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Daily News Blog

24
Mar

As Global Warming Accelerates to Catastrophic Levels, President Biden Vetoes Bill that Would Exacerbate Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides. March 24, 2023) The news on March 20 yielded a telling juxtaposition as the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report asserting that the world is on the “brink of catastrophic warming” — even while Congressional Republicans passed a measure to allow corporate profiteers to make that warming worse. Fortunately, President Biden vetoed that “ESG” bill, which sought to overturn a Labor Department rule that eased the ability of pension and 401(k) fund managers to consider environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) impacts of investments and shareholder rights decisions. (On March 23, House Republicans tried, but failed, to override the veto.) The IPCC‘s definitive report finds that humanity is very close to a dangerous climate threshold, but that “it does not mean we are doomed” if humans rapidly transition off of burning fossil fuels. Beyond Pesticides endorses both investment rules that advance protection of the climate, people, and the environment, and dramatic action on climate — including the cessation of use of fossil-fuel-derived synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and the transition to organic agriculture and land management. The IPCC report, says The Washington Post (WaPo), asserts that . . .

23
Mar

Death Tied to 1,3-D (Telone) Fumigant Highlights Sensitivity of the Brain to Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2023) A case report article published in Frontier in Public Health confirms one of the first reported deaths from inhalation of the fumigant 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D or Telone) during work, resulting in acute renal (kidney) failure, hyperkalemia (high potassium levels in the blood), and brain edema (swelling). 1,3-D is a highly toxic fumigant used on a variety of crops, but primarily on potatoes, tobacco, strawberries, peanuts, and tomatoes to manage unwanted nematodes in soils. The chlorine-containing compound used in a greenhouse space entered the body of a 50-year-old man in China, being absorbed through the respiratory tract. Despite dilution from his wife, the compound was still strong enough to cause harm to human health. Without proper ventilation and personal protective equipment, wearing merely a surgical mask did not adequately defend against exposure to 1,3-D. This case represents the broader issue of how toxic chemical compounds can enter the body, causing physiological damage. Specifically, pesticides can increase the permeability (absorptiveness) of the blood-brain barrier that filters various molecules entering the brain from the circulatory system. However, the permeation of pesticide molecules elevates the expression and accumulation of soluble proteins in the brain involved in . . .

22
Mar

Pesticide Dangers at Golf Courses Much Higher in the U.S. than Europe, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2023) Pesticide use on golf courses in the United States poses significantly more risk to human health than those in Europe, according to a study published this month in Science of the Total Environment. The findings highlight yet another area of land management where the U.S. is dangerously behind the European Union, as these countries are set to ban pesticides in parks, playgrounds, and playing fields, and have established a 50% reduction goal for agriculture by 2030. Meanwhile U.S. agencies continue to perpetuate widespread toxic pesticide use, with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack even working to counter the EU’s reduction goals through a separate, “market-oriented” initiative alongside pesticide industry-friendly countries like UAE and Brazil. Researchers found that pesticide risks from golf courses in the U.S. were on average 15 times higher than those in the EU. In order to come to that conclusion, surveys were sent out to courses in eight regions: East Texas, Florida, the Midwest, Northeast, and Northwest in the U.S., and the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Norway in Europe. Recorded answers (including product applied, date, rate, and area of application) were incorporated into the . . .

21
Mar

Chemical-Driven Agriculture Damages Microbial Health of Bee Colonies

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2023) Placing honey bee hives in agricultural areas creates stress that leads to microbial imbalances, according to research published in Scientific Reports by Croatian scientists this month. The research highlights the fragility and absurdity of chemical-driven agricultural systems dependent upon both pollinators and products that harm or kill off these sensitive species. While regulators in the United States continue to prop up unsustainable practices, more and more consumers are seeking out and engaging with the key alternative to this system by supporting organic farms and foodstuffs at their farmers market and grocery store. Scientists began by creating 33 colonies from three apiaries within an agricultural region in Croatia, utilizing four brood frames, two honey frames, and mated queens. Of these 33 newly created hives, 22 were relocated to a separate agricultural region, and 11 were placed roughly six miles away from a nature preserve and considered a semi-natural area. A separate group of 10 hives that had been established on a small island (Unije, Croatia) in the Adriatic Sea were included in the study in order to represent a completely natural location. After roughly two weeks of colony formation, scientists . . .

20
Mar

Strong Organic Standards Require Continuing Public Involvement; Comments Are Due 11:59pmEDT April 5

(Beyond Pesticides, March 20, 2023) As a means of taking on the challenges of health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency, the review and updating of organic standards requires the public involvement in the current public comment period. This is required to keep organic strong and continually improving. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through April 5, 2023. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on April 18 and 20 and deliberative hearing April 25-27—concerning how organic food is produced. Sign up for a 3-minute comment to let U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) know how important organic is at the webinar by April 5. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. by 11:59 pm EDT April 5. Links to the virtual comment webinars will be provided approximately one week before the webinars. The NOSB is responsible for guiding USDA in its administration of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), including the materials allowed to be used in organic production and handling. The role of the NOSB is especially important as we depend on organic production to protect our ecosystem, mitigate climate change, and enhance our . . .

17
Mar

U.S. House Votes to Reverse Protection of Threatened Waterways; Will Senate Uphold Rule Set for March 20?

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2023) The U.S. House of Representatives’ Republican majority voted on March 9 to overturn a Biden administration rule that expands the definition of and protections for the “waters of the United States.” The rule, Revised Definition of Waters of the United States, clarifies that thousands of wetlands, smaller streams, and other kinds of waterways are included under the Clean Water Act’s protection provisions. The overturning resolution now goes to the Senate, and is expected to be taken up very soon; President Biden has said he will exercise his veto power if it reaches his desk. Were that veto overridden, this rollback would put at greater risk the nation’s waterways, from all sorts of pollution, including the more than 90% of the nation’s rivers and streams that are contaminated with five or more pesticides, according to Beyond Pesticides 2020 coverage. You can contact your U.S. Senators HERE to let them know you want them to support Clean Water by voting against legislation that undermines protection of our waterways. The rules promulgated by EPA and other federal agencies to protect the nation’s waters arise primarily from 1972’s Clean Water Act . . .

16
Mar

PFAS Leaches into Ketchup, Mayo, Other Common Foods, Elevating Health Hazards

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2023) Highly hazardous PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are leaching out of plastic containers and contaminating food products, according to research published in Environment Technology and Letters this month. The data confirm the results of prior research focused on the propensity of PFAS to contaminate various pesticide products through the storage containers. That data led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue a warning over the potential for direct PFAS contamination of food. The current study, conducted by scientists at Notre Dame University, confirms these worst fears and shows that the containers of commonly used products like ketchup and mayonnaise are leaching out levels that post a threat to human health. “Not only did we measure significant concentrations of PFAS in these containers, we can estimate the PFAS that were leaching off creating a direct path of exposure,” said study coauthor Graham Peaslee, PhD, professor of physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Notre Dame. In breaking news on Tuesday, EPA is setting standards for two PFAS, PFOA and PFOS at no more than 4 parts per trillion in drinking water. While testing will be . . .

15
Mar

Maui County, Hawai’i Leads Nation in Supporting Transition to Organic Agriculture with New Law

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2023) In a move that will improve land access for MauiÊ»s organic farmers, Maui County Council passed Bill 160 (Kula Agricultural Park Phase I Expansion Area),  reserving 262 acres in the Kula Agricultural Park for practices that comply with the Organic Foods Production Act and USDA organic standards, and removing barriers in the application process in favor of emerging farmers. Councilmember Gabe Johnson, chair of the Agriculture, Diversification, Environment and Public Transportation Committee, sponsored the bill. “Regenerative agriculture is a forward-thinking system that works to nurture soil, protect water resources and biodiversity, and combat climate change,” said Mr. Johnson. “We need to create an environment that supports our farmers and agriculture economy.” Maui County currently has an operational 445 acre Agriculture Park, available for lease at the affordable rate of $100 per acre per month. All users of the current Agriculture Park practice chemical-intensive methods, making it an unsuitable area for organic farmers. In 2018, Maui County purchased an additional 262 acres to expand the Agriculture Park, and Bill 160 reserves the expansion area for organic practices, giving organic farmers the same opportunity for affordable land access. The Kula . . .

14
Mar

Implications for Human Health: Work-Related Pesticide Exposure Increases Sleep Disorder Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2023) A study published in Environmental Research and Public Health finds occupational pesticide exposure increases the risk of sleep disorders among farmworkers and pesticide applicators. Specifically, many pesticides, like organophosphates (OPs), are detrimental to neurological function through inhibition of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) responsible for ending a neurotransmission event after relaying the necessary information. Without an end to neurotransmission events, individuals experience a buildup of acetylcholine, resulting in convulsions, headaches, weakness, impacts on bodily senses, and other cognitive/mental changes. In addition to illnesses from chemical exposure, inadequate sleep has links to several chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Therefore, given research links to sleep-related disorders and bodily functions, including endocrine, metabolic, neurological, and cognitive disorders, studies like this can help government and health officials identify how pesticides’ impact on the brain elevates health concerns. The study notes, “The study’s findings can be used to create strategies for addressing mental health issues and promoting mental health and quality of life.” Researchers assess the sleep patterns among individuals living in southeast Spain, near the coast of Almeria, where chemical-intensive agriculture from greenhouses is prevalent. Of the . . .

13
Mar

United Nations and White House Calls for Action to Protect the Oceans

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2023) The United Nations has just announced on March 4, 2023, an agreement on a new high seas treaty. The treaty, which must be adopted by member states and then ratified by at least 60 countries to take effect could be a critical development for meeting the UN’s COP15 “30 by 30” goal of protecting 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030 to slow and arrest global biodiversity losses. The treaty represents a step toward implementation of President Biden’s “America the Beautiful Initiative” set in 2021, proclaiming “the first-ever national conservation goal” established by a President –a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.” However, he U.S. has a poor track record on approval of UN environmental treaties; approval requires a two-thirds majority affirmative vote in the Senate, and failure on that would block a Presidential signature and ratification. Meanwhile, a report just reissued by an international coalition of scientists led by Boston College’s Global Public Health Program and Global Observatory on Planetary Health and the Centre Scientifique de Monaco documents the widespread and growing pollution of the ocean. The full report, . . .

10
Mar

193 Countries in the United Nations Approve Treaty to Stop the Oceans from Dying

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2023) Following years of discussions and negotiations, 193 United Nations member countries have just approved — for the first time — a draft treaty for protection of the globe’s “high seas” and their denizens. The March 4 adoption of the draft marks the achievement of a potential legal framework for such protections, but is also the beginning of “a long journey to ensure the world’s oceans are adequately protected for future generations,” according to coverage by NewScientist. As research out of Boston College identifies, our oceans are badly polluted by multiple substances — including pesticides and other agricultural runoff; industrial and petrochemical waste; and the synthetic chemicals embedded in plastics — that threaten human health. The treaty, which must be adopted by member states and then ratified by at least 60 countries to take effect could be a critical development for meeting the COP15 “30 by 30” goal of protecting 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030 to slow and arrest global biodiversity losses. Beyond Pesticides has long covered the ecological harms of ocean pollution.  The treaty represents a step toward implementation of President Biden’s 2021 “America the Beautiful Initiative,” proclaiming “the first-ever . . .

09
Mar

Prenatal Pesticide Exposure Threatens Children’s Language Development at 18 Months after Birth, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2023) A study published in Environmental Research finds exposure to organophosphate (OP) compounds during pregnancy, or prenatal OP exposure can cause shortfalls in language development abilities at 18 months, stifling preschool-age language expression. Additionally, a timely and co-occurring study published in Environmental International confirms similar results, highlighting that chlorpyrifos (an organophosphate) impedes neurological and psychological development, including language communication and all motor skills of offspring at 12 and 18 months old. Prenatal development is one of the most vulnerable periods of exposure, as the fetus is most susceptible to the harmful effects of chemical contaminants. Many studies indicate that prenatal and early-life exposure to environmental toxicants increases susceptibility to diseases, from learning and developmental disabilities to cancer. Given research links to pesticide exposure and neurological and cognitive development, studies like this can help government and health officials identify how pesticides’ impact on the brain elevates health concerns. The Environmental Research authors note, “The etiology [cause] of language development is complex, and this work further highlights the importance of the prenatal environment as a mechanism of influence that are associated with deficits in early language acquisition and ability, which could signal increased behavioral problems and academic . . .

08
Mar

Creosote-Induced Health Problems Persist from Springfield, MO Production, Now Superfund, Site

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2023) An old Kerr-McGee Wood Treatment Facility is still causing health issues among residents in Springfield, Missouri. The former site of pressure-treated railroad tie production remains contaminated with creosote, a concoction of dangerous chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols, and creosols. While residents are still dealing with lingering effects of a now shuttered production site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to reregister creosote (wood preservatives are regulated as pesticides in the U.S.), perpetuating the harm caused by this material despite the wide availability of alternatives. The wood treatment facility in question operated for nearly 100 years, releasing significant levels of creosote-related chemicals throughout the immediate region. The Kerr-McGee Corporation spun off its liability for a range of hazardous sites previously under its control to a separate company called Tronox, which subsequently declared bankruptcy in 2009. Andarko Petroleum then purchased Kerr-McGee, but, during bankruptcy proceedings, Tronox filed a complaint against both Andarko and Ker-McGee, alleging fraudulent conveyance of the liabilities. As EPA explains, “At the core of the plaintiffs’ complaints is the allegation that the Defendants fraudulently transferred valuable assets out of Tronox and left Tronox with . . .

07
Mar

Glyphosate Exposure Associated with Liver and Metabolic Disorders in Children, Young Adults

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2023) Exposure to glyphosate (Roundup) and its breakdown products is associated with an increased risk of liver and metabolic disorders in children and young adults, according to research published in Environmental Health Perspectives earlier this month. While glyphosate has developed a well-deserved reputation as a carcinogen, research is finding that cancer is one of a myriad of chronic diseases associated with the notorious chemical. As this body of literature grows, growing awareness by the public is increasing pressure on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cancel its allowed uses. Researchers began their investigation concerned about the rise of liver disorders and metabolic syndrome among young people. This trend has been pronounced among populations of color. The worrying increase has led many to consider synthetic chemical exposure as a contributing factor, as lack of diet and exercise is unlikely to account for the entirety of the increase. To better understand these impacts, researchers enrolled existing participants in the CHAMACOS (Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas) study, a long running cohort of mothers and their children born between the years 2000 and 2002 in the Salinas Valley of California. . . .

06
Mar

Take Action: Farmworker Protections Fall Short

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2023) After the Trump EPA was blocked from weakening the application exclusion zone (AEZ) provisions for protecting farmworkers, the rules reverted to the Obama era rules. Now, EPA proposes to reaffirm part of that rule, while accepting some of the weakening amendments from the Trump administration. Tell EPA to strengthen pesticide rules to protect farmworkers. Tell President Biden to sign the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.    EPA’s Worker Protection Standards (WPS) are rules that govern labor safety standards within federal pesticide law (the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, or FIFRA). Farmworkers are not covered for toxic chemical exposure by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and WPS have long been criticized by farmworker, labor, and health advocates for providing insufficient protections for farmworkers, their children and communities. Under the WPS, AEZs are buffer zones where people are not allowed to enter during the course of a pesticide application. Like all buffer zones, they are designed to allow application of toxic pesticides while providing a nominal degree of protection. Pesticides drift . . .

03
Mar

Groups Challenge EPA on Allowing Toxic Pesticides that Do Not Even Work and Without Its Review

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2023) On February 22, a group of 65 nonprofit organizations (including Beyond Pesticides) filed a citizen petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that asks the agency to close a gaping — and well exploited — regulatory loophole by revoking a 1984 regulation that waived efficacy data requirements in pesticide evaluations. This means that EPA has, for 39 years, registered pesticides without demonstrated proof of efficacy and benefits. The petition is aimed primarily at the widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics), which are so harmful to hundreds of species — and to bees, other pollinators, and birds, in particular — that many advocates have insisted they should be banned altogether. Beyond Pesticides has advocated for a neonics ban because of their extensive harms to pollinators, multiple other organisms (including humans), ecosystems, and natural resources. The Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Biological Diversity, Beyond Pesticides, and other advocates have filed lawsuits in recent years to get EPA to act protectively on neonics and other pesticides. The coalition of groups in the subject case seeks to rein in a plethora of harmful impacts of neonics, given EPA’s . . .

02
Mar

Pesticide Exposure and the Link to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2023) Populations experiencing higher levels of environmental pollutant exposure, specifically pesticides, also experience a higher rate of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a study published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology. IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that causes abdominal pain or discomfort and changes in bowel behaviors. IBS affects 25 to 45 million individuals in the U.S., mostly female (two-thirds). Additionally, a quarter to half of all gastrointestinal-related visits are for IBS symptoms. Despite the unknown etiology of IBS, ample evidence demonstrates environmental contaminants, like pesticides, negatively affect the gut microbiota, causing a microorganism imbalance and resulting in inflammation associated with IBS. The gut, also known as the “second brain,” shares similar structural and chemical parallels to the brain. The microbiota in the gut plays a crucial role in lifelong digestion, immune and central nervous system regulation, as well as other bodily functions. Although studies show how chemical exposures affect overall human health, a growing body of peer-reviewed scientific literature is now questioning how these toxic chemicals influence gut health and the subsequent occurrence of diseases. The study notes, “These findings may help to understand the relationship between pesticide exposure and IBS; however, more epidemiological and . . .

01
Mar

Strawberries Lose Their Sweetness, Aroma, and Taste after Being Sprayed with Chemical Fungicides, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2023) Fungicides sprayed on chemically farmed strawberries reduce their flavor quality, according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry this week. This explanation is a major insight for frustrated consumers who may remember when the strawberries sold at retail contained deeper, more complex flavors. As the agrichemical industry claims that dangerous pesticides are needed to grow food to feed the world, it is evident these practices health and environmental hazards, but also affect the quality of the food grown. As savvy shoppers and gardeners already know, buying and growing organic addresses this range of issues, improving flavor while protecting wildlife and public health. Scientists developed their study to better understand the mechanisms leading to flavor deterioration by growing strawberry plants in a greenhouse with chemical-intensive practices, including the use of synthetic fertilizers. One group was treated with the fungicide boscalid, another with the fungicide difenconazole, and a control group received no spray. Fruits were sprayed beginning at the green, small fruit stage, a total of two times, and collections from each group were taken at the white, turning, and red fruit stage (zero, three, and seven days . . .

28
Feb

EPA Proposes Reinstating Obama-era Farmworker Protections and Adds Compromises with Industry

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2023) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a proposed rule this month to update the way farmers, farmworkers, and bystanders are protected from toxic pesticide applications. The rule, which governs “Application Exclusion Zones” (AEZs), is being put forth to reinstate an Obama-era rule with the addition of some new industry-friendly provisions. EPA characterizes a return to the past with the adoption of former protections, after a period of deep deregulation under the Trump Administration, as a step forward in protecting farmworkers from toxic exposure. “EPA’s top priority is to protect public health and the environment, and today’s proposal is a significant step forward to further protect the farmworkers, farmers and pesticide handlers who deliver the fuel, fiber and food that runs America,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Farmworker justice is environmental justice, and we’re continuing to take action to make sure these communities are protected equally under the law from pesticide exposure.” However, within the historical context of this proposal, it appears as though the agency will end up with rules that are weaker, and more industry-friendly than those currently in place before the Trump Administration. AEZs are buffer . . .

27
Feb

Take Action: Sustainable “Roadmap” Falls Short of What Is Needed To Solve Existential Crises

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2023) California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is asking for comments on its “Sustainable Pest Management (SPM) Roadmap” by 5 pm (PST) March 13, 2023. While recognizing problems inherent in traditional integrated pest management (IPM), DPR’s roadmap is directing us to a destination that includes another generation of exposure to the worst of the worst pesticides—while failing to embrace the elimination of farm inputs harmful to ecosystems and the capacity of soil biology to cycle nutrients and draw down the maximum amount of atmospheric carbon. The Roadmap’s off-handed rejection of organic practices, rather than building on organic systems, creates a lost opportunity for adopting a holistic and serious solution to the current crises of health threats from pesticides, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency. Tell DPR to revise its destination to immediately eliminate the worst pesticides and implement wide scale transition to organic practices. DPR’s Roadmap states these goals: By 2050, eliminate the use of Priority Pesticides by transitioning to SPM. By 2050, SPM will be adopted as the de facto pest management system in California. DPR says “The criteria for classifying pesticides as “Priority Pesticides” include, but are not . . .
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