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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


12
Nov

Tell USDA to Stop “Organic” Factories from Milking Conventional Dairy Cows

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2019) Current USDA regulations clearly state that after a dairy farmer takes advantage of a one-time exemption to convert an existing “distinct” herd to organic production—all animals brought onto the farm must have been managed organically from the last third of gestation—in the case of cows, from three months prior to birth. However, USDA has interpreted the prohibition to mean that dairies could purchase animals, on an ongoing basis, who were born and raised on conventional dairies. These calves receive medicated milk replacer (formula laced with antibiotics) and, after weaning, are fed conventional GMO crops generally sprayed with Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup.® Now, as livestock factories are taking over a good share of the organic market and pushing family-scale farmers off the land, USDA has finally, only after being forced by Congress, written additional regulatory language intending to close a loophole created by USDA’s negligence. Tell the USDA to follow the will of Congress and close its own loophole. The National Organic Program should enforce both the spirit and letter of the law. Organic farmers are mandated to provide healthy living conditions where livestock can exhibit their natural instinctive behaviors. When they do that—and for dairy cattle, that means […]

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05
Nov

Increased Risk of Skin Cancer Tied to Use of Weed Killers, as Researchers Call for a Precautionary Standard

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2019) Herbicide use is associated with an increased risk of developing cutaneous melanoma, a skin cancer, according to a meta-analysis published last month in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. For those working on farms and in other occupations with frequent exposure to herbicides, the risk is another in a long list of pesticide-induced diseases. Ultimately, researchers suggest, “A precautionary public health safety policy that includes preventive individual counselling and surveillance to workers exposed to pesticides may be advisable.” Authors of the study conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed literature on pesticide exposure and skin cancer, finding nine acceptable studies for analysis. These studies represent nearly 185,000 individuals, and included enough data to make a risk estimate and determine 95% confidence intervals. Although pesticides and insecticides in general were not associated with increased risk of skin cancer, general use of herbicides was (relative risk 1.85; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-3.36). Spouses whose partners work as pesticide applicators are also found to be at higher risk of developing cutaneous melanoma. As skin cancer has increased significantly over the past 50 years, many appropriately point to the link between sun exposure and development of […]

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04
Nov

Tell the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to Promote Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2019) In recognition of the harm that climate change is causing to communities, the U.S. House of Representatives formed the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to “investigate, study, make findings, and develop recommendations on policies, strategies, and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis, which will honor our responsibility to be good stewards of the planet for future generations.” Tell the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to promote organic agriculture and land care. Regenerative organic agriculture reduces emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. In nonorganic, chemical-intensive agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions result from the use of nitrogen fertilizer, synthetic herbicides and insecticides, fossil fuel consumption associated with farm equipment, and the transportation of materials and products to and from the farm. The manufacture of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is a major source of energy use in chemical-intensive agriculture–the manufacture and use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers alone are responsible for as much as 10 percent of direct global agricultural emissions. This is important because pound-for-pound, nitrous oxide is 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide in warming the planet. Besides reducing energy use, organic […]

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01
Nov

U.S. Consumers Eating Pesticide Residues in Fruits and Vegetables, according to Government Report

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2019) The recently published report Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program Fiscal Year 2017 Pesticide Report, from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), provides data on the levels of pesticide residues that show up on the foods U.S. consumers eat. The report adds fuel to public concern about contamination of the food supply, and to discussion in the scientific and advocacy communities about what is and is not safe for human health. It is also a sobering reminder of just how much chemical-intensive agriculture depends on pesticides, whether insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides. This FDA report has been prepared annually since 1987 and is based on the agency’s Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program, which evaluates both domestically produced and imported human food samples, including fruit, vegetable, and animal products. As the report notes, “Three federal government agencies share responsibility for the regulation and oversight of pesticide chemical residues in or on food. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers (i.e., approves) the use of pesticides and establishes tolerances for pesticide chemical residues in or on food resulting from the use of the pesticides. Tolerances are the EPA-established maximum residue levels (MRLs) of a specific pesticide chemical that is permitted in […]

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30
Oct

US Government Opposes Toxic Chemical Bans in Thailand

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30th, 2019) This month, the Thai government moved to ban some toxic chemicals out of concern for the health of its residents and environment. In response, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Ted McKinney sent a document to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pushing back on their plan. As the Thai government makes changes to protect the health and represent the will of the people, the U.S. acts on behalf of its allegiance to agrichemical companies on an international stage. After powerful and sustained activism from local advocacy groups such as BioThai, the Thai government decided to upgrade glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, and paraquat from Type 3 toxic substances to Type 4, meaning these chemicals will no longer be allowed to be produced, imported, or possessed in the country. Witoon Lianchamroon, director of BioThai, says glyphosate and paraquat “contaminate our water, the soil, and some species like crab or fish or frog. These two main herbicides cover around half of the total pesticide use in the country and they cause a lot of problems.” The ban was approved by the National Hazardous Substances Committee, made up of 29 experts in the field, on October 22. Beginning December 1, the ban […]

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29
Oct

EPA Moves to Weaken Pesticide Exclusion Zones Intended to Protect Farmworkers and Their Families

(Beyond Pesticides, October 29, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing changes to the way farmworkers and bystanders are protected from toxic pesticide applications, per an announcement published on the agency’s website last week. Billed as “improvements” that will “reduce regulatory burdens for farmers,” the actions would instead significantly shrink Application Exclusion Zones (AEZs), buffer areas where individuals are not supposed to enter during a pesticide application. Health and justice advocates say the move will put farmworkers at risk. “Although the proposal is framed as a narrow revision, it would in fact eliminate, reduce or weaken various AEZ provisions,” said Farmworker Justice attorney Iris Figueroa to Politico. “These changes threaten to increase exposure to toxic pesticide drift for farmworkers and their families.” EPA’s proposal, announced in a press release featuring the heads of industry associations like the American Farm Bureau, would do the following: Make AEZs applicable only to a farm owners’ property. Under the current rules, pesticide handlers were required to keep individuals out of an area where pesticides were applied both on and off site. Exempt on-farm family members from all aspects of the AEZ. EPA says this will allow farmers and their family “to decide whether […]

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23
Oct

Bees Enrich Farmers More than Synthetic Inputs, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2019) Bees provide benefits to farmers that outweigh synthetic inputs, according to a large-scale field study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B earlier this month. Addressing the ongoing question of how much natural ecosystem services are worth, scientists analyzed the costs and benefits of biodiversity versus agrichemicals. Researchers found the value pollinators add to oilseed rape (OSR) production by increasing yields is higher than synthetic chemical inputs, which are costly to farmers and decrease beneficial insect abundance. The title of the study touts the impressive findings, “Bee pollination outperforms pesticides for oilseed crop production and profitability.” Researchers collected data over six years from 294 OSR fields in France with various levels of soil quality, fertilizer and pesticide applications, and pollinator abundance. They measured pollinator biodiversity with nets and traps at the field sites. Farmers offered data on yield, costs, and profits. Using linear models fitted to the large data set, the study analyzed combined effects of inputs on OSR yield and gross margin. Bee abundance was the only variable that had a positive effect on gross margins. Pollination is an ecosystem service that benefits one out of three agricultural crops. Studies from Ireland show […]

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17
Oct

Despite Damning Scientific Evidence, EPA Dismisses Link Between Parkinson’s and Exposure to the Herbicide Paraquat

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is downplaying the connection between exposure to the herbicide paraquat and the development of Parkinson’s disease, per registration review documents released by the agency this week. Although unsurprising given the current administration’s track record of defending some of the most heinous chemicals still on the market, the review nonetheless marks a low point for scientific integrity within EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, according to advocates. Health and environmental advocates have already discounted EPA’s industry-biased review, and are instead pushing hard for Congressional action – namely HR 3817, the Protect Against Paraquat Act, introduced by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). Under federal law, pesticides are required to undergo reevaluation every 15 years. Paraquat is a potent restricted use herbicide, not available to be applied by residential users, but permitted for use on multiple agriculture crops. Over the last decade, independent peer-reviewed scientific studies have repeatedly found strong associations between paraquat to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Many of these studies have been covered in Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News or are recorded in the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database. In response to this growing body of literature, EPA conducted an epidemiological evaluation of published […]

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15
Oct

Take Action: EPA Must Evaluate the Effects of Multiple Pesticide Ingredient Use and Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2019) EPA is requesting comment on its proposal to require data that will help it determine synergistic effects of some pesticides. EPA has received on a pressure on a number of fronts, including a report by the Center for Biological Diversity, a report by its own Inspector General, a letter from 35 Congressional Representatives, and research pointing to the unavoidability of synergistic effects—the chemical combinations that cause greater effects when mixed together than the sum of the individual chemical effects. Despite all of the evidence that synergism is the rule rather than the exception, EPA’s consideration focuses on a narrow range of cases in which pesticide product patents make claims of synergy. Tell EPA to always investigate synergy and to determine need for pesticides. One such product is Dow’s Enlist Duo, which combines glyphosate and 2,4-D in an attempt to overcome weed resistance. The focus on products and tank mixes where synergism is a selling point brings to light the fact that as a rule, EPA does not request efficacy data in registering pesticides not intended to protect public health. Thus, although required by law to weigh pesticide risks and benefits, EPA rarely has data to make […]

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08
Oct

Take Action: Congressional Oversight Needed on Illegal Pesticide Use in Cannabis Production and Resulting Contamination

(Beyond Pesticides, October 8, 2019) As medicinal and recreational marijuana continue to be legalized in a growing number of states, concerns about the safety of the burgeoning industry—how the substance is grown, harvested, processed, distributed, sold, and used—have emerged. Pesticides have not been registered for use in cannabis production, yet they are being widely used under state-adopted enforcement levels that imply safety, but not subject to any standard of review that meets pesticide registration standards. Pesticide contamination of medical cannabis is important not only because it introduces toxic chemicals into a medicine, but also because medical cannabis can interfere with the body’s ability to detoxify those pesticides. Cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit the activity of enzymes that help detoxify chemicals, which can make pesticides more toxic. Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to hold oversight hearings and request investigations into EPA and state responsibilities to prevent misuse of pesticides on cannabis. New Frontier Data CEO Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, pointing to California residue testing results, cites a threat to the medicinal cannabis market. She notes that 84% of 2016 product batches tested were found to harbor pesticide residue; and that in the recent California round of assays 20% failed established […]

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07
Oct

Banana Workers Made Sterile from Pesticide Sue Dow in France

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2019) Central American agricultural workers, exposed in the 1970s and early 1980s to a highly toxic pesticide, subsequently began suing manufacturers in the mid-1980s, with mixed success. Now, some of those workers have stepped up their game: they have brought suit against three big agrochemical industries in France to try to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages awarded to them by Nicaraguan courts, but never paid. As reported by The New York Times, “the case could set a legal precedent and lead to more lawsuits in France for harm done in other countries by the pesticide Nemagon.” Farmworkers in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, the Philippines, West Africa, and the U.S. were exposed to the highly toxic, brominated organochlorine pesticide ingredient, DBCP (dibromochloropropane), from the 1960s until cessation of its use, which has varied from country to country. DBCP was sold in the pesticide products Nemagon and Fumazone as a soil fumigant and nematocide on banana plantations and other crops across Central America (especially), in western Africa, and in Hawaii. As acknowledged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DBCP has multiple adverse health impacts: decreased sperm production and mobility, disturbed estrous cycles, reduced phagocytosis […]

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04
Oct

Court Strikes Down Aerial Pesticide Spray Ban in Lincoln County, Oregon — Challenging Local Rights to Protect Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2019) A Circuit Court judge in Lincoln County, Oregon has overturned a hard-won ban on aerial spraying of pesticides, citing preemption of state law over any local ordinance. In her late-September decision, Judge Sheryl Bachart wrote that Oregon’s Pesticide Control Act “expressly and conclusively displaces any local ordinance regarding pesticide use. The intention of the legislature is apparent and unambiguous.” She noted in her opinion that the Oregon Revised Statutes (the codified laws of the state of Oregon), Chapter 634.057 “prohibits local governments from making any ordinance, rule or regulation governing pesticide sale or use.” Voters in the county approved the subject ban on the aerial spraying of pesticides (Measure 21-177) in 2017, the initiative having been spurred by the work of Lincoln County Community Rights (LCCR), a grassroots organization that “seeks to educate and empower people to exercise their right of local community self-government in matters that pertain to their fundamental rights, their natural environment, their quality of life, their health and their safety.” In its advocacy for the initiative, the group cited both the harm done by aerial pesticide spraying to people and ecosystems, and the injustice of laws — often drafted by corporations for approval […]

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01
Oct

Common Fungicides’ Use Leads to Algae Blooms

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2019) Commonly used fungicides induce trophic cascades that can lead to the overgrowth of algae, according to research published in the journal Chemosphere. While the current process for regulating pesticides in the U.S. focuses on the acute toxicity of pesticides, and may consider some chronic impacts, real world complexities as described in the current study are not reviewed. This gap in our assessment can lead to significant adverse effects not just on individual species, but entire ecosystems. Researchers investigated how fungal parasites known as chytrids control the growth of phytoplankton. While some strains of chytrids are notorious for their impact to frog species, some do in fact provide important stopgaps within ecosystems. “By infecting cyanobacteria, parasitic fungi limit their growth and thus reduce the occurrence and intensity of toxic algal blooms,” says IGB researcher Ramsy Agha, PhD, co-author the study. “Whereas we usually perceive disease as a negative phenomenon, parasites are very important for the normal functioning of aquatic ecosystems and can — as in this case — also have positive effects. Pollution by fungicides can interfere with this natural process,” the researcher adds. The agricultural fungicides tebuconazole and azoxystrobin were tested on chytrid-infected toxic bloom-forming […]

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30
Sep

Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board Meeting: Last Chance to Comment

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2019) A warm thank you to all who have sent in comments for the Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. We are sending out a second reminder so that those who have not commented can take this opportunity to do so. If you have already submitted, we encourage you to make a second round of comments to make sure your voice is heard! Public comments are due by October 3, 2019. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov until 11:59 pm ET October 3, 2010. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the NOSB, as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment.  Beyond Pesticides/OrganicEye is providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration by the Board when it meets in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23 – 25, 2019. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either being considered for initial use in organics […]

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20
Sep

Toxic Pesticides Found, Again, to Yield No Increase in Productivity or Economic Benefit for Farmers

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2019) The actual utility of pesticides to achieve their purported goals is an under-recognized failing of the regulatory review of pesticide compounds for use. A study published in Scientific Reports now exposes the faulty assumptions underlying the use of neonicotinoids — the most widely used category of insecticides worldwide. The study demonstrates that use of neonicotinoids (neonics) to treat seeds — a very common use of these pesticides — actually provides negligible benefits to soybean farmers in terms of yield and overall economic benefit. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should take notice, and consider that efficacy ought to have a role in the agency’s evaluation of pesticides for registration. Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that move through a plant’s vascular system and are expressed in pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets (drops of sap exuded on the tips or edges of leaves of some vascular plants). They can also persist in the environment — in soil and water — for extended periods. Neonics are applied to seed, as well as to crop soils and to plant foliage. Corn and soybean seed treatments represent the largest uses of neonics in the U.S.: for somewhere between 34% and 50+% […]

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18
Sep

Study Finds that Regenerative Agriculture Is Undermined by Toxic Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2019) A new report published by Friends of the Earth (FOE), “Pesticides and Soil Health” highlights healthy soil as a key pillar of regenerative, organic agriculture. There are numerous methods that regenerative agriculture utilizes to maximize soil health such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and compost applications. FOE focuses in on an often-overlooked aspect to soil health, “that eliminating or greatly reducing toxic pesticides is key to building healthy soils and ecosystems for a healthy planet.” Beyond Pesticides has long believed that toxic pesticide use has no place in organic and regenerative land management practices and that they can and should be eliminated. According to Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides and former member of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) said, “Pesticide reduction strategies that allow continued use of toxic substances undermine the soil biology and biodiversity that is critical to healthy plants and  unnecessary to achieving pest management goals.” “It’s past time to talk elimination of toxic pesticides and nothing short of that.” Toxic pesticides have a diverse range of unintended impacts, including  cancer and other diseases to those exposed via usage or drift, and crop loss. Lesser known is the impact that pesticides […]

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17
Sep

Study Finds Neonics Result in the Silent Demise of Songbirds

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2019) The poisonous farm fields migratory birds forage on during their journey reduce their weight, delay their travel, and ultimately jeopardize their survival, according to new research published in the journal Science.  Like their effects on pollinator populations, neonicotinoid insecticides generally are not killing migratory songbirds outright, but instead precipitating a cascade of sublethal impacts that reduces their fitness in the wild. As the authors told Environmental Health News, the study is a call not simply to ban neonics or one class of chemical, but to change the entire farming system toward more sustainable bird and bee-friendly practices. Using new technology, this study was not only able to dose wild-caught songbirds (white-crowned sparrows), but also track their migration route using automated telemetry. Apart from the control group that received no pesticide exposure, sparrows were treated at levels well below the median lethal dose (3% of the lethal dose in the ‘low’ exposure group and 10% within the ‘high’ exposure group), and permitted to continue on their migratory path. These are exposure amounts similar to a songbird accidentally ingesting a few treated seeds, according to the study. Within six hours, both the ‘low’ and ‘high’ exposure group […]

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16
Sep

Take Action: Support Strong Organic Standards, Submit Your Comments to the Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board Meeting

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2019) The Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting dates have been announced and public comments are due by October 3, 2019. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov until 11:59 pm ET October 3, 2010. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the NOSB, as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment.  Beyond Pesticides/OrganicEye is providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration by the Board when it meets in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23 – 25, 2019. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either being considered for initial use in organics or the subject of a five-year Sunset Review. To be allowed, materials must have evidence demonstrating that they meet Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requirements of essentiality, no adverse effects on humans and the environment, and compatibility with organic practices. Major issues before the NOSB at the […]

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13
Sep

Herbicide Drift from Agricultural Use Found to Harm Bird Habitat

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2019) A study on the use of the herbicide dicamba’s off-target effects finds broad impacts, in both geographic spread and the variety of affected species, with use of the weed killer on Arkansas cropland putting birds at risk in agricultural landscapes. Audubon of Arkansas is reporting results of its community science dicamba monitoring project, conducted under the direction of Bird Conservation Director Dan Scheiman, PhD, and launched in late spring 2019. The project monitored dicamba symptomology in species on municipal, state, and federal lands, where dicamba was not applied, but where its impacts were nonetheless detected. Arkansas Audubon “predicts that in a landscape full of GMO crops [genetically modified organisms] (on which dicamba is typically used), the atmospheric loading of volatile dicamba could be enough to cause landscape scale damage to our state natural areas, wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges, family farms, and the wildlife they harbor.” Dicamba herbicides are volatile compounds used to control broadleaf weeds — especially on fields of GMO soybean and cotton crops that have been genetically engineered for resistance to dicamba. These herbicides damage non-GMO crops and native plants well beyond intended application areas. (In 2017, more than 3 million acres of […]

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04
Sep

Health and Environmental Groups Call on EPA to Revoke Glyphosate’s Registration

(Beyond Pesticides, September 4, 2019) Sixteen organizations representing health, environmental, farmer, and farmworker communities joined together yesterday to call on EPA to remove glyphosate from the marketplace. The groups cite a combination of high-profile lawsuits, environmental impacts, increasing reports of weed resistance, and growing public concern over the health effects of glyphosate in their comments on EPA’s interim reregistration review decision for the chemical. The comments warn that EPA is at risk of damaging the public’s trust in the agency’s review process for toxic pesticides. “EPA’s myopic review and response to the dangers posed by glyphosate does a disservice to American farmers, farmworkers, and commercial landscapers wishing to use least-toxic products that do not put them at risk of health impacts, and consumers aiming to make the safest choice in regards to what to feed their family and how to manage their yards,” the comments read. The document likewise replies to EPA’s attacks against the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which determined glyphosate to be a probable carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental organisms. EPA has indicated that its process for evaluating glyphosate, “…is more transparent than IARC’s process” and that IARC’s […]

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03
Sep

Take Action: Help Save the Amazon Rainforest — #BoycottBrazilianFood

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2019) Brazil’s environment is under siege, as President Jair Bolsonaro has approved hundreds of new toxic pesticides this year and gutted watchdog environment agencies. Among the many dreadful results, news reports indicate that between December 2018 and March 2019, Brazilian beekeepers found more than 500 million dead bees. As the Amazon burns, Indigenous activists are calling on the world to help, and Beyond Pesticides is responding by promoting a boycott started by a Swedish supermarket owner: #BoycottBrazilianFood. Pledge to #BoycottBrazilianFood, and ask major U.S. supermarkets to do the same. The Amazon rainforest is the world’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink, and home both to the planet’s richest biodiversity and approximately 400 indigenous tribes. The country has 2300 pesticides registered for use; a total of 290 new toxic pesticides have been approved as of late August 2019. Swedish supermarket owner Johannes Cullberg started an international boycott in response to Brazil’s approval and use of hazardous pesticides in food production. #BoycottBrazilianFood began in June of 2019 when the total of newly registered pesticides stood at 197. Cullburg declared, “We need to stop (the president) Bolsonaro, he’s a maniac.” The boycott prompted a response from the Brazilian embassy, stating, “…the Embassy wishes to inform […]

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30
Aug

Brain Function Damage from Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides, including Chlorpyrifos, Documented with Imaging

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2019) The indictment of organophosphate pesticides gained more traction with the publication, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, of a new research study out of the University of California, Berkeley. The research, among the first to use advanced brain imaging to assess cortical activation, shows altered brain activity, during tasks that call on executive function, in teenagers from California’s Salinas Valley (the site of significant organophosphate use) whose mothers were exposed prenatally. The UC Berkeley study underscores the slow-motion calamity of the Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) failure to ban the use of this class of pesticides, and of chlorpyrifos in particular, which compounds carry extreme risks for children. The effects of this prenatal exposure continue to unfold during children’s critical developmental periods. Researchers used fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) imaging to monitor blood flow in the brains of the teens, 15–17, born and raised in the Salinas Valley. They used data from the California Pesticide Use Reporting program (which documents locations and times of pesticide spraying) to estimate the subjects’ mothers’ proximity to organophosphate (OP) applications during pregnancy. The subject adolescents — estimated to have relatively high levels of prenatal exposure to organophosphates — […]

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29
Aug

USDA “People’s Garden” Turned Over to Agrichemical Corporations to Promote Pesticides and GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2019) The Peoples Garden, located on the grounds on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the national mall, has been renamed and remodeled to highlight genetically engineered (GE) crops and farming techniques that directly counter the organic movement. The new exhibit, entitled “Voice of the Farmer,” is part of the “Trust in Food” initiative of Farm Journal magazine. This marks a continuation of trends in the Trump administration: pushing for GE/GMOs and pesticides. Since 2009, the USDA Peoples Garden has highlighted organic agriculture. It was originally envisioned by the Obama administration as a place where visitors could learn about what differentiates organic from conventional chemical-intensive food production, and the practices used in organic land management. The garden had several different exhibits: the Three Sisters Garden, the People’s Garden Apiary, three green roofs, a certified organic vegetable garden, a tool shed with a rain barrel and green roof, wildlife and pollinator friendly landscaping, and a bat house. With an emphasis on sustainable gardening practices such as cover cropping, storm water collection, and composting, the garden served as a headquarters for numerous Peoples Gardens founded between 2009 and 2016. The People’s Garden and other projects of the […]

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