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Daily News Blog

17
Jan

European Union Bans Neonicotinoid Insecticide, Citing Health and Environmental Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2020) In Brussels, the European Commission (EC) has just decided not to renew approval of the neonicotinoid pesticide thiacloprid, citing both environmental and health concerns related to use of and exposure to the pesticide. The decision was approved by a majority of European Union (EU) governments last fall, after the EC had made the proposal to them. The EC based that proposal on findings of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in January 2019, which highlighted concerns about toxicity to humans and high concentrations in groundwater. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides commented, “There are environmental concerns related to the use of this pesticide, particularly its impact on groundwater, but also related to human health, in reproductive toxicity.” The current EU use approval for thiacloprid products expires on April 30, 2020. The EC decision — functionally, a ban — means that farmers will need to turn to other means to deal with the primary thiacloprid targets in agriculture, aphids and whiteflies. Beyond Pesticides and many organic agricultural resources advocate for widespread adoption of organic, regenerative systems and practices. Such systems may include management features such as mechanical and . . .

16
Jan

Environmental Chemicals Are Stealing IQ Points from American Children and Costing Trillions to the U.S. Economy

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2020) Exposure to environmental chemicals in the U.S. since the turn of the century has resulted in millions of lost IQ points, hundreds of thousands of cases of intellectual disability, and trillions of dollars of lost economic activity. This is according to a study led by a team of scientists at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. “Although people argue against costly regulations, unrestricted use of these chemicals is far more expensive in the long run, with American children bearing the largest burden,” says senior study author Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP in a press release. Exposure to environmental chemicals can result in neurotoxic effects. Prenatal exposure represents a critical window when these effects can be particularly pronounced and result in lasting damage to a child. Researchers focused their study on contact with mercury, lead, organophosphate pesticides, and flame retardants in the womb. Biomonitoring data from a long-running Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on environmental chemicals was used to determine exposure levels. Because each chemical results in differing levels of intellectual damage, each was assigned an IQ impact based on past . . .

15
Jan

Exploratory Study Indicates Pesticide Exposure May Relate to Higher Risk for Endometriosis

(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2019) A study published in the journal Environment International, Association of urinary metabolites of organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides, and phenoxy herbicides with endometriosis, is the first of its kind. Researchers considered the endocrine-disrupting properties of pesticides (such as reduced sperm counts) and investigated whether there might be a relationship between pesticide exposure and endometriosis. Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent gynecologic disease that affects about 176 million women globally. It can cause extreme pain and infertility as well as increased risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. This study finds a positive correlation between some pesticide metabolites and endometriosis, though authors encourage further study to corroborate the findings. Researchers examined exposure to 11 “universal pesticides” and their metabolites and its relationship to endometriosis in 492 reproductive-age women recruited from 14 surgical centers in Utah and California from 2007-2009. The women at these clinics were scheduled for laparoscopy or laparotomy—the “gold standard” for identifying endometriosis is through these surgeries. The study compares results from the clinical cohort to a group of women in the same age bracket from areas surrounding the participating clinics. 619 urine samples were analyzed from the operative and population . . .

14
Jan

New Method of Lyme Disease Prevention Promising, But Not Ready to Replace Personal Protective Measures

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2020) Scientists have found a new method to reduce the sources of Lyme disease, but it is uncertain whether the finding will ultimately translate into fewer cases of human infections. Research published in the journal Experimental and Applied Acarology finds that incorporating Lyme vaccines into pelletized mouse food had the effect of reducing levels of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, in both mice and ticks in a certain location. “So, the idea here is to vaccinate the mice,” study author Kirby Stafford, PhD told WBUR. “What we’ve done is incorporate a Lyme disease vaccine in an oral bait that would immunize them. That would prevent ticks feeding on those animals from becoming infected and then ultimately turn around and infect you.” To test their approach, researchers enrolled 32 homes in Redding, CT, an area where Lyme disease in endemic and several human cases are reported each year. Vaccine-incorporated mouse baiting stations were placed around 21 homes, while 11 acted as a control. Four times throughout the two year study period, mice and the ticks attached to them were trapped and tested for the disease. While there were no . . .

13
Jan

Take Action: Help Restore Protections for Migratory Birds

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2020) Birds are facing an existential crisis. Three billion birds have disappeared since 1970. Two out of three birds are threatened by climate change. In spite of this crisis, our nation’s most important bird protection law, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is being weakened by the Trump Administration’s Department of the Interior. Ask your U.S. Representative to support and cosponsor the Migratory Bird Protection Act. Thank those who are already cosponsors. Songbirds Threatened. The poisonous farm fields that migratory birds forage reduce their weight, delay their travel, and ultimately jeopardize their survival, according to “A neonicotinoid insecticide reduces fueling and delays migration in songbirds,“ published in the journal Science. Like their effects on insect pollinator populations, neonicotinoid insecticides generally do not cause acute poisoning and immediate death, but instead precipitate a cascade of sublethal impacts reducing their fitness in the wild. As the authors told Environmental Health News, the study is a call not simply to ban neonics or one class of chemical, but to change the entire farming system toward more sustainable bird and bee-friendly practices. Bird Habitat Threatened in Arkansas. A citizen science monitoring project of Audubon Arkansas found evidence of . . .

10
Jan

Study Links Pyrethroid Insecticides to Cardiovascular Disease and Other Health Hazards

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2020) A new study by researchers out of the University of Iowa College of Public Health, published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) Internal Medicine, demonstrates that greater exposure to pyrethroid insecticides is associated with higher risks of death from all causes and from cardiovascular disease. These compounds can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin; they are highly neurotoxic, and have also been linked to certain cancers, endocrine disruption, and suppression of the immune system, as well as respiratory and reproductive impacts. The researchers gathered data, for 2,116 adults aged 20 or older, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Each of those subjects had contributed a urine sample at some point between 1999 and 2002. Urine samples reflect levels of a pyrethroid metabolite (3-phenoxybenzoic acid) present, which in turn offer information about pyrethroid exposure. The researchers followed the participants until 2015; the research analysis was performed in the summer of 2019. Data were adjusted to accommodate multiple factors (age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, diet and lifestyle, smoking status, body mass index, and urinary creatinine levels). The co-authors report that subjects with the . . .

09
Jan

At a Time of Precarious Military Actions, Trump Administration Delays Benefits to Agent Orange Veterans

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2020) United States military veterans suffering from bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension and Parkinson’s-like symptoms after their exposure to Agent Orange will remain unprotected and uncompensated until at least late 2020, a letter sent by Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) indicates. Congress included a provision in the must-pass December federal spending bill requiring VA to provide legislators “a detailed explanation” for the now multi-year delay in determining whether to list the diseases. This is seen by advocates for veterans as a serious lack of support and compensation just at a time when the current administration mobilizes the military. According to Military Times, 83,000 veterans suffer from bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like symptoms or hypothyroidism, and an untold number have high blood pressure. The paper interviewed Army Sgt. Maj. John Mennitto, who explained, “Since we first spoke in 2016, I have been diagnosed with bladder cancer. . . I also have hypothyroidism. My greatest concern for me and my fellow veterans who have debilitating diseases caused by exposure to Agent Orange is that our family members will be left with nothing.” A robust 2014 review by the National . . .

08
Jan

International Scientists Offer Solutions to Turn Around the Insect Apocalypse

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2019) Researchers across the planet are calling on policymakers to take action to reverse insect decline. In a letter to the editor in Nature Ecology & Evolution, over 70 scientists compiled necessary steps to categorize and rebuild the world’s populations of invertebrates. “We must act now,” they urged. International evidence points to a massive decline of insect populations at a global scale. This year, researchers warned that, if current trends continue, insects as a whole may go extinct in the next few decades. The rapid loss of invertebrate biodiversity is extremely alarming both because of the dramatic loss of life and devastating affect on the valuable ecosystem services, such as pollination and pest control, that insects provide. In addition, these small-yet-usually-abundant creatures are a vital part of the food chain and, as a result, scientists have documented a massive decline in bird populations in part due to the loss of insect food matter. The letter offers a tiered response of actions: Immediate: Implement no-regret solutions to slow or stop insect declines. Prioritize conservation of endangered species. Solutions include reducing greenhouse gases, reversing trends in agriculture intensification, increasing landscape heterogeneity, . . .

07
Jan

What Happens When You Paint Zebra Stripes on a Cow? Eliminate Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2020) It may seem peculiar at first sight, but painting zebra stripes on domestic cattle has the potential to significantly reduce the livestock industry’s use of toxic pesticides, according to research published last year by Japanese scientists at the Aichi Agricultural Research Center in Nagakute, Japan. Each year, farmers spend an estimated $1.6 billion on pesticides in the livestock industry, while biting flies cause over $2 billion of economic loss. This clever example of applied ecology could change those numbers with the added benefit of a safer environment.    While long considered a mystery, the science is now generally in agreement that zebras developed their stripes in order to confuse and ward off biting flies and the various ailments that can be passed on by the pests. While some cow breeds were developed with spotted patterns that may confer some fly deterrence, researchers used mono-colored Japanese Black cows to test their hypothesis. Six cows were separated into one of three groups: white and black stripes, black stripes, and an unpainted control. Stripes were painted with a water-based lacquer. The cows were observed starting 30 minutes after the paint . . .

06
Jan

End Factory Farms: Support the Farm System Reform Act

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2020) In the midst of recalls of romaine lettuce contaminated with a pathogenic strain of E. coli, states and counties across the country are calling for a moratorium on large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Now Senator Cory Booker is seeking to pass similar legislation at the national level. These industrial-scale operations are commonly referred to as “factory farms.” Tell your U.S. Senator to cosponsor the Farm System Reform Act introduced by Sen. Cory Booker. In the last week of November 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a food safety alert concerning a multistate outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California. As of November 25, 67 cases had been reported across 19 states, 39 of which required hospitalization, including six who developed kidney failure. The E. coli strain causing the outbreak — O157:H7, also known as STEC — is genetically identical to that responsible for lettuce-related outbreaks in 2017 and 2018. STEC is a dangerous, Shiga toxin-producing type of E. coli. Other outbreaks occurred earlier in 2019 as well. Dangerous strains of E. coli, including O157:H7, are typically associated with cattle in . . .

03
Jan

Malibu, California Passes Pesticide Ban in a Big Win for Local Wildlife

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2020) In a hard-earned win, the city of Malibu, California collaborated with the Coastal Commission to ban toxic pesticide use in their community. While the city had already voted to ban all toxic pesticides back in 2016, the state’s pesticide law preempts, or prohibits, a municipality from restricting private use of pesticides more stringently than the state. However, the Coastal Commission, as a state agency that establishes agreements with municipalities—known as a “Local Coastal Program” or “LCP”—circumvents the preemption issue. The  municipal agreement document codifies regulations that are set up between the Coastal Commission and a local jurisdiction. On December 9, 2019, Malibu City Council unanimously voted to amend Malibu LCP to ban the use of toxic pesticides. Many advocates gave passionate testimony at the voting session, including environmental experts and attorneys that spoke to the legality of the move and the legal protection from predicted pesticide industry backlash. Activist Joel Schulman of Poison Free Malibu said about the ban, “We’re basing our local coastal program amendment on what [unincorporated L.A.] County did in 2014.” That year, L.A. County and the Coastal Commission banned anticoagulant rodenticides and some toxic pesticides in . . .

02
Jan

Study Highlights Lasting Benefits of Organic Practices on Soil Health and Crop Productivity

(Beyond Pesticides, January 2, 2020) Organic farming practices enhance soil life, resulting in long-term benefits for soil health that ultimately improve crop productivity, a study published in the journal Agricultural Systems finds. The research, published by scientists at Cornell University, underlines the important role soil-dwelling organisms (SDOs) must play in a sustainable agricultural future. “When I think about crop management, nutrient amendments are not going to be the limiting factor [in crop productivity] for farmers in the U.S.,” said study co-author Ashley Jernigan, a Cornell University graduate student in entomology. “Really, we need to be optimizing these biotic processes in our soil and focusing more on biotic measurements,” Ms. Jernigan said. Scientists began their research at an experimental farm that, since 2005, had been managed under four different organic cropping systems (reduced tillage, low fertility, high fertility, and enhanced weed management). In 2017, the entire site was plowed under and seeded with sorghum in order to understand how these prior practices affected soil health and crop productivity. The metrics measured by researchers include SDO abundance and community structure, crop productivity, and weed abundance. These metrics are found to be highly dependent on past management . . .

24
Dec

Best Wishes for a Healthy and Happy Holiday Season and New Year

(Beyond Pesticides, December 24, 2019) The staff and board of Beyond Pesticides wish our members and network all the best for the holiday season and new year. We look forward to working with you in the new year to meet the serious environmental and public health challenges with truly organic solutions. Our accomplishments are your victories. We are seeing the outcomes in communities across the country—the adoption of organic land management policies and practices that eliminate toxic pesticides, protect children and families, and protect the local ecology. Beyond Pesticides’ program responds to the urgent need to address the public health and environmental crises of our times—climate crisis, insect apocalypse, pesticide-induced illness, and the dramatic decline in biodiversity. With on-the-ground practices and local policies, we replace fossil fuel-based, toxic, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers with organic management strategies. TAKING A STAND Beyond Pesticides’ program supports a clear message: End toxic pesticide use and embrace organic practices and policies that respect the power of nature to heal— in the face of devastating and destructive toxic chemical-dependency. This past year has again elevated important public discourse on the threats that pesticides pose to health and the environment. We . . .

23
Dec

Take Action: USDA’s National Organic Program Must Protect Biodiversity

(Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2019) An unintended consequence of the National Organic Standards, the rules that govern certified organic agricultural production, actually provides an incentive for the conversion of critical ecosystems to organic cropland, fueling deforestation and biodiversity loss. Tell the National Organic Program to issue regulations that will prevent the conversion of native ecosystems to organic cropland. One National Organic Program (NOP) requirement for organic certification—a three-year waiting period during which land must be free of disallowed substances—encourages the conversion of critical ecosystems, which do not require the three-year waiting period. Conversions of native landscapes to working organic land to date include losses of: a California forest, Colorado prairies, a New Mexico wetland, and native sagebrush lands in Washington and Oregon. The Wild Farm Alliance, which provides critical leadership on the issue, points out, “These areas, that were once delivering critical ecosystem services and providing essential habitat for wildlife, are no longer performing the same functions and [it] would take hundreds of years to reverse the damage.” The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which is responsible for advising the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), has been studying this . . .
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