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Daily News Blog

Archive for November, 2021


30
Nov

CA Supreme Court Upholds $87M Award in Glyphosate Damage Lawsuit, Bayer/Monsanto Challenge Fails

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2021) The chronicle of developments in the glyphosate saga has just grown longer: the California Supreme Court has rejected a request by Bayer AG for review of the August 2021 First District Court of Appeal (San Francisco) ruling, for the plaintiffs, that Monsanto knowingly marketed a product — Roundup — whose active ingredient (glyphosate) could be dangerous. The $87 million in damages awarded to the plaintiffs in the litigation, Alberta and Alva Pilliod, has thus survived Bayer’s challenge. This highest state court decision racks up another loss for Bayer (which now owns the Monsanto “Roundup” brand) — despite its dogged insistence, throughout multiple lawsuits (with many more still in the pipeline), that glyphosate is safe. Beyond Pesticides has covered the glyphosate saga extensively; see its litigation archives for multiple articles on glyphosate lawsuits. Glyphosate has been the subject of a great deal of public, advocacy, and regulatory attention, as well as the target of thousands of lawsuits — particularly since the 2015 declaration by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) that the compound is a likely human carcinogen. In June 2020, facing approximately 125,000 suits for Roundup’s role in cancer outcomes, Bayer announced a $10 billion […]

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29
Nov

Aerial Drop of Rodenticides on Farallon Islands in California Threatens Ecosystem, Comments Due

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2021) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is reviving its proposal to aerially apply (by helicopter) the toxic rodenticide brodifacoum to kill house mice on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge off the Northern California coast. Globally significant wildlife populations inhabit the Farallones, including hundreds of thousands of seabirds and thousands of seals and sea lions. According to FWS, these include: thirteen species seabird species that nest on the islands including Leach’s Storm-petrel, Ashy Storm-petrel, Fork-tailed Storm-petrel, Double-crested Cormorant, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Black Oystercatcher, Western Gull, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Cassin’s Auklet, Rhinocerous Auklet, and Tufted Puffin; pinnipeds including Northern fur seals, Steller sea lions, California sea lions, harbor seals, and northern elephant seals that breed or haul-out onto Farallon Refuge; and endemic species including white sharks, hoary bats, and arboreal salamanders. Tell the California Coastal Commission to deny the proposed aerial dispersal of the highly toxic rodenticide brodifacoum on the Farallon Islands. Brodifacoum is a “second generation anticoagulant rodenticide” (SGAR) that is highly toxic to birds, mammals, and fish. It also poses a secondary poisoning risk to predators. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation quotes the FWS: “Secondary exposure to SGARs is particularly […]

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24
Nov

Joining Together to Give Thanks As We Confront the Challenges Ahead

  (Beyond Pesticides, November 24, 2021) On Thanksgiving, thank you for being a part of Beyond Pesticides and sharing and contributing to the vision necessary to protect the web and fragility of life. We believe that there is no time like Thanksgiving to think about how we can more effectively join together as families and communities across divisions and different points of view to find a common purpose in protecting the health of the environment and all that inhabit it. Unfortunately, there are a host of pesticides, genetically engineered materials, and others in conventional Thanksgiving foods that not only impact human health, but threaten the environment. With far too many adverse health and ecological effects associated with toxic chemicals, organic practices are viable solutions to mitigate pesticide contamination and subsequent exposure. Read on as we consider the range of challenges we must confront, and the solutions that can bring us all together. The Climate As climate impacts grow, an increase in uses of synthetic pesticides in agriculture is likely — because of waning efficacy (pesticide resistance) of these compounds, and mounting pest pressure (i.e., increasing insect population and metabolism). Production of pesticides contributes to greenhouse gas emissions gas (e.g., nitrous […]

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23
Nov

Fungal Resistance to Antimicrobial Pesticides Leads to Deadly Infection

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced, in mid-October, a revision of its guidance on the evaluation of antimicrobial pesticides used against Candida auris (C. auris). This pathogen is a type of fungus (a yeast) that can cause serious infection, and can spread readily among patients and staff in hospitals and other congregate healthcare settings (such as nursing homes). C. auris has developed resistance to what used to be the therapeutic impacts of major antifungal medications. (Resistance is a major and growing problem in healthcare and in agriculture, with the latter exacerbating the former.) Another moving part in this unholy development of “chemical compounds no longer working” is EPA’s failure to assess the efficacy of any pesticides that are not used for public health purposes; for example, EPA evaluates the efficacy of only those antimicrobial compounds whose use patterns classify them as human-health-related. This failure to evaluate efficacy of all other pesticide products leaves many people in the dark about whether what they may be using actually works — never mind the potential risks associated with that use. The antifungal medications that have been used for many years to treat Candida infections often no longer work for C. auris; […]

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22
Nov

Backyard Bird Counts Begin this Fall; Pledge Your Pollinator-Friendly Land

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22, 2021) It is the time of the year for backyard bird counts to begin. Birdwatching is the most popular form of amateur science. It takes little to get started. Birds are fun to watch and photogenic. Birdwatching may be practiced alone or in groups. Birdwatching is also a way to participate in science, and you can do it from home. Cornell Lab of Ornithology collaborates with other organizations to gather data collected at feeders and elsewhere. Cornell Lab’s eBird is one of the world’s largest biodiversity-related science projects, with more than 100 million sightings reported annually. eBird and FeederWatch data document bird distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends. According to Cornell Lab, “eBird data are stored across secure facilities, archived daily, and are freely accessible to anyone. eBird data have been used in hundreds of conservation decisions and peer-reviewed papers, thousands of student projects, and help inform bird research worldwide.” Data submitted to eBird are also used to support conservation measures. If birds aren’t your favorites, all kinds of citizen science programs that ensure that conservation decisions are informed by the best available data, which is a fundamental challenge in the face of rapid global environmental […]

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19
Nov

Go Organic this Thanksgiving and Keep the Toxic Turkey and Fixings Off Your Plate

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2021) Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for people to come together and give thanks for the bounty of an organic harvest. Unfortunately, many Thanksgiving meals are produced by chemical farming practices that utilize hazardous pesticides, genetically engineered (GE) crops, and petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers. These inputs, apart from being unnecessary, degrade ecosystems and affect the health of consumers and agricultural workers alike. It’s never too late to start a new tradition – for this year and into the future, make your Thanksgiving feast sustainable by going organic. Now, more than ever, it’s important to go organic: For Our Own Health Going organic drastically reduces the amount of pesticide in a person’s body. Although Thanksgiving is generally no time to think about dieting, we’ll aim to make it instructive: recent research finds that one of the biggest health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet comes when you go organic. Compared to individuals on a Mediterranean diet filled with chemically farmed foods, those that ate organic had 91% lower pesticide residue. This finding is backed up by a considerable body of prior research. A 2015 study based on self-reported food intake found that those who eat organic generally have much lower […]

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18
Nov

Pesticide Exposure Contributes to Preterm Births and Low Birth Weight

(Beyond Pesticides, November 18, 2021) A study published by King George’s Medical University, India, finds exposure to xenobiotic substances like pesticides during pregnancy increases risks associated with preterm birth, including a rise in cesarean section (C-section) deliveries and a decrease in fetal body weight. Preterm births occur when a fetus is born early or before 37 weeks of complete gestation. Premature births can result in chronic (long-term) illnesses among infants from lack of proper organ development and even death. Birth and reproductive complications are increasingly common among individuals exposed to environmental toxicants, like pesticides. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports the preterm birth rate is increasing annually. Therefore, studies like this can help government and health officials safeguard human health by assessing adverse effects following prevalent chemical exposure. The study notes, “To the best of our knowledge, this was a pioneering study, and it may help to increase our knowledge with regard to xenobiotic exposure in biological systems and the need for stringent guidelines for agricultural use of pesticides.” The study examines the association between the transfer of xenobiotics (foreign synthetic substances like pesticides) from mother to fetus. Transferal of these toxic substances can result in biological and chemical changes (i.e., genotoxicity […]

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17
Nov

Bill in New York Would Restrict Use of ‘Bug Bombs’ Statewide

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2021) New York state senator Zellnor Myrie (D-NYC) introduced legislation this week that would restrict, and in certain cases ban the use of ‘bug bombs’ in the state. Total release foggers, more aptly referred to as bug bombs (because in some cases, they literally blow up), are dangerous indoor devices that release an aerosolized plume of toxic pesticides and unknown inert ingredients in an overpowered, ineffectual attempt to manage common pest problems. As Sen. Myrie notes in his legislative justification for the bill, “This is an environmental justice issue disproportionately affecting lower-income individuals, as bug bombs are a relatively inexpensive pest management solution. As a result, individuals living in older, larger multi-dwellings, who also suffer from adverse health outcomes like asthma at higher rates, are disproportionately exposed to the harmful effects of bug bombs.” Senator Myrie’s legislation, S.7516, will allow only certified pesticide applicators to purchase and use the dangerous devices, and would completely ban their use in multi-unit dwellings. “Foggers should not be used in multi-dwelling buildings, but existing New York state law does not prohibit this use,” Sen Myrie continues in his legislative justification. “Restricting the sale of pesticide foggers to consumers, restricting their […]

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16
Nov

Disease Carrying Mosquitoes More Prevalent in Neighborhoods of Low Socioeconomic Status

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2021) Populations of disease-carrying mosquitoes are higher in urban areas of lower socioeconomic status, according to research published this year in the Journal of Urban Ecology. With insect-borne diseases on the rise due to a rapidly changing climate, it is critical to highlight disease patterns and target aid to communities at greatest risk. While pesticide use is often the knee-jerk reaction to high mosquito populations, it is critical not to compound health risks through toxic chemical use. The factors that lead to higher rates of disease-carrying mosquitoes can be remedied through considerate planning and targeted, consistent investment in sustainable infrastructure. To determine the prevalence of mosquito populations, in particular populations of disease-carrying Aedes aegypti, along a gradient of socioeconomic status, researchers began their work in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Eight neighborhoods across the region were categorized based on socioeconomic factors such as household income, population density, health coverage, unemployment level, education, and the amount of trash and abandoned homes in the area.  Mosquitoes were sampled from October 2018 to May 2019, using six mosquito traps per neighborhood. A total of over 12,000 mosquitoes were trapped over the course of the study, with nearly 90% of traps […]

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15
Nov

Call on USDA to Provide Organic School Lunches to Fight Childhood Obesity

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2021) A recent hearing in the U.S. Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research, subcommittee chair Senator Cory Booker stressed the failures of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food and nutrition programs, saying, “Our food system is not a “free market,” we are picking winners and losers, and it’s consumers, family farmers, and food workers who are losing.” Tell USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to require organic school lunches. Experts at the hearing pointed out impacts of poor nutrition choices that are driven by USDA’s policies. Associate professor Angela Odoms-Young, PhD of Cornell University said, “People of color overall, and Black populations specifically, face higher rates of diet-related chronic conditions and have poorer dietary intakes as compared to whites. We did not get here by chance but through policy.” Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the U.S., leading to a host of health problems in childhood and later in life. Juvenile obesity is highest in Hispanic, African American, and lower income groups, which provides an opportunity for USDA’s school lunch program to have a positive impact. At the hearing, Donald Warne, MD, MPH of the University of North Dakota medical […]

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12
Nov

Organic Takes on Existential Health and Environmental Crises, While Some Critics Lack Context (Response to New Yorker piece)

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2021) Omnivorous readers may have encountered an article, in the November 15 issue of The New Yorker magazine, titled — at best misleadingly, and certainly sensationally — “The Great Organic-Food Fraud.” The subhead comports with the tone of the headline: “There’s no way to confirm that a crop was grown organically. Randy Constant exploited our trust in the labels — and made a fortune.” The piece, by Ian Parker, tells a complex tale of the machinations of dishonest and greedy people who saw, in the commerce in organic grains, an opportunity to misrepresent nonorganic crops as organic and make a boatload of money in doing so. What the article fails to do is render any comprehensive picture of how National Organic Program certification and inspection work, and the underlying principles, values, and standards in federal law (the Organic Foods Production Act), nor does it review either the benefits of organic agriculture broadly or the massive harmful impacts of conventional, chemical-intensive agriculture in the U.S. Beyond Pesticides provides ballast, in this Daily News Blog article, to the failings of the New Yorker article and the damage it might do to the organic movement. It is worth noting […]

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11
Nov

Secret Inert Ingredient in ‘Bee Safe’ Pesticide Found to Kill Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, November 11, 2021) Evidence is building that so-called ‘inert’ ingredients in pesticide formulations are harming pollinators and undermining regulatory determinations that designate products as ‘bee-safe.’ According to a new study published in Scientific Reports, the fungicide Amistar causes lethal and sublethal effects that can be primarily attributed not to its active ingredient azoxystrobin, but to alcohol ethoxylates, a co-formulant, or inert ingredient intentionally added to a pesticide formulation. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) utilizes a ‘bee advisory box’ on pesticide labels to indicate danger to pollinators, results of this and previous studies on inert ingredients underline how EPA’s ‘cute little bee icon’ is little more than window dressing for massive regulatory failures and a pollinator crisis that has shown no signs of abating. Scientists at Royal Holloway University in London, UK began their study with three packaged colonies of Bombus terrestris, a European bumblebee often bred for commercial use in greenhouses throughout the world. In order to suss out differences in toxicity between the various ingredients in the formulated Amistar fungicide, bees were separated into multiple groups. One group acted as a positive control, and was dosed with dimethoate, a pesticide known to be highly toxic […]

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10
Nov

Aquatic Wildlife Populations Take A Nosedive after Neonicotinoid Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, November 10, 2021) The diversity and abundance of freshwater aquatic insects plunges when commonly used neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides leach into waterways, finds research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month. While this is the latest study exploring the effects of neonicotinoids in the field at real-world exposure levels, it is far from the first to show unacceptable hazards to wildlife and ecological health. As research on neonics piles up, advocates are watching in dismay as regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fail to respond to the science and allow indiscriminate poisoning to continue. To determine how neonicotinoids affect critical aquatic species near the bottom of the food chain, researchers created a series of 36 experimental ditches, split into four groups of nine. One group acted as a control and received no pesticide, and each other group received, 0.1, 1.0, or 10 parts per billion (ppb) of the thiacloprid, a neonic insecticide often cited by industry and regulators as having lower toxicity concerns than other neonicotinoids. Mimicking a pulse that may come from a nearby insecticide application, each group of ditches was dosed every two weeks for a period of three months. Scientists […]

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09
Nov

Unless You Go Organic, Switching to ‘Healthier’ Mediterranean Diet Increases Pesticide Exposure Three-fold

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2021) Replacing a modern, ‘western’ diet of highly processed foods with a Mediterranean diet filled with conventional, chemically-grown fruits and vegetables triples exposure to toxic pesticides, according to research recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. However, this disturbing change can be eliminated by eating a Mediterranean diet consisting entirely of organic food, which is not sprayed with synthetic pesticides. The advantages of the Mediterranean diet, often ranked as the ‘best diet’ and emphasized by medical practitioners for its health benefits, now appear to depend on the production practices involved in the meals an individual eats. “There is growing evidence from observational studies that the health benefits of increasing fruit, vegetables and wholegrain consumption are partially diminished by the higher pesticide exposure associated with these foods,” said study coauthor Per Ole Iversen, MD. “Our study demonstrates that consumption of organic foods allows consumers to change to a healthier diet, without an increased intake of pesticides.” Researchers began their investigation by establishing a randomized trial consisting of 27 adults, all of whom were postgraduate student volunteers on a study abroad course in Greece. The experiment lasted a total of five weeks, including a two-week intervention in the […]

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08
Nov

States Need to Adopt a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2021) California state agencies, led by the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), released a draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy to guide and accelerate near- and long-term climate action across key California landscapes. All states need such strategies, and to be effective, they must be backed by ambitious targets focused on reduction of pesticides and support for organic agriculture. Tell your state legislators and governor to adopt a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy that supports organic agriculture and land management. (CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS: Please use this form.) A Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy will identify our natural and working lands as a critical yet currently underutilized sector in the fight against climate change. These lands can sequester and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future climate risks. Climate smart management of our natural and working lands also improves public health and safety, secures our food and water supplies, and increases equity. The strategy should define the state’s natural and working landscapes; describe how these lands can deliver on climate change goals; highlight priority nature-based climate […]

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05
Nov

California Releases Strategy for Land Management Practices that Confronts Climate Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2021) Once again earning its environmental leadership reputation, California has released a draft strategy document designed to catalyze near- and long-term climate action through focused attention on the state’s natural and working lands, and on nature-based solutions. The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) announced the draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy in mid-October. In the announcement, CNRA asserts that the state’s 105 million acres can “sequester and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future climate risks.” The agency also notes that the plan would secure food and water supplies, improve public health and safety, and forward equity. It has invited public comment, and a coalition of California (and national) nonprofit advocates is delivering a letter that calls on the agency to include, in the plan, ambitious targets to move the state’s agricultural sector away from the use of harmful synthetic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides will sign on to the letter. This “natural and working lands” document will inform California’s 2021 State Adaptation Strategy and the 2022 Scoping Plan — master documents guiding the state’s climate action during […]

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04
Nov

45 Different Cancers Associated with Work-Related Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticide, November 4, 2021) A scientific literature analysis by the Federal University of Goias, Brazil, finds occupational (work-related) exposure to agricultural pesticides increases the risk for 45 different types of cancer. This analysis assesses studies from the last decade—2011 to 2020—to identify cancer risk associated with occupational exposure by country, pesticide type, and methods used to diagnose disease. Many pesticides are “known or probable” carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), and widespread uses only amplify chemical hazards, adversely affecting human health. However, research on cancer and pesticides lacks comprehensive information regarding human health effects associated with long-term chemical use. This study highlights the significant role that long-term research plays in identifying potential health concerns surrounding registered pesticides. The use of these xenobiotics (foreign chemical compounds) substances in agriculture are increasing. Thus, it is important those working with and around these toxicants have protection. The analysis notes, “Overall, then, the results of the present study emphasize the need to evaluate overuse of pesticides and the concomitant increase in the number of cancer cases. Future research should thus include active intervention in the correct use of pesticides by farmworkers and encourage adequate training and the use of PPEs [personal protective equipment], as well as routine periodic medical […]

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03
Nov

Researchers Uncovering Patterns that Help to Explain Chemical Sensitivities

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2021) With a significant and increasing share of the U.S. population reporting sensitivities to certain chemicals, a team of researchers at University of California (Irvine), University of Texas (San Antonio), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is working to better understand how these symptoms develop. Although referred to by several names over the years, including Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and Idiopathic Environmental Illness, medical professionals are now referring to the disease as Chemical Intolerance, or Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT), to better represent the disease process and range of nervous system symptoms that individuals develop to low level chemical exposures. “We established evidence of this previously understudied disease process,” said Shahir Masri, Sc.D, at University of California, Irvine. “Our insights will help public health scientists, physicians and policymakers better understand how to minimize harmful exposures and prevent future disease.” TILT is characterized by a two-step process. First, there is an “initiation exposure event,” whereby an individual is either repeatedly exposed to low levels of certain chemicals, or experiences a major exposure incident. In the second stage, affected individuals are “triggered” even by minute exposures, not only to the chemical that affected them in the first […]

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02
Nov

Cover Crops Attract Pest Predators which Reduce Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 2, 2021) Cover crops create habitat that draw in pest predators and help mitigate crop injury, finds research published in the journals Agroecosystems and Biological Control from scientists at the University of Georgia. Expanded predator diversity can reduce pest pressure that drives conventional chemical farmers to apply toxic pesticides, and the authors of the study find the practice to be economically viable within these cropping systems. “There’s a motion of change going on where growers are thinking more about using natural systems instead of just using pesticides,” said co-author Jason Schmidt, PhD in a news release. “Producers must use all tools available to make a profit, so if they can promote beneficial insects in the system to aid in pest control,  fewer inputs are needed and that should lead to reduced costs of production. ” To determine how beneficial cover crops were to cotton production, researchers began with experimental crops established over two years in 2016 and 2017 in Georgia. Twelve cover crops plots were established with crimson clover and rye, while a plot not planted with cover crops was used as a control. Researchers planted the cover crop in early November after the previous cotton crop […]

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01
Nov

EPA and Congress Must Act to Correct a Failed Pesticide Program

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2021) Join with 37 environmental and health groups, farm organizations, and beekeeper councils, who have delivered a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leaders seeking major reforms in the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). They provided a comprehensive list of OPP’s major failures as the lead federal office for pesticide regulation and management, including: Allowing chlorpyrifos to stay registered for more than 14 years after health experts and affected farmworkers petitioned for its removal based on its known neurological danger, Allowing unlimited use of Roundup (glyphosate) long after it was shown to contribute to deadly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in heavy users and it devastated the treasured monarch butterfly, now driven to near extinction in North America, Approving hundreds of neonicotinoid systemic insecticides, now the most widespread insecticide in the country where they are decimating honey and native bees and other key pollinators and beneficial species; and Registering dicamba in a highly volatile herbicide, a shocking blunder later overruled by a federal court ruling that stated OPP “not only substantially understated the risks …. It also entirely failed to acknowledge other risks, including those it was statutorily required to consider.” Take action: Tell EPA and Congress that the […]

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