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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Events' Category


11
May

Bayer Loses Bid to Overturn Neonicotinoid Ban in Europe

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2021) Last week, multinational agrichemical company Bayer Cropscience lost its bid to overturn a 2018 ban on bee-toxic neonicotinoids throughout the European Union. The ruling from the European Court of Justice rejected all grounds on which the company filed its appeal, noting, “It must be held that the arguments put forward by Bayer CropScience cannot, in any event, succeed.” In denying the appeal, the court ruled Bayer responsible for paying its own legal fees, as well as the fees of environmental organizations that intervened to defend the ban. Environmental groups are applauding the ruling, as it reinforces several important aspects of the EU’s pesticide policy that favor greater public health and environmental protections. In an interview with EURACTIV, policy officer Martin Dermine at Pesticide Action Network Europe notes that the decision provides more leeway for pesticide regulators to consider new scientific evidence on pesticide hazards. “More than that,” he told EURACTIV, “the Court confirms the definition of the precautionary principle:  in case of doubts on the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission is entitled to ban it.” Pesticide regulators in Europe began restricting neonicotinoids in 2013, when a continent-wide moratorium was put in place based […]

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10
May

TAKE ACTION: USDA Must Complete Rulemaking Initiated by the National Organic Standards Board

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2021) USDA is dragging its heels in completing rulemaking recommended by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)—including recommendations passed as early as 2001 and including those concerning both materials and organic practices. This threatens organic integrity and public trust in the process governing the USDA organic label. When the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) was passed in 1990, supporters had grave mistrust of the commitment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—a department that had embraced chemical-intensive agriculture and promoted the dependence on pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Therefore, Congress built into the law protections by assigning a major role for the NOSB—an advisory board comprised of representatives of all the stakeholders including producers, processors, retailers, certifiers, consumers, scientists, and environmentalists. Not only must the NOSB vote on allowed synthetic materials used in organic production, but USDA must also consult with the NOSB on all aspects of the National Organic Program (NOP).  Tell USDA that NOSB recommendations must be proposed as regulations. Crucial to organic practices, and written into OFPA, is the concept of continuous improvement. The importance of this concept is most apparent in materials review, which includes a sunset provision that requires all synthetic materials […]

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07
May

Meta-Review: Pesticides Kill or Harm Soil Invertebrates Essential to Soil Health

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2021) Soil health is one of the linchpins on which the food production that sustains human life — as well as biodiversity, pollinator health, and carbon sequestration — depend. A recent meta-review of nearly 400 studies finds that, in 71% of the cases reviewed, pesticides kill or otherwise harm soil invertebrates that contribute mightily to soil health. In their paper, “Pesticides and Soil Invertebrates: A Hazard Assessment,” published in Frontiers in Environmental Science in early May, the researchers write, “A wide variety of soil-dwelling invertebrates display sensitivity to pesticides of all types . . . [These results] support the need for pesticide regulatory agencies to account for the risks that pesticides pose to soil invertebrates and soil ecosystems.” Beyond Pesticides, which has long reported on impacts of pesticides on soil health, concurs with that conclusion, and adds that the real solutions to noxious pesticide impacts lie in the adoption of  regenerative organic approaches to all land management because they obviate any need for petroleum-based toxic chemical controls. The term “pesticide” can refer to myriad kinds of chemical treatments — including antimicrobials, disinfectants, rodenticides, and others — but in the agricultural and land management realms, primarily means insecticides, […]

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06
May

Breakdown Products (Metabolites) from Pesticides May Be More Toxic than Parent Compound, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2021) Nearly half of all breakdown products (transformation products) from four common-use environmental pesticides produce stronger endocrine (hormone) disrupting (ED) effects than the parent compound, according to new research published in Environment International. Over 300 environmental contaminants and their byproducts—from chemicals in plastics to cosmetic/personal care products—are commonly present in water bodies, food commodities, and human blood/urine samples. These toxicants can alter hormone metabolism, producing endocrine-disrupting effects that put the health of animals, humans, and the environment at risk. Many ecological and health risk assessments for pesticides focus on the effects of parent chemical compound products, overlooking the potential impacts of transformation products (TPs). Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to assess the implications of TPs to safeguard human, animal, and environmental health. The researchers note, “Since an increasing number of pesticide TPs have been detected in various environmental media, a more comprehensive understanding of the ecological risk of pesticide TPs is imperative for risk assessments more extensively and regulatory policy-making on pesticide restriction in the future.” Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., chemical substances like toxic pesticides foreign to an organism or ecosystem), including pesticides, bisphenols, phthalates, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and heavy metals. Past research demonstrates exposure […]

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05
May

U.S. Residents Urged Not to Spray Pesticides for Periodical Cicadas

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2021) As periodical cicadas begin to emerge throughout the central and eastern United States, many may be tempted to put a halt to their noisy mating calls by reaching for a spray bottle of pesticide. But besides violating local noise ordinances, cicadas are relatively harmless and play a critical ecological role. Environmental organizations are urging U.S. residents and communities not to spray cicadas with pesticides, noting that pesticide hazards will last longer than Brood X cicadas.   Reports indicate that pesticide applicator groups and businesses agree that there is no need to spray for periodical cicadas. “We really want people to understand and know that pesticides are not the answer, which sounds really funny coming from a pest control company,” Frank Meek, a manager at Orkin, told CNET. “Pesticides are not the thing to use on this insect. They don’t work for it, and it’s a waste of product, and it’s a danger to the environment just to spray down because you’re afraid of the cicadas.” But while environmental groups and frontline applicators are working to educate the public over the futility of spraying, pesticide manufacturers like Ortho are encouraging homeowners to spend their money on […]

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04
May

Federal Court Gives EPA 60-Day Deadline to Decide the Fate of Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has less than two months to determine whether cancel or modify its registration of the brain-damaging, organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, following a decision from a federal appeals court last week. The ruling comes after more than a decade of delay from the federal agency tasked with protecting public health and the environment from the hazards of chemicals like chlorpyrifos. The decision now falls to the Biden Administration’s EPA Administrator Michael Regan, after the previous administration reversed a proposal to ban agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos in 2017. Most residential uses of the chemical were banned in 2000.   “The EPA has had nearly 14 years to publish a legally sufficient response to the 2007 Petition,” reads a 2-1 opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. “During that time, the  EPA’s  egregious  delay  exposed  a  generation  of  American  children  to  unsafe  levels  of  chlorpyrifos.” Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that is currently registered for use on a range of food crops, golf courses, and for public health mosquito control (in cases of mosquito-borne diseases). It is highly acutely toxic, causing numbness, tingling sensation, in-coordination, dizziness, vomiting, […]

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03
May

Tell EPA to Remove Risky Disinfectants from Its Recommended List; They’re Not Necessary to Protect from COVID-19

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2021) Hazardous disinfectants are not necessary for protection against COVID-19, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is agreeing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems to now agree, but has not changed it recommendations and listing for the public. Since last March, EPA has recommended disinfectants on List N for protecting against exposure to surfaces that would spread the virus causing COVID-19. Beyond Pesticides has evaluated the disinfectants, categorizing them as materials to seek out or to avoid. More recently, we evaluated the available evidence and recommended that schools and other institutions concentrate on providing adequate ventilation and protection from airborne virus. Tell EPA to remove risky disinfectants from its recommended list. EPA’s List N contains products containing toxic chemicals such as chlorine bleach, peroxyacetic acid, alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides, didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride, and other “quats,” sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione, and hydrochloric acid. In addition to their outright toxicity, some of these can also trigger asthma attacks. Now, EPA has recognized this evidence and offered revised recommendations, stressing the need to avoid airborne transmission and stating in an infographic that the risk of contracting disease by touching contaminated surfaces is low and that disinfectants […]

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30
Apr

Research Shows Adverse Impacts of Glyphosate on the Human Gut Microbiome

(Beyond Pesticides, April 30, 2021) A bioinformatics tool developed by researchers from the University of Turku in Finland indicates that “54% of species in the core human gut microbiome are sensitive to glyphosate.” This tool may help predict which microbes in the human gut could be negatively affected by exposure to the ubiquitous herbicide. Because damage to the gut biome is linked to a variety of diseases, this information could prove critical in recognition of the role(s) glyphosate may play in the development of human diseases. Published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, the researchers’ paper states, “The widespread use of glyphosate may have a strong effect on gut microbiomes as well as on human health.” Beyond Pesticides has long reported on the relationship between glyphosate and human health, including potential effects on the human gut microbiome. Used in multiple herbicide formulations, glyphosate has become widely known as the active ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto’s RoundupÂŽ, the most-used herbicide worldwide. The pervasiveness of glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH) use in agriculture, and of Roundup in particular, is due largely to their pairing with genetically engineered (GE) seeds for soy, canola, and corn crops. In many regions, these GE seeds — engineered to resist the glyphosate […]

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29
Apr

Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Sustainable Agriculture Do Not Mix!

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2021) Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are incompatible with sustainable agriculture goals, according to a recent scientific literature analysis by scientists at Tufts University, Massachusetts. Glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, including Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) RoundupTM. The use of this chemical has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate. However, studies demonstrate glyphosate is the main contributor to human, biotic, and ecosystem harms as toxicities from herbicides are now double what it was in 2004.  The National Academy of Sciences identifies four goals of sustainable agriculture—productivity, economics, environment, and social well-being for future generations. However, pesticides like glyphosate are ubiquitous in the environment, putting the health, economy, and food/resources for future generations at risk. Therefore, research like this is vital for understanding how chemical use can undermine sustainable agriculture goals to protect humans, animals, and environmental health. Researchers note, “[W]hether or not GBHs are viewed as essential or unessential to contemporary agriculture, and notwithstanding their role in non-tillage agriculture, this study shows that glyphosate-based herbicides do not reach the bar of agricultural sustainability, with respect to humans and the environment, making the system they are part of unsustainable.” Researchers thoroughly examined […]

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28
Apr

Pesticide Exposure Increases Susceptibility to Covid-19, Gulf War Veterans Found At Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2021) New evidence set to be presented at the Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting held this week suggests that Gulf War Veterans and other individuals with prior pesticide exposures may be more susceptible to Covid-19 infection. As the pandemic continues, it is critically important for researchers to better understand specific vulnerabilities in population groups in order to improve care and patient outcomes. “The reason why COVID-19 causes a severe form of disease leading to hospitalization and high rates of mortality in a small segment of society is unclear,” said Prakash Nagarkatti, PhD, co-author of the study and vice president for research at the University of South Carolina. “This work sheds new light on exposure to pesticides and potential susceptibility to COVID-19 through altered immune response.”   According to recent data, out of 160,000 Covid-19 cases among veterans, the mortality rate was more than 4%. Researchers are pointing to Gulf War Syndrome, and past exposure to organophosphate pesticides as part of the problem. “We have identified a basic mechanism linked with inflammation that could increase susceptibility to COVID-19 infection among people exposed to organophosphates,” said Saurabh Chatterjee, PhD, from the University of South Carolina. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) […]

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27
Apr

Florida Officials Put a Stop to Trump Era Proposal to Spray Highly Toxic Insecticide in Citrus Groves

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2021) The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is denying a chemical company’s application to use a highly toxic insecticide on the state’s citrus crops due to the risks the chemical poses to human health and the environment, according to a statement from FDACS released last week. At issue is aldicarb, a carbamate class insecticide that was cancelled in the U.S. over a decade ago. “While there are promising new horizons for fighting citrus greening, like recent breakthroughs at UF/IFAS on genetic resistance, aldicarb poses an unacceptable risk to human, animal, and environmental health in Florida, is one of the world’s most toxic pesticides, and is banned in more than 100 countries,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “The registrant’s application does not meet the requirements of state law, and we must therefore deny the registration of aldicarb for use in the State of Florida.” At the end of the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took “aggressive actions” by announcing it was registering aldicarb and the antibiotic streptomycin for use against citrus greening, a disease that is damaging Florida’s citrus industry. The registration provided for a supplemental label allowing use on […]

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26
Apr

Tell Your U.S. Representative and Senators to Support the Agricultural Resilience Act

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2021) Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M), and 17 House cosponsors have reintroduced the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), which establishes a roadmap for achieving net-zero emissions from agriculture by 2040, while empowering farmers with the tools and resources needed to improve soil health, sequester carbon, reduce emissions, enhance their resilience, and tap into new market opportunities. Pingree first introduced the legislation in the 116th Congress, where it served as a model for recognizing agriculture as a part of the climate solution. Ask your U.S. Representatives and Senators to Cosponsor the Agricultural Resilience Act. Thank those who already have. The ARA offers farmer-driven climate solutions to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. agriculture by 2040: Research Increases funding for USDA’s Regional Climate Hubs Invests in public breed and cultivar research Soil Health  Authorizes USDA to offer performance-based crop insurance discounts for practices that can be demonstrated to reduce risk Creates new USDA grants to state and tribal governments to improve soil health Directs USDA to establish a Soil Health and Greenhouse Gas Advisory Committee Farmland Preservation and Farm Viability  Creates a new Local Agriculture Marketing Program (LAMP) subprogram to help  Farmers develop and expand markets for […]

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23
Apr

New York City Council Passes Landmark Law Eliminating the Use of Toxic Pesticides in City Parks and Playgrounds, Stipulates List of Allowed Materials

It all started with New York City public school teacher Paula Rogovin and her kindergarten class. They went down to city call, wrote letters, shared artwork, and got the attention of Council Member Ben Kallos, who sponsored reform legislation. (Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2021) Yesterday, on Earth Day, the New York City Council passed landmark legislation to eliminate the use of toxic pesticides in parks and playgrounds. This new law eliminates the use of toxic pesticides, like glyphosate/Roundup, codifying a ban on pesticides with an allowance for only those permitted under federal organic standards. A few hours before passage of the bill, Intro. 1524 (see detailed factsheet below), the measure’s sponsor, Council Member Ben Kallos, and the Speaker of the Council, Corey Johnson,  were joined at a press conference by: Bertha Lewis, president of the Black Institute; those who began the movement for the legislation, retired teacher Paula Rogovin and some of her fomer students from Public School (PS) 290 in Manhattan; Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides; and, Patti and Doug  Wood, executive director and program director, respectively, of Grassroots Environmental Education. “Parks should be for playing not pesticides,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “All families should be […]

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22
Apr

Grandmother’s Exposure to DDT Increases Granddaughters’ Breast Cancer and Cardiometabolic Disorder Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2021) Past maternal exposure to the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) during pregnancy can increase the risk of breast cancer and cardiometabolic disorders (e.g., heart disease, obesity, diabetes) up to three successive generations, according to a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Although previous studies highlight early life or in utero exposure to DDT increasing breast cancer risk later in life, this study is the first to note generational effects on grandchildren’s health. DDT continues to adversely affect the health of the U.S. population, nearly 50 years after its ban. However, this ban is not global, as many countries still use or manufacture the chemical compound. Furthermore, residues of DDT metabolite, DDE, continue to readily contaminate food and water worldwide. Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to investigate how first-generation pesticide exposure can impact future generational health in order to prevent adverse health outcomes, especially during sensitive developmental periods (i.e., in utero, infancy/childhood). The study researchers note, “Discovery of actionable biomarkers of response to ancestral environmental exposures in young women may provide opportunities for breast cancer prevention.” To assess the association between multi-generational health risks and chemical exposure, researchers used the Public Health Institute’s Child […]

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20
Apr

Roundup Shown to Kill Bees—But Not How You Might Expect

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2021) Roundup products manufactured by Bayer-Monsanto kill exposed bumblebees at high rates, according to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, which points to undisclosed inert ingredients (those that typically make up a majority of the product formulation) as the primary culprit. Roundup products have become synonymous with their main active ingredient glyphosate, but Bayer-Monsanto has been quietly reformulating its flagship product with different herbicides in a likely attempt to rebrand as glyphosate cancer lawsuits drag down the company’s performance. The new study reveals that these new Roundup products present the same hazards to pollinators as glyphosate-based formulations, raising important questions about the pesticide regulatory process. Researchers based at Royal Holloway University of London, UK conducted the present study to better understand the hazards posed by herbicides often characterized as “bee safe” to the public. To do so, 10 healthy bumblebee (Bombus spp) colonies were retained, split into small groups, and sprayed with a particular herbicide. Four different herbicide products were employed, including: i) Fast Action RoundupÂŽ Ready‐To‐Use (containing glyphosate); ii) RoundupÂŽ Speed Ultra (containing acetic acid and no glyphosate); iii) WeedolÂŽ Gun! Rootkill Plus (containing glyphosate) and; iv) RoundupÂŽ ProActive (contains glyphosate […]

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16
Apr

Pesticide Pollution in Recreational Lakes Documented

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2021) Recent research, published in Environmental Pollution in late 2020, examines levels and persistence of pesticide pollution in recreational lakes. The study finds: (1) concentrations of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid at levels exceeding ecotoxicity limits for aquatic invertebrates in a recreational lake that receives predominately urban runoff, and (2) that pesticide residues persist in the studied lakes throughout the growing season. Based on their findings, the scientists emphasized the importance of stricter regulation of insecticide compounds, and of better education about their impacts. Beyond Pesticides maintains that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for several reasons, not least of which is the extreme damage they cause to pollinators. The goal of the study was to evaluate potential ecosystem exposure to pesticide contamination in Midwestern recreational lakes, as well as the persistence of pesticide residues in those water bodies over the course of the growing season. Study authors hypothesized that watersheds with significant agricultural land uses would have higher concentrations of pesticides compared to largely urban and herbaceous watersheds. This research, out of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the University of Kentucky, looked to evaluate the occurrence of neonicotinoid and organothiophosphate insecticides, and some fungicides, in three lakes with differing […]

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15
Apr

Exposure to PFAS—the “Forever” chemical—During Pregnancy Results an Increase in Heart and Metabolic Problems Among Adolescence

(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2021) Gestational (during pregnancy) and childhood exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) increase cardiometabolic risk, or the risk of heart diseases and metabolic disorders, later in life, according to a Brown University study published in Environment International. Past studies associate exposure to chemical pollutants with increased susceptibility to adverse health effects during critical fetal and childhood developmental periods. Some of these health effects are cardiometabolic risk factors, including obesity, insulin issues, abnormal blood pressure, that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic disorders (e.g., type 2 diabetes). PFAS are of particular concern as these endocrine-disrupting chemicals are common in non-stick cookware, cleaning/personal care products, food packaging, and other consumer products. They are now being found in pesticide products. Because of their ubiquitous use in many products, studies report that PFAS compounds are detectable in infants, children, and pregnant women. Furthermore, pregnant women can readily transfer compounds to the developing fetus through the placenta. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are among the leading causes of death globally. Additionally, heart conditions are one leading cause of disability in the U.S., as research demonstrates environmental pollutant exposure can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and cardiac […]

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14
Apr

Lawsuits Mount for Syngenta/ChemChina Over Claims Paraquat Herbicide Causing Parkinson’s Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2021) Litigation on the highly toxic herbicide paraquat may soon move into its next phase as lawyers representing victims recently requested cases be consolidated in the federal district court of Northern California. Over a dozen lawsuits have been filed against the Swiss-based agrichemical corporation Syngenta in several states throughout the U.S. The complaints allege that exposure to Syngenta herbicides containing paraquat resulted in their diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Paraquat dichloride (paraquat) is a highly toxic herbicide that has been registered for use in the United States since 1964. Although not permitted for residential use, the product is registered on a wide range of agricultural land, from row crops to vegetables and trees, and on non-farm areas, including airports, certain industrial sites and commercial buildings. It can be used as a preemergent, post-emergent, and post-harvest as a desiccant or harvest aid in the field. The lawsuits target both Syngenta and Chevron corporation, which previously held the rights to sell paraquat in the 1960s under an agreement with a company that was eventually purchased by Syngenta. Syngenta itself, while still headquartered in Switzerland, is now owned by the Chinese National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) after a 2016 merger. Despite […]

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13
Apr

“No Pollinator is Safe” — New Evidence of Neonicotinoids Harming Wild, Ground Nesting Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2021) A new study is making it increasingly clear that current laws are not protecting wild, ground nesting bees from the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides. According to research conducted under a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) projects, Blue Orchard Mason Bees (Osima spp) are at particular risk from pesticide-contaminated soil they use to create their nest. Authors of the study note that with honey bees already in decline, pollination services provided wild managed bees like Mason bees are growing in importance. “Wild bees such as Osmia are becoming increasingly popular as managed pollinators in many systems, as there is growing concern that honeybees may not be able to continue to meet the increasing demands of agricultural pollination if these trends continue,” the study reads. The study looked at three overarching threats to mason bee populations, aiming to identify risks from pesticide contaminated soil used as a nest, effects on larvae exposed to contaminated soil, and whether female mason bees could determine the difference between contaminated and uncontaminated soil. “Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid, which is a group of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees,” said Christine Fortuin, PhD, […]

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09
Apr

Chemical-Intensive Land Management Contributes to Toxic Lagoons Overflowing with Synthetic Fertilizer Waste

(Beyond Pesticides, April 9, 2021) In early April, the leaking, open-air, Piney Point storage pond near Tampa, Florida necessitated hundreds of resident evacuations over concerns that the “reservoir” would breach and flood a three-county area with what was described as a potential “20-foot wall of water.” Ultimately, controlled releases from the 480-million-gallon “pond” (into Tampa Bay) avoided such a flood, but the event underscores the “ticking bomb” nature of such open-air, toxic-liquid-waste facilities, which are used by multiple industries in the U.S. Among those are, as in this case, the phosphate mining sector, and the synthetic fertilizer industry. The latter is tied directly to the chemical-intensive agriculture crisis, and to the exact kind of waste storage facility at issue in the Florida event. This “double whammy” related to synthetic fertilizers further validates Beyond Pesticides’ advocacy for a global transition to organic land management — which rejects the use of synthetic fertilizers for the myriad harms they cause. As reported by The New York Times, that Florida storage pond contains “legacy processed water” — code for wastewater with traces of heavy metals and other toxicants — contained by walls of phosphogypsum tailings at least 70 feet high. Phosphygypsum tailings are the […]

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08
Apr

Invertebrates and Plants Face Increasing Threat from Pesticide Use, Despite Declining Chemical Use Patterns

Pesticide use threatens aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and plants more than ever, despite declining chemical use and implementation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the U.S., according to a University Koblenz-Landau, Germany study. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), many environmental agencies have banned the use of pesticides like organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects, particularly on vertebrates, including humans. However, this ban created a pathway for a new generation of pesticides (e.g., neonicotinoids, pyrethroids) to take hold. Although these pesticides are more target-specific, requiring lower chemical concentrations for effectiveness, they have over double the toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators.  Invertebrates and plants are vital for ecosystem function, offering various services, from decomposition to supporting the food web. Furthermore, invertebrates and plants can act as indicator species (bioindicators) that scientists can observe for the presence and impact of environmental changes and stressors. Therefore, reductions in invertebrate and plant life have implications for ecosystem health that can put human well-being at risk. Study lead author Ralf Schulz, PH.D., notes, “[This study] challenge[s] the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM [genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE)] crops and call for action to reduce the […]

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07
Apr

Toxic Pesticides Are Polluting Over Half of Arable Land, Reinforcing Need for Global Organic Transition

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2021) Toxic pesticides are putting more than half of the Earth’s farmland at risk of pesticide pollution that contaminates water, harms biodiversity, and ultimately undermines food security, according to research published in Nature Geosciences last month.  While there is firm understanding that environmental crises like climate change are affecting the entire globe, the impacts of pesticide pollution are often thought of as local, or regional issues. This study, led by researchers based at the University of Sydney, Australia, underscores the wide-ranging effects of modern civilization’s global dependence on toxic pesticide use. “Although protecting food production is essential for human development, reducing pesticide pollution is equivalently crucial to protect the biodiversity that maintains soil health and functions, contributing towards food security,” said lead study author Fiona Tang, PhD. To better understand pesticide risks at a global scale, scientists sectioned a world map into 10×10 kilometer (6.2×6.2 mile) squares that were assessed for their pesticide risk. The map also included data relating to water scarcity, biodiversity, and national income, to better determine trends and hot spots of concern. Scientists evaluated 92 different pesticide active ingredients and determined their risk within each square on the map based upon information […]

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06
Apr

Living Within 2.5 Miles of Chemical Farming Increases Risk of Childhood Brain Tumors

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2021) Pregnant women living within 2.5 miles of agricultural pesticide applications have an increased risk that their child will develop central nervous system (CNS) tumors, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research by a team at University of California, Los Angeles. The results are particularly concerning as it reveals that individuals do not have to be in close contact with pesticides for risky, health-harming exposures to occur. “This transition from farmland to residential neighborhoods is abrupt across California, and, of course, constantly changing as farmland is developed,” said study co-author Myles Cockburn, PhD. “The simplest way to mitigate these risks is by reductions in exposure to pesticides, through restrictions to aerial spraying and air blast that lead to increased drift, and by farming methods that decrease reliance on pesticides.” Researchers note that the present study is unique in that it was able to pinpoint the specific pesticides related to the development specific types of tumors. To make these determinations, scientists made use of California’s Cancer Registry records. Diagnosed children aged 0-5 were matched to maternal residences where pesticide applications were made within 4000 meters (~2.5 miles). Pesticide application records were obtained from data […]

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