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Daily News Blog

20
Oct

Combination of Pesticide Exposure, Limited Food Lead to Wild Bee Declines

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2020) The additive stress of pesticide exposure and food scarcity leads to significant declines in wild pollinator populations, according to research published by scientists at University of California, Davis. Although it is well known that insect and pollinators populations are at risk from multiple stressors related to industrial agriculture, comprehensive evaluations are a challenging scientific undertaking. “Just like humans, bees don’t face one single stress or threat,” said lead author Clara Stuligross, a PhD. candidate in ecology at UC Davis. “Understanding how multiple stressors interplay is really important, especially for bee populations in agricultural systems, where wild bees are commonly exposed to pesticides and food can be scarce.” To better understand the interplay between these two stressors, researchers designed a field study. Mason bee pollinators were provided cages to nest in, and each stressor was separated out. One set of bees were provided high levels of food availability, while another received scant floral resources. Certain cages within each food level were treated with the product Admire Pro, a Bayer Cropscience insecticide containing the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. Scientists found significant impacts on the factors that deal with mason bees’ reproductive success. . . .

19
Oct

VOTE early. Bad Government Decisions Kill People and the Environment

. . .

16
Oct

Scientists Warn of Another Pandemic If Officials Continue to Ignore Explosion of ‘Antimicrobial Resistance’

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2020) The Lancet has published an article that identifies several of the multiple and interacting crises the U.S. and world face, with a focus on another “looming potential pandemic . . . [a] rise in multidrug-resistant bacterial infections that are undetected, undiagnosed, and increasingly untreatable, [whose rise] threatens the health of people in the USA and globally.” It calls on leaders in the U.S. and beyond, asking that even as they address the current coronavirus pandemic, they also attend to the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) problem, which is a growing threat to public health. The co-authors outline a number of strategies for progress on AMR, including banning of medically important antibiotics in agribusiness, and promoting consumer, and supplier and private sector, awareness and action on food choices. Beyond Pesticides endorses these strategies, but insists that a genuine solution would include the transition to organic agriculture, not least for the health benefits it would provide. The introduction to the article adds another crisis layer — the climate emergency — and asserts that any resolutions of these crises will, or will not, unfold in a political context: “The outcome of the U.S. election will have . . .

15
Oct

Literature Review: Pesticides Exposure Highly Correlated with Respiratory Diseases

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2020) A review of scientific literature on the correlation between respiratory diseases and pesticides exposure—published in the journal Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine (AAEM), “Influence of pesticides on respiratory pathology—a literature review”—finds that exposure to pesticides increases incidents of respiratory pathologies (i.e., asthma, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]—or chronic bronchitis). The review by researchers at the Iuliu Hatieganu’ University of Medicine and Pharmacy Cluj-Napoca, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, looks at how pesticide exposure adversely propagates and reinforces respiratory diseases in humans. This review highlights the significance of evaluating how pesticide exposure impacts respiratory function, especially since contact with pesticides can happen at any point in the production, transportation preparation, or application treatment process. Researchers in the study note, “Knowing and recognizing these respiratory health problems of farmers and their families, and also of [pesticide] manipulators/retailers, are essential for early diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and preventive measures.” This study results are critically important at a time when exposure to respiratory toxicants increases vulnerability to Covid-19, which attacks the respiratory system, among other organic systems. The respiratory system is essential to human survival, regulating gas exchange (oxygen-carbon dioxide) in the body to . . .

14
Oct

Insecticide Linked to Testicular Cancer, With Latinos Disproportionately Affected

. . .

13
Oct

Stop Continued Degradation of Science: Tell Congress to Insist that EPA Thoroughly Test All Pesticides for Health Hazards

(Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2020)  As the prestigious journal Nature publishes an article titled “How Trump Damaged Science — and Why It Could Take Decades to Recover,” the Trump Administration’s EPA is again damaging science, particularly science used to protect our health. EPA is proposing to drop toxicity tests that look at lethal effects of acute exposures to pesticides through the skin. Given pesticide exposure patterns, this represents a dramatic step backwards in determining the harmful effects of pesticide products on the market and in wide use. The move is part of EPA’s effort to eliminate animal testing of pesticides—a move that should be replaced by the ban of unnecessary toxic pesticides. Reducing toxicity testing must take place only with the use of the precautionary principle. TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Insist that EPA thoroughly test all pesticides for health hazards. Aly Cohen, MD, FACR and Fred vom Saal, PhD point out in their new book, Non-Toxic Guide to Living in a Chemical World, “Human skin is the largest organ in the human body; it acts like a sponge, absorbing substances directly through its many intricate layers right into the bloodstream.” Farmworkers are routinely . . .

12
Oct

Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day Today

Five ideas for celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2020, National Museum of the Native American, Smithsonian (Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2020) Fourteen states, the District of Columbia, 130 cities and towns, and numerous school districts across the country are officially honoring Indigenous People today. Many of the 14 states have officially changed the holiday’s name from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. (South Dakota uses the name Native Americans Day.) In some cases, states have added the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day alongside Columbus Day. When New Mexico passed legislation last year changing “Columbus Day” to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Navajo Nation issued the following statement: “In 1937, the federal government declared Columbus Day as a holiday without input from Native Americans and without knowing the true history of Native Americans. For many years, Indigenous people have protested Columbus Day because it celebrates colonialism, oppression, and injustice inflicted on Indigenous peoples,” said President Jonathan Nez. “Observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day allows citizens to recognize our rich heritage and serves as a step toward healing and growth.” As Good Housekeeping Magazine points out, “There are over 600 Native Nations in the United States, and 6.8 million Americans . . .

09
Oct

New Insecticides Escalate Indiscriminate Harm to All Organisms

(Beyond Pesticides, October 9, 2020) A new study demonstrates that emerging “novel” insecticides can cause significant, sublethal harm to beneficial organisms at typical “real life” exposure levels. As neonicotinoid insecticides have come under fire for their terrible impacts on a broad variety of beneficial insects — including their major contributions to the decline of critical pollinators — more such “novel” pesticides are being brought to market in response. The study results, the co-authors say, “confirm that bans on neonicotinoid use will only protect beneficial insects if paired with significant changes to the agrochemical regulatory process. A failure to modify the regulatory process will result in a continued decline of beneficial insects and the ecosystem services on which global food production relies.” Beyond Pesticides would add that the study outcome points, yet again, to the grave recklessness of the pervasive “addiction” to chemical pesticides in agriculture. The solution to this chemical morass is known, doable, and scalable: a transition to organic, regenerative agricultural practices that get everyone off the “toxic treadmill.” Neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) are the class of chemical pesticides most commonly used worldwide, both on crops and as seed treatments. They are systemic, . . .

08
Oct

Common Fungicide Causes a Decrease in Antioxidant Responsible for Defense Against Diseases like COVID-19

(Beyond Pesticides, October 8, 2020) Research from the University of Wisconsin—Madison (UWM), suggests that fludioxonil—a commonly used agricultural fungicide—decreases the human body’s ability to defend itself against illnesses, like COVID-19, and promotes disease permanency. Tristan Brandhorst, a Ph.D. scientist at UWM, notes that a pesticide-induced reduction in the antioxidant glutathione could be responsible for this lack of bodily defense against disease. Although many studies examine how pesticides adversely affect the human body (i.e., cancer, respiratory issues, etc.), very few studies assess how pesticides reinforce chemical disruption patterns that reduce levels of vital chemicals needed for normal bodily function. The steady rise in U.S. pesticide use, including disinfectants, threatens animals and humans, as exposure to indiscriminate dispersal of pesticides cause a whirlwind of health risks. As the total U.S. COVID-19 cases rise above 7.5 million, global leaders need to understand extensive pesticide spraying is not a viable solution to prevent illness and causes more chronic harm from exposure in the long run. Dr. Brandhorst stresses the need for proper reevaluation of pesticide risks stating, “The issue needs more study, [and] might also warrant a reworking of how [the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] evaluates pesticides.” Amidst the outbreak of . . .

07
Oct

Baltimore Becomes Latest Maryland Locality to Restrict Toxic Pesticides on Public and Private Property

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2020) This week the Baltimore, Maryland City Council passed an ordinance restricting the use of toxic pesticides on public and private property—including lawns, playing fields, playgrounds, children’s facility (except school system property [golf courses are exempt]—following an approach similar to legislation first spearheaded by Montgomery County, MD in 2015. While the legislation, 20-0495, An Ordinance Concerning Pesticide Control and Regulation, generally limits inputs to the allowed materials under federal organic law, it provides for allowances for glyphosate by the Department of  Recreation and Parks. If signed by the Mayor, as expected, Baltimore City will become the most recent Maryland jurisdiction to exercise its authority to regulate pesticide use on private property, after a ruling of the state’s highest court. Language in the Baltimore ordinance tracks a similar framework to the Healthy Lawns Act passed in Montgomery County, Maryland. Any pesticide that is not compatible with organic land care—allowed under certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or considered minimum risk by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—is subject to the bill’s restrictions. Use can only occur under limited exceptions, such as to manage particularly invasive species, as well . . .

06
Oct

Pesticide Trade Group Wrote U.S. Government Policy to Undermine International Efforts to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2020) Despite the rapid rise of antibiotic resistance in the United States and throughout the world, new documents find the Trump Administration worked on behalf of a chemical industry trade group to weaken international guidelines aimed at slowing the crisis. Emails obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity through the Freedom of Information Act show that officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) worked to downplay the role of industrial agriculture and pesticide use in drug-resistant infections. “From everything we’ve seen, it’s clear that this administration believes rolling back regulations and protecting industry profits is more important than protecting public health,” said Nathan Donley, PhD, senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, to the New York Times (NYT). “But what these emails show is that the Department of Agriculture isn’t just soliciting their input. They’re seeking their approval on what the government’s position should be.” Ray McAllister, PhD, of the pesticide industry trade group Croplife America, sent an email in March of 2018 to U.S. officials, wanting to “make certain” that the United Nation’s (UN) Codex Alimentarius, a set of international guidelines and standards established to protect . . .

05
Oct

Again: Trump Administration Needs to Listen to Science to Protect Farmers and the Environment (Instead of Special Interests)

(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2020)  Another example of trading health and environmental protection for the support of special interests, EPA announces the misleading and fraudulently named, “EPA Supports Technology to Benefit America’s Farmers.” This time, EPA announces plans to “streamline the regulation of certain plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs).” Named to sow confusion, PIPs are plants engineered with pesticides in them. PIPs are known in general for two problems arising from incorporating pesticidal ingredients into crops: residues that cannot be washed off and production of crop-eating insects that are resistant to the incorporated pesticide that blankets the agricultural landscape.  Tell Congress that EPA needs to listen to science, not pesticide manufacturers and biotech companies that are causing problems for farmers and the environment. This time, EPA is proposing to exempt from regulation certain PIPs created by biotechnological techniques that are cisgenic (using genes derived from sexually compatible species), such as CRISPR. The distinction that EPA seeks to make between cisgenic plants and transgenic plants (in which the gene of interest may come from any species) is not supported by science. In fact, cisgenic techniques make use of genetic material other than the targeted genes, and . . .

02
Oct

EPA Dismisses Disproportionate Harm to Farmworker Children from Neurotoxic Insecticide Chlorpyrifos, Leaves in Food Supply, Rejects Scientific Method

(Beyond Pesticides, October 2, 2020) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) September 22 announcement asserts that, “despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects [of the insecticide chlorpyrifos] remains unresolved,” as reported in The New York Times. This conclusion contradicts both ample scientific evidence and the agency’s own findings. Beyond Pesticides has repeatedly advocated for a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos because of the grave risks it poses. This organophosphate pesticide is used on approximately 60 different crops, including almonds, cotton, citrus fruits, grapes, corn, broccoli, sugar beets, peaches, and nectarines. It is also commonly employed for mosquito-borne disease control, and on some kinds of managed turf, including golf courses. Exposure to the pesticide has been identified repeatedly as problematic. Most residential uses were taken off the market in 2000, after the manufacturer, DowDupont (now Corteva) was faced with EPA action. Chlorpyrifos is a cholinesterase inhibitor that binds irreversibly to the receptor sites of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme that is critical to normal nerve impulse transmission. In so doing, chlorpyrifos inactivates the enzyme, damages the central and peripheral nervous systems, and disrupts neurological activity. The compound is associated with harmful reproductive, renal, hepatic, . . .

01
Oct

Court Rejects Case to Reinstate Environmental Protections on U.S. Wildlife Refuges, as Report Shows Increasing Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2020) A federal judge on September 24, 2020 dismissed an  environmental lawsuit seeking to reinstate a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule, killed by the Trump Administration, which banned the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, genetically engineered (GE) crops, and adopted a precautionary approach to pest management. The decision comes on the heels of a Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) analysis that reports a 34% increase in the pesticide use on U.S. national wildlife refuge acres over a two year period from 2016-2018. This analysis is an update to CBD’s 2018 report, No Refuge, which is the first of its kind to offer comprehensive details of agricultural pesticide spraying in national wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges act as a sanctuary, providing habitat and protection essential for the survival and recovery of species nationwide. However, pesticide spraying in or around wildlife refuges threatens the survivability and recovery of species that reside there as many of these pesticides are highly toxic to human and animal health. Analyses like these are significant, especially since the globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and . . .

30
Sep

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Trigger Neurodegeneration and Can Blind Insects at Low Doses

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2020) Low doses of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides are known to disrupt insect learning and behavior, but new science is providing a better understanding of how these effects manifest at a cellular level. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this study finds that the neonic imidacloprid binds to brain receptors, triggering oxidative stress, reducing energy levels, and causing neurodegeneration. “Although many studies have shown that low doses of insecticides can affect insect behavior, they have not uncovered whether insecticides trigger changes at the cellular and molecular levels,” said lead author Felipe Martelli, PhD, of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. “The goal of this work was to have a better understanding of the effects of low doses of the common insecticide imidacloprid at the cellular, physiological and behavioral levels.” Researchers used the fruit fly Drosophilia melanogaster, a common experimental organism, as it contains a number of nicotinic acetylchloline receptors, the primary site of action for imidaclorpid. The neonic binds to these receptors, which regulate a number of physiological processes, such muscle contraction. Binding closes these channels, leading to the range of harm researchers observed through their study. Larval . . .

29
Sep

Biological Management Has Added Billions in Benefits to Agricultural Economies

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2020) While the green revolution is often heralded in conventional agriculture circles as the key agricultural innovation of the last century, new research finds that biological controls likely had a bigger beneficial impact on world crop production. The study, Ecological Pest Control Fortifies Agricultural Growth in Asia–Pacific Economies, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, makes the case that the introduction of predators to manage non-native pest species was just as important as the introduction of new cereal grain varieties. “Our work constitutes an empirical demonstration of how insect biological control helped solidify the agrarian foundation of several Asia-Pacific economies and, in doing so, places biological control on an equal footing with other biological innovations such as Green Revolution germplasm,” said study co-author Michael Furlong, PhD, of the University of Queensland, Australia. The study, focusing in on the Asia-Pacific region between 1918-2018, relied primarily on the BIOCAT database, a record cataloging “classical biological control” introductions. Of 252 unique interventions reviewed within individual countries, pest predators established themselves in 96. Of those roughly 4 in 10 introductions that were able to maintain populations over the long term, 48% achieved full or . . .

28
Sep

Tell USDA to Strengthen Organic Enforcement and Allow More Time for Public Comment

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2020) These comments are due by October 5 at 11:59 pm EDT. Separate comments to the National Organic Standards Board are due October 1 at 11:59 EDT. After hearing for years about inadequate enforcement of the rules governing organic production, USDA has issued a massive draft rule on strengthening organic enforcement (SOE). The draft rule presented to the public constitutes an impressive and far-reaching rewrite of the regulations implementing the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). However, unlike the process by which the initial regulations were established in 2002, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) was only consulted on a portion of the elements in this draft rule. Public engagement was, thus, also limited. USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) is accepting comments on its draft rule via Regulations.gov. Please use this opportunity to remind USDA of the proper public process while commenting on the proposed rule itself. Please join us in asking for an extension of the pubic comment to facilitate fuller public scrutiny. Tell USDA that strengthening organic enforcement starts with the National Organic Standards Board. USDA must involve the NOSB and public as required by law. Section 2119 of . . .

25
Sep

Where Do Pesticides Banned in Europe Go? Mostly to Poorer Countries, While Two-Thirds of Those Sent to Richer Counties Head for the U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, September 25, 2020) An investigation has revealed that companies in the United Kingdom (UK), as well as in some European Union (EU) countries, are exporting massive amounts of pesticides — banned in their own jurisdictions — to poorer countries. More than 89,000 (U.S.) tons of such pesticides were exported in 2018, largely to countries where toxic pesticide use poses the greatest risks. The UK has been the largest exporter (15,000+ tons, or 40% of the total in 2018); other significant exporters include the Netherlands, France, Spain, German, Switzerland, and Belgium. Among the countries receiving the bulk of these dangerous pesticides are Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia, and Ukraine. Despite a flurry of attention to this problem in the U.S. in the early 2000s, little has changed, worldwide, to stop this practice of selling domestically banned pesticide products to parts of the world that continue to allow their use. This is an unethical practice that compounds the risks to workers in developing countries, who already endure heighted threats to health and local ecosystems. The investigation was conducted by Unearthed, a Greenpeace UK journalism arm, and Public Eye, a Swiss NGO (non-governmental organization) that investigates human rights . . .

24
Sep

U.S. Geological Survey Finds Mixtures of Pesticides Are Widespread in U.S. Rivers and Streams

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2020) A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project, reveals the presence of pesticides is widespread in U.S. rivers and streams, with over almost 90 percent of water samples containing at least five or more different pesticides. Pesticide contamination in waterways is historically commonplace as a 1998 USGS analysis revealed pesticides are commonly found in all U.S. waterways, with at least one pesticide detectable. Thousands of tons of pesticides enter rivers and streams around the U.S. from agricultural and nonagricultural sources, which contaminate essential drinking water sources, such as surface water and groundwater. As the number of pesticides in waterways increases, it has detrimental impacts on aquatic ecosystem health, especially as some pesticides work synergistically with others to increase the severity of the effect. Reports like these are a significant tool in determining appropriate regulatory action to protect human, animal, and environmental health. USGS concludes, “Identification of primary contributors to toxicity could aid efforts to improve the quality of rivers and streams to support aquatic life.” Water is the most abundant and important chemical compound on earth, essential to survival and the main component of all living . . .

23
Sep

Bayer Coordinated with U.S. Government on Pressure Campaign to Stop Thailand from Banning Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2020) Multinational agrichemical corporation Bayer coordinated with the U.S. government to pressure Thailand to drop plans to ban glyphosate use, according to documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). CBD is now suing the Trump Administration after it refused to release additional documents pertaining to the pressure campaign. The incident is the latest example of an administration that has allowed corporate interests to dictate American governmental action on toxic pesticides. The documents reveal that the October 2019 letter that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Ted McKinney sent to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pushing back on the country’s plan to ban glyphosate came shortly after emails Bayer sent to U.S. officials. In September and October 2019, Bayer’s Jim Travis asked the U.S. to act on its behalf in defense of the company’s glyphosate products. Emails reveal that Mr. Travis also collected intelligence on the personal motivations of Thailand’s deputy agriculture minister, including whether she was “a diehard advocate of organic food; and/or staunch environmentalist who eschews all synthetic chemical applications.” Reports indicate that the U.S. government brought up the issue of glyphosate during trade talks in the context . . .

22
Sep

EPA Reapproves Toxic Weedkiller Atrazine with Fewer Protections for Children’s Health

(Beyond Pesticides, September 22, 2020) Use of the highly hazardous, endocrine disrupting weed killer atrazine is likely to expand following a decision made earlier this month by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the guise of “regulatory certainty,” the agency is reapproving use of this notorious herbicide, as well as its cousins simazine and propazine in the triazine family of chemicals, with fewer safeguards for public health, particularly young children. Advocates are incensed by the decision and vow to continue to put pressure on the agency. “Use of this extremely dangerous pesticide should be banned, not expanded,” Nathan Donley, PhD, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity said in a press release. “This disgusting decision directly endangers the health of millions of Americans.” Beyond Pesticides has long argued against the continued use of the triazine herbicides, which includes atrazine. Triazines are well known to interfere with the body’s endocrine, or hormonal system. Disruptions within this delicately balanced process in the body can result in a range of ill health effects, including cancer, reproductive dysfunction, and developmental harm. These weedkillers interfere with the pituitary gland’s release of luteinizing hormones, which regulate the function of female ovaries and male gonads. In comments written by Beyond Pesticides to EPA, the organization notes, “Of the numerous adverse . . .

21
Sep

Please Submit Comments: Organic Can Prevent Ecological Collapse with Our Help

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2020) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets online October 28-30 to debate issues—after hearing public comment October 20 and 22—concerning how organic food is produced. Written comments are due October 1. They must be submitted through Regulations.gov. Everywhere we look, we see signs of ecological collapse—wildfires, the insect apocalypse, crashing populations of marine organisms, organisms large and small entangled in plastic, more and more species at risk, rising global temperatures, unusual weather patterns, horrific storms, and pandemics. As we focus on one of the most blatant examples of environmental abuse—the dispersal of toxic chemicals across the landscape—it is important to seek a solution. Organic can be a big part of the solution, but only if it doesn’t stray from its core values and practices. Tell the National Organic Standards Board to support core organic values. From its very beginnings, the organic sector has been driven by an alliance of farmers and consumers who defined the organic standards as a holistic approach to protecting health and the environment, with a deep conviction that food production could operate in sync with nature and be mindful of its interrelationship with the natural . . .
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