption on the androgen receptor, inhibition of transcriptional activities on estrogen receptors on HepG2, DNA damage and cytotoxic effects occurring at concentrations well below ‚Äúacceptable‚ÄĚ residues have all been observed. A 2008 study confirms that the ingredients in Roundup formulations kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells, even at very low concentrations, and causes total cell death within 24 hrs.

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

Given the mounting evidence of glyphosate’s hazards, environmental groups, like Beyond Pesticides, are urging localities to restrict or ban the use of the chemical. Tracy Madlener, a mother of two, who got her neighborhood in Laguna Hills, California to eliminate the use of the widely-used weedkiller. Beyond Pesticides promotes these actions and many more through our Tools for Change page. This page is designed to help activists and other concerned citizens organize around a variety of pesticide issues on the local, state, and national level. Learn how to organize a campaign and talk to your neighbors about pesticides with our factsheets. See Beyond Pesticides’ article Glyphosate Causes Cancer.

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

Source: Reuters

 

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17
May

A Decade into the Pollinator Crisis, Unsustainable Bee Losses Continue

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2016) It was 10 years ago that commercial beekeepers first reported widespread, unsustainable winter losses of their honey bee colonies. A decade after the alarm was first sounded on pollinator declines, results of 2015-16 Colony Loss Survey show no sign the crisis of abating. According to the Bee Informed Partnership survey, beekeepers lost 28.1% of their colonies over this past winter, and a total of 44% of their colonies over the last year.

dead bee- fadeThis marks the second year in a row that summer declines (28.1%) were on par with declines experienced during winter. Beekeepers factor in that a small percentage, <15% of their colonies, will be lost each winter, but do not expect to lose colonies during the summer, when there is amble forage and nectar for bees. The costs beekeepers must incur to keep their hives alive continue to increase. More time and money is spent to maintain their hives, yet losses continue to be staggering ‚ÄĒ and unsustainable.

As colony collapse disorder (CCD), the cryptic loss of honey bee colonies with no sign of dead bees in or around the hive, has faded from public discussion, concerns over pollinator declines in general, from bees to butterflies and other wild and native species, have risen. CCD is not altogether eliminated or solved, but there is growing recognition that pollinator declines are not confined to honey bees. Just think: if honey bees are dying off at unprecedented rates, even with support from beekeepers, what might the losses be to bumble bees and other native pollinators? Preliminary research finds that they are at considerable risk.

The growing scientific consensus is that a class of systemic, persistent insecticides called neonicotinoids are most significant contributing factor to outsized declines in wild pollinators and managed honey bee colonies. Although the manufacturers of these chemicals, multinational companies Bayer and Syngenta continue to misrepresent the crisis by indicating that bee colony health is fine or improving, or that parasitic mites, after all, are the real issue, U.S. residents, consumers, and policymakers are beginning to see through the corporate fog.

While it is likely that neonicotinoids are not the sole factor in pollinator declines, they have been found to exacerbate other challenges that pollinators face. These chemicals weaken the immune system of honey bees, making them more likely to succumb to disease carried by varroa mites and other parasites. Multiple studies have found that bees exposed to neonicotinoids have more parasite and pathogen problems. If this disturbing trend of pollinator losses is to be broken, bees must must be better protected from neonics. Beyond Pesticides believes that exposure to harmful pesticides is something within our control, and it‚Äôs also something policy makers can ‚ÄĒ and must ‚ÄĒ do something about quickly.

In the states of Maryland and Connecticut, lawmakers are taking action to restrict the use of these harmful pesticides. Numerous local communities, universities, and retailers have also taken steps to remove neonicotinoid pesticides from use. At the federal level, Congress has an opportunity to suspend the use of neonics  until they have been proven not to result in unreasonable adverse effects on pollinators through the Saving America’s Pollinators Act.  While the White House has established a National Pollinator Health Strategy, it is evident that more will need to be done to address pesticide use in order to achieve President Obama’s goal of no more than 15% annual winter losses within the next decade. In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office concurred that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture are not doing enough to protect pollinators.

Though folks that follow this issue closely have heard it before, it’s worth repeating: honey bees and other pollinators are responsible for one in three bites of food on American’s dinner plates. And it’s not the bread, oats, or eggs that need pollinators, but the nutritious, healthy fruits and vegetables that depend on bees, butterflies, beetles, birds, bats and other pollinators. Beyond the utilitarian view of these important species, it is critical to protect these pollinators for the inherent value that they provide to landscapes and biodiversity. Every species lost during the ongoing pollinator crisis means a little less is known about life on this planet.

Help reverse pollinator declines by starting locally. Discontinue the use of neonic insecticides, and synthetic pesticides in general, and advocate that your neighbors and local government do the same.  Use the Bee Protective Habitat Guide to plant a pollinator garden, and consider seeding white clover into your lawn. Join in and support the Keep the Hives Alive Tour this June, as it travels across the country to raise awareness about pollinator declines from hazardous pesticides, and encourage safer practices.

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

Source: Bee Informed Partnership

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16
May

Exposure to Pesticides Linked to ALS Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2016) Pesticide exposure may increase the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a study entitled Association of Environmental Toxins With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, which was published in JAMA Neurology. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The study, which investigated a total of 122 persistent environmental pollutants, including organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), found that pesticide exposure increased ALS risk five-fold.

sprayoutdoorsResearchers conducting the study looked at 156 patients with ALS and 128 without the disease. Participants were asked about occupational and residential exposure to environmental toxicants and blood samples were taken to measure their concentrations. Researchers found that the organochlorine pesticides pentachlorobenzene and cis-chlordane increased ALS risk two-fold and nearly six-fold, respectively.

This study does not prove that pesticides cause ALS, but it does build on an association suggested in previous research, study co-author Stephen Goutman, MD, told HealthDay. Dr. Goutman recommends avoiding pesticides. This is especially wise for anyone with a family history of ALS, he added.

The link between pesticide exposure and neurological damage has been studied extensively. In 2008, a team of University of Michigan scientists discovered that interactions between genes and organophosphate exposure cause some forms of motor neuron disease (MND). In a 2013 study, researchers found that individuals with a genetic mutation linked to Parkinson’s disease are more likely to develop the neurodegenerative disease if they are exposed to pesticides typically found in conventional, chemical-intensive agricultural areas, including paraquat, maneb, and rotenone. More recently, a class of fungicides known as strobilurin was found to produce patterns of genetic changes in the neurons of mice that are similar to genetic changes seen in humans with autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

Beyond Pesticides tracks the scientific liteerature related to pesticide exposure through the Pesticide Induced Diseases Database (PIDD). For more information on the multiple harms pesticides can cause, see PIDD pages on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other diseases. Studies such as these highlight the importance of buying, growing, and supporting organic. Consumer choices encourage the protection of the people who help put food on our table every day by purchasing organic. By buying organic, you support an agricultural system that does not permit the application of dangerous pesticides. For more information on how organic is the right choice for both consumers and the farmworkers that grow our food, see Beyond Pesticides webpage, Health Benefits of Organic Agriculture.

Source: HealthDay News

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

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13
May

Study Finds Low Levels of Roundup Cause Adverse Effects to Soil Health

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2016)¬†Raising questions about Roundup’s (glyphosate) effects on soil health, a study published last month shows that the chemical¬†is toxic to soil fungus at doses well below levels which are recommended for agricultural use. The commercial formulation of Roundup is¬†more toxic than technical active ingredient,¬†glyphosate, highlighting the need to evaluate¬†full formulation¬†effects, including¬†so-called inert ingredients.

roundupThe study, published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research, looked at Roundup’s effects on a soil fungus, Aspergillus nidulans. Researchers found that a dilution of Roundup at a rate 100 times less than that allowed in agricultural production corresponded with 50% mortality of the fungus. A dose only 50 times lower than the recommended application rate for agricultural uses resulted in 100% mortality of the fungus. Even at the median lethal dose (LD50) and lower concentrations, researchers saw impaired growth, cellular polarity, endocytosis and mitochondria (impaired average number, volume and metabolism).

The study also found that Roundup has an effect on the soil fungus’ ability to break down nutrients for energy use. Rather than depleting mitochondrial activity, as found in animal cell studies, researchers found a stimulation of mitochondrial activity in the fungal cells, indicating a different mode of action. Researchers found that energy metabolism and respiratory disturbances were detected at the NOAEL (no-observed-adverse-effect-level) dose, showing that cellular level impacts could occur even with no outward impacts to growth or yield.

Glyphosate, the most widely used agricultural chemical in the world, has gained a nasty reputation for its effects on humans and wildlife, including soil biota. Beyond glyphosate’s recent classification as a carcinogen based on animal laboratory and epidemiologic studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization, the chemical has been shown to harm earthworm populations, cause sub lethal damage to bees, drift and eliminate crucial habitat for monarch butterflies, and cause shape changes in amphibians.

Soil fungus, which is part of a wide range of soil biota, is essential to ecosystem functioning. Constant application of pesticides, such as glyphosate, in chemical-intensive agriculture can reduce soil diversity and therefore reduce soil functionality. Soil biota breaks down organic matter, enables chemical elements to be reused, and fixes nitrogen, which is necessary for nutrient in the ecosystem. A study published in February 2016 reveals that a decrease in soil biota impacts the services that healthy soil provides. The study finds that soil microbial diversity positively relates to multi-functionality in terrestrial ecosystems. Simply put, when soil diversity is high, the soil can function more efficiently and provide a multitude of ecosystem services. Any loss in microbial diversity will likely reduce multi-functionality, negatively affecting the services provided by soil, such as climate regulation through atmospheric carbon sequestration, fertility, and productivity. A further decline in soil biodiversity has adverse economic impacts as well. The European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) estimates soil organisms and their role in agricultural productivity to be worth $25 billion a year, globally.

One way to protect soil biota, other wildlife, biodiversity, and the ecosystem as a whole from the harmful effects of pesticides is to support organic agriculture over conventional, chemical-intensive farming. Beyond Pesticides supports organic agriculture as effecting good land stewardship. The pesticide reform movement, citing pesticide problems associated with chemical agriculture, from groundwater contamination and runoff to drift, views organic as the solution to this serious environmental threat. It is impossible to discuss the ecological benefits of organic agriculture without discussing the devastating effects of conventional agriculture.

Conventional. or chemical-intensive, agriculture relies on toxic pesticides that contaminate air, water, soil, and living things, such as the soil fungus and other wildlife mentioned in the studies cited above; organic agriculture does not allow the use of toxic pesticides. Chemical-intensive agriculture relies on synthetic chemical fertilizers that reduce soil organic matter and contaminate waterways; organic agriculture does not permit the use of synthetic fertilizers and relies instead on nutrient sources that tend to be less soluble and more stable in the soil, because of the expectation that healthy soil will produce microbes that can make the nutrients naturally available over a longer period of time.

To learn more about the impacts of pesticides on wildlife (which includes soil biota), visit Beyond Pesticides’ Wildlife Page for a discussion of how organic systems protect wildlife from the dangerous impacts of pesticides, encourage them to flourish, and restore the natural balance that is unable to exist in chemical-intensive agriculture.

Source: Environmental Science and Pollution Research

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

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12
May

Macalester College Signs Resolution to ‚ÄėBee Protective‚ÄĚ

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2016) Another campus, Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota has pledged to become a designated BEE Protective campus. This recognition comes from Beyond Pesticides’ and Center for Food Safety’s BEE Protective Campaign, which aims to protect bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticides like neonicotinoids. As part of its commitment, Macalester College will no longer use neonicotinoids on its campus grounds. Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides known to have severe impacts on bee populations.

macalaster collegeMacalester is now one of several campuses around the country that have pledged to protect pollinators and move away from using harmful pesticides that are toxic to these beneficial creatures. Just last month, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio pledged to become a BEE Protective campus. In addition to these campuses, several local communities and states are also taking a stand for pollinators by passing policies that restrict the use of bee-toxic pesticides. For more on how your campus or student group can support pollinators and become BEE Protective, visit the BEE Protective Ambassadors webpage.

‚ÄúMacalester‚Äôs new resolution to help protect pollinators fits well with our Sustainability Plan and Sustainable Landscaping Master Plan. I‚Äôm glad that our college has this opportunity to play a role in the fight to keep bees and other important pollinators safe from harmful pesticides,‚ÄĚ said Suzanne Savanick Hansen, Macalester College‚Äôs Sustainability Manager.

One in every three bites of food depends on bees for pollination, and the annual value of pollination services worldwide is estimated at over $125 billion. In the United States, pollination contributes $20-30 billion in agricultural production annually. Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides known to have acute and chronic effects on honey bees and other pollinators, and are considered a major factor in bee population declines and poor health. These chemicals have been shown to impair bee navigation, foraging and learning behavior, as well as suppress their immune system making them more susceptible to parasites and disease.

Resolving to be a BEE Protective campus complements other pollinator awareness initiatives at Macalester. The college recently brought honey bee colonies to its Ordway Field Station in an effort to educate students and others about bees and their imperiled status. Joining the BEE-Protective Campaign is another step Macalester has taken to make the campus and community more sustainable and committed to food ethics. In 2012, Macalester signed the Real Food Campus Commitment, joining other institutions of higher education in accepting the Real Food Challenge; a national initiative to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources by 2020. Also in 2015, the College signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, an effort to make campuses more sustainable and address global warming.

The BEE Protective Ambassador project taps into enthusiastic environmental activists on college campuses throughout the country wishing to make a positive impact on the health of local pollinators and other wildlife. By creating meaningful change at the University level, Ambassadors gain important experience in environmental advocacy, which will undoubtedly expand and grow as students graduate from college and continue to be environmental activists while moving through life.

Take Action: Beyond Pesticides provides campus organizations with all of the educational materials needed to advance meaningful and significant change in communities. If you know of an individual or campus organization that would be interested in taking part in this campaign¬†to protect pollinators and save our bees, please urge them to become a ‚ÄúBEE Protective Ambassador,‚ÄĚ and ask them to sign the pledge as soon as possible. Resources and a step by step guide will then be sent out immediately following sign-up.

BEE Protective is a national campaign established by Beyond Pesticides and Center for Food Safety, and works with municipalities, campuses, and homeowners to adopt policies that protect pollinators from bee-toxic pesticides. For more information about the campaign, visit www.beeprotective.org.

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

Source: Press Release

 

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11
May

Now Available: Videos to Promote Healthy Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2016) Beyond Pesticides is pleased to announce that videos are now available from Cultivating Community and Environmental Health: Models for sustainable and organic strategies to protect ecosystems, pollinators and waterways, the 34th National Pesticide Forum! 34NPFstickerimage

The videos cover the range of topics that were discussed at the Forum and include keynote speeches, panel discussions, and workshops. This year’s forum focused on the adoption of policies to protect human health and the environment, and organic land and building management strategies. Beyond Pesticides encourages activists, community leaders, scientists, and policy makers to attend its annual National Pesticide Forum in person to get together, share information, and strategize create communities that are healthy and free of toxic pesticides. For those who are unable to attend in person, these videos expand the incredible knowledge of the experts to the broader public to help inspire and inform community action.

Watch the videos here. You can access the playlist, which includes all of the available videos of the 2016 forum, as well as previous years, on Beyond Pesticides’ YouTube page.

Notable presentations include:

Pollinators, Biodiversity and Scientific Integrity, by Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D. Dr. Lundgren is an agroecologist, director of ECDYSIS Foundation, and CEO for Blue Dasher Farm. Formerly a top U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist, he received a prestigious national award for civic courage (Entomologist in the Crosshairs of Science and Corporate Politics) for his work on neonicotinoids and pollinator decline in the face of agency attempts to suppress his work. One of his priorities is to make science applicable to end-users, and he regularly interacts with the public and farmers regarding pest management and insect biology.

Landmark Law: The case for local action, by Montgomery County, MD Councilmember George Leventhal. As Council President, Mr. Leventhal was the lead sponsor of the landmark ordinance, Bill 52-14, that protects children, pets, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards of unnecessary lawn and landscape pesticide. He wrote and championed the legislation, which restricts cosmetic pesticide use on lawns throughout the county ‚Äďwhich is now the largest jurisdiction in the U.S. to do so on both private and public property.

Organic Practices and Policy: A view from Congress, U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree¬†was elected to represent Maine‚Äôs 1st district in the United States House of Representatives in 2008. As Maine Magazine wrote, ‚ÄúPingree can work hard. Give her any job‚ÄĒchopping wood, planting a garden, canning vegetables, raising children, rewriting the U.S. Farm Bill‚ÄĒand she‚Äôs your woman.‚ÄĚ

Pesticides and Diseases: What Do We Know and What Do We Need? by Aaron Blair, Ph.D. a National Cancer Institute researcher (emeritus), author of more than 450 publications on occupational and environmental causes of cancer, and the overall chair of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) evaluation panel that found glyphosate (Roundup) to be a carcinogen.

Organic Integrity: Soil, seeds and government responsibility, by Jim Gerritsen. an organic farmer who has owned and operated Wood Prairie Farm in northern Maine for 38 years, and president of the national farmer-run membership trade organization, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), which served as lead plaintiff in the landmark organic community federal lawsuit, OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto.

The Soil Will Save Us, by Kristin Ohlson, journalist and bestselling author. Her book, The Soil Will Save Us, makes an elegantly argued, passionate case for “our great green hope”‚ÄĒa way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon‚ÄĒand potentially reverse global warming.

Ecological Tick Management Workshop, featuring Ron Circe, an ecologist and manager of the over 700 acre Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve in Loudoun County, VA, where he employs natural practices to successfully manage ticks; and Daniel Sonenshine, Ph.D., professor emeritus and eminent scholar of biological sciences at Old Dominion University, who researches tick pheromones, tick immunity and tick-borne diseases.

Also included are several other presentations and workshops, including Organizing for Local Policy Change, Organic Standards, Seeds and Supplies, Biodiversity, Ecology and Soil Health, Protecting Maine Water, and more. Be sure to visit the full playlist to see the rest of the videos.

The Forum provides the opportunity for grassroots advocates, scientists, and policy makers to share efforts in building local, state and national strategies for strength and growth with its broad range of speakers and collaborators. Beyond Pesticides believes that sharing this information beyond the Forum as an educational and organizing tool will prove extremely valuable, and encourages folks to share presentations with friends, community organizations, networks, and state and local decision makers.

Beyond Pesticides thanks everyone who helped make the 34th National Pesticide Forum a success! The Forum, held April 15-16 at the University of Southern Maine, and was convened by Beyond Pesticides, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Toxics Action Center, and the USM Department of Environmental Science and Policy, and co-sponsored by a diverse range of local groups. For more details about the conference, download the program here, or see www.beyondpesticides.org/forum.

The playlist, which includes all of the available videos of the 2015 Forum, as well as previous conferences are available on Beyond Pesticides’ YouTube page.

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

 

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10
May

EPA Finds Atrazine Threatens Ecological Health

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2016) Following an apparent accidental release of documents relating to the safety of the herbicide glyphosate, late last month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also released and then retracted a preliminary ecological risk assessment of another toxic herbicide, atrazine. Under federal law, every pesticide registered in the United States is required to undergo a 15-year registration review to analyze human health and environmental impacts and determine whether the chemical’s use should continue another 15 years. The last decade and a half have seen plethora of studies underscoring that atrazine is harmful to human health, and poses unreasonable adverse risks to ecological health, despite attempts by its major manufacturer, Syngenta, to silence and discredit its critics.

L_ATRAZINE_2013EPA‚Äôs preliminary ecological risk assessment finds that for current uses at prescribed label rates, atrazine may pose a chronic risk to fish, amphibians, and aquatic vertebrate animals. Where use is heavy, the agency indicates that chronic exposure through built-up concentrations in waterways is likely to adversely impact aquatic plant communities. ¬†Levels of concern, a wonky equation that EPA produces to measure risk, were exceeded for birds by 22x, fish by 62x, and mammals by 198x. Even reduced label rates were expected to harm terrestrial plant species as a result of runoff and drift from pesticide applications. It is important to note that these impacts were seen for uses which, based on data obtained during atrazine‚Äôs last review 15 years ago, EPA considered to be ‚Äúsafe‚ÄĚ when used according to label rates.

Moreover, as part of what are known as data call-ins, where EPA requests tests used to support or reject the registration of a pesticide, the agency permits pesticide manufacturers to carry out studies on their own products. Shortly before atrazine‚Äôs most recent re-registration in 2003, University of California, Berkeley professor and scientist Tyrone Hayes, PhD was hired by Syngenta to conduct safety tests on the chemical regarding its impact on amphibian health. However, what he found was not what the company had hoped for: his experiments showed that atrazine could impede the sexual development of frogs, to put it lightly. After the company criticized his research, Dr. Hayes cut ties with the company. But he continued his research, this time releasing studies that described the effects of the chemical less gingerly, like the 2010 study, Atrazine induces complete feminization and chemical castration in male African clawed frogs,¬†published in the esteemed journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. During this time, Syngenta continued to target not only Dr. Hayes research, but his personal life. (See: A Valuable Reputation, by The New Yorker). Through the discovery process on a lawsuit launched by public water utilities over widespread atrazine contamination, a list of goals produced by Syngenta‚Äôs public relations was brought to light. Goal #1: ‚Äúdiscredit Hayes.‚ÄĚ

Atrazine has been registered for use since 1958. Although many residential turf grass uses of the chemical have been eliminated voluntarily, homeowner uses do persist, particularly in humid climates like southern Florida. The chemical is still widely used in agriculture, with over 90% of the chemical’s application to corn fields. Upwards of 65% of sugarcane and sorghum fields are also sprayed with atrazine, according to EPA, and it is used widely in forestry operations. In addition to reproductive impacts on amphibians, as well as studies showing similar impacts to fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals (See: Protecting Life, From Research to Regulation), the chemical has been listed to human health impacts such as childhood cancer, and rare birth defects, including gastroschisis, and choanal atresia.

As a result of a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, EPA will be assessing the impacts of atrazine and its chemical cousins to 1,500 endangered species, a task that the agency should have performed decades ago. Based on scientific evidence, there is no need to continue with the use of atrazine or glyphosate, especially with so many alternatives for pest management. In fact, a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health found that banning atrazine would result in net economic benefit to farmers. EPA’s leaked ecological risk assessment, as well as the widespread availability of alternatives, shows that the risks of continuing atrazine’s registration vastly outweighs any benefits it may provide.

As consumers continue to press for reforms regarding allowed pesticides within conventional agricultural practices, the best way to support sustainable agriculture is by buying organic. Organic farmers are not permitted to use toxic synthetic herbicides or pesticides like atrazine, and must create an organic system plan to address how they will first prevent pest problems, and second, deal with them through least-toxic means should they arise. All inputs into organic farming and processing must go through a rigorous public process overseen by the National Organic Standards Board, composed of a range organic stakeholders. Although the process is not devoid of concerns, they pale in comparison to the widespread health and ecological impacts permitted in conventional agriculture.

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

Source: Center for Biological Diversity, EPA Refined Ecological Risk Assessment for Atrazine

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09
May

Breaking Through Power: A Historic Civic Mobilization

(Beyond Pesticides, May 9, 2016) Beyond Pesticides joins a historic “civic mobilization” on May 23, 2016, alongside other citizen advocacy organizations leading in the fight to protect and improve human health and the environment. Breaking Through Power celebrates the 50th anniversary of Ralph Nader‚Äôs book Unsafe at Any Speed,¬†which unleashed fresh energies and sparked the creation of numerous advocacy organizations leading to major consumer, environmental and worker safety protections. This mobilization, organized by the Center for Study of Responsive Law, will be held at the Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. from May 23-26, 2016.¬†JFcropped

Beyond Pesticides members and friends are invited and encouraged to attend this important event to help launch the next decade of public interest advocacy. If you are interested, please let us know by contacting Jen Ruocco at [email protected].

Beyond Pesticides executive director, Jay Feldman, will be presenting during the first session, Breaking Through Power: How it‚Äôs Done, on May 23, 2016. As Beyond Pesticides celebrates 35 years, we are honored to be joining the diverse group of organizations that, “over decades…have produced amazing accomplishments against powerful odds.” In addition to joining the lineup of incredible speakers, Beyond Pesticides will also be tabling.

The theme of this “citizen mobilization” will be elaborating ways to break through power to secure long-overdue democratic solutions made possible by a new muscular civic nexus between local communities and Washington, D.C. On these four days, speakers will present innovative ideas and strategies designed to take existing civic groups to higher levels of effectiveness.

The event will involve thousands of people at Constitution Hall and around the country and aims to connect NaderAdlong-available knowledge to long-neglected action for the necessities and aspirations of people from all backgrounds. The event was the subject of a full-page ad in the New York Times (see copy to right), Saturday, May 7.

 

Schedule:

Day One ‚ÄĒ May 23, 2016 will feature an unprecedented series of presentations by seventeen successful citizen advocacy groups of long standing, that have made great accomplishments against powerful odds. These civic leaders will demonstrate how, with modest budgets and stamina, they have improved the health, safety and economic well-being of the people and focused public opinion onto decision-makers and opponents. Through greater visibility, broader support and wider emulation, they will present their future missions and show that it can be ‚Äúeasier than we think‚ÄĚ to make major changes. For the first time ever, this diverse group of fighters for justice will be assembled together on stage at Constitution Hall and show that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts when fighting for a broader democratic society. The presenters will appraise what levels of citizen organization is necessary to fulfill these broadly-desired missions.

Day Two ‚Äď May 24, 2016 brings together a large gathering of authors, documentary filmmakers, reporters, columnists, musicians, poets and editorial cartoonists who will demonstrate the need for wider audiences over the mass media.

Day Three ‚Äď May 25, 2016 will be dedicated to enhancing the waging of peace over the waging of war, assembling leading scholars having military and national security backgrounds such as ret. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State, Colin Powell, veterans groups such as Veterans For Peace, and long-time peace advocacy associations to explain how peace is more powerful than war.

Day Four ‚ÄĒ May 26, 2016 will unveil a new Civic Agenda (much of which has Left/Right support) that could be advanced by engaged and enraged citizens in each Congressional district. The agenda includes recognized necessities ignored by Congress for decades and will be presented by a veritable brain trust of recognized advocates for the well-being of present and future generations.

For tickets and more information visit: BREAKINGTHROUGHPOWER.ORG.

Scholarships are available. To inquire, please email [email protected]

Source: Press Release

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

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06
May

EPA Releases then Pulls Its Report that Disputes Cancer Finding for Glyphosate (Roundup)

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2016) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a long¬†awaited review of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto‚Äôs Roundup, concluding that the chemical is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans ‚Äďthen the agency removed the review from its website. After¬†pulling the report, the agency stated that the document was not final. In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released its findings that show¬†glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen.

roundupThe 86-page report was published Friday on¬†regulations.gov by EPA‚Äôs cancer assessment review committee (CARC) and was reviewed¬†by Reuters. While the report finds¬†that glyphosate is¬†not likely to be carcinogenic to humans, EPA told Reuters that it took the action it did because the assessment was not final. According to Reuters, ‚ÄúThe agency said the documents were ‚Äėpreliminary‚Äô and that they were published ‚Äėinadvertently.‚Äô‚ÄĚ But, a cover memo, which was part of the assessment, described the report as CARC‚Äôs final cancer assessment document. ‚ÄúFinal‚ÄĚ was printed on each page of the report, which was dated October 1, 2015. This only furthers speculation that EPA has concluded that it will¬†renew glyphosate‚Äôs registration. The European Union has indicated that it¬†will re-approve glyphosate‚Äôs registration,¬†despite fierce public outcry.

Glyphosate has been subject to widespread public scrutiny since IARC classified it as a 2A probable carcinogen based on animal studies. A scientific review was released in February 2016 by a group of 14 scientists, which expressed concern about the widespread use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), the lack of understanding regarding human exposure, and the potential health impacts. According to the report, U.S. agencies, such as the National Toxicology Program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and EPA, have not adequately kept up with cutting-edge research. The researchers call for the global science and regulatory community to step back and take a fresh look at glyphosate due to widespread exposure patterns.

Glyphosate residues have been detected in foods and products that are not typically associated with heavy glyphosate use, or even in organic foods and products, in which the use of glyphosate is prohibited. In March 2016, Moms Across America released a report on glyphosate residues in California wines. The report finds that all of the ten wines test positive for glyphosate. Other recent reports of the widespread presence of glyphosate residues find the chemical in breast milk, in German beers, feminine hygiene products, and bread, as well as in nearly 100% of Germans tested.

While glyphosate is touted as a ‚Äúlow toxicity‚ÄĚ chemical and ‚Äúsafer‚ÄĚ than other chemicals by industry, it has been shown to have¬†detrimental impacts¬†on humans and the environment. Given its widespread use on residential and agricultural sites, its toxicity is of increasing concern. A mounting body of data has found that formulated glyphosate (Roundup) products are more toxic than the active ingredient, glyphosate, alone. Roundup formulations can induce a dose-dependent formation of DNA adducts (altered forms of DNA linked to chemical exposure, playing a key role in chemical carcinogenesis) in the kidneys and liver of mice. Human cell endocrine disruption on the androgen receptor, inhibition of transcriptional activities on estrogen receptors on HepG2, DNA damage and cytotoxic effects occurring at concentrations well below ‚Äúacceptable‚ÄĚ residues have all been observed.¬†A 2008 study¬†confirmed that the ingredients in Roundup formulations kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells, even at very low concentrations, and causes total cell death within 24 hrs.

Two days ago, a large coalition of national organizations delivered over 500,000 petitions to EPA that demands an end to glyphosate use in the U.S. The groups held a rally outside the White House before marching over to EPA headquarters. The event, organized by Moms Across America and Care2, was also joined by Beyond Pesticides, Organic Consumers Association, Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs, and CREDO Action.

It has previously been announced that U.S. federal testing will¬†begin for glyphosate residues in food. Although a positive step, this move is largely seen as political ‚Äď a response to growing public pressure and not focused on evaluating health concerns. Beyond Pesticides urges individuals concerned about glyphosate exposure to support organic systems that do not rely on hazardous carcinogenic pesticides. In agriculture, concerned consumers can¬†buy food with the certified organic label, which not only disallows synthetic pesticides like glyphosate, but also the use of sewage sludge and genetically engineered ingredients. Instead of prophylactic use of pesticides and biotechnology, responsible organic farms focus on fostering habitat for pest predators and other beneficial insects, and only resort to judicious use of least-toxic pesticides when other cultural, structural, mechanical, and biological controls have been attempted and proven ineffective.

Source: Reuters

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

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05
May

500,000 Petitioners Demand EPA End Glyphosate Use

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2016) Yesterday, a large coalition of national organizations delivered over 500,000 petitions to EPA that demands an end to glyphosate use in the U.S. The groups held a rally outside the White House before marching over to EPA headquarters. The event, organized by Moms Across America and Care2, was also joined by Beyond Pesticides, Organic Consumers Association, Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs, and CREDO Action. Glyphosate is a pervasive and toxic chemical found in Monsanto’s popular Roundup weedkiller and was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.

MomsacrossamericaThis comes the week after news reports of the European Union indicating it¬†will re-approve glyphosate‚Äôs registration in the EU,¬†despite fierce public outcry, for another 10 years. Because EPA has not changed its classification of glyphosate as “not likely to be a carcinogen,” it is expected that¬†EPA will renew the registration¬†of glyphosate. (The report concluding that glyphosate is not likely¬†to be carcinogenic to humans was posted online¬†by EPA on Friday,¬†but taken down¬†the following Monday, pending the agency’s completion of its reevaluation.)

‚ÄúThe current science confirms that glyphosate and Roundup are anything but safe. This probable carcinogen has no place on our lawns or foods. We have safer, alternative methods of managing our lawns and growing food that do not rely on glyphosate or other toxic inputs. It is time that EPA recognizes its responsibility to move away from hazardous and unnecessary pesticides,‚ÄĚ says Nichelle Harriott, science and regulatory director of Beyond Pesticides.

Glyphosate residues have been detected in foods and products that are not typically associated with heavy glyphosate use, or even in organic foods and products, in which the use of glyphosate is prohibited. In March 2016, Moms Across America released a report on glyphosate residues in California wines. The report finds that all of the ten wines test positive for glyphosate. Other recent reports of the widespread presence of glyphosate residues find the chemical in breast milk, in German beers, feminine hygiene products, and bread, as well as in nearly 100% of Germans tested.

A scientific review was released in February 2016 by a group of 14 scientists, who expressed concern about the widespread use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), the lack of understanding regarding human exposure, and the potential health impacts. According to the report, U.S. agencies, such as the National Toxicology Program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and EPA, have not adequately kept up with cutting-edge research. The researchers call for the global science and regulatory community to step back and take a fresh look at glyphosate due to widespread exposure patterns.

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

Source: Press Release

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

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04
May

Organic Consumers Association Sues to Keep Synthetics Out of Organic Infant Formula

(Beyond Pesticides May 3, 2016) Last week, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) filed lawsuits against two popular infant formula makers for falsely labeling their products as organic. The claims against both The Honest Co. and Hain Celestial Group allege that their products contain ingredients that are prohibited under the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 as well as non-organic and non-agricultural ingredients.

The lawsuit against The Honest Company alleges the product contains 11 synthetic ingredients that are not allowed by federal law in organic products, including sodium selenite and taurine. In the court documents, OCA also claims that some of the ingredients have not been “assessed as safe for human foods ‚Äď much less for infant formulas.”Honest Company

“No one is more concerned about food labels and ingredients than new mothers responsible for feeding infants whose immune systems and brain development are so underdeveloped and vulnerable. As consumers, these mothers must rely on truthful labeling in order to make the best choices for feeding their infants and toddlers. Our job as a consumer advocacy group is to call out and hold accountable companies like The Honest Co. and Hain Celestial when they knowingly and intentionally mislead consumers,” said OCA International Director Ronnie Cummins¬†in a statement last Tuesday.

Mr. Cummins also stated that the goal of the lawsuit is to force companies to either comply with USDA organic standards or stop deceiving the public by dubbing their products “organic.” This is not the first time¬†The Honest Co. has faced legal trouble for deceptively marketing its products.

OCA’s¬†lawsuit against Hain Celestial¬†claims that the company’s Earth’s Best brands, such as Organic Infant Formula, Organic Soy Infant Formula, Organic Sensitivity Infant Formula, and Organic Toddler Formula, are all deceptively labeled “organic” because they include ingredients that are non-agricultural and non-organic. OCA alleges that of the 48 ingredients in Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula, more than 50 percent are in violation of USDA Organic Standards.

With the filing of these lawsuits, OCA joins Beyond Pesticides in the continued fight to uphold the integrity of organic products and keep organic standards strong. Organic practices traditionally follow tough standards that do no compromise the health of people and the planet, but in recent years those practices have been weakened by a series of USDA decisions designed to ease organic standards and allow the use of materials either previously banned, or without proper review through the traditional sunset process.

When the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) considered synthetic substances in infant formula labeled organic, the Board rejected the allowance of synthetic nutrients, with the exception of L-Methionine in infant formula made with soy-based protein. The National Organic Program (NOP) has ignored the Board recommendation, despite the requirement in law (under OFPA) that prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture of permitting synthetic materials in organic production and processing not recommended by the NOSB.

Beyond Pesticides has written the following:

“We oppose the addition of any of the petitioned synthetic substances (see table) to organic infant formula. The use of synthetic macronutrients in organic food, specifically organic infant formula does not satisfy consumer expectations of organic food. Moreover, according to the OFPA, synthetic antioxidants must not be used as preservatives in organic foods. Therefore the petitioned use of ascorbyl palmitate and beta carotene as antioxidants to preserve the quality of polyunsaturated fatty acids does not meet criteria for listing.”

“Constructing ‚Äúorganic‚ÄĚ soy infant formula from mostly synthetic materials such as isolated soy protein and synthetic L-carnitine and L-methionine is contrary to organic principles. Though NOSB has not acted on isolated soy proteins since the issue was deferred at its April 2004 meeting, the Board has proceeded on the assumption ‚Äď based on the unanimous opinion from technical reviewers- that isolated soy protein is synthetic. Until the NOSB can resolve issues surrounding isolated soy protein, we believe it would be improper to base other materials decisions on the need to supplement a formula which is based on synthetic chemicals.”

“Infants do not have the ability to process excess nutrients as well as adults. Experts have warned that the inclusion of unnecessary components to infant formula may put a burden on an infant‚Äôs metabolic functioning. We urge the Board not to permit fortification of organic infant formulas with synthetic and nonorganic ingredients. Instead, we encourage the Board to support breastfeeding. Scientific studies stress the fact that feeding infant formula instead of breastfeeding causes adverse health effects for both mother and child. Therefore, we do not believe infant formula, or any of its ingredients, meets the health effects criterion for addition to the National List as ‚Äúorganic‚ÄĚ or ‚Äú100% organic.‚ÄĚ For rare cases in which it is necessary to have an alternative to breast milk, we do support a high quality formula labeled ‚Äúmade with organic milk.”

In April 2015, the Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program’s (NOP) failure to follow the law in making a substantial rule change to the USDA organic standard. At issue in that case is the contaminated compost guidance released by USDA, which, plaintiffs argue, weakens the long-standing prohibition of synthetic pesticide contaminants. Prior to the new contaminated compost guidance, organic regulations expressly prohibited fertilizers and compost from containing any synthetic substances not included on organic’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. The case withstood a Motion to Dismiss filed by the defendants earlier this year, and is set to go to trial in a few weeks.

In addition to the contaminated compost case, another lawsuit brought by 15 farm, consumer and certifier organizations raises a similar procedural challenge to a rule change to the organic sunset process, which regulates synthetic chemical exceptions in organic production. In this case, the agency once again took unilateral action to adopt a major policy change without public process, an action plaintiffs maintain violates one of the foundational principles and practices of OFPA public participation in organic policy making and APA.

Both of these cases were brought in order to protect public trust in the organic food label and help keep alternatives to toxic food production alive and growing. When companies like The Honest Co. and Hain Celestial undermine the integrity of the organic label by including chemicals that do not meet the organic standards set out by the NOP in their products, public trust in the system is compromised, creating devastating damage to the program as a whole. The Organic Consumers Association and Beyond Pesticides are doing their part to keep the organic label strong, and we encourage consumers to do the same.

Wondering how to get involved? Start by letting elected officials and companies know that they need to stand with you to protect the integrity of the organic label, the law, and the standards-setting process. Let them know that the voice and rights of the organic consumer, farmer, and all who have created this important and valuable system must be defended. For more on organic standards and how you can play a part in maintaining the integrity of organic, visit the Keeping Organic Strong webpage.

Source: CNN Money

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

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03
May

Connecticut Legislature Votes Unanimously to Adopt Pollinator Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2016) In a bipartisan victory for bees, last week the Connecticut House of Representatives unanimously (147-0) passed a wide-ranging bill aimed at protecting declining pollinator populations within the state from toxic neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides. Bill No. 231, An Act Concerning Pollinator Health, was also passed unanimously (36-0) through the Connecticut State Senate on April 21, and now goes to Governor Dannel P Malloy for his signature. Earlier in April, both houses of the Maryland legislature passed the Maryland Pollinator Protection Act, which is currently awaiting action by Governor Larry Hogan (R).

President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Connecticut’s bill addresses a broad range of concerns relating to pollinator health, from pesticides to parasites and habitat remediation, within both residential and agricultural settings. In

summary, the bill does the following:

  1. Prohibits applying neonicotinoid insecticide (a) to linden or basswood trees or (b) labeled for treating plants, to any plants when such plant bears   blossoms;
  • Bee health experts identified the application of systemic neonicotinoids to Tilia trees as a significant concern for pollinator health after a spate of massive bee-kill incidents on the west coast. In June 2013, over 50,000 bumblebees were killed after a neonic was applied to a linden trees in Wilsonville and Hillsboro Oregon. In response, the Oregon Department of Agriculture implemented rules prohibiting certain neonic application to trees in the Tilia genus. Connecticut would be the first state on the east coast to implement similar restrictions.
  1. Requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner to classify certain neonicotinoids as “restricted use” pesticides;
  • Designating neonicotinoid pesticides as ‚Äúrestricted use‚ÄĚ within the state limits their purchase and use to certified pesticide applicators, and eliminates allowed consumer uses. In effect, Maryland‚Äôs Pollinator Protection Act seeks to accomplish the same goal by prohibiting the sale of neonicotinoids to consumers. Based on the inherent dangers these chemicals pose to pollinators at levels allowed under current label rates, Beyond Pesticides continues to believe a full suspension on the use of neonics is warranted.
  1. Requires the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CDA) commissioner to develop best practices for minimizing the release of neonicotinoid insecticide dust from treated seeds;
  • Neonicotinoid seed dust represents a significant risk to honey bees and other pollinators in close proximity to agricultural fields. A report from the American Bird Conservancy found that a single kernel of neonic-coated corn is enough to kill a songbird. While best practices are a step forward, stronger actions, like those taken in the Canadian province of Ontario to reduce acreage planted with neonic treated seeds by 80%, are warranted based on current available science.
  1. Requires the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) to develop a citizen’s guide to model pollinator habitat;
  • Improving pollinator habitat in urban, suburban, and peri-urban communities is an important component of any plan to bring back pollinator health. State-sponsored public education programs on improving pollinator habitat are commendable. Beyond Pesticides has a number of resources, including Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind and the BEE Protective Habitat Guide to get folks started on improving pollinator habitat in their community today.
  1. Establishes a Pollinator Advisory Committee to inform legislators on pollinator issues;
  • Legislators should continue to be apprised of the latest science and research on pollinator health, as well as policies at the state and local level that are working to protect these critical species.
  1. Specifies that Connecticut Siting Council orders to restore or revegetate in certain rights-of-way must include provisions for model pollinator habitat; requires the DOT commissioner to plant vegetation with pollinator habitat, including flowering vegetation, in deforested areas along state highway rights-of-way.
  • Right of way areas near roadsides, power lines, and other industrial sites areas are often maintained through the use of toxic pesticides. Revegetating these areas with pollinator-friendly plants that do not contain harmful insecticides will help provide needed forage for bees and other wild pollinators.
  1. Includes model pollinator habitat in any conservation plan CDA requires as part of its farm preservation programs;
  • Addressing pollinator forage and habitat on agricultural land is a critical component of reviving pollinator health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has invested over $7 million in assistance to Midwest farmers and ranchers in an effort to increase habitat. However, with studies showing the potential for field margins to be contaminated by neonics through runoff and drift, it is critical that these programs also encourage methods to eliminate the use of these persistent pesticides.
  1. Requires the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to amend the state’s Plan of Conservation and Development to prioritize development with model pollinator habitat;
  • Considering pollinators before development occurs is an excellent way to integrate protective efforts into landscapes. As part of federal efforts from the Federal Pollinator Task Force, the General Services Administration is reviewing pollinator friendly guidelines for facility standards at all new projects, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality has developed guidelines for integrating pollinator practices into federal facilities and federal lands. Ramping up this work at the state level is a good move for pollinators.
  1. Requires reports on (a) legislation needed to restrict or license planting neonicotinoid-treated seeds, (b) conditions leading to an increase in varroa mites, and (c) areas where the Department of Transportation (DOT) can replace turf grass with native plants and model pollinator habitat; and
  • A report on treated seeds should investigate the potential to enact policy similar to Ontario‚Äôs. Research on conditions leading to a varroa mite increase could be helpful in determining the synergistic impact of the multiple pesticides, diseases, and to which pollinators are exposed. Further, exploring new ways to replace turfgrass with pollinator habitat and native plants is an important part of pollinator regeneration.

Connecticut’s bill includes actions that are important steps to reversing the decline of both native and domesticated pollinator populations. However, in order to effect a change in fortune for these important animals, more states and localities must act to restrict the wide range of pesticides shown to harm pollinators, as communities like Montgomery County have done. At the federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should immediately suspend the use of neonicotinoids as it completes its risk assessment on these chemicals. For more information on how to organize in your community, and what you can do right now to safeguard pollinator populations, see Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective webpage.

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

Source: CT Bill No 231, An Act Concerning Pollinator Health

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02
May

Study Finds Neonicotinoids Cause Compound-Specific Harm to Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2016) A study published online last week has examined the effects of three neonicotinoids (neonics) on bumblebee colonies, from live bee kills to changed sex ratios. Neonics have been widely cited as contributing to the demise of both managed and wild bee and pollinator populations. They can cause changes in bee reproduction, navigation, foraging, and even the suppression of bee immune systems.

bee flower 2013 eyaThe study, published in Scientific Reports, looked at field-relevant levels (2.5 parts per billion) of imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin, and found compound-specific effects at all levels, including within individual bee cells, individual bees, and whole colonies in semi-field conditions. Given the limitations of laboratory studies and field studies, researchers conducted a semi-field study to try to recreate and represent real world exposure patterns. The neonics were provided to the bees as an optional supply of sugar syrup, but were free to forage and did need to gather pollen in order to grow and raise offspring. Researchers found that imidacloprid and clothianidin displayed abilities to affect neuronal Kenyon cells, which help with learning, memory and multisensory integration. At the whole colony level, thiamethoxam altered the sex ratio, leaving more males than females. Both imidacloprid and thiamethoxam caused deficits in colony strength. The researchers also found that clothianidin increased queen production, and speculated over the toxicity of clothianidin to bumblebees.

‚ÄúThere is clear evidence that imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are harmful to bees but our evidence raises a question over clothianidin,‚ÄĚ said Christopher Connolly, Ph.D. to The Guardian. Dr. Connolly, with the University of Dundee, led the research. He continued, ‚ÄúI think there is sufficient evidence for a ban on imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, but not for clothianidin although the moratorium should continue,‚ÄĚ as more evidence is gathered.

Only just over a year ago, another study coauthored by Dr. Connolly found that bumblebees exposed to field-relevant levels (2.1 parts per billion) of clothianidin suffered poor navigation and foraging skills. Clothianidin exhibited an acute effect on the bumblebee‚Äôs brain, breaking down the mitochondria in its brain cells. At the time, Dr. Connolly stated, ‚ÄúOur research demonstrates beyond doubt that the level of neonicotinoids generally accepted as the average level present in the wild causes brain dysfunction and colonies to perform poorly when consumed by bumblebees.‚ÄĚ

While this serves as an example that science is continually searching for answers, there is an overwhelming amount of research demonstrating that neonicotinoids, such as imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin working individually or synergistically, play a critical role in the ongoing decline of bees and other pollinators. Neonicotinoids affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and eventual death. These pesticides have consistently been implicated as a key contributor in pollinator declines, not only through immediate bee deaths, but also through sublethal exposure that causes changes in bee reproduction, navigation, and foraging. Pesticide exposure can impair both detoxification mechanisms and immune responses, rendering bees more susceptible to viruses, parasites, and other diseases, and leading to devastating bee losses.

In another study,¬†Seed coating with a neonicotinoid insecticide negatively affects wild bees, Swedish scientists reported that wild bees and bumblebees foraging in crops treated with a commonly used insecticide seed coating, a combination of the neonicotinoid clothianidin and the non-systemic pyrethroid ő≤-cyfluthrin, are¬†less likely to reproduce when compared to bees in untreated fields, and that bumblebee colonies in treated fields gain less weight. Additionally, fewer wild bees and bumblebees are found in treated fields than in untreated ones.

For these reasons and many others, Beyond Pesticides works to promote the widespread transition of conventional farmland to organic production. Organic law requires farmers to foster soil health, and create a strategy to deal with pest populations before they become a problem. Because of these factors, many organic farms do not require the use of even organic-compatible pesticides, opting instead to increase pest and disease resiliency through an increased diversity of pest predators.

With one in three bites of food reliant on bees and other insects for pollination, the decline in bees and other pollinators due to pesticides, and other man-made causes demands immediate action. For more on this and what you can do to protect pollinators, visit Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective webpage.

Source: The Guardian

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

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29
Apr

Pesticides Found in Turtles in Sequoia National Park

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2016) Traces of pesticides, including the long-banned organochlorine chemical DDT, have been found in Western pond turtles, insects, and soil sediment at Sequoia National Park, according to a study. The study, entitled Organic contaminants in western pond turtles in remote habitat in California and published in the journal Chemosphere, surveys a suite of 57 current- and historic-use pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the western pond turtle, along with their potential prey items and habitat. California study sites include Sequoia National Park, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, and Six Rivers National Forest, all of which are downstream of undeveloped watersheds and varied in distance from agricultural and urban pollution sources.

turtleResearchers found that organic pollutants are widespread in the western pond turtle, which has conservation status; that pesticides are prominent in Sequoia National Park, which is downwind of heavy agriculture; and that the legacy pesticides and PCB concentrations indicate that bioaccumulation is occurring.

Brian Todd, Ph.D., an associate professor of wildlife, fish, and conservation biology at University of California Davis, co-authored the study. Dr. Todd said controlling the flow of pesticides into national parks is pretty much impossible. ‚ÄúSequoia National Park is very interesting, because it begins in the foothills, just downwind of very heavy agricultural land in the southern part of the Central Valley,‚ÄĚ Dr. Todd told KCBS. ‚ÄúIt tends to accumulate from drift and runoff, a lot of the pesticides that have been used over the last several decades.‚ÄĚ Dr. Todd says the study focused heavily on turtles because they are what‚Äôs known as an ‚Äúindicator species,‚ÄĚ whose reaction to changes in the environment serves as a kind of barometer of those changes.

The impacts of pesticides on wildlife are extensive, and expose animals in urban, suburban and rural areas to unnecessary risks. According to a recent assessment by EPA, two commonly used pesticides (chlorpyrifos and malathion) are ‚Äúlikely to adversely affect‚ÄĚ 97% of species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Wildlife can be affected by pesticides through direct or indirect applications, such as pesticide drift, secondary poisoning, runoff into local water bodies, and groundwater contamination. It is possible that some animals could be sprayed directly, while others consume plants or prey that have been exposed to pesticides. To learn more, read about pesticide impacts on wildlife.

Sources: KCBS

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

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28
Apr

Antioch College and UMD Pledge to Protect Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2016) This week, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, became the third university to become a neonicotinoid-free campus. Antioch College gains recognition from the Beyond Pesticides’ and Center for Food Safety’s BEE Protective Campaign, which seeks to protect honey bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticides. Signing the BEE Protective resolution, Antioch signaled its continued commitment to using neonicotinoid-free insecticides on campus, making them one of the leading higher education institutions committed to the protection of pollinator species. In addition to joining the Bee Protective Campaign, the Village of Yellow Springs, where Antioch is located, is considering an organic land care policy, and Beyond Pesticides is working with the Village to assist with a transition to organic turf care.

#beeprotective-1‚ÄúAt Antioch College, we have an opportunity, and an urgency, to be change leaders in turning around pollinator decline, exposing misleading research and recognizing the importance of inter-species cooperation. To paraphrase our president Thomas Manley, ‚ÄėIf we are not leaders in discovering and implementing¬†new and better ways of living¬†, then what is the point?‚Äô‚ÄĚ said Beth Bridgeman, the faculty member who drove the effort to ban neonicotinoids from campus. Antioch students and staff maintain about five acres of farmland that provide produce, eggs, pastured lamb, and culinary and tea herbs for the campus dining halls.

Close behind Antioch College is the University of Maryland, whose Student Government Association (SGA) recently passed a resolution to become BEE Protective Ambassadors. Led by Errin Saunders, a Student Sustainability Committee member, SGA has started an education campaign to not only warns students about the bee-harming insecticides used on campus, but all pesticides toxic to humans. With the ultimate goal of obtaining a campus-wide pledge to go neonic-free, student government members are gaining support by educating fellow students at campus events, like UMD Green Week.

The elimination of neonicotinoid pesticides on campus-wide scale is an exemplary move by Antioch College to protect pollinators. Neonicotinoids are a group of chemicals whose use has been linked to pollinator declines. They can kill and impair the survival of pollinators like honey bees, wild bees, and butterflies, as well as impact beneficial insects, birds, and other non-insect species. Coinciding with their introduction to the market based on conditional registration from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), beekeepers have reported unprecedented losses, as high as 90 percent, in hives across the country. Since these organisms deliver essential services, like the pollination of a third of food eaten by the public, protecting their existence by eliminating neonicotinoids is a key tenet of the BEE Protective pledge.

The BEE Protective Ambassador project taps into enthusiastic environmental activists on college campuses throughout the country wishing to make a positive impact on the health of local pollinators and other wildlife. By creating meaningful change at the University level, Ambassadors gain important experience in environmental advocacy, which will undoubtedly expand and grow as students graduate from college and continue to be environmental activists while moving through life.

Take Action: Beyond Pesticides provides campus organizations with all of the educational materials needed to advance¬†meaningful and significant change in communities. If you know of an individual or campus organization that would be interested in taking part in this movement to protect pollinators and save our bees, please urge them to become a ‚ÄúBEE Protective Ambassador,‚ÄĚ and ask¬†them to¬†sign the pledge as soon as possible. Resources and a step by step guide will then be sent out immediately following sign-up.

BEE Protective is a national campaign established by Beyond Pesticides and Center for Food Safety, and works with municipalities, campuses, and homeowners to adopt policies that protect pollinators from bee-toxic pesticides. For more information about the campaign, visit www.beeprotective.org.

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

Source:  Center for Food Safety

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27
Apr

Europe Bans Two Endocrine Disrupting Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2016) The European Union (EU) has placed a moratorium on two endocrine-disrupting herbicides that are linked to thyroid cancer, infertility, reproductive problems and fetal malformations. The chemicals, amitrole and isoproturon, will be banned as of September 30, 2016, after the European Commission voted unanimously, for the first time, to ban the two endocrine disruptors.

eu-members-2013Earlier this month, the European Commission’s Standing Committee on Phytopharmaceuticals voted to ban the uses of amitrole and isoproturon in accordance with 2009-EU pesticide rules, which state that endocrine disrupting pesticides should not be allowed on the European market. The committee finds that amitrole is capable of causing malformations in offspring and inducing thyroid cancer, while isoproturon can cause adverse effects to reproduction and lower fertility. In 2013 amitrole was voluntarily cancelled by the registrant, while isoproturon is not registered for use in the U.S.

According to the Guardian, amitrole is widely used in 10 EU countries, including the UK, in industrial farming. But¬†a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) analysis concluded¬†that it was an endocrine disruptor that could damage unborn children, and have toxic effects on the thyroid and reproductive organs. Similarly, EFSA recommended classifying¬†isoproturon as toxic for reproduction with potential endocrine-mediated effects on fertility. It found¬†that the best available scientific literature indicated that the pesticide, which is sold in 22 EU countries, had mild ‚Äúgender-bending‚ÄĚ anti-estrogenic and anti-androgenic properties.

In the U.S. however, no action has been taken on restricting any chemicals for endocrine disruption. Currently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‚Äôs (EPA) endocrine disruption screening program (EDSP) ‚Äďa multi-tiered screening protocol mandated by the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) that¬†requires EPA to screen pesticides for their endocrine disrupting potential‚Äď has thus far¬†only partially screened some chemicals. Under EDSP, EPA uses a two-tiered approach¬†to screen pesticide chemicals and environmental contaminants for their potential affect on estrogen, androgen and thyroid hormone systems. EPA‚Äôs last publicly released report for tier 1 screening of only 52 chemicals found¬†no evidence of endocrine pathways for 20 chemicals. For 14 chemicals that the agency said did show potential interaction, EPA stated that it ‚Äúalready has enough information to conclude that they do not pose risks.‚ÄĚ Of the remaining 18 chemicals, EPA found that all showed potential interaction with the thyroid pathway, 17 of them with the androgen (male hormones) pathway, and 14 also potentially interacted with the estrogen (female hormones) pathway.¬†Most notably, for the herbicide atrazine, which independent science finds to be an endocrine disruptor, the agency found interaction with both the estrogen and androgen pathways, but did not recommend it for Tier 2 testing, stating that it is not ‚Äúexpected to impact current EPA-established regulatory endpoints for human health or ecological risk assessment.‚ÄĚ It will take several more years for EPA to completely screen any endocrine disrupting chemical. Not surprisingly,¬†EPA‚Äôs EDSP has been heavily criticized for decades-long delays and not putting the chemicals through more rigorous testing that include low dose responses in the interest of protecting human health and the environment.¬†Others¬†have said that EPA‚Äôs testing protocol is¬†outdated, failing to keep pace with the advancing science.

Hundreds of¬†scientific articles¬†have been published across the globe demonstrating¬†a broad range¬†of chemicals that¬†interfere with the normal development at all ranges of exposure. Scientists discovered effects for some widely used chemicals at concentrations thousands of times less than federal ‚Äúsafe‚ÄĚ levels of exposure derived through traditional toxicological tests. Just recently, a study published that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals plays an important role in the development of certain female reproductive disorders, and ultimately results in significant economic costs to society.¬†The study looked at the monetary impact of endocrine disruptors attributed to female reproductive disorders in the EU which determined last year that over ‚ā¨150 billion ($162 billion) in yearly health care costs in the EU are attributable to the impact of endocrine disruptors. In the environment endocrine disruptors also wreak havoc. Fish and other aquatic organisms face numerous risks from these chemicals, even at low levels. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists identified pesticides as one of the contaminants in the Potomac River linked to¬†intersex fish¬†observed there.¬†Atrazine in particular has been shown to affect reproduction of fish at concentrations below EPA water-quality guidelines. Concentrations of atrazine commonly found in agricultural streams and rivers have been associated with¬†a reduction in reproduction and spawning, as well as tissue abnormalities.

Beyond Pesticides supports strong protections from pesticides and endocrine disruptors by pushing for regulatory action and the support of alternative products and practices that do not require these chemicals. Through the Eating with a Conscience tool, those concerned about pesticides on their produce and can find out the chemicals that are allowed in their production. The ManageSafe database helps homeowners and renters control household pests without toxic pesticides. And Beyond Pesticides’ Lawn and Landscapes webpage helps property owners manage lawns without the use of pesticides linked to endocrine disruption and other ill health effects. Ultimately, by supporting organic agriculture, which disallows the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, the health burden endocrine disruptors and other pesticides put on our economy and individual health can be drastically reduced.

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

Source: The Guardian

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26
Apr

Endocrine Disruptors Lead to Female Reproductive Disorders Costing Billions

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2016) A study published last month finds that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) plays an important role in the development of certain female reproductive disorders, and ultimately results in significant economic costs to society. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology &nMetabolism, and authorized by a team of scientists from New York University School of Medicine and Washington State University‚Äôs School of Molecular Biosciences, looked at the monetary impact of EDC-attributed female reproductive disorders in the European Union (EU). This economic valuation is part of series of analyses undertaken by the research team, which determined last year that over ‚ā¨150 billion ($162 billion) in yearly health care costs in the EU are attributable to the loss of brain function induced by EDCs.

P_endocrine-system“There are substantial human and toxicological studies (in mice and other lab animals) that suggest that exposure to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals, many of which are increasing in use, are contributing to female reproductive conditions,” said study co-author Leonardo Trasande, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine to CNN.

The study found that the strongest data linking EDCs to female reproductive disorders was exposure to diphenyldichloroethene (DDE) resulting in fibroids, and phthalates resulting in endometriosis. Scientists determined that with each of these links, the probability of causation was between 20-39%. Within the EU, attributable cases of DDE-induced fibroids were estimated to be 56,700 and phthalate-induced endometriosis at 145,000. ¬†This was calculated to result in ‚ā¨163 million ($183 million) and ‚ā¨1.25 billion ($1.4 billion) in health care costs, respectively.

To come up with these amounts, scientists used a weight-of-evidence characterization for probability of causation developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Peer-reviewed literature was analyzed for exposure-response relationships and reference levels, as well as biomarker data. Exposure patterns and burden of disease were evaluated for the year 2010, and the cost estimation was based on multiple peer reviewed sources and intended to include both direct costs from treatment as well as indirect costs, such as loss of productivity.

DDE is the major breakdown product of DDT (dichlodiphenyltrichloroethane), which, although banned in 1972 in the U.S. and throughout the 70s and 80s in European countries, continues to persist in the environment at levels high enough to result in human health impacts. DDT and DDE have been linked to a number of reproductive and endocrine diseases. A study published in January 2015 found that exposure to persistent organic pollutants like DDE is associated with an earlier start to menopause. Another study published in June 2015  found that in utero exposure to DDT was directly linked to breast cancer later in life.

‚ÄúAlthough endometriosis and 56,700 cases of uterine fibroids these two gynecological conditions affect millions of women worldwide, we recognize that this analysis only reflects the tip of the iceberg,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Trasande in a release from the Endocrine Society.

Indeed, partly because of their persistence and length at which they’ve been in the environment, there is a good amount of scientific data linking DDE and other historic use chemicals to health impacts. Many newer pesticides and chemicals, for which there is paltry data from government sources, have been found by independent science to be potential EDCs, though have yet to be fully assessed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, despite a statutory obligation.

Beyond Pesticides supports strong protections from pesticides and endocrine disruptors by pushing for regulatory action and the support of alternative products and practices that do not require these chemicals. Through the Eating with a Conscience tool, those concerned about pesticides on their produce and can find out the chemicals that are allowed in their production. The ManageSafe database helps homeowners and renters control household pests without toxic pesticides. And Beyond Pesticides’ Lawn and Landscapes webpage helps property owners manage lawns without the use of pesticides linked to endocrine disruption and other ill health effects. Ultimately, by supporting organic agriculture, with disallows the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, the health burden EDCs and other pesticides put on our economy and individual health can be drastically reduced.

Source: CNN, Endometriosis News, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

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

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25
Apr

City of Milwaukie, OR Passes Resolution to Protect Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2016) Last week, the City Council of Milwaukie, Oregon passed a resolution that halts the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides on city government and public property,¬†joining the growing number of local governments protecting pollinators.¬†Neonicotinoids¬†(neonics) have been widely cited in the demise of both managed and wild bee and pollinator populations.¬†The resolution specifically¬†restricts city government agencies from purchasing plants and seeds that have been treated with neonicotinoids and other systemic insecticides and urges public and private landscapers and homeowners to plant bee-friendly habitats.¬†Clackamas County will join with the Mayor’s office and City Council of Milwaukie to adopt an Integrated Pest Management Plan that mirrors the resolution.

Susan Jergans Elkhorn WI These were taken from our garden3In addition to these stipulations, the City of Milwaukie is using this resolution to:

  • urge all businesses, homeowners, and homeowner’s associations operating within the City ensure no plants, seeds, or products containing neonicotinoids are purchased, sold, or used within the City; and to clearly and accurately label any plants or materials that have been treated with a neonicotinoid or neonicotinoid-like insecticide;
  • require that commercial pest service providers performing services on behalf of the City provide landscape services that encourage pollinator populations and support pollinator services;
  • pursue creating more native pollinator habitat such as installing more pollinator host and forage plants. These installations will be placed in appropriate locations such as: rights-of-way, storm water management ponds, areas that are currently turf grass, vacant land, and at City facilities;
  • encourage private developers to incorporate pollinator-friendly plantings into required landscaping; and,
  • allow very limited emergency applications only. Even then, these emergency applications shall only be performed as identified in the Plan. The Mayor and City Council will continue to make the Plan more pollinator friendly.

‚ÄúSupport for this resolution has been phenomenal,‚ÄĚ said Mayor Gamba, who began working on the resolution less than a year ago. ‚ÄúIt is incredibly important to protect our pollinators in every way possible.‚ÄĚ Because state preemption laws prevent localities from enacting pesticide legislation stronger than state regulations, local resolutions that ban the¬†use of neonics on public property are the strongest policies that preempted states, like Oregon, can pass to protect pollinators.

Other localities that have been preempted by state legislation have enacted similar resolutions to protect bees and other pollinators on public lands. In May 2015, the City of Boulder, Colorado voted to restrict the use of neonics on city property. The resolution moved forward primarily as a result of efforts by grassroots activists with the local organization Bee Safe Boulder, who influenced surrounding localities to protect pollinators. Three months later, the City Council of Lafayette, Colorado unanimously approved a resolution to prohibit bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides on city property. Other cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul have enacted similar resolutions in the last year.

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

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

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

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22
Apr

Help Protect Pollinators Today, Earth Day

(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2016) Today is Earth Day! As honey bees and other pollinators continue to suffer from staggering global declines, Beyond Pesticides works year-round through the BEE Protective campaign, launched Earth Day 2013, to support nationwide local action aimed at protecting pollinators from pesticides. Pollinators are a vital part of the environment, a barometer for healthy ecosystems, and critical to the nation’s food production system.

Gary-Tate-Riverside-CA-Honey-Bee-taking-flight-Riverside-Ca-300x260-300x260With one in three bites of food reliant on bees and other species for pollination, the decline of honey bees and other pollinators demands swift action. The BEE Protective campaign includes a variety of educational materials to help encourage municipalities, campuses, and individual homeowners to adopt policies and practices that protect bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticide applications and create pesticide-free refuges for these critical organisms. In addition to scientific and regulatory information, BEE Protective also assists people and communities with a model community pollinator resolution and a pollinator protection pledge.

Insecticides, specifically neonicotinoids, have increasingly been linked to bee declines. These chemicals are used extensively in U.S. agriculture, especially as seed treatment for corn and soybeans. Agriculture is not the only concern however, as pesticide applications in home gardens, city parks, and landscaping are also prime culprits in the proliferation of these harmful chemicals. The systemic residues of these pesticides not only contaminate pollen, nectar, and the wider environment, but have repeatedly been identified as highly toxic to honey bees. BEE Protective supports a shift away from the use of these toxic chemicals and encourages organic methods and sustainable land management practices.

New backyard beekeepers and gardeners are fostering local pollinator resilience and creating bee friendly habitat that brings communities together and fuels the campaign to BEE Protective of pollinators. And thousands across the country continue raise their voices in multi-pronged efforts to pressure Congress, federal regulators, and the marketplace to stop using neonicotinoid pesticides proven to be harmful to honey bees. It’s No Longer a BIG Mystery why bees are dying. Neonicotinoid pesticides pose an imminent threat to pollinators and numerous other beneficial species.

As we appreciate the Earth and all it provides on this Earth Day, we hope you will use our resources, take action, and educate others on the ways toxic chemicals jeopardize the complex natural processes on which we rely. Check out our BEE Protective materials such as the Well-Stocked Hardware Store page to help hardware stores transition to organic products; the Pesticides and Pollinators fact sheet; No Longer a Big Mystery, summarizing the science behind bee declines; and more! Through the promotion and adoption of alternative systems like organic, we can work with the Earth’s natural systems to produce a safer, healthier world for all living species.

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

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21
Apr

Glyphosate Residues Found in Common Breakfast Foods

(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2016) A report released Tuesday by the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) shows that glyphosate residues are widely distributed in common breakfast foods, such as bagels, cereals, creamers, and eggs. Glyphosate is a pervasive and toxic chemical found in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller and was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.

The_7_Breakfasts_-_Café_CaféThe report looks at conventional and organic-certified versions of 12 popular breakfast foods and ingredients (a total of 24 items) and finds that many of the sample foods or ingredients contain detectable levels of glyphosate. Testing was done by an independent laboratory using the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) method. Categories tested were: flour, corn flakes, instant oatmeal, bagels, yogurt, bread, frozen hash browns, potatoes, cream of wheat, eggs, non-dairy creamers, and dairy based coffee creamers. Of note is the finding that a sample of organic cage-free eggs contain more glyphosate than the allowable tolerance level. The lab found glyphosate residue levels of 169 parts per billion (ppb), while the allowable tolerance level is only 50ppb. The report acknowledges that the effects of other chemical ingredients in glyphosate formulations have not been evaluated, and the consequences of those interactions on health are not evaluated. The researchers also speculate that because animal products, such as eggs, are not sprayed directly with glyphosate, the finding of glyphosate residues in those products may indicate that the chemical is entering the food chain and bioaccumulating in animal tissues.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that glyphosate residues have been detected in foods and products that are not typically associated with heavy glyphosate use, or even in organic foods and products, in which the use of glyphosate is prohibited. In March 2016, Moms Across America released a report on glyphosate residues in California wines. The report finds that all of the ten wines test positive for glyphosate. The highest level of glyphosate detected is nearly 30 times higher (18.74 ppb) than other wines from a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from a conventional, chemically farmed vineyard. The lowest level (.659 ppb) is from a biodynamic and organic vineyard, a 2013 Syrah. According to the owner of the organic vineyard, the vineyard has never been sprayed, indicating the possibility of pesticide drift from conventional agriculture, which has been a real and persistent problem for organic growers. EPA has done little to protect organic growers, who often bear the burden, both economic and otherwise, of pesticides applied to nearby conventional farmlands and vineyards. Other recent reports of the widespread presence of glyphosate residues find the chemical in breast milk, in nearly 100% of Germans and in German beers, feminine hygiene products, and bread.

Following the IARC classification, a research study published in Environmental Health links long-term, ultra-low dose exposure to glyphosate in drinking water to adverse impacts on the health of liver and kidneys. The study focuses on glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), rather than pure glyphosate, unlike many of the studies that preceded it. In addition to impacts on human health, glyphosate has been linked to adverse effects on earthworms and other soil biota, as well as shape changes in amphibians. The widespread use of the chemical on genetically engineered (GE) crops has led it to be implicated in the decline of monarch butterflies, whose sole habitat to lay their eggs, milkweed plants, are being devastated as a result of incessant use of glyphosate.

A scientific review was released in February 2016 by a group of 14 scientists, who expressed concern about the widespread use of GBHs, the lack of understanding regarding human exposure, and the potential health impacts. According to the report, U.S. agencies, such as the National Toxicology Program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and EPA, have not adequately kept up with cutting-edge research. The researchers call for the global science and regulatory community to step back and take a fresh look at glyphosate due to widespread exposure patterns.

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

Source: TakePart

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

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20
Apr

GAO Finds USDA Regulation of Genetically Engineered Crops Deficient

(Beyond Pesticides April 20, 2016) A recently released study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) assesses the actions of three government agencies responsible for regulating genetically engineered (GE) crops, finding several shortcomings in the process. The report, which was commissioned by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), is entitled Genetically Engineered Crops: USDA Needs to Enhance Oversight and better Understand Impacts of Unintended Mixing with Other Crops. The report finds that while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have taken some steps to regulate GE crops, USDA’s failure to update its regulations that oversee GE crops has created a large data gap on the extent and impact of the unintended mixing of GE and non-GE crops. To address this, GAO recommends, among other things, that USDA set a timeline for updating its regulations and include farmer’s growing identity-preserved crops in its survey efforts to better understand the impacts of unintended mixing.

usda_logoThe issue of coexistence between farmers using genetically engineered (GE) crops and non-GE farmers is as important as ever. GE crops pose a constant threat to the livelihood of organic farmers and undermine the burgeoning growth of the organic industry. A 2014 study released by Food and Water Watch and the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship and Marketing (OFARM), in response to USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) report in 2012, found that one-third of organic farmers have experienced GE contamination on their farm due to the nearby use of GE crops . Over half of these growers have had loads of grain rejected because of unwitting GE contamination. These rejections can lead to big income losses for farmers, with a median cost of approximately $4,500 per year, according to the survey.

Additionally,¬†several farmers report annual losses of over $20,000 due to the need to establish buffer zones, while limit the threat of contamination from their neighbors by taking contiguous farmland out of production. There have also been several high profile cases of GE contamination of organic farms. In May of 2013, USDA announced that¬†unapproved GE wheat¬†was found growing in an Oregon wheat field. In September of 2013, USDA¬†refused to take action or investigate after it was confirmed that GE alfalfa contaminated non-GE alfalfa in Washington State, claiming that contamination is a ‚Äúcommercial issue‚ÄĚ and should be addressed by the marketplace and not the government.”

Contamination of non-GE crops, particularly USDA certified organic crops, is a serious concern. Worries about harm to human health and the environment have prompted several state legislatures to consider bills that would require labeling of products with GE ingredients, so consumers know what ingredients are in products before they purchase and consume them. This sparked a response at the federal level as Republican lawmakers took action to prevent state and local GE labeling efforts by proposing a bill that has come to be known as the Denying Americans a Right to Know Act (DARK Act). Luckily, the bill, which has since passed the House, was blocked from a vote in the Senate. Additional legislation proposed by Senator Bill Bowman (R-ND) in 2002 would have allowed farmers in North Dakota the right to sue Monsanto if wheat was found to be contaminated with genetically modified crops. The discovery is likely to prompt similar legislation, if not litigation.

According to USDA officials and stakeholders, USDA currently has limited data on the extent and impact of unintended mixing of GE and non-GE crops. As a result, USDA is missing key information on the potential economic impacts of unintended mixing. In performing this study, GAO analyzed legislation, regulations, and agency policies and reports and interviewed agency officials and stakeholders, including representatives from the biotechnology and food industries and consumer, farm, environmental, and commodity groups to examine: (1) steps EPA, FDA, and USDA have taken to regulate GE crops; (2) the data USDA has on the extent and impact of unintended mixing of GE and non-GE crops, and what steps have been taken to prevent such mixing; and (3) the extent to which USDA, EPA, and FDA provide information to the public on GE crops. To address the shortcomings, GAO recommended (among other things), specifically related to points (2) and (3), that USDA set a timeline for updating its regulations and include farmers growing identity-preserved crops in its survey efforts to better understand the impacts of unintended mixing. USDA generally agreed with these recommendations.

Comments by Beyond Pesticides to USDA’s AC21 outline several actions USDA could take to advance an understanding of agricultural coexistence, including:

  1. USDA must level the playing field amongst stakeholders so that the burden of preventing contamination is no longer concentrated on organic and non-GE operations. In order to achieve true coexistence, we believe responsibility must be tied to ownership ‚Äď those who patent, promote, and profit from GE products should be responsible for preventing contamination and covering damage in cases where prevention fails.
  2. USDA should establish a fair compensation proposal. The patent holder should be responsible for segregation and traceability, over the entirety of the life cycle of the crop. It should be held responsible for the economic and market harm caused by its products.
  3. USDA should more fully analyze environmental and economic implications of GE contamination and the implications of managing GE crops. These are also of critical importance to the ideas underpinning ‚Äúcoexistence‚ÄĚ ‚Äď how one system of agriculture can directly and indirectly impact the viability of the other.

Shifting the responsibility of contamination away from small-scale and organic farmers to the GE patent holder and GE farmers¬†‚Äďa polluter pays principle‚Ästis an important first step in leveling the playing field and achieving the desired level of coexistence between growing operations. A system in which organic farmers are forced to expend resources to protect themselves from the choices of others, while potential trespassers are merely allowed to go about their business regardless of consequences is not equitable coexistence and is not a permanent solution. GAO findings support the need for more research on all aspects of GE crops, and calls on USDA to enhance oversight and better understand the impacts of the unintended mixing of GE crops with other crops.

For more information on the environmental hazards associated with GE technology, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Genetic Engineering webpage. The best way to avoid genetically engineered foods in the marketplace is to purchase foods that have the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic Seal. Under organic certification standards, genetically modified organisms and their byproducts are prohibited. For many other reasons, organic products are the right choice for consumers.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

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

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19
Apr

Avoiding Pesticide Residues Not Only Reason to Eat Organic Food

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2016) Last week the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its annual Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, highlighting the critical importance of eating organic food to avoid pesticide residues that endanger human health. Beyond Pesticides‚Äô Eating with a Conscience database complements EWG‚Äôs report by identifying the many additional reasons it is essential to choose organic for a healthy future. Although information on residues in conventional produce listed in the ‚ÄúDirty Dozen‚ÄĚ is helpful in alerting consumers and encouraging organic, it only tells part of the story. It turns out that even those food commodities in EWG‚Äôs ‚ÄúClean Fifteen‚ÄĚ may be grown with hazardous pesticides that get into waterways and groundwater, contaminate nearby communities, poison farmworkers, and kill pollinators and wildlife, while not all showing up at detectable levels on our food.

For its report, EWG analyzed over 35,000 samples of pesticide residue collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After 5 years at the top of the list, apples dropped to number two, replaced by strawberries. The organization reasons that a recent EU ban on the chemical diphenylamine, a fungicide linked to reproductive effects, kidney/liver damage, as well as groundwater contamination and toxicity to aquatic organisms, is behind the switch, as many conventional apples from Europe are exported to U.S. consumers. Roughly 98% of conventional strawberries tested positive for some amount of pesticide residue.

‚ÄúIt‚Äôs important to remember that conventional agriculture relies heavily on insecticides,‚ÄĚ said EWG Senior Analyst Sonya Lunder to TIME. . . ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs some systematic differences between crops, with some having many pesticides and others being consistently clean.‚ÄĚ

Although residues may not show up on finished conventional products, Beyond Pesticides does not believe that the absence of harmful pesticides is reason enough to buy conventional produce and support chemical-intensive farming practices.

For instance, the report finds avocados to be the lowest risk to consumers, topping the ‚ÄúClean Fifteen‚ÄĚ list. However, while avocado grown with toxic chemicals show low pesticide residues on the finished commodity, there are 32 pesticides with established tolerance for avocado, 14 are acutely toxic creating a hazardous environment for farmworkers, 28 are linked to chronic health problems (such as cancer), 7 contaminate streams or groundwater, and 29 are poisonous to wildlife. California, one of the only states to systematically report pesticide poisoning incidents, has reported at least 20 incidents of farmworker poisonings as a result of growing this crop. Further, these poisoning incidents only represent the tip of the iceberg because it only reflects reported incidents in one state, and not other countries where avocados are grown. It is widely recognized that pesticide incidents are underreported and often misdiagnosed. Many of the allowed pesticides on avocado are dangerous to pollinators on which the crop is dependent. In addition to habitat loss due to the expansion of agricultural and urban areas, the database shows that there are also 10 pesticides used on avocado that are considered toxic to honey bees and other insect pollinators.

As Beyond Pesticides’ Eating with a Conscience guide shows, consumers interested in sustainability should consider all the externalities, both upstream and downstream, associated with the production of chemical-intensive fruits and vegetables. To protect farmworkers, farming communities, water supplies, pollinators, and other wildlife, choosing organic whenever possible on all produce is the right choice. For more information on how organic agriculture accomplishes the goal of safe, healthy and nutritious food without sacrificing sustainability, see Beyond Pesticides organic program page.

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

Source: EWG, Time Magazine

 

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18
Apr

Scotts Miracle-Gro To Eliminate Neonics in Ortho Brand

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2016) Major pesticide manufacturer Scotts Miracle Gro announced on Tuesday that it will immediately being phasing out neonicotinoid insecticides, including imidacloprid, clothianidin, and dinotefuran from its outdoor-use Ortho brand by 2017. Neonicotinoids (neonics) have¬†consistently been implicated¬†as a major contributing factor in pollinator declines. They can cause¬†changes in bee reproduction, navigation, and foraging, and even the suppression of bee immune systems. In its press release, the Ortho brand announced that it was partnering with Pollinator Stewardship Council to help educate homeowners on the “safe and appropriate use of pesticides.”

Susan Quals Algood TN Honeybee on Yellow Crownbeard2“While agencies in the United States are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it’s time for Ortho to move on.‚ÄĚ Tim Martin, general manager of the Ortho brand said. ‚ÄúAs the category leader, it is our responsibility to provide consumers with effective solutions that they know are safe for their family and the environment when used as directed. We encourage other companies and brands in the consumer pest control category to follow our lead.”

Neonics have emerged as the leading class of pesticides responsible for bee decline. While neonicotinoid insecticides have been responsible for high profile bee kills from high doses of the pesticides, there is a strong and growing body of science shows that neonics contribute to impairment in reproduction, learning and memory, hive communications, and immune response at doses far below those that cause bee kills. An extensive overview of major studies showing the effects of neonics on pollinator health can be found on Beyond Pesticides’ What the Science Shows webpage.

Scotts Miracle-Gro joins the ranks of other major companies like Aldi (a supermarket chain) and Home Depot (the world’s largest home-improvement chain), who have each committed to phasing out neonicotinoid insecticides. Companies across the U.S. have begun to phase-out neonics at the request of environmental allies and consumers. In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its preliminary pollinator assessment for the neonic imidacloprid, which finds various residues of the chemical in crops where the pollinators forage, and confirms bees’ widespread and sustained exposure to the highly toxic and persistent chemical through poisoned pollen and nectar. However, calls to suspend the use of these pesticides have been ignored.

Smaller retailers have also taken notice and are working on removing neonics and other toxic pesticides from their shelves. Eldredge Lumber and Hardware in York, Maine has transitioned its shelves from harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers to organic compatible materials. Eldredge is encouraging consumers to employ alternatives by consciously stocking its shelves with organic compatible products. Efforts by local businesses to stock alternatives and educate consumers on their use is an example of creating change through grassroots efforts and a bottom-up approach. See Beyond Pesticides’ video Making the Switch, which highlights Eldredge Lumber and Hardware’s efforts to orient its customers towards safer management practices.

For more on what you can do to help pollinators, visit out Bee Protective program page.

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

Source: Scotts Miracle-Gro

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