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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


12
Dec

Adverse Impacts of Pesticide Drift in Pineapple Production

(Beyond Pesticides, December 12, 2018)  Costa Rica is currently experiencing exponential growth in its banana and pineapple farming industries and with it an increase in intensive pesticide applications. Recent studies in Costa Rica identified evidence of increasing fur discoloration in black mantled howler monkeys ((Alouatta palliata) as a result of their exposure to sulfur-based pesticides. Coloration in Howler monkeys are limited to black, gray, and dark brown, but researchers found several monkeys with yellow patches on their tails and legs. The change in pigmentation is directly correlated to the consumption of plants inadvertently exposed to sulfur-based pesticides sprayed at (and drifting from) nearby farms. The use of pesticides is not only hazardous to nearby wildlife, but communities as well. It is an issue that seems to play out repeatedly both in Costa Rica and in the U.S. The use of pesticides, and more importantly pesticide drift, continues to be a pervasive issue with severe human and environmental health consequences. Pesticide drift occurs in the form of mist, particles, or vapor (gas) and are usually carried by air (and oftentimes water) currents. Typically, fumigants (gaseous pesticides) are most likely to drift.  When used, pesticides regularly spread further than the established application […]

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10
Dec

Take Action: Tell Your U.S. Senators to Reject Dow’s Hutchins as USDA Chief Scientist

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2018) The Senate Agriculture Committee has cleared the way for the whole U.S. Senate to vote on the confirmation of Scott Hutchins, PhD, recently retired from research and management at what is now the agricultural division of DowDuPont, as chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If confirmed, he will become the third member of Dow’s pesticide and seed division to hold a high-level position in the Trump administration’s USDA.  Tell your U.S. Senators to Reject Dow’s Hutchins as USDA Chief Scientist. Dr. Hutchins has a history of defending toxic pesticides like Dow’s chlorpyrifos, which makes him unsuitable for leading USDA’s research on the future of the U.S. food system. The chief scientist at USDA can determine the direction of USDA research–which should be shaped by an organic, rather than a chemical-intensive, vision. USDA needs a chief scientist who will help farmers get off the pesticide treadmill and adopt organic practices that address critical issues of protecting farmer and farmworker health, water resources, biodiversity, and soil health, while reducing the escalating crisis in global climate change. USDA’s research mission must be focused on sustainability and protect farmers, families, and the environment. Since 1987, Dr. Hutchins […]

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06
Dec

Endocrine Disrupting Herbicide, Atrazine, Exceed Legal Limits in Midwest

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2018) A recent analysis of annual drinking water quality reports has revealed that many community drinking water systems in the Midwest have seasonal exceedances of the allowable limit for the herbicide atrazine. Atrazine, linked to endocrine disruption, neuropathy, and cancer, is the second most widely used pesticide in corn growing areas, with over 73 million pounds applied to agricultural fields each year.  A 2009 study by Paul Winchester, MD, professor of clinical pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and a neonatologist at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis, linked birth defects to time of conception, with the greatest impact on children conceived when concentrations of atrazine and other pesticides are highest in the local drinking water. (See Reproductive Effects Peak with Pesticide Exposure.) During peak use, atrazine levels in drinking water have been recorded at three to seven times above the legal limit. In addition to the well documented impact on the environment, recent  studies have linked prolonged pesticide exposure to not only shortened gestation and preterm birth for women, but also neurodevelopment delays in children. Ultimately, these unreported seasonal peaks may result in persistent adverse health impacts in impacted communities. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), enacted in 1974, […]

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04
Dec

California Criticized for Adopting Inadequate Measures to Restrict the Highly Toxic Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2018) In mid-November, the state whose agricultural operations used more than 900,000 pounds of chlorpyrifos in 2016 (down from two million pounds in 2005) moved to establish some temporary restrictions on its use. Regulators at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) issued interim restrictions on the compound while the agency works on a formal regulatory process to list chlorpyrifos as a “toxic air contaminant” and develop permanent restrictions on its use. A neurological toxicant, chlorpyrifos damages the brains of young children: impacts of exposure, even at very low levels, include decreased cognitive function, lowered IQ, attention deficit disorder, and developmental and learning delays. It was slated to be banned for food uses by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year, but the decision was reversed by the Trump administration. The interim measures in California include: banning aerial application of chlorpyrifos; ending its use on many crops — except for those determined to be “critical” by virtue of there being few, if any, alternatives (as determined by the University of California Cooperative Extension and listed on DPR’s website); establishing a quarter-mile buffer zone for 24 hours after any application of the pesticide; and requiring a 24/7/365, 150-foot […]

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28
Nov

Behavioral Effects in Bumblebees Linked to Neonicotinoid Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 28, 2018) Recent research out of Harvard University and published in the journal Science has demonstrated some of the mechanisms through which exposures to neonicotinoid pesticides harm bumblebee populations. The study found that exposure to imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid — the most widely used category of pesticides worldwide — directly impacts social behaviors in bumblebees. These behaviors have serious effects on the functioning and viability of bee colonies. In the research experiment, worker bees exposed to imidacloprid exhibited reduced general and nurturant activity, and a tendency to locate themselves at the periphery of the nest. The study noted decreased caretaking and nursing behaviors, which in turn harms productivity and thermal regulation in the colony. These tasks are important to colony development; impaired thermoregulation negatively affected the bees’ typical construction of an insulating wax canopy for the nest, and poor caretaking can affect brood growth. Investigators noted that, “Neonicotinoids induce widespread disruption of within-nest worker behavior that may conribute to impaired growth. . . . These changes in behavior acted together to decrease colony viability, even when exposure was nonlethal.” The authors also observed that many of these dysregulated behaviors were more pronounced at night than during sunlight hours, and […]

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27
Nov

Continuing Pattern, Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler Ignores Science, Embraces Monsanto (Bayer), and Continues Dicamba Herbicide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2018) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignored the input of an expert weed scientist on the controversial herbicide dicamba, bending to Bayer’s Monsanto and the pesticide industry, according to emails obtained by the Arkansas Democrat and Chronicle (ADC) through a Freedom of Information Act request. The scandal centers on the recent re-approval of the pesticide, a highly volatile and drift-prone herbicide that has become a serious problem for many farmers and state regulators. As top-level EPA officials continue to work with industry to subvert their own agency’s scientific findings, more and more consumers are moving to organic products in order avoid the pesticide risks government regulators ask consumers to accept. Emails ADC received indicate that Jason Norsworthy, PhD, a weed scientist with the University of Arkansas, worked closely with Bayer’s Monsanto in conducting field trials this past summer, but found high volatility and drift of the company’s new dicamba-based herbicide XtendiMax. The product was developed in the face of widespread resistance to glyphosate-based herbicides in genetically engineered (GE) farm fields. However, recent accounts from farmers in the south and midwest indicate that, not only is the switch to dicamba unhelpful  in eliminating drift and reversing escalating weed resistance, its […]

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26
Nov

Take Action: Tell the National Organic Program to Outlaw Fracking Wastewater in Organic Production

(Beyond Pesticides, November 26, 2018) Organic consumers expect that the organic products they buy are grown without toxic chemical inputs. However, oil and gas wastewater (including fracking wastewater) is currently used to irrigate crops. Among the chemicals known to be present in oil and gas wastewater are heavy metals and other chemicals with carcinogenic, reproductive, developmental, endocrine-disrupting, and other toxic effects. When the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) was passed, and regulations adopted, there was no agricultural use of oil and gas wastewater, so the regulations did not address these hazards.  Tell USDA to Outlaw Fracking Wastewater in Organic Production!  The Cornucopia Institute has filed a petition for rulemaking, asking that oil and gas wastewater be ruled a prohibited substance in organic production. This issue should be put on the work agenda of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which advises the Secretary about issues concerning NOP. The petition from the Cornucopia Institute contains information that will serve as support for the work agenda item. Over the past several years, the NOSB has received many comments requesting them to address this issue Among the comments have been suggestions for guidance to farmers faced with contamination from oil and gas activities. The […]

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19
Nov

Tell the Secretary of Agriculture to Restore Fairness to Organic Dairy

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2018) The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requires organic milk and dairy products labeled as organic to come from dairy cows continuously managed as organic from the last third of gestation. Because of the short supply of organic dairy breeder stock when the law was passed in 1990, a one-time conversion of conventional dairy cows to organic was allowed, as long as they are managed organically. Please urge the Secretary of Agriculture to issue a final rule for Origin of Organic Livestock, as urged by the NOSB. Unfortunately, the National Organic Program (NOP) allowed two interpretations of this provision, turning the provision into a loophole that has allowed some large dairy operations to circumvent the last third of gestation requirement altogether, and bringing conventionally managed animals into their operations on a continuous basis. In 2015, USDA proposed an Origin of Livestock rule to clarify that section of the law and ensure consistent enforcement of the standards, but appears to have no plans to finalize the rule. In its October 2018 meeting, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recognized the unfairness that allows large organic dairies to profit at the expense of smaller dairies who follow the spirit […]

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07
Nov

Brazilian Researchers Link Rise in Colon Cancer to Increase in Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2018) Brazil’s rapid industrialization of its agricultural sector may be coming at the cost of resident health, according to a new study published in Chemosphere by an international team of scientists. The researchers link the rise in the country’s pesticide use since the turn of the century to significant increases in colon cancer, particularly in the country’s most intensive agricultural southern regions. With the recent election of far right president Jair Bolsonaro, who has supported policies that would loosen Brazil’s pesticide regulations, advocates are concerned the county’s farming industry is moving in an unsustainable direction. Researchers note that as Brazil’s agriculture industry has grown over the last two decades, it has become the world’s leading consumer of pesticides. In the year 2000, roughly 160 million tons of pesticides were used in the country. By 2012, that number reached nearly 500 million tons. Scientists compared pesticides sold to standard mortality rates (SMR) in each Brazilian state. SMR measures mortality by comparing observed mortality to expected mortality when adjusting for age and gender. A rate above one indicates that there is excessive mortality. Despite improvements in detection and treatment, colon cancer deaths recorded in the country increased from […]

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02
Nov

Scientists Call for Ban on Organophosphate Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 2, 2018) A group of leading toxics experts, who published a paper in the journal PLOS Medicine on their research on organophosphate exposure during pregnancy and impacts on child development, are calling for a ban on organophosphate pesticides. The study evaluates current science on the risks of this class of compounds, produced by Corteva Agriscience (formerly Dow AgroSciences); its conclusions warn of the multitude of dangers of organophosphates for children, and makes recommendations for addressing these risks. The experts conclude that: (1) widespread use of organophosphate (OP) pesticides to control insects has resulted in ubiquitous human exposures; (2) acute exposures to OPs is responsible for poisonings and deaths, particularly in developing countries; and (3) evidence demonstrates that prenatal exposures, even at low levels, put children at risk for cognitive and behavioral deficits, and for neurodevelopmental disorders. Among the authors’ recommendations are these: Governments and subsidiary agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), should phase out chlorpyrifos and other organophosphate pesticides; ban non-agricultural uses of OP pesticides (including in household products); monitor watersheds and drinking water sources of human exposure; promote the use of integrated pest management (IPM) through incentives and training; and establish pesticide use and illness reporting […]

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01
Nov

Bumblebees Shown to Suffer Reproductive Failure after Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2018) A new study offers fresh evidence that wild bumblebee pollinators are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides, finding that exposure to these compounds interferes with mating success and population stability. Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, measuring real-world harms of neonicotinoids, indicate that the impacts they found to bumblebee “reproducers,” namely queen and drone (male) bees, does not bode well for the array of plant species that relies on them. Though advocates warn that destabilizing managed pollinators could threaten U.S. food production and exports, with food prices increasing as cost of bringing pollinators to farms increases, the study’s authors and advocates insist that the impacts of such widespread poisoning of wild bees could be felt well beyond agriculture. Researchers in the lab compare behavioral and psychological responses of virgin queens, workers, and male Bombus impatiens from multiple colonies to field-realistic doses of the neonicotinoid clothianidin. While every bee was given a replenishing supply of pollen based on body weight and energy demands, four distinct concentrations of diluted analytical-grade (pure) clothianidin (including a control with no pesticide added) were mixed into a nectar-like solution and fed to the bumblebees orally for 5 […]

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24
Oct

Dolphins in Gulf of Mexico Contaminated with “Inert,” but Toxic, Pesticide Product Ingredients

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2018) Bottlenose dolphins found along Florida’s west coast contain detectable levels of phthalates, chemicals used in plastics, cosmetics and as inert ingredients in pesticide products, research published in the journal GeoHealth last month indicates. The study, published by scientists from the College of Charleston, South Carolina, is the first to find detectable levels of these toxic industrial byproducts in dolphins. Given the transient nature of urinary detection, the findings indicate that dolphins and other marine mammals are at increased risk of health effects related to phthalate exposure. Scientists sampled a total of 17 dolphins found in Sarasota Bay, FL over the course of two years. Of the 17, phthalates were detected in 12 individuals, or 71% of dolphins. The type of phthalates discovered was indicative of the source of the contaminant. With researchers detecting mono‐(2‐ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) and monoethyl phthalate (MEP) most frequently. While MEHP is associated with plastic pollution, MEP is a breakdown product of diethyl phthalate (DEP), a compound that has been used in pesticide products as an inert ingredient. “These chemicals can enter marine waters from urban runoff and agriculture or industrial emissions, but we also know that there is a lot of […]

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23
Oct

Chief Minister of Sikkim State in India Urges World to Adopt Organic Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2018)  The Chief Minister of the Sikkim state in northeast India, Pawan Chamling, addressed a news conference in the Italian Parliament on October 15 to issue a call for a complete, global transition to organic agriculture by 2050. Citing the increasing dangers of climate disruption and its impacts, Mr. Chamling said that such conversion to pesticide- and petrochemical-free practices would reduce carbon emissions by 50%. The call for banning pesticides in communities and countries nationwide is gaining increasing traction, as the shift to organic land management is increasing exponentially. The town of Mals, Italy (93 square miles in area, encompassing ten villages and hamlets, as well as farmland, home to 5,092 people) passed a ban on a ballot initiative with 75% in favor and 69% of the electorate voting. In 2013, the country of Bhutan adopted completely organic practices  throughout its nation. Although not affecting agricultural pesticide use, towns across the U.S. are adopting measures that stop pesticide use community-wide. Ordinances in the cities of Ogunquit, South Portland, and Portland, Maine and the City of Takoma Park, Maryland are examples of city-wide pesticide bans. A petition in Switzerland calls for the banning of pesticides country-wide. States in northeast India — […]

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22
Oct

Take Action: Tell California Department of Pesticide Regulation to Ban Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, October 22, 2018) The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is accepting comments on its proposal to classify chlorpyrifos as a toxic air pollutant. The classification would require DPR to develop control measures that adequately protect public health. What happens in California affects all of us because products of California agriculture are available all over the country –and the world. In addition, policies set by the state of California are often examples for other states and the federal government. Tell California Department of Pesticide Regulation to ban chlorpyrifos. California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) states: Under the Toxic Air Contaminant Identification and Control Act (AB 1807, Chapter 1047, Statutes of 1983) and its implementing regulations (Title 3, California Code of Regulations, Section 6864), one of the criteria for identifying a pesticide as a TAC is if its concentration in the air exceeds one-tenth of the level that has been determined to be adequately protective of human health. The draft TAC document shows that bystanders can be exposed to modeled air concentrations of chlorpyrifos that exceed one-tenth the protective level, and thus meet the criteria for TAC identification. OEHHA’s findings below serve to reinforce this overall conclusion, and […]

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19
Oct

EPA Considers 300,000-Acre Expansion of Bee-Toxic Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2018) Pollinator advocates and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) are imploring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deny Bayer CropScience’s application for use of “Sivanto,”a pesticide product with the active ingredient flupyradifurone, a chemical the company claims is safer for bees, but poses the same risks at the notorious bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides. If approved, Sivanto would be sprayed in tobacco-growing states along 300,000 acres in the southeast U.S., areas home to more than three dozen species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Bayer’s proposal for expanded uses comes after EPA’s own assessment indicated risks to endangered species, and despite the fact that the agency has not undergone an ESA mandated consultation with federal wildlife agencies. For the countless flying insects, birds, and bats already under significant threat from neonicotinoids, adding another systemic insecticide to the mix will only make the situation worse. Bayer AG is characterizing flupyradifurone as being harmless to honeybees. However, flupyradifurone, being a systemic pesticide, can negatively impact many non-target species.  In fact, flupyradifurone impacts honey bee brains in a similar way to neonicotinoids, as it impairs learning, memory and the honey bees’ affinity for nectar rewards. Advocates worry that growing […]

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16
Oct

Roundup, Other Herbicides Advance Antibiotic Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2018) Bacteria exposed to widely used herbicides like Roundup develop antibiotic resistance 100,000 times faster than average, according to new research published by New Zealand scientists in PeerJ. The results have ominous implications for the modern world’s ability to avert a post-antibiotic era. Even if new antibiotics are discovered, or existing compounds used more judiciously, scientists say that will not be enough to prevent the ongoing crisis – the world is also confronting bacterial exposure to herbicides and other non-antibiotic agents that have the ability to rapidly induce resistance. “Herbicides are among the most widely used and dispersed manufactured products on Earth. Some form of exposure for people, pets and livestock can be routinely expected,” study author Jack Heinemann, PhD, told Newsweek. “Meanwhile, antibiotics are used at high rates particularly on people, pets and livestock. Therefore, the combination of exposures for bacteria that live on us is all but guaranteed.” This current round of research by Dr. Heinemann and his team is the outgrowth of previous studies (1, 2) that established the ability of common herbicides to induce antibiotic resistance in strains of pathogenic bacteria Salmonella eterica and Escherichia coli. Now, the scientists are drilling into […]

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15
Oct

Take Action: Tell Kroger to Stop Selling Food Grown with Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2018) As a leader in organic sales, it is critical that Kroger take additional expedited steps to increase the market share of organic food and eliminate the use of toxic pesticides harmful to public health and the environment. Kroger is among the major food retailers that sells food that has been grown with toxic pesticides, such as the extremely hazardous insecticide chlorpyrifos which causes neurological and brain damage in children. Kroger should immediately end its misleading and fraudulent advertising and labeling of food products as “natural” and replace these with certified organic products. In fact, by misleading consumers with “natural” labeling and advertising of food, Kroger supports chemical-intensive agriculture that poisons children, causes cancer, and threatens biodiversity through the use of toxic chemicals like chlorpyrifos, glyphosate, and neonicotinoids. This is unnecessary and unacceptable. Tell Kroger to stop selling food grown with toxic pesticides. Chlorpyrifos  is a highly neurotoxic organophosphate pesticide that is linked to neurologic developmental disorders in children. Exposure to even low levels of organophosphates like chlorpyrifos during pregnancy impairs learning, changes brain function, and alters thyroid levels of offspring into adulthood. EPA’s own assessment finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have developmental delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder […]

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11
Oct

Study Finds Organic Farming Methods Help Maintain Healthy Pollinator Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2018) Healthy, stable populations of bees and butterflies are best preserved in farm fields that are certified organic, according to an extensive, three-year study conducted by Swedish researchers at Lund University. The research, published last month in the journal Biological Conservation, highlights the benefits that organic farms provide pollinators by improving floral resources and forgoing the use of toxic pesticides. The data continues to support the need for a broad-scale conversion to more sustainable organic practices in the U.S. and internationally. “This is the first large-scale study over the course of several years to show that organic farming has a consistent, stabilizing effect on pollinator diversity,” says Romain CarriĂ©, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at CEC. Researchers recorded observations of bumblebees, butterflies and flowering plant species at 10 organic and 9 conventional farms throughout Sweden for three years. Farms were compared across type, including cereal fields, temporary grasslands, and semi-natural grasslands. The study aimed to observe the spatio-temporal aspects (continuity of the number of different species in space and time) of pollinators and flowering species in these fields. Results of the study found that, overall, organic farms had and sustained a higher rate of floral, bee, and butterfly […]

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10
Oct

Shareholders Urge General Mills to Stop Pesticide Use in Its Supply Chain, Popular Products

(Beyond Pesticides, October 10, 2018) Nearly one-third of General Mills shareholders called on the company last month to improve product stewardship and eliminate pesticides like bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides or the probable carcinogenic weed killer glyphosate from its supply chain. The proposal was put forward by nonprofit organization As You Sow, and Green Century Equity Fund (GCEF), a mutual fund. This is the latest public shareholder action GCEF has made in regards to corporate pesticide reform, with the company previously putting pressure on the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group for its allowance of pesticides within its supply chain. While the actions are encouraging, some advocates are urging shareholder groups to go beyond increased accountability and transparency and push companies to focus on sourcing organic to ensure that no pesticides make their way into food products. The shareholder proposal ultimately garnered support from 31% of General Mills shareholders. “Shareholders believe the company can, and should, do more to protect the health of their supply chain and the public from toxic pesticides,” said Christy Spees, environmental health program manager at As You Sow to the StarTribune. The proposal states, “While the company asserts that it is currently ‘document[ing] continuous improvement’ concerning environmental impacts from its supply […]

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03
Oct

Reminder Take Action: Comment to Protect Organic by Thursday, October 4

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2018) REMINDER: The Fall 2018 NOSB public comments are due by Thursday, October 4, 2018. 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 4, 2018. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment. On our Keeping Organic Strong page, Beyond Pesticides will be providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration of the Board when it meets in Saint Paul, MN on October 24 – 26, 2018. 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 the subject of petitions or the subject of sunset review (concerning whether to be allowed for another 5 years). To be allowed, materials must have evidence summarized in the proposals that they meet the OFPA requirements of essentiality, no adverse effects on humans and the environment, and compatibility with organic practices. […]

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24
Sep

Take Action: Stop the Gutting and Politicizing of USDA Research

Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2018) In a move that critics fear may be a pretext for gutting federal agricultural research, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has proposed overhauling two federal offices overseeing food and agriculture research and moving them out of the Washington, DC area. A plan announced in August to relocate one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) top research office — the Economic Research Service — into the Office of the Secretary, a political branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is raising alarm from scientists. Concerned researchers see the move as a way to cut funding to important projects on climate change and nutrition, among others, consistent with other Administration moves to reduce input of scientists into public policy. The plan by the Trump administration to overhaul two federal offices overseeing food and agriculture research, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and move them out of Washington by the end of 2019 is being cited by leading agricultural scientists and economists as a ploy to stifle important federal research. Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to urge Agriculture Secretary Perdue to keep the research programs of USDA in […]

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18
Sep

Pest Pressure to Rise Alongside Warming Climate, Underlining Need for Organic Production

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2018) While climate change campaigners have long warned of increased pest pressure as a result of a warming planet, new research published in Science has begun to envisage the true extent of this expanding crisis for agriculture and crop yields. An Earth warmed by 2 degrees Celsius will see significant increases in insect metabolism and population growth, increasing global food scarcity. The study underlines the need to move towards more sustainable agricultural models that can better handle pests and other stressors brought about by climate change. Scientists focused their models on the three staple crops that comprise over 40% of calories consumed worldwide – rice, corn, and wheat. Pest impacts were considered for a variety of scenarios, including a world warmed by 2 °C from Earth’s current global mean surface temperature. The Paris Climate Accords aims to limit warming to 1.5 °C, but with uncertainty around the U.S. pulling out of the voluntary agreement, the model produced by researchers represents a very possible scenario. The results paint a grim picture for global food security and nutrition, with pest-related losses expected to increase by 19% for rice, 31% for corn, and 46% for wheat. The trajectory boarders […]

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11
Sep

Report Ranks Organic Dairy Producers on Farming Principles and Practices, Downgrading ‘Factory Farms’

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2018) A report released this summer by the nonprofit group The Cornucopia Institute helps consumers avoid ‘factory farmed’ dairy products in light of disturbing revelations uncovered in a 2017 Washington Post investigation of major organic brands. The report, The Industrialization of Organic Dairy, traces the broken promises of many major dairy companies and provides a scorecard enabling consumers to review brands for their overall sustainability and adherence to truly organic standards. “With the USDA’s failure to protect ethical industry participants and consumers from outright fraud, using our Organic Dairy Scorecard is a way for organic stakeholders to take the law into their own hands,” said Mark A. Kastel, codirector and senior farm policy analyst of Cornucopia, on the group’s website. “In every market and product category, consumers can vote in front of the dairy case to economically support authentic organic farmers while simultaneously protecting their families.” The Washington Post’s 2017 report found that Aurora Organic Dairy, a major milk supplier for big box retailers like Walmart and Safeway, is producing milk that was less nutrient dense compared to small-scale organic family farms. Information on nutritional deficits in this milk was preceded by an earlier 2014 Cornucopia […]

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