(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2019)Â A study on the use of the herbicide dicambaâ€™s off-target effects finds broad impacts, in both geographic spread and the variety of affected species, with use of the weed killer on Arkansas cropland putting birds at risk in agricultural landscapes. Audubon of Arkansas is reporting results of its community science dicamba monitoring project, conducted under the direction of Bird Conservation Director Dan Scheiman, PhD, and launched in late spring 2019. The project monitored dicamba symptomology in species on municipal, state, and federal lands, where dicamba was not applied, but where its impacts were nonetheless detected. Arkansas Audubon â€śpredicts that in a landscape full of GMO crops [genetically modified organisms] (on which dicamba is typically used), the atmospheric loading of volatile dicamba could be enough to cause landscape scale damage to our state natural areas, wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges, family farms, and the wildlife they harbor.â€ť Dicamba herbicides are volatile compounds used to control broadleaf weeds â€” especially on fields of GMO soybean and cotton crops that have been genetically engineered for resistance to dicamba. These herbicides damage non-GMO crops and native plants well beyond intended application areas. . . .
(Beyond Pesticides,Â September 12, 2019)Â This September, adults will join in a global climate strike spurred by the Fridays for FutureÂ school climate strike movement. Environmentalists around the world are galvanizing the public to participate in youth-led disruption in order to bring attention to the climate crisis. U.S. strike demands include a Green New Deal, respect for indigenous land and sovereignty, environmental justice, protecting biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture. The strike will kick off on Friday, September 20Â and actions will continue until the next Friday, September 27. Fridays for Future started when then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg began striking in 2018 in front of the Riksdag â€“ the Swedish parliament. She was inspired by U.S. teens who refused to go back to school and instead organized a massive national protest for gun control after the Parkland, Florida shooting. Ms. Thunberg gained publicity and captured a global audience with her clear voice and piercing castigation of adults in power who, â€śare sh–ting on my future.â€ť Ms. Thunberg has, among other diagnoses, Asperger Syndrome. She attributes her ability to articulate the climate crisis to her capacity to think differently and see things in â€śblack and white.â€ť In an interview with TIME . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2019)Â Germany is the latest entity to take action on getting glyphosate-based pesticides out of the marketplace. Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that, beginning in 2020, the country will phase out herbicides that contain glyphosate by the end of 2023. The phase-out will occur through a series of scheduled reductions in amounts allowed for use, with a goal of a 75% reduction over the next four years. The announcement comes after â€śnation-wide protests and demands from [Merkelâ€™s] junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, for more decisive action on environmental issues.â€ť This action stands in telling contrast to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyâ€™s (EPAâ€™s) repeated failures to protect people, ecosystems, and our food supply, from this toxic compound. The German government also plans to oppose any European Union (EU) request for renewal of licensing of these herbicides, according to the environment ministry. Bayer AG, maker of glyphosate-based herbicides and owner of original manufacturer Monsanto, has pushed back, saying that the government is â€śgetting ahead of itselfâ€ť by banning glyphosate-based herbicides prior to any decision by the relevant EU authority, and that EU laws disallow unilateral decisions by member states. (Pesticide licensing . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 10, 2019) Monarch populations on both coasts of North America are in serious decline, and new research indicates that same chemicals killing bees may be responsible for similar impacts to these charismatic butterflies. Â Published in the journal Insects by Washington State University researcher David James, PhD, the study is the first to investigate how adult monarchs react to chronic, low dose exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid. Many are calling the decline of pollinators and other insect species a form of apocalypse and mass extinction. Whatâ€™s happening with insects must be considered a warning for species higher up in the food chain; itâ€™s therefore critical that our observations of the natural world lead to corrective action before itâ€™s too late. Monarchs in the study were reared from untreated milkweed plants in Washington State in 2018, totaling 40 adult butterflies. Eleven males and the same number of females were assigned to be treated with the insecticide, while the remaining butterflies acted as a control. Both groups were provided a sugar solution, with the treated groupâ€™s solution containing 23.5 parts per billion imidacloprid, a dose similar to what a butterfly could encounter . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2019)Â New rules proposed by the Department of Labor (DOL) will weaken protections for both foreign and domestic farmworkers who grow and harvest the nation’s food. The changes would affect the H-2A guestworker program, which permits U.S. farms to temporarily hire foreign workers. Despite rapid increases in foreign agricultural workers over the past several years, the new rules would expand the program and make it easier for agrichemical companies to exploit foreign labor, driving down working conditions and pay for all farmworkers. Tell Congress to stop DOL from weakening farmworker protections. DOL’s proposed rules would eliminate the obligation for growers to provide priority to U.S. farmworkers during the first half of a work contract, and extend the ability for growers to bring in foreign labor throughout the growing season. Growers would also be able to change job terms and work locations in the middle of a growing season. This would increase job insecurity for U.S. farmworkers, who are already facing tough economic conditions. As described by Farmworker Justice, â€śThe Trump Administration seeks to guarantee agribusiness unlimited access to a captive workforce that is deprived of economic bargaining power and the . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 6, 2019) Heavy rains in urban areas bring together a toxic mixture of man-made chemicals which make their way to waterbodies at levels that can harm aquatic life, according to new research published by a team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although U.S. government agencies continue to accurately identify chemical hazards in the everyday environment, precaution and action on these emerging threats has not materialized. In the face of important federal data without subsequent federal action, it is up to states and local communities to regulate the discharge of toxic pesticides and other chemicals that ultimately flow into rivers, lakes, and streams communities rely on for fishing, swimming, and drinking water. Researchers aimed to provide a national snapshot of the contents of urban stormwater discharge by sampling 21 sites in 17 states over the course of 50 rainfall events. Samples were taken at sites where stormwater is discharged from buildings, parking lots, roads, and other urban landscapes before making its way into ground or surface water. The team tested for 438 different compounds, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other industrial . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2019) USDA Failures Necessitate Independent Corporate and Governmental Oversight WASHINGTON, DC, Beyond Pesticides, a Washington, DC-based public interest organization founded in 1981 to advocate for healthy air, water, land, and food by eliminating the use of toxic pesticides and advancing organic practices, has announced the formation of its new investigative arm, OrganicEye. The watchdog agency will focus on defending the time-honored philosophy and legal definition of organic farming and food production. â€śTrusted certified organic production must continue to offer a healthier marketplace alternative and critical environmental protection,â€ť stated Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides and former National Organic Standards Board member. As organic agriculture and food marketing has grown into an over $50 billion industry, corporate agribusiness has influenced USDA to shift primary organic production from family-scale farms to large livestock factories, and allow massive hydroponic/soilless greenhouses and fraudulent imports â€“ all devastating to ethical farmers, businesses, and consumers. â€śWe are happy to announce the hiring of Mark Kastel to serve as the Director of OrganicEye,â€ť Mr. Feldman said. Mr. Kastel, one of the founders of The Cornucopia Institute, a venerable organic farm-policy research group, brings over 30 . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 4, 2019) Sixteen organizations representing health, environmental, farmer, and farmworker communities joined together yesterday to call on EPA to remove glyphosate from the marketplace. The groups cite a combination of high-profile lawsuits, environmental impacts, increasing reports of weed resistance, and growing public concern over the health effects of glyphosate in their comments on EPAâ€™s interim reregistration review decision for the chemical. The comments warn that EPA is at risk of damaging the publicâ€™s trust in the agencyâ€™s review process for toxic pesticides. â€śEPAâ€™s myopic review and response to the dangers posed by glyphosate does a disservice to American farmers, farmworkers, and commercial landscapers wishing to use least-toxic products that do not put them at risk of health impacts, and consumers aiming to make the safest choice in regards to what to feed their family and how to manage their yards,â€ť the comments read. The document likewise replies to EPAâ€™s attacks against the World Health Organizationâ€™s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which determined glyphosate to be a probable carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental organisms. EPA has indicated that its process for evaluating glyphosate, â€śâ€¦is more transparent . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2019)Â Brazil’s environment is under siege, as President Jair Bolsonaro has approved hundreds of new toxic pesticides this year and gutted watchdog environment agencies. Among the many dreadful results, news reports indicate that between December 2018 and March 2019, Brazilian beekeepers found more than 500 million dead bees. As the Amazon burns,Â Indigenous activists are calling on the world to help, and Beyond Pesticides is responding by promoting a boycott started by a Swedish supermarket owner: #BoycottBrazilianFood. Pledge to #BoycottBrazilianFood, and ask major U.S. supermarkets to do the same. The Amazon rainforest is the world’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink, and home both to the planet’s richest biodiversity and approximately 400 indigenous tribes. The country has 2300 pesticides registered for use; a total of 290 new toxic pesticides have been approved as of late August 2019. Swedish supermarket owner Johannes CullbergÂ started an international boycott in response to Brazil’s approval and use of hazardous pesticides in food production. #BoycottBrazilianFood began in June of 2019 when the total of newly registered pesticides stood at 197.Â Cullburg declared, “We need to stop (the president) Bolsonaro, he’s a maniac.â€ť The boycott prompted a response from the Brazilian embassy, . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2019) The indictment of organophosphate pesticides gained more traction with the publication, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, of a new research study out of the University of California, Berkeley. The research, among the first to use advanced brain imaging to assess cortical activation, shows altered brain activity, during tasks that call on executive function, in teenagers from Californiaâ€™s Salinas Valley (the site of significant organophosphate use) whose mothers were exposed prenatally. The UC Berkeley study underscores the slow-motion calamity of the Trump administration Environmental Protection Agencyâ€™s (EPAâ€™s) failure to ban the use of this class of pesticides, and of chlorpyrifos in particular, which compounds carry extreme risks for children. The effects of this prenatal exposure continue to unfold during childrenâ€™s critical developmental periods. Researchers used fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) imaging to monitor blood flow in the brains of the teens, 15â€“17, born and raised in the Salinas Valley. They used data from the CaliforniaÂ Pesticide Use ReportingÂ program (which documents locations and times of pesticide spraying) to estimate the subjectsâ€™ mothersâ€™ proximity to organophosphate (OP) applications during pregnancy. The subject adolescents â€” estimated to have relatively high levels of . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2019) The Peoples Garden, located on the grounds on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the national mall, has been renamed and remodeled to highlight genetically engineered (GE) crops and farming techniques that directly counter the organic movement. The new exhibit, entitled â€śVoice of the Farmer,” is part of the â€śTrust in Foodâ€ť initiative of Farm Journal magazine. This marks a continuation of trends in the Trump administration: pushing for GE/GMOs and pesticides. Since 2009, the USDA Peoples Garden has highlighted organic agriculture. It was originally envisioned by the Obama administration as a place where visitors could learn about what differentiates organic from conventional chemical-intensive food production, and the practices used in organic land management. The garden had several different exhibits: the Three Sisters Garden, the Peopleâ€™s Garden Apiary, three green roofs, a certified organic vegetable garden, a tool shed with a rain barrel and green roof, wildlife and pollinator friendly landscaping, and a bat house. With an emphasis on sustainable gardening practices such as cover cropping, storm water collection, and composting, the garden served as a headquarters for numerous Peoples Gardens founded between 2009 and 2016. The . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2019) Salt marshes, areas of coastal grassland regularly flooded by saltwater, provide a major global service by sequestering and storing carbon in the form of organic matter. However, research finds that nitrate from synthetic fertilizers found in agricultural runoff could change the microbial composition of the salt marshes to encourage organic matter decomposition and, therefore, carbon release versus capture. The study, â€śNitrate addition stimulates microbial decomposition of organic matter in salt marsh sediments,â€ť was published in Global Change Biology. Researchers from Massachusetts conducted their study on salt marsh sediments located in Plum Island Sound, MA. They took three core samples from the site, sectioning each one into shallow, mid, and deep sediments. The researchers set out to determine â€śthe role of nitrate as an electron acceptor, and its effect on organic matter decomposition and the associated microbial community in salt marsh sediments.â€ť In sum, they tested soil samples to see how a large amount of available nitrate would impact microbes, and therefore the carbon-sequestering constitution of the soil, versus a plain saltwater control. The results indicate that nitrates stimulate the production of dissolved inorganic carbon, leading to decomposition of organic . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, August 27, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the subject to a new legal challenge from environmental groups after approving the use an insecticide shown to be highly toxic to bees and other pollinators.Â The lawsuit, filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety, aims to stop the use of sulfoxaflor on more than 200 million acres of crops. As EPA under the Trump administration has become increasingly emboldened to fight for industry priorities, concerned organizations and people are responding by supporting legal challenges and working to pass policies that truly protect wildlife and the environment. According to EPAâ€™s ecological risk assessment for sulfoxaflor, the chemical is â€śvery highly toxicâ€ť to bees. A study published last year in the journal Nature found significant concerns with the chemicalâ€™s ability to harm already declining pollinator populations. â€śThere is an urgent need to pre-emptively evaluate the potential sub-lethal effects of sulfoximine-based pesticides on pollinators, because such effects are rarely detected by standard ecotoxicological assessments, but can have major impacts at larger ecological scales,â€ť the authors wrote. EPA had already run in to legal . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, August 26, 2019)Â U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently releasedÂ draftÂ legislationÂ that will â€“ among other initiatives â€“ promote carbon-sequestering practices in agriculture. The draft Climate Stewardship Act includes farmers as a critical component in the response to the climate crisis by encouraging â€ścarbon farmingâ€ť through incentives, training, and research. U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) is championing companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill will likely be introduced in September when Congress reconvenes. Ask your U.S. Representative and Senators to Co-sponsor the Climate Stewardship Act and Help Farmers Save the Planet. July of 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high (over 415 ppm) was during the Pliocene period â€“ between 5.3 and 2.6 million years ago. The best time to have addressed global warming was 20 years ago, but the second-best time is now. Organic, regenerative agricultural practices help mend the earth from the ground up. In addition to incentivizing soil health practices that organic farmers already employ, the bill adds $75,000,000 to the organic research and extension initiative (OREI). The bill contains a requirement that no less . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2019) The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a report criticizing EPAâ€™s oversight of statesâ€™ Managed Pollinator Protection Plans (MP3s). OIG conducted an audit, on which the report is based, to evaluate agency performance in overseeing MP3s, voluntary plans adopted at the state level with the goal to â€średuce pesticide exposure to pollinators (generally, honey bees managed and contracted out to growers for pollination services) through timely communication and coordination among key stakeholders.â€ť The reportâ€™s findings include the following: EPA has no means to evaluate the national impact of MP3s. The agency has not developed a strategy to use data from a planned fall 2019 survey (see more below on the AAPCO/SFIREG/EPA survey) to evaluate either the national impact of MP3s or the agencyâ€™s support of state MP3 implementation efforts. EPA focuses primarily on acute risks (those that occur during a single exposure to a specific pesticide), and gives insufficient attention to chronic exposures to pesticides and to native pollinator protection activities. The history of the MP3 program starts in 2014, when President Obama issued a memo establishing a Pollinator Health Task . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2019) In early August, experts from European Union (EU) member states and staff members of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced their conclusion that chlorpyrifos fails to meet criteria for renewed approval for use, potentially moving the EU a step closer to an outright ban. This ends the green light that chlorpyrifos (and its structurally close cousin, chlorpyrifos-methyl) have enjoyed at the EU level since 2006. That permitting is set to expire in January of 2020, although eight member states â€” Germany, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia â€” had already either banned or never authorized chlorpyrifos use in their countries. In the U.S., states are picking up the slack on efforts against chlorpyrifos use as, in the tenure of the current administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has chosen to protect industry rather than human health and the environment. The step EFSA took was unusual in that the agency does not typically publish findings before ongoing peer reviews are completed. EUObserver.com reports that EFSAâ€™s public statement was triggered by a July 2019 EU request for information â€śon the available outcomes of the human health . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2019) A birth cohort study in Canada found elevated levels of fluoride exposure during pregnancy are associated with lower IQ scores in 3 to 4-year-old children. This new research, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, builds on previous analyses that suggest high fluoride exposure is related to adverse effects to childrenâ€™s neurodevelopment. Researchers recommend that pregnant mothers should reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy. Noting the controversy of the study, JAMA PediatricsÂ editor Dr. Dimitri Christakis said it was subjected to â€śadditional scrutiny for its methods and the presentation of its findings.â€ť The Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) program recruited pregnant mothers to participate in the study from 2008-2011. A total of 601 mother-child pairs from 6 major cities participated; 41% of them lived in cities with fluoridated municipal water. Exposure was measured through urine samples as well as self-reported maternal daily intake. Children were between ages 3 and 4 when tested for IQ. A 1mg/L increase in maternal urinary fluoride is associated with a 3.7-point decrease in IQ. These findings echo a previous study in Mexico that found a 6-point lower IQ score in school-age children associated with a 1mg/L . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, August, 20, 2019) Last week U.S. District Court Judge C.J. Williams sentenced Missouri resident Randy Constant to 10 years in prison for selling conventional grains he and his co-conspirators fraudulently passed off as certified organic. In his ruling, Judge Williams noted the scheme resulted in â€śextreme and incalculable damageâ€ť to consumers and public trust in the organic label. According to court filings, Mr. Constant made over $120 million in the scheme, much of it spent on vacations and trips to Las Vegas. The case highlights the importance of funding enforcement measures that ensure compliance with the organic certification process and the resulting price premium it confers to organic farmers. Mr. Constant was convicted last December of one count of wire fraud, admitting that from 2010 to 2017, he misled customers who purchased grain at a silo he owned in Iowa called Jericho Solutions. Mr. Constant told customers that the grain they were purchasing was grown on certified organic fields he owned in Iowa or Nebraska, when in fact the grain was either not organic or mixed with non-organic grain. â€śThousands upon thousands of consumers paid for products they did . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2019) The Trump Administration has reignited the attack on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), one of the most effective environmental laws in restoring threatened and endangered species and their habitat. This time the attack is coming through regulations that undermine the letter, spirit, and intent of ESA. Ask your elected U.S. Representative and Senators to tell the Secretary of Interior that the assault on the Endangered Species Act threatens all living organisms. The new rules announced by the administration this week will: (i) weaken the consultation process designed to prevent harm to endangered animals and their habitats from federal agency activities; (ii) curtail the designation of critical habitat and weakens the listing process for imperiled species; and (iii) eliminate all protections for wildlife newly designated as â€śthreatenedâ€ť under the Act. WithÂ species decliningÂ across the globe, it is critical thatÂ we protectÂ those already at heightened risk. An important provision of the ESA is the requirement that each federal agency that proposes to authorize, fund, or carry out an action that may affect a listed species or its critical habitat mustÂ consultÂ with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. Although many . . .