(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will permit the continued use of a known neurotoxic insecticide on the food the Americans eat, the agency announced yesterday in response to a lawsuit filed by public health groups. Health advocates say the move to continue chlorpyrifos use is the latest example of the agency working to protect the profits of industry over the health of Americans. â€śBy allowing chlorpyrifos to stay in our fruits and vegetables, Trumpâ€™s EPA is breaking the law and neglecting the overwhelming scientific evidence that this pesticide harms childrenâ€™s brains,â€ť said Patti Goldman, an attorney for Earthjustice.Â â€śIt is a tragedy that this administration sides with corporations instead of childrenâ€™s health.â€ť Under a lawsuit filed in the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals, EPA had 90 days to provide a justification for why the pesticide should remain on the market. EPA denied the petition yesterday, and rather than providing positive justification for continued use of the chemical, attacked the sound science claimants urged the agency to consider as â€śnotâ€¦valid, complete, and reliable.â€ť In the absence of EPA action, several states are leading in the protection of their residents by . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2019) A high-level, nongovernmental commission in the United Kingdom (UK) â€” the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) Food, Farming and Countryside Commission â€” has just released an important report: Our Future in the Land. As reported by The Guardian, â€śThe true cost of cheap, unhealthy food is a spiralling public health crisis and environmental destruction.â€ť The commissionâ€™s report calls for radical transformation of the UK food and agricultural system, by 2030, to sustainable, agroecological farming, and establishes steps to launch the process. A notable one of those steps is the creation of a nonprofit National Agroecology Development Bank to hasten and enable a fair and sustainable transition of a complex system. The commission also published a Field Guide to the Future, which it describes as a â€śpractical guide, with interviews and stories from the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s work across the UK, [including] case studies of good practice and stories of change [that] hint at a better future.â€ť Our Future in the Land declares, â€śOur future depends on the land. The land nourishes and supports us. It provides for our . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2019) Pesticide products containing the weed killer dicamba become more volatile and drift-prone in hot conditions and when tank-mixed with glyphosate, according to a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Tennessee. The findings help explain rampant complaints from farmers in the South and Midwest experiencing crop loss and economic hardship as a result of drift from new dicamba products, which are formulated with glyphosate for use on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and soy. While states have taken the lead in regulating the use of GE dicamba products, top political officials within Administrator Andrew Wheelerâ€™s EPA overruled the findings from agency scientists urging larger buffer zones to protect neighboring crops and farm fields. During a 60-hour window, scientists applied various GE dicamba products (Clarity and XtendiMax) over a range of temperatures and took air samples. As temperatures increased, so did the volatilization and drift of dicamba, even in formulations touted as â€ślow volatility.â€ť Adding glyphosate to the mixture produced stark results, increasing concentrations of dicamba in the air up to nine times compared to dicamba alone. Tom Mueller, PhD, a professor in the UT Department of Plant . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2019) A March 2017 bird kill incident in Modesto, CA can be traced directly back to an insecticide â€śsoil drenchâ€ť applied to the base of several elm trees by pesticide applicators hired by the city, as detailed in a study published last month in the Journal of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The chemical in question, the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, is implicated in the ongoing pollinator crisis and insect apocalypse, but can also affect bird populations. Prior research estimated that a single seed coated with the insecticide is enough to kill a songbird; this study confirms that such a scenario can and does play out in the real world. Progress and improvement will only occur when pest management practices stop focusing on pesticide use to solve routine pest problems and emphasize prevention. As part of city-wide pest management activities, Modesto officials said that imidacloprid was applied to elm trees in several front yards in a local neighborhood. The application took the form of a â€śsoil drench,â€ť which is when pesticide products are applied to the soil around the base of a tree or shrub. The systemic property of imidacloprid and other systemic . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2019)Â USDA’sÂ proposed new rulesÂ on genetically engineered (GE) crops exempt almost all GE crops from regulation and allow the company that makes them to decide whether they are safe. The rules proposed by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) benefit companies like Monsanto/Bayer and Dow, but fail to protect farmers, consumers, and the environment. Please tell APHIS to abandon its proposal and support a regulatory system that is consistent with modern science. Tell USDA not to allow companies to approve their own GE crops. The rules would govern USDA’s role in the outdated and fatally flawed â€śCoordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.â€ť The Framework fails to account for the unique risks of genetic engineering, using existing laws like the Plant Protection Act to address issues for which they were not designed. This proposal weakens the APHIS regulations even more. All genetically engineered (GE) organismsâ€”plants, animals, or microorganismsâ€”should be subjected to systematic assessments of human and environmental effects and indirect economic effects (such as contamination of organic or non-GE crops leading to rejection in foreign markets, spread of resistant pests, etc.) before being allowed on the market. These . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2019)Â On Friday, Marylandâ€™s highest court upheld the right of local governments to restrict the use of toxic lawn care pesticides more stringently than the state. By denying an appeal from the pesticide industryâ€™s challenge to a lower court ruling, the Maryland Court of Appeals has made official Montgomery Countyâ€™s 2015 Healthy Lawns Act, which prohibits toxic pesticides from being used on public and private property for cosmetic purposes. â€śThis long-awaited decision affirms local democratic decision making to protect health and the environment, upholding the first U.S. county law to ban toxic pesticides on private and public property,â€ť said Jay Feldman, executive director of the organization Beyond Pesticides. â€śThe law, now in force, will bring critical health protections for pregnant mothers, children and other vulnerable residents in Montgomery County, and safeguard sensitive wildlife species like pollinators.â€ť The decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals upholds local democratic decision making in the face of a challenge by industry groups representing lawn care companies and chemical manufacturers. The chemical industry has fought for nearly three decades to suppress the right of local governments in the U.S. to protect public health and safety with . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2019)Â The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced, on Saturday, July 6 that it would suspend indefinitely the data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies survey and report. The move came, tellingly, less than three weeks after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) once again approved â€śemergencyâ€ť uses of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, a bee-killing compound similar to the notorious neonicotinoids, insecticides that contribute significantly to the phenomena of pollinator collapse (â€ścolony collapse disorderâ€ť) and massive insect loss (â€śinsect apocalypseâ€ť) that are underway worldwide. Sulfoxaflor is one of the many toxic pesticides that threaten honey bees, which are critical pollinators responsible for one-third of the food we humans consume. Permitting its use and then ceasing to collect and report data on the status of honey bees that are likely to be impacted is not only a recipe for kneecapping the study of bee decline and imperiling the food supply, but also, another example of the corruption for which this administration is infamous. As The Huffington Post reported, â€śCritics say the USDAâ€™s move is the latest evidence of the Trump administrationâ€™s war on science, and its goal of suppressing information about serious environmental harms increasing . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2019) Pregnant mothers with higher concentrations of pesticide metabolites (breakdown products) in their urine are more likely to have children who develop symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to research conducted by the University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital. The results of this study are consistent with past findings from Rutgers University and Cincinnati Childrenâ€™s Medical Center, indicating a need for researchers to determine causality, and pesticide regulators to rein in toxic insecticide use. The pesticides investigated by researchers were breakdown products of the organophosphate chlorpyrifos, and the synthetic pyrethroid class of insecticides. The residue of these chemicals are frequently detected on conventional, industrially farmed food products. Although chlorpyrifos is banned from residential use in the U.S., most household bug sprays such as RAID contain high amounts of synthetic pyrethroids. Among the 948 pregnant Danish women tested, 90% had some level of chlorpyrifos metabolites (3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol) detected in their urine, and 94% were positive for the generic pyrethroid metabolite (3-phenoxybenzoic acid). Scientists continued to follow up with pregnant womenâ€™s children through the first five years of life. A child behavioral check list was completed to determine the relative . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2019) The California Coastal Commission will host a public hearing today on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposal to drop 1.5 tons of the rodenticide brodifacoum, an extremely potent anticoagulant, on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The Los Angeles Times headline on July 7 read, â€śBiologists say itâ€™s for the best.â€ť At the least, it is important to highlight that all biologists have not come to a consensus and the topic is very much still under debate. The commission has already received over 700 emails regarding the drop, with 600 opposing it. Home to rare, endemic seabirds such as the ashy storm-petrel, the Farallon Islands certainly have a serious mouse problem â€“ 59,000 rodents occupy the rocky islands. Mice compete with native species for resources and attract an average of six burrowing owls a year. Owls feast upon ashy storm-petrels when mouse populations drop during the winter, killing hundreds of petrels annually. The global population of the ashy storm-petrel is small (10,000 â€“ 20,000), but it is not considered an endangered species. The Audubon Society in California, which supports the brodifacoum program, worked with experts who . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2019) Teens and adolescents living in agricultural areas and exposed to organophosphate insecticides are at higher risk of depression, according to the findings of a new study in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. As rates of depression and suicide rise for teenagers in the US and throughout the world, public health researchers are working to find out why by investigating potential triggers. Toxic pesticide use represents a risk that can be addressed head on, protecting children and their families from a range of diseases that threaten public health. Jose R. Suarez-Lopez, MD, PhD, at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, has been studying children living in the Ecuadorian Andes since 2008. His team assessed 529 individuals aged between 11 and 17 for their blood levels of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme necessary for the proper functioning of nerves in the body. Exposure to organophosphate insecticides like chlorpyrifos and malathion have been shown to lower levels of AChE in the body. An assessment was also given to the children to fill out, in order to determine the severity of depressive symptoms or anxiety. Results showed . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2019)Â Scientists studying the precipitous decline in populations of monarch butterflies are searching for causes, and pesticide use is one of the factors under their (figurative) microscopes. Purdue University entomology professor Ian Kaplan, PhD and doctoral student Paola Olaya-Arenas recently turned their attention to a poorly studied potential factor â€” exposure during monarchsâ€™ larval stage to non-target pesticides on their primary host plant and food source, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). In Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the researchers report finding evidence of 14 different agricultural pesticides on milkweed near Indiana farm fields, including neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam, the pyrethroid deltamethrin, and imidacloprid in a few samples. The research teamâ€™s primary aim was to identify and measure the range of pesticides to which monarch caterpillars might be exposed, or which they might consume, on milkweed plants in agricultural landscapes. Secondarily, they hoped to learn how pesticide presence varies with distance between milkweed plants and nearby agricultural sites. In the subject Indiana environs, where corn and soybeans are dominant crops, the study found neonicotinoid residues on milkweed, particularly those of the active ingredients in clothianidin and thiamethoxam. They note, â€śAlthough seed . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2019) This is a story about a chemical pesticide, a fungicide, in wide use for which the mode of action, i.e., the ability to cause harm, has not been fully understood. It is not a story unique to this pesticide. Rather, it is an important story to consider when deciding to use a pesticide or allowing a pesticide to be used. The question is whether the chemical could be broadly problematic beyond the target organisms, in this case fungi?Â In its coverage of a study published in March, the American Association for the Advancement of Science publication, EurekAlert, reported that, â€śThe ability of [the fungicide] fludioxonil to act on a sugar-metabolizing enzyme common to all cells, and to produce the damaging compound methylglyoxal, may mean that the pesticide has more potential to harm non-fungal cells than previously thought. Although fludioxonil has been deemed safe for use, the authors . . . suggest that the effects of this widely used pesticide has upon animals be re-examined.â€ť The research study, published in March in Scientific Reports and led by T. Tristan Brandhorst, PhD (in the lab of Dr. Bruce Klein at the University . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 3, 2019) A disturbing association between urinary triclosan concentrations and osteoporosis has been identified in an epidemiological study. Drawing from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) results for 1,848 U.S. adult women, the authors conclude that higher concentrations of urinary triclosan are associated with lower bone mass density and higher prevalence of osteoporosis among U.S. adult women. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, adds weight to previous laboratory results, which showed that endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as triclosan can interfere with bone metabolism. Triclosan and its byproducts are known endocrine disruptors and have been shown in laboratory studies to interfere with collagen and bone structure. Taken together with previous findings, the new epidemiological results demonstrate that the ubiquitous endocrine disruptor triclosan â€ścould lead to lower BMD [benchmark dose] and increased prevalence of osteoporosis in U.S. adult women.â€ť Triclosan is used as an antimicrobial agent in products regulated by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and cumulative exposure to triclosan registered by both agencies pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. Triclosan exposure has . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2019) German cockroaches, the bane of many apartment-dwellers throughout the U.S., can rapidly develop cross-resistance to insecticides they have never been exposed to, according to researchers from Purdue University. â€śThis is a previously unrealized challenge in cockroaches,â€ť said Michael Scharf, PhD, whose findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports. â€śCockroaches developing resistance to multiple classes of insecticides at once will make controlling these pests almost impossible with chemicals alone.â€ť In the face of pesticide resistance, integrated measures that focus structural, mechanical, and cultural pest management practices must become standard practice for this notorious pest. Dr. Scharf and his colleagues began their study at two separate housing complexes in Indianapolis, IN and Danville, IL. Prior to the study, researchers pre-treated a subset of cockroaches in each building, and selected five insecticides out of 14 commercially available. These insecticides â€“ abamectin, pyriproxyfen, thiamethoxam, lambda-cyhalothrin, and boric acid, were used because cockroaches had already developed significant resistance to others tested, mostly synthetic pyrethroids. Pre-treatment applications of synthetic pyrethroids revealed over 80% of cockroaches surviving. For the insecticides left with any level of efficacy, researchers established three separate treatment approaches, . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2019)Â France made a decision in May to ban a widely-used fungicide because it damages the endocrine system. In contrast, there has been a stark failure to protect health in the U.S. Despite a Congressional mandate, EPA is not acting on endocrine disruptors linked to infertility and other reproductive disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and early puberty, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinsonâ€™s, Alzheimerâ€™s, and childhood and adult cancers. This is a tragedy. Ask your elected members of Congress to demand that EPA tests and acts on regulatory endocrine disruptors as required by law. In 1998, following a mandate in the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996, EPA established a program to screen and test pesticides and other widespread chemical substances for endocrine disrupting effects. Despite operating for 21 years, the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) has made little progress in reviewing and regulating endocrine-disrupting pesticides. Â As of 2019, the program has stalled entirely. To ensure appropriate follow-through, Congress gave EPA a timeline to: develop a peer-reviewed screening and testing plan with public input not later than two years after enactment (August 1998); implement screening and . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2019)Â As is the case in many countries, the conversation about the use of pesticides has been especially vigorous in the past few years. Switzerland is a case in point: it is undergoing deep scrutiny of pesticide use, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, has now said publicly that pesticide companiesâ€™ behavior is â€śseriously deficientâ€ť regarding human rights (especially those of children), and that the Swiss governmentÂ should act more aggressively to phase out use of these hazardous chemicals. Recently, the pesticide conversation has ratcheted up several notches, not only in the U.S., but also globally, due to greater public awareness of the health and environmental threats of pesticide use, more and more research underscoring those threats, and pointedly, the cascade of litigation against Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) for harm to individuals who have used its glyphosate-based products. Public awareness in Switzerland is also mounting in response to global developments, to recent discoveries that small streams in Swiss agricultural areas are heavily polluted with pesticides, and to broadening recognition that pesticides are linked to a plethora of harms to human health, pollinators, water, farmworkers, wildlife, ecosystems . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2017) A review of scientific literature urges for swift societal action on the collapse of insect populations worldwide, according to authors of a study. The authors point out that while there is a need for more research on the extent of the phenomenon as well as causal factors, there is currently sufficient evidence to spur and inform transformational policy in response to a definite worldwide crisis. The paper, Declines in insect abundance and diversity: We know enough to act now, provides a run-down of actions to takeâ€”from national policy to apartment balconies. Recent reports name alarming drops in insect diversity and abundance, prompting the ominous label of â€śinsect apocalypse.â€ť Almost half of all insect species are rapidly declining, and a third are being threatened with extinction. The authors state, â€śAlthough there has been some criticism of specific studies, the overall trend is clear and the broad geographic reach is perhaps the most dire feature of the current crisis, as assessments from all continents except Antarctica reveal declines.â€ť The main culprits of insect demise are habitat loss and degradation, pesticides, and climate change. The authors note that it is less . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2019) Â “We were drooling excessively. My eyes would not stop watering,â€ť Kaylynn Knull said to Denver ABC7, after she and her boyfriend filed suit against a Dominican Republic resort they claimed poisoned them with toxic pesticides. This year, the same resort, the Grand Bajia Principe, has had three Americans die on its premises. This is not the first time an island resort has been implicated in improper, potentially illegal pesticide use. In 2015, a family of four was poisoned by Terminix after the highly toxic fumigant methyl bromide was applied in a nearby room seeped in while they slept. Ms. Knull told ABC7 that the coupleâ€™s symptoms began after rejecting a time share offer at the resort. “As soon as we came back to the room, we noticed it smelled like somebody had dumped paint everywhere. I was having the worst intestinal cramping I have ever experienced. It felt like a chainsaw going through my gut.” The couple booked the first flight off the island, and went to a doctor, who diagnosed them with “Likely Organophosphate poisoning.” Organophosphates are acutely toxic insecticides that bind to and block the transmission of the . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2019) A study finds that the interaction of a common honey bee parasite with neonicotinoid insecticides causes 70% reductions in overwintering honey bee survival. These results help to explain the unsustainable honey bee colony losses observed in recent decades. Neonicotinoids (neonics) are a class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects. Studies show that neonicotinic residues accumulate in pollen and nectar of treated plants, and, given their widespread use and known toxic effects, there is major concern that neonics play a major contributing role in pollinator declines. In the early 2000s, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) brought national attention to increased honey bee colony losses. During the same period that CCD and colony losses spiked, neonic prevalence skyrocketed, in large part due to the introduction of seed-delivered technologies. As of 2011, 34-44% of soybeans and 79-100% of maize hectares were preemptively treated with neonics. While CCD prevalence has decreased, colony loss rates (and systemic insecticide use) remain high. A 2018 national survey indicates that U.S. beekeepers currently experience an average annual colony mortality rate of 30.7%, double the pre-CCD . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2019) During â€śPollinator Week,â€ť last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency betrayed its responsibility to protect the environment and approved â€śemergencyâ€ť uses of sulfoxaflor, a bee-toxic insecticide, in 11 states on millions of acres of crops that are attractive to bees. Sulfoxaflor is functionally identical to the neonicotinoid class ofÂ systemic pesticides, which are readily absorbed and translocated into the plant tissues, including its pollen and nectar. These insecticides are substantial contributors to the dramatic decline of pollinators and what is now recognized as aÂ global insect apocalypse. Ask Your Elected Members of Congress to Tell EPA that Its Actions Are Unacceptable and Must Be Reversed In 2015,Â beekeepers suedÂ to suspend the use of sulfoxaflor. A year later, in 2016, the chemical’s registration was amended with the specific exclusion of crops such as cotton and sorghum that attract bees, essentially acting as an aromatic draw to poison. However, EPA regularly utilizes the â€śemergency exemptionâ€ť rule under Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to circumvent these restrictions. The Center for Biological Diversity reports, â€śTen of the 11 states have been granted the approvals for at least four consecutive years for the . . .