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Corruption Problems Persist at EPA

Friday, May 20th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2022) Beyond Pesticides has long covered the various ways in which corruption related to pesticides, agriculture, and food — whether in industry or government — can result in harm to human and environmental health, including to a multiplicity of organisms, and their ecosystems and habitats. In this Daily News Blog entry, we will review the landscape of U.S. pesticide regulation, examples of corruption, and what can be done to counter it. A look at some recent instances provides unfortunate assurance that problems of corruption at EPA persist. A serious flaw in EPA’s registration (and periodic pesticide registration review) processes is their reliance on industry-provided data and research on safety of pesticide products, which does not reliably represent actual risks of harms. Agrochemical companies sometimes purchase research that yields biased or distorted findings, cherry pick results in their submissions to EPA, or try to suppress research findings. USRTK recently covered an instance in which Bayer (and other companies) funded a study on the impacts — of use of their neonicotinoid (neonic) corn seed treatments — on bees during planting season. Neonics have been widely implicated in the plummeting health, function, and populations of pollinators and in the so-called […]

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Pesticides Used in Farmed Fish Operations Threaten Health of Swimmers

Friday, May 6th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2022) A December 2021 report commissioned by the trade group Salmon Scotland concludes that the use of pesticide products by the nation’s salmon farms represents potential risk to “wild” swimmers (those who swim in open ocean waters). The report’s primary finding is that the use of insecticide products containing azamethiphos (an organophosphate), deltamethrin, and hydrogen peroxide to control sea lice in farmed fish contaminates sea water and, thus, threatens swimmers in the areas around the farms. Beyond Pesticides has reported on pesticide use in aquaculture, and most recently, on developing resistance — in the parasitic lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) that endanger both wild and farmed fish populations in the North Atlantic — to some of the chemical treatments used by aquaculturists to combat the parasite. The intense exploitation of wild fish and other marine creatures for human food (and as an ingredient in animal feeds) has caused, in recent decades, depletion of fish and seafood stocks across the world. The aquaculture industry — in which various aquatic species (fish, shellfish, and some plants) are bred, raised, and harvested in the open ocean — has grown rapidly as a response. Since the 1960s, the farming of salmon in the […]

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Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Community at Disproportionate Risk from Pesticides, Study Finds

Friday, April 22nd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2022) A study published on April 18 finds that people in U.S. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities, as well as those living in low-income communities, endure a very disproportionate rate of exposure to pesticides, and of subsequent risks of harm. It finds that such disparities exist in both urban and rural communities, and at all points in the pesticide “life cycle,” from manufacture to application. A section of Beyond Pesticides’ recent mega-issue of Pesticides and You, “Retrospective 2021: A Call to Urgent Action,” is devoted to such inequities. Section IV, “Disproportionate Pesticide Harm Is Racial Injustice: Documenting Victimization: Structural Racism,” reprises Beyond Pesticides’ 2021 coverage of environmental injustices. It also calls for urgent action re: federal and state “evaluations that go into toxic chemical regulation . . . to reform and replace the current regulatory decision-making process, which is empirically racist, with one that acknowledges and cares for those with the highest real-world vulnerabilities and exposure[s].” The first comprehensive assessment of disparities in pesticide protections and oversight in the U.S., the study paper appeared in the journal BMC Public Health. The authors set out the broad history of how humanity moved from “Traditional Ecological […]

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International Aid Needed To Support Traditional and Organic, Not Chemical-Intensive, Agriculture

Monday, April 11th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2022) As the U.S. encourages the spread of chemical-intensive, industrialized agriculture, local farmers are increasingly pressured into giving up traditional agricultural practices in favor of monocultures to increase the demand  for agrichemical pesticides and fertilizers worldwide. This policy is promoted by the industry with vested economic interests as good for the U.S. economy, but it is not good for either planetary health or global food security. Instead, U.S. foreign aid agencies, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other agencies, should be supporting traditional practices and organic agriculture. Tell Congress and U.S. AID to support aid that promotes traditional and organic agriculture.  Industrial agriculture depends on monoculture—growing single crops that can be easily planted, fertilized, treated with pesticides, and harvested—especially on large-scale, mechanized farms. In spite of the perceived advantages of monoculture, however, it is a significant contributor to biodiversity loss and pollinator decline. Loss of biodiversity feeds the pesticide treadmill by removing predators and parasites who keep crop-feeding insects below damaging levels. The vast majority of crop plants depend on pollinators. Traditional agriculture, like organic agriculture, depends on interacting species. Most organic agriculture resembles monoculture piecewise, but integrates cover crops, hedgerows and other […]

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Climate-Induced Melting of Arctic Ice Threatens the Reemergence of Toxic Chemicals

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2022) A study published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment warns that thawing of permafrost (a ground that remains completely frozen for two or more years) in the Arctic region can prompt the reemergence of greenhouse gases (e.g., methane and carbon dioxide), microbes, and chemicals (e.g., banned pesticides like DDT). Past research finds gases, microbes, and chemicals drift near the poles, becoming entrapped in ice under the accumulating snowfall. As the global climate continues to rise and the climate crisis worsens, studies like this show significant effects, as ice encapsulating these toxic chemicals is melting. Upon melting, some chemicals can volatilize back into the atmosphere, releasing toxicants into the air and aquatic systems, with the ensuing consequences. Microbes frozen for thousands to millions of years can also emerge from thawing permafrost, with unknown implications on human, animal, and ecosystem health. The melting permafrost is already beginning to impact infrastructure, creating sinkholes that damage roads, trees, and utility poles. Moreover, mixtures of chemicals, microbes, and greenhouse gases (GHGs) in permafrost are difficult to assess. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need to evaluate the health and ecological effects of melting arctic permafrost (and glaciers) from anthropogenic (human)-induced climate change. […]

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Are Your Fruits and Vegetables Vegan? Specific Pesticide Use Makes Produce Non-Vegan?

Friday, March 4th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2022) An article in My London reported by Finn Byrne, finds labeling on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables marked as non-vegan. The non-vegan label shocked many shoppers who buy the produce with chemical-intensive practices, as fruits and vegetables are inherently vegan. However, pesticides used in the production of fruits and vegetables render these foods non-vegan because of the harm that pesticides cause to animals and since a wax coating on fruits and vegetables made of shellac, a resin secreted from female lac beetles and thus non-vegan. Recent studies indicate plant-based diets can mitigate excessive pesticide use and exposure if they are organically grown. However, a plant-based diet reliant on pesticides does little to lessen the health and ecological effects of conventional agriculture. Fungicides are ubiquitous in agricultural and residential settings puts human and animal health at risk. Exposure to fungicides can manifest adverse health effects, including reproductive dysfunction, birth/developmental effects, kidney/liver damage, and cancer. Several researchers find that fungicide use promotes more drug-resistant fungal infections in humans as these fungicides are structurally similar to medical antifungal medications. After investigating fruits and vegetables at various United Kingdom (UK) grocery stores (i.e., Tesco, Morrisons, and Marks and Spencer), the report finds fungicides imazalil and propiconazole present […]

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Manatees in Florida Seriously Threatened from Pollution, Pesticides, and Other Human-Induced Stressors

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2022) Wildlife officials in Florida have resorted to supplementing starving manatees with cabbage and lettuce in an attempt to keep their rapidly dwindling populations alive. Massive Red Tides exacerbated by runoff from urban and agricultural pollution have directly killed off dozens of manatees over the last several years, but the indirect effects of these harmful algae blooms have been most catastrophic, resulting in significant loss of the seagrass beds upon which manatees rely. While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced plans to spend $481 million on water quality improvement projects, conservationists note that the funds are primarily directed toward point source wastewater treatment, and more is needed to address nonpoint source herbicide and fertilizer runoff from agricultural, and urban and suburban yards. Florida manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, can live as long as 60 years old, weigh up to 1,200 lbs, and have no natural predators within their range. The biggest threat to these peaceful marine mammals is human activity and environmental stressors. Unfortunately, the former is well-known to exacerbate the latter. Humans harm manatees primarily through boat strikes, but the animals can also die from eating or becoming entangled in fishing equipment, […]

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Global Chemical Pollution Exceeds Safe Limits for Humanity

Friday, January 21st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 21, 2022) The bottom-line conclusion of a recent study is that global chemical pollution has now exceeded a safe limit for humanity. As reported by The Guardian, “The cocktail of chemical pollution that pervades the planet now threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends.” Published in Environmental Science & Technology, the research paper asserts that the creation and deployment (into the materials stream and environment) of so many “novel entities” (synthetic chemicals) is happening at a pace that eclipses human ability to assess and monitor them. The study team calls this exceedance of the “planetary boundary” of such chemical pollution “the point at which human-made changes to the Earth push it outside the stable environment of the last 10,000 years.” According to Beyond Pesticides, which covers pesticide (and other kinds of) chemical pollution, these results underscore a grim twin reality to the human-caused climate emergency, and should be a dire warning on the state of our shared environment and a time for systemic movement to eliminate fossil fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers. Hailing from Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, and Switzerland, members of the research team define “novel entities” as those compounds and materials […]

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Hazardous Synthetic Pyrethroid Insecticides Subject of Lawsuit Against EPA

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2022) After registering over 300 products containing synthetic pyrethroid pesticides within the last six years, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done nothing to safeguard endangered species from toxic exposure to these chemicals, despite legal requirement to do so. This dereliction of duty is set to be the subject of a new lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, which announced its intent to sue EPA. “The EPA admits pyrethroids’ wide-ranging harm to wildlife but still rubberstamps hundreds of pesticide products containing them without assessing their risks to endangered species,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center. “The EPA needs to get serious and come up with a comprehensive plan to address the havoc these pesticides are wreaking on the environment.” Synthetic pyrethroid insecticides are synthesized derivatives of pyrethrins, which are found in pyrethrum, an extract of dried chrysanthemum flowers. Compared to their natural counterpart, synthetic pyrethroids take significantly longer to degrade in the environment and thus pose longer term risks to humans and wildlife. The chemicals interfere with the proper function of the body’s sodium channels, resulting in harm to the central nervous system. Symptoms of poisoning include headache, nausea, incoordination, […]

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Words, “All life is interrelated,” and His Legacy Are Honored on MLK Day, Monday, Jan. 17

Friday, January 14th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2022) On the annual celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.— MLK Day, Monday, January 17 — Beyond Pesticides honors his legacy by calling out ongoing environmental inequities, and calling on all of us to advance environmental justice. In his 1967 Christmas sermon, Dr. King famously noted, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” There may be no better description of what is at stake in environmental justice work — righting environmental wrongs that have disproportionate impacts on some groups of people. In its attention to the multitude of ways in which BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) populations face disproportionate risks and impacts, Beyond Pesticides works to ensure that all people are afforded circumstances that support their safety, health, and well-being. Rather than excavate the very long historical record of environmental injustice in the U.S., today’s Daily News Blog recalls several examples from the past year. It is impossible to begin that chronicle without first acknowledging that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has […]

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Common Home Fumigation Pesticide Associated with Increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2022) A study finds that the pesticide sulfuryl fluoride, used for insect (i.e., termites, bedbugs, cockroaches, etc.) fumigation treatments, increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the report, “Termite Fumigation in California Is Fueling the Rise of a Rare Greenhouse Gas.” Not only do most sulfuryl fluoride emissions in the U.S. occur in California, but a majority of global emissions also occur in California. When the use of methyl bromide for agricultural and structural fumigation was phased-out under the Montreal Protocol, sulfuryl fluoride became a replacement for fumigation treatments. However, researchers have identified concentrations of sulfuryl fluoride in the atmosphere due to the chemical’s long half-life and greenhouse warming potential (GWP). The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 does not list sulfuryl fluoride emissions as a GHG risk. Therefore, the researchers note, “This work emphasizes the importance of considering [sulfuryl fluoride] SO2F2 in state and national greenhouse gas inventories and emissions reduction strategies.” Researchers employed geostatistical inverse model (GIM)—commonly used to estimate GHG fluxes—alongside atmospheric measurements of sulfuryl fluoride to estimate emissions throughout the United States. Using programmable flask packages (PFPs), researchers examined atmospheric observational data from towers, observatories, and aircraft, measuring concentrations of sulfuryl fluoride via gas chromatography-mass […]

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Review Shows that Monsanto/Bayer Claims of Glyphosate Safety Not Supported by Credible Science 

Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2021)  A research team undertaking a review of industry-conducted glyphosate safety studies submitted to EU (European Union) regulators shows that most of the research fails to meet current international standards for scientific validity. The researchers find that of the 11 reviewed studies, which were submitted to regulators by Bayer AG (now owner of the Monsanto “Roundup” brand of glyphosate herbicide) and several other chemical companies, only two are scientifically “reliable”; six others are deemed “partly reliable,” and the remaining three, “not reliable.” These results go, in part, to the age of some of the studies (see below); but they also underscore the point Beyond Pesticides has made for years. Regulators, whether in the UK, the U.S., or anywhere else, ought not be relying solely and without adequate auditing on industry-generated and -funded safety research in making safety determinations that underlie regulations impacting the well-being of millions of people (and other organisms), never mind the environment writ large. The report, from a team working out of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) at the Medical University of Vienna, is timely: the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) are currently considering whether or not […]

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Court Steps In to Stop Pesticide Use Not Adequately Regulated, Protects Bees

Friday, December 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2021) In a win for pollinators, a California Superior Court has issued a ruling that sulfoxaflor, a systemic pesticide that is “field legal” but “bee lethal,” can no longer be used in the state. The suit was brought by the Pollinator Stewardship Council and the American Beekeeping Federation. The ruling of the Superior Court of the State of California for Alameda County finds that the argument of the petitioners — that sulfoxaflor approval decisions by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) — is valid. Eliminating this highly bee-toxic pesticide from use in the state is expected to protect not only native bees and other pollinators (including Monarch butterflies in early Spring), but also, the many millions of managed-colony bees that are transported to California for pollination of almond and other crops. The suit was filed against DPR, Corteva inc., Dow Agrosciences LLC, the Siskiyou County Department of Agriculture, and James E. Smith as Siskiyou County Agricultural Commissioner. Having found for the petitioners’ request for a Writ of Mandate (a court order requiring a lower court or public authority to perform its statutory duty), the court instructed the petitioners to […]

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The Expense of Pesticides Significantly Outweigh Economic Benefits

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2021) The cost to maintain crops using conventional pesticides outweighs the economic benefits from crop production and yield, according to a report, Pesticides ‘cost double the amount they yield,’ by the French-based organization Bureau for the Appraisal of Social Impacts for Citizen Information (BASIC). Moreover, the annual cost of increasing organic farms three-fold by 2030 is less than the cost of pesticides to society (i.e., adverse health and ecological effects from pesticide use and contamination). However, the price to pay from pesticide use encompasses much more than the products themselves. Researchers point to the need for government and health officials to consider the billion-dollar costs associated with adverse health effects from pesticide use, especially as studies confirm that pesticides cause cancer, Parkinson’s, and other diseases that are increasing. Thus, this report adds to the growing body of research demonstrating the unsustainability of conventional, chemical-intensive agricultural practices. The National Academy of Sciences identifies four goals of sustainable agriculture—productivity, economics, environment, and social well-being for future generations. However, current chemical pesticide use threatens sustainable agriculture. Although the primary concerns about pesticide usage centers on health and ecological concerns, including food security, this report provides an economic assessment that offers an […]

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Joining Together to Give Thanks As We Confront the Challenges Ahead

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

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

Monday, November 8th, 2021

(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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California Releases Strategy for Land Management Practices that Confronts Climate Crisis

Friday, November 5th, 2021

(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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EPA and Congress Must Act to Correct a Failed Pesticide Program

Monday, November 1st, 2021

(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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Climate Crisis, Soil, Pesticides, Fertilizers: Red alert! This is Not a Drill!

Friday, October 29th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 29, 2021) As more than 200 of the world’s countries convene, starting October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland, for the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26), it is important to sound the alarm unequivocally. We are in a climate emergency. This reality was confirmed, yet again, by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) August 2021 release of part of its sixth report, from Working Group I, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. The other parts of the report, to be issued over the next few months, are new assessments from Working Group II on impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation, and from Working Group III on mitigation/averting further climate change. Below we address the urgent need to eliminate petroleum (fossil fuel)-based pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture and land management (parks, playing fields, rights-of-way, and open space) and put in place an urgent and strategic transition to organic practices without being distracted and diverted by claims of “regenerative” practices that do not meet the crisis in a meaningful way. Headline takeaways from this first report are that, failing immediate and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions: the planet’s climate will likely blow by the much-vaunted 1.5°C threshold (average global temperature increase over the pre-industrial […]

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Groups Tell EPA’s Pesticide Program It’s a Failure, Call for Immediate Reforms

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2021) The Office of Pesticides Programs within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has become so captured by industry that it has lost sight of its health and environmental mission, according to a scathing critique issued today by 37 environmental, public health, and sustainable agriculture groups, including beekeeper councils. Led by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and Beyond Pesticides, the groups are urging the Biden administration to adopt reforms within OPP to ensure pesticide approval and use decisions are science-based. EPA’s OPP has registered more than 18,000 separate pesticide products — far more than any other country — and more than 2 billion pounds of pesticides are sold annually in the U.S. They are used annually over roughly 250 million acres of farmland, across millions of acres of urban and suburban lands, and inside millions of homes, schools, and other buildings.  The coalition letter points to employee reports that managers within  OPP – Push through “Yes packages” of pesticide approvals greased by industry lobbying; Suppress toxicological and other concerns raised by professional staff; and Engage in outrageous waivers of vital toxicity study requirements, instead relying on “conditional” registrations to allow pesticide uses, despite missing key data. Seeing […]

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IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Fails to Stop Toxic Pesticide Use

Friday, October 15th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2021) Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a 60-year-old approach to agricultural practice that, when first conceived and implemented, had among its goals a significant reduction of synthetic pesticide use, and the health, environmental, and ecosystemic benefits that would flow from that. However, as a study published earlier in 2021 concluded, IPM has overall been unsuccessful in achieving those goals. The researchers propose to replace IPM with “Agroecological Crop Protection [ACP],” the application of agroecology to protecting crops from damage (usually by insects or weeds). Beyond Pesticides has long embraced the foundations of ACP, which focus on cooperation with natural systems that keep all organisms in healthy, dynamic balance (and avoid overpopulation and trophic cascades). The research was conducted by scientists from France, Cambodia, and Vietnam; the research paper was published in Agronomy for Sustainable Development. The authors offer myriad reasons for their conclusion that, “More than half a century after its conception, IPM has not been adopted to a satisfactory extent and has largely failed to deliver on its promise. . . . Despite six decades of good intentions, harsh realities need to be faced for the future. . . . IPM has arguably reached its limits.” […]

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Research on Thousands of Organic and Chemical-Intensive Farms Illustrates Stark Difference in Toxic Chemical Use

Friday, September 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2021) Recent research out of California sought to compare (and quantify) differences in total pesticide use, and in use of pesticides of specific concern, across conventional and organic agricultural fields in the state. The research team, from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, finds an 18–31% likely reduction in spraying of pesticides on organically managed fields compared to conventional, and a 27% likely reduction in use of pesticide products with high acute human toxicity for organic versus conventional fields. Readers may be gasping, and thinking, “Wait, what?! I thought organic farming does not use pesticides! Help?” There is a world of difference between the pesticides used in organic and in conventional production. Though conventional growers are allowed to use thousands of synthetic compounds on their crops, seeds, and soils — no matter their toxicity, as long as EPA has permitted them — Certified Organic growers are permitted to use only “natural” or naturally derived pesticide products, and a very limited number, at that. Organic growers may use any of the products listed in “The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances,” as established by the NOP’s (National Organic Program’s) National […]

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Retailers Fail to Protect Pollinators…Badly

Friday, September 17th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2021) Against the backdrop of what The New York Times in 2018 called the “insect apocalypse,” and the dire plight of pollinators in particular, Friends of the Earth (FOE) recently issued its retailer scorecard, which benchmarks “25 of the largest U.S. grocery stores on pesticides, organic offerings and pollinator health”— with the vast majority of retailers failing to protect pollinators. FOE reporting shows some, but far too slow and anemic, progress by corporate actors in enacting pollinator- and bee-friendly policies across both retail sites and supply chains. Such policies, to be genuinely effective and protective of pollinators (and human health), would eliminate or at least dramatically reduce the presence of pesticides in the food supply. The path out of the chemical pesticide quagmire is organic: companies must do more to move suppliers to organic, regenerative production practices, and EPA should be pulling these toxic compounds from the market. Tracking the pollinator policies and enforcement activities of various huge companies yields a useful barometer in monitoring the travel of pesticides to the consumer. Yet the results in the FOE scorecard — e.g., only two of those 25 retailers scored even in the “B” range, and 21 scored […]

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