(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2018) Last week, closing arguments were made in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) refusal to ban chlorpyrifos, the pesticide science links to a host of neurological impairments in children. A coalition of labor and health organizations represented by Earthjustice asked a panel of three judges to overturn former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision not to ban chlorpyrifos. In June 2017, a dozen health, labor, and civil rights organizations represented by Earthjustice filed an administrative appeal to EPA urging the federal government to ban chlorpyrifos. The attorneys general of New York, California, Washington, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland and Vermont also filed their own appeal calling for a ban. The groups also filed a court case that asked the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco to decide the issues presented in the administrative appeal because of the likelihood of a delayed resolution by the EPA. This was the last hearing where the health and labor groups, as well as states, were able to present their arguments to the court of appeals and answer the judges’ questions. The New York Attorney General’s office also presented arguments on . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2018) Legislative Sneak Attacks Continue. Yet another bill has been introduced in Congress to remove accountability from Monsanto/Bayer for its glyphosate herbicide Roundup.™ The so-called “Accurate Labels Act” (S.3019/H.R.6022) would repeal most, if not all, existing labeling and information disclosure laws adopted by state or local governments, including California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop 65), which has been responsible for the removal of hundreds of dangerous toxic chemicals, including lead, cadmium, and mercury, from commercial and consumer products nationwide. California listed Roundup as a probable carcinogen in 2015, requiring a label warning in the state, and California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld the decision in April of this year, rejecting Monsanto’s challenge to the listing. Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to oppose S.3019/H.R.6022. California will not only move ahead with warning labels on products that contain glyphosate, but also, prohibit discharge of the pesticide into public waterways. Proposition 65 requires notification, primarily through labeling, of all chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, and prohibits their discharge into the state’s drinking waters. As with previous sneak attacks, Monsanto’s . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2018) Earlier this year, a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that a known carcinogen, the synthetic pyrethroid permethrin, when applied to clothing may function as a tick deterrent. The study has led to many misleading and potentially dangerous headlines, such as National Public Radio’s story “To Repel Ticks, Try Spraying Your Clothes With A Pesticide That Mimics Mums.” These articles encourage readers to use permethrin treated clothing, and downplay the risks associated with its use. Moreover, as noted by Consumer Reports, the CDC study in question does not go as far as recommending that individuals use permethrin treated clothing. The study placed ticks of different species and life stages on cloth cut from permethrin treated clothing. Researchers found that the majority of ticks had difficulty moving after exposure to the fabric. However, this effect did vary with life stages, as adult ticks were generally able handle pesticide exposure longer than nymph stage ticks. However, as James Dickerson, PhD, chief scientific officer of Consumer Reports notes, “The CDC’s study did not test any items . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2018) Neonicotinoid insecticides have become notorious for their impacts to insect pollinators like bees and butterflies, but research finding the presence of these chemicals in wild turkeys is raising new concerns about the ubiquitous nature of these chemicals once released into the environment. Published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research by a team from the University of Guelph (UG), this new study highlights the broader effects of neonicotinoids on wildlife, and underlines calls to restrict the use of these products in favor of a more sustainable pest management approach. Looking at roughly 40 wild turkeys in southern Ontario, researchers found 10 that contained pesticide residue in their livers. Claire Jardine, PhD, pathobiology professor and study co-author notes that wild turkeys in agricultural regions are more likely to be contaminated. “Wild turkeys supplement their diet with seeds from farm fields,” she indicated in a press release. The agrichemical industry coats a majority of corn and soybean seeds with neonicotinoids prior to planting. Because of their systemic nature, neonicotinoids are incorporated the seedlings as they grow, with the promise by the industry that this will alleviate pest pressure. However, a significant body . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2018) Ecologically-based farming systems contain far fewer pests and generate much higher profits than their conventional, chemical-based counterparts according to research published in the journal PeerJ earlier this year by scientists at South Dakota State University and the Ecdysis Foundation. The study supports calls to reshape the future of agriculture, as ‘regenerative’ farms, which avoid tillage and bare soil, integrate livestock, and foster on-farm diversity. These farms are found to represent an economically viable alternative to overly simplified, pesticide and fertilizer-dependent cropping systems. Given the study’s focus on corn cropping systems, such a shift is possible for thousands of farmers throughout the United States. Researchers looked at roughly 75 fields on 18 farms, measuring the organic matter in the soil, insect pest populations, corn yield as well as profit. Farms using pesticide treatments, which in corn fields is represented primarily by the use of neonicotinoid-coated seeds, had 10x higher pest levels than regenerative farms. As noted in the study, pest populations are a function of the biodiversity within the crop field. Biodiveristy increased on regenerative farms not only because farmers sprayed fewer pesticides, but because they also allowed . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2018) Scott Pruitt’s resignation as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took effect Monday under a cloud of ethics investigations and alleged collusion with industry to systematically undermine, dismantle, and reverse critical protections for air, water, and workers. Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler will take the helm as Acting Administrator after serving as Deputy Administrator, a position that required Senate confirmation. Mr. Wheeler, a lawyer who worked in the toxics office at EPA under Presidents George H.W. Bush ad Bill Clinton, as an aide to U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) – a denier of climate change – and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and as a lobbyist for the coal and chemical industry, told the Washington Post: “[I] would say that the agenda for the agency was set out by President Trump. And Administrator Pruitt has been working to implement that. I will try to work to implement the president’s agenda as well. I don’t think the overall agenda is going to change that much, because we’re implementing what the president has laid out for the agency. He made several campaign promises that we are working to fulfill . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2018) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to take action to protect 23 wildlife species in the Southeast that are at risk of extinction. Citing deep concerns about unprecedented assaults on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), CBD’s letter reiterates the critical need for FWS to provide timely protection to the most critically imperiled species. Urge FWS to provide Endangered Species Act protection for 23 species in the Southeast. Urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to support the ESA’s scientific review process and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats. CBD’s letter highlights the plight of 23 freshwater animals and plants, including the southern snaketail and the sunfacing coneflower, and the failure of FWS to meet its deadlines for issuing proposals on species determined “may warrant protection.” CBD urges FWS to follow the law –to review and publish species protection proposals. A declining budget and opposition from the Trump administration are stalling these critical protections. The Trump administration has proposed slashing the budget for endangered species listings by half, from $20.5 million to $10.9, and to prioritize delisting species rather than . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 6, 2018) Two years ago, thirteen bald eagles were found dead on a farm in Maryland. Now the investigation has revealed that these birds died after ingesting the highly toxic pesticide, carbofuran. Carbofuran, whose use has been phased out in the U.S., is so toxic to birds that one granule is all it takes to kill. Irresponsible and illegal use of pesticides is still responsible for primary and secondary poisonings of wildlife, as is the case of these bald eagles. According to the necropsy results by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which analyzed six of the thirteen eagle carcasses, five of the carcasses were found to have undigested raccoon remains in their systems. Carbofuran was detected in the stomach and/or crop contents of all birds, as well as on the partial remains and fur of a raccoon that was found nearby. The granular form of carbofuran has been blamed for the deaths of more than a million birds in the U.S. who mistook the granules for seed. The granules were finally banned in the early 1990s, while the liquid formulation was banned on food crops in 2009, although the painfully . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2018) With mosquito season in full swing throughout the U.S., land managers and abatement districts can be well served by employing biological controls in the form of fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas), according to research published earlier this year by scientists at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. In all but the most extreme conditions, these small fish, native throughout most of the continental United States, can provide effective control of mosquito larvae breeding in standing water. Beyond Pesticides encourages states and localities to focus primarily on larval control and public education as the best means to manage nuisance and disease-carrying mosquitoes, in contrast to adulticiding, the least effective means which allows 99.9% of a pesticide applied to contaminate the environment. At the close of Pollinator Week 2018, join us in urging Governors and state legislatures to ban the use of mosquito misters. To test the efficacy of fathead minnows to control mosquito populations, researchers stocked the fish in 10 water catchment basins in the central U.S. Over the course of three years, larval mosquito populations were monitored in these basins, as well as in six control basins . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 3, 2018) Nearly ninety percent of public schools in Iowa are at risk of toxic pesticide drift, according to a team of investigative reporters based at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). A study conducted by Science in the Media, a UNI project, found that 9 out of 10 schools are located within 2,000 feet of an agricultural field, a proximity at which the risk of toxic pesticide exposure increases significantly. While the results have attracted the interest of lawmakers, media reports indicate legislative champions of this issue are having a difficult time gaining support for more protective measures. According to the data gathered, 444,669 students and teachers are within close range of agricultural pesticide use. However, the reporters found public school employees generally unaware of the dangers or of any measures they could take. “As a teacher, I don’t know if there is anything sent out or part of any orientation to students or their parents, or anything like that,” said Louis Beck, an agriculture teacher at Union High School in La Porte City, IA to IowaWatch. “I have not been made aware of any protocol that we are . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2018) The U.S. House of Representatives is considering an appropriations bill that includes “report language” that would restrict independent evaluation of pesticide hazards by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report language, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies FY2019 Appropriations Bill, directs ATSDR to “focus on its core mission of assessing hazardous exposures and working with communities, if requested, near toxic waste sites and not agricultural operations” [emphasis added]. As some may recall from “The Monsanto Papers,” Monsanto pushed to stop ATSDR from researching the cancer-causing properties of its herbicide Roundup/glyphosate. [Unsealed internal Monsanto documents from a federal lawsuit, dubbed “The Monsanto Papers,” showed evidence of questionable research practices by the company, inappropriate ties to a top EPA official, and possible “ghostwriting” of purportedly “independent” research studies.] There is also a significant cut to the budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee does not include the same restrictive language. Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to reject language, attached to the House appropriations bill, that prohibits independent evaluation of agricultural chemical hazards by the . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2018) It is widely known that pollinators are in trouble. In light of this, Kroger (which includes numerous other grocery chains, like Harris Teeter) announced in a press release last week — during National Pollinator Week — a phase-out by 2020 of live garden plants treated with the insecticides most closely associated with the decline of bee populations, the neonicotinoids. In May, Costco updated its pollinator policy, which “encourages” its suppliers of garden plants, fruits, and vegetables to limit the use of bee-toxic pesticides and adopt ecological practices. The company in 2016 announced a policy to encourage suppliers to change their pesticides. In a statement that has broad implications for pollinator and environmental protection, Kroger included the following statement about organic food in its press release: “Kroger also offers one of the largest organic produce departments in America, which is desirable for customers looking to minimize potential exposure to synthetic pesticides. Representing nearly 20 percent of America’s annual organic produce business, Kroger sales reached $1 billion in 2017. A dedicated procurement team partners with more than 300 organic produce growers and suppliers every year to bring customers a growing selection of organic . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2018) Having voted to allow retail recreational cannabis sales as of January 1, 2018, California will mandate testing for pesticide residue in cannabis products beginning July 1. Cannabis farmers welcome the regulations. Nikolai Erickson of Full Moon Farms in Dinsmore, California says, the new requirements will “clear the shelves of poor quality product and give small craft, organic farmers a chance to prove their quality over larger farms. . . . We’re the ones taking the time and energy, putting in the extra hours and the extra cost to ensure that we’ll pass testing. So we’re creating shelf space finally, getting value added for craft.” The new California laws require that any cannabis products sold by retailers must have undergone both quality and pesticide testing. Whereas from January 1 to June 30, 2018 regulations mandated testing for 21 pesticides and for microbial contaminants, such as E. coli, that number jumps to 66 in July. The regulations also institute new quality standards that analyze products for contaminants, such as feces, mold, and insect and rodent parts. The quality“bar” will jump again in December, when testing must also look for mycotoxins, terpenoids, and heavy . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2018) Farm Bill Headed for a Showdown on Key Environmental, Public Health, and Organic Issues With a flawed bipartisan Farm Bill expected to sail through the U.S. Senate this week, we need to turn our attention to the upcoming House-Senate Conference Committee that will attempt to resolve differences between the Republican House bill (with no support from Democrats) and the Senate bill. Despite some advances in the Senate Farm Bill for the organic market, including boosts to organic research funding, some provisions to address fraudulent imports, some enhanced conservation programs, and maintaining certification cost-share programs, the Senate bill contains troubling language affecting organic standard setting that could open the door to more damaging provisions in the House bill. It’s like fixing up a house while allowing the foundation to crumble. Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to protect organic in the Farm Bill, remove any changes to the organic standard setting process, and uphold environmental protections. Beyond Pesticides opposes any provisions in the Farm Bill that amend the standard setting procedures of the federal organic law and believes that no improvements are worth the damage that can be done to . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2018) On June 21, 2018, the controversial 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2) narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives 213 to 211 with provisions that will eliminate federal review of pesticide impacts on endangered species, undermine organic standards, and ease requirements regarding releases of pesticides into waterways. In May, the bill failed to pass when it got caught in the debate over immigration reform, but now this dangerous bill is much closer to becoming a major threat to the environment. The bill, H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, is a major win for the pesticide industry, which spent $43 million on lobbying this Congressional season, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. At the forefront are provisions that weaken the organic standards and the elimination of the requirement that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) assess pesticide impacts on endangered species before U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves a pesticide for use. The bill also exempts those applying pesticides to lakes, streams, and rivers from having a permit under the Clean Water Act. This will allow indiscriminate contamination of waterways in spite of reports that pesticides are detected . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 25, 2018) Ten organizations filed an Amicus brief last week in support of a 2015 landmark Montgomery County, Maryland ordinance that restricts the use of toxic pesticides on public and private land within its jurisdiction. The law, intended to protect children, pets, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards of lawn and landscape pesticide use, is on appeal from a Circuit Court ruling in August 2017 which struck down aspects of the ordinance that apply to private property. The Montgomery County Council decided to appeal the Circuit Court ruling based on an outpouring of public support, and the advice of its legal team that the County has a reasonable chance of prevailing. The case will now be heard in front of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. The plaintiffs in the case, which include the pesticide industry group Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE), local chemical lawn care companies, and a few individuals, allege that the local ordinance is preempted by state law, despite the fact that Maryland is one of seven states that has not explicitly taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2018) Mosquito misters pose a threat to human health. They also harm bees and other flying pollinators and are the least effective way to deal with biting mosquitoes. These devices are typically placed outdoors and spray insecticides –mostly in an attempt to control mosquitoes. In May, the Connecticut state legislature voted to ban the use of residential pesticide misting systems. Urge your Governor and state legislators to ban pesticide misters. In addition to the threat to people’s health, misters harm pollinators who may be foraging in an area where the devices are used. Studies find that sublethal concentrations of synthetic pyrethroids significantly reduce bee fecundity and decrease the rate at which bees develop to adulthood and reproduce. Field and laboratory studies using pyrethroids have consistently documented decreases in foraging activity and activity at the hive entrance after exposure. While pesticides are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pesticide misters and other application devices are not subject to EPA oversight, leaving states with the authority to control their use. Connecticut appears to be the first state to restrict pesticide misting machines through legislation. The state of New York took an administrative approach to regulating . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2018) In a letter sent by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is being urged to complete status reviews and listing proposals for 23 wildlife species in the Southeast that are at risk of extinction. Citing deep concerns about unprecedented assaults on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the letter reiterates the critical need for FWS to provide timely protection to the most critically imperiled species. Highlighting the plight of 23 freshwater animals and plants, like the southern snaketail and the sunfacing coneflower, and the consideration by the Trump Administration to withdraw ESA findings for dozens of species, CBD submitted the letter, dated June 8, 2018, urging FWS to follow the law, and review and publish species protection proposals. CBD initiated a review of 61 species for which the group had already filed a petition seeking ESA protections. This came after the Trump administration’s unprecedented move to reverse an Obama-era decision to review the status of the species because available information indicates they may warrant listing. CBD first petitioned FWS for their protection in 2010. Hundreds of other highly imperiled species are similarly . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 20, 2018) Bumblebee queens that wake up from hibernation to a neonicotinoid-contaminated, monofloral landscape take longer to set up their nest and die-off at higher rates, according to new research from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. While this is the first study to evaluate multiple stressors – pesticide exposure and a monotypic diet – on bumblebee pollinators as they initiate a new colony, it is far from the first to conclude that the neonicotinoid class of insecticides result in unacceptable adverse impacts to insect pollinators. With Pollinator Week 2018 underway, advocates say it is time that the U.S. catches up to the European Union and Canada and starts to ban the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides. Bumblebee queens only live long enough to produce one colony. After establishing a colony over the spring and summer months, by fall a new queen hatches and the old queen dies. The new queen leaves the nest and mates, then goes underground to seek shelter and hibernate over the winter. If she makes it through the winter, the single queen will then . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2018) Some 200 members of a French beekeeping cooperative in the northern Aisne region have sued Bayer — on the same day the giant chemical company’s acquisition of Monsanto was finalized — after discovering that their honey was contaminated with toxic glyphosate, a known endocrine disruptor and probable human carcinogen (according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer). Monsanto is the long-time manufacturer of Roundup, the popular glyphosate pesticide; Bayer now owns not only the company, but also, the liabilities that come with it, including the “Monsanto” name. Environmental activists had denounced the merger, which creates an agrichemical leviathan that promotes use of chemical herbicides and genetically engineered/modified (GE/GMO) seeds. The beekeepers’ suit was filed in early June after Famille Michaud, a large French honey marketer, detected glyphosate contamination in three batches from one of the coop’s members — whose hives happen to border large fields of rapeseed, beets, and sunflowers. Glyphosate is commonly used in French agriculture; President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to ban its use by 2021. Emmanuel Ludot, a lawyer for the cooperative, is looking for an outcome that includes mandated investigation of the extent . . .