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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


01
Apr

Help Ensure that Organic Production Meets the Standard You Expect to Protect Health and the Environment; Comments due April 3

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2020) Your comments are due by Friday, April 3, end of day. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets April 29-30 online to debate issues concerning what goes into your organic food. Lend your voice to continuous improvement by learning about issues and submitting comments. From the very beginning, with the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, “organic” has meant “continuous improvement.” The primary mechanism for continuous improvement in organic production is the high level of public involvement that comes from twice-annual meetings of the stakeholder board. The second mechanism is the sunset process, which helps move synthetic substances out of organic production as the market invests in growing organic inputs and ingredients. Despite USDA’s efforts to weaken the sunset process, the 5-year cycle of review of every synthetic substance currently used in organic production and processing, offers us an opportunity to keep organic strong and strengthen any weaknesses. Items on the NOSB agenda in April include materials allowed in organic production, as well as discussion of policies and sunset materials on which the NOSB will vote in the Fall. We have identified some priority issues of both kinds. The only voting issue on […]

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31
Mar

What’s on My Seeds? Study Finds Most Don’t Know What Pesticides Coat the Seeds They Plant, including Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoids

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2020) Adding to the widespread and problematic use of neonicotinoid pesticides as seed treatments, a recent study published in BioScience finds that there are significant knowledge gaps among some farmers about the seeds they are planting. The research indicates that those gaps contribute to underreporting of accurate data on the use of pesticide-coated (often with neonicotinoid pesticides) seeds — because farmers may not know what pesticides are on the seeds they plant. Pennsylvania State University reports on the study, in Phys.org, saying, “This lack of data may complicate efforts to evaluate the value of different pest management strategies, while also protecting human health and the environment.” Beyond Pesticides advocates for widespread adoption of organic, regenerative systems and practices that precludes the use of such pesticides.  The research was conducted by a team of scientist from around the U.S., led by Claudia Hitaj, PhD, of the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, and former economist at USDA’s Economic Research Service. In the Phys.org coverage of the study, assistant professor of epidemiology and crop pathology at Penn State, Paul Esker, PhD, notes that this lack of farmer knowledge can lead to overuse of pesticides, which would increase the already considerable risks […]

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25
Mar

Trump Administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Planting of Genetically Engineered Crops in Southeast National Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2020) The Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with a proposal to grow genetically engineered crops (GECs) on national wildlife refuges in the Southeast United States. The draft environmental assessment allows wildlife to consume pesticide-laden produce, considers chemical-intensive genetically engineered crops no less damaging to the environment than “non-use of GECs,” and permits and escalation of climate change with toxic pesticide use increases. USFW’s proposal fails to mention the success of organic agriculture and consider it as one of the alternative management strategies. The proposal is up for public comment until April 10, 2020. In 2014, public pressure and lawsuits by environmental groups led to the Obama administration’s decision to phase out GE crops and ban neonicotinoid insecticide use on national wildlife refuges. On August 2, 2018, the Trump administration’s USFWS issued a memorandum that reversed the prohibition. The reversal allows the refuge system to make decisions on the use of GECs and neonics on a case-by-case basis in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is also under attack by the Trump administration. The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and others quickly challenged the 2018 […]

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24
Mar

Maryland Legislature Passes Limited Ban on Chlorpyrifos Insecticide

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2020) Last week, Maryland became the latest state to prohibit use of the brain-damaging insecticide chlorpyrifos, after a measure cleared both the state Senate and House. Although the legislation implements a limited ban that sunsets after four years, advocates consider this action a step in the right direction that will protect the health and safety of Maryland residents. “Even amidst our current public health crisis, the Maryland legislature acted to protect all Marylanders’ health for years to come by banning this toxic pesticide, and we are so grateful,” said Ruth Berlin, Executive Director of the Maryland Pesticide Education Network to WBOC. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide known to inhibit the proper nerve functioning by affecting the enzyme acetylcholine esterase. The impacts of this pesticide are particularly concerning for young children, as research finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos had mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorder problems at three years of age. While Maryland is the fourth state to restrict the use of chlorpyrifos, it is the second to implement these restrictions through legislation. In California, the state Department of Pesticide Regulation is implementing a phase out of […]

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23
Mar

Farmworkers and Conservationists Sue EPA for Re-Approving Monsanto/Bayer’s Cancer-Causing Pesticide, Glyphosate/Roundup

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2020) Ignoring science to side with Monsanto/Bayer, EPA has repeatedly failed to assess glyphosate’s impacts on public health and endangered species. Last week, a broad coalition of farmworkers, farmers, and conservationists, filed a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its January 2020 re-approval of the pesticide glyphosate, best known as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup pesticides. With Center for Food Safety (CFS) serving as legal counsel, the suing organizations are  Beyond Pesticides, the Rural Coalition, OrganizaciĂłn en California de Lideres Campesinas, and the Farmworker Association of Florida. While EPA defends glyphosate, juries in several cases have found it to cause cancer, ruling in favor of those impacted by exposure. Glyphosate formulations like Roundup are also well-established as having numerous damaging environmental impacts. After a registration review process spanning over a decade, EPA allowed the continued marketing of the pesticide despite the agency’s failure to fully assess glyphosate’s hormone-disrupting potential or its effects on threatened and endangered species. The review began in 2009, has already taken 11 years, without a full assessment of the widespread harmful impacts on people and the environment in that time period. “EPA’s half-completed, biased, and unlawful approval sacrifices the […]

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19
Mar

As COVID-19 Disrupts Maui Community, Organizers Take Action for Local Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2020) As communities across the U.S. brace for an unimaginable health crisis and difficult economic times in the wake of COVID-19, the Beyond Pesticides Hawai’i team has linked arms with Maui’s small farms and community organizations to make sure local farms have the support they need to feed communities and stay in business. The virus is causing shutdowns of everything from farmers markets to restaurants, but community organizers in Maui are making an effort to transform COVID-19 related challenges into a spring board for long-term increase in locally produced, organic food—a sorely needed commodity in Hawai’i.  Hawai’i is the most isolated island chain on the planet. Its fertile soil and climatic conditions coalesce to make Hawai’i potentially a major producer of nutritious food for its residents and for export. However, a complicated plantation history and off-island investment influence has skewed the economy toward tourism and development. The current stark reality is that 85-90% of Hawai’i’s food is imported, making the islands particularly vulnerable to disasters and global events that might disrupt the economy or infrastructure.  COVID-19 is now disrupting the economy and local infrastructure of Maui. Farmers markets and other public gatherings have closed. Tourism is […]

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18
Mar

Infectious Human Disease, Snail Fever, Worsened by Pesticide Run-Off into Fresh Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2020) Freshwater habitats are threatened now—more than ever—by the adverse effects of pesticide pollution, according to a report published in Scientific Reports by a collaborative research team from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Pesticide pollution, attributed to runoff from agricultural farms, indirectly increased the rate of the tropical disease schistosomiasis, which infects over 280 million people (2018). This research underlines the range of uncertainties that exist as a result of pesticide contamination, making it critically important that subtropical areas where this disease threat exists move toward organic and pesticide-free approaches.  Increased prevalence of this disease is devastating to socioeconomic development in affected regions, as life expectancy, employment rate, and gross domestic product (GDP) decreases. Schistosomiasis (snail fever), or bilharzia, is a tropical disease caused by parasitic flatworms (trematodes) in the genus Schistosoma and transmitted via freshwater snail (genus Biomphalaria) to its definitive human host. Freshwater snails act as a vector for schistosomiasis as they play a vital role in the lifecycle of the parasitic flatworm. Professor Matthias Liess (Ph.D.), Head of the Department of System Ecotoxicology at the UFZ, and his research team investigated pesticide pollution’s […]

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13
Mar

European Commission’s Agricultural Policy Clashes with Its ‘Green Deal’ Plan

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2020) The European Commission’s proposed (post-2020) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a failure and must be dramatically changed to embrace organic practices and support small farmers, according to a paper written by 21 scientists and published in the British Ecological Society’s journal, People and Nature. The authors point to provisions that permit anemic implementation of critical sustainability goals, and say that as it stands, the CAP fails “with respect to biodiversity, climate, soil, [and] land degradation as well as socio‐economic challenges.” The authors call on the European Parliament, Council, and Commission to adopt 10 urgent action points that advance a goal that “all CAP elements, without exception, should be aligned with the principles of sustainability, multi‐functionality and public payments for public goods.” The paper’s authors say that the CAP continues, in fact, to support practices that exacerbate the climate emergency, soil erosion, land degradation, and biodiversity loss, and fails to fund initiatives that could address climate and other critical issues. Happening concurrently with the CAP is development of the European Commission’s (EC’s) “European Green Deal,” which the EC describes as a roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable, and making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. […]

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12
Mar

Washington Farmworkers Harmed by Pesticides Walk Out, Demand Justice

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2020) Farmworkers walked out of an orchard in Sunnyside, Washington on Friday, March 6 to demand improved working conditions. Over a dozen individuals cited unacceptable issues, such as toxic pesticide exposure, unfair wages, and lack of paid breaks. Their employer, Evans Fruit, owns and farms over 8,000 acres in the state. These workers represent the ongoing fight against injustice perpetuated by the chemical-intensive agriculture industry. Evans Fruit workers said the company gives insufficient protective gear and training before requiring workers to spray pesticides for most of their 12 to 15-hour workdays. Jorge de los Santos, who has worked for Evans Fruit for five years, told the Yakima Herald, “My eyes (were) constantly irritating me.” “All we’re asking for is for fair wages and fair (working conditions),” said Rene Isidoro, another farmworker. Evans Fruit declined to comment, but worker representatives said the company has been unwilling to negotiate. “The company basically said it was their way or the highway,” said United Farm Workers (UFW) of America Pacific Northwest coordinator Victoria Ruddy. “We are good workers, responsible workers,” Ms. Isidoro said, “We like the work we do. We want to do better in our work. We’re here simply […]

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11
Mar

Global Growth of Organic Farmland Further Advances UN Sustainable Development Goals

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2020) Worldwide, organic farming practices quadrupled from 2000 to 2018, with over 180 countries leading a global transition to organic agriculture. Newly published global survey data by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements – Organics International (IFOAM) reveal global organic agriculture to be at an all-time high, with 71.5 million hectares (mha) of farmland in production. Organic agriculture’s rise in popularity makes important progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as organic agriculture is essential for a sustainable future; it is a solution to the global food crisis and eliminating the health risks engendered by chemical-intensive farming. According to Monica Rubiolo, PhD of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), “Access to quality data on organic farming not only helps to measure success toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals but also to orient decision-makers and other stakeholders along the whole value chain.” In a period of rapid population growth, a climate crisis, environmental degradation, and high energy costs, organic farming addresses human health, environment, and socioeconomic concerns. Organically managed farmland increased by a total of 2 mha (2.9%), in all continents, between 2017 and 2018. Australia has […]

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05
Mar

Glyphosate Causes Biodiversity Loss in Freshwater Ecosystems, According to Study

Experimental ponds in Gault Nature Reserve. Photo credit: Vincent Fugère (Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2020) A new study conducted by researchers at McGill University investigated phytoplankton (microscopic algae) response and resilience to Roundup exposure. “Community rescue in experimental phytoplankton communities facing severe herbicide pollution” was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Researchers found that algae can develop resistance to contamination, but surviving phytoplankton communities are much less diverse. Diversity loss is cause for concern as it could hinder adaptation to other potential stressors, such as climate change.  Using experimental ponds, researchers first exposed some phytoplankton communities to low levels of Roundup over time, then dosed the ponds with a lethal amount.  Groups that had been given low doses survived the lethal phase whereas unpolluted, control ponds did not. Researchers observed “community rescue,” where genetic changes avert population collapse in a lethal environment. In fact, glyphosate eventually became a fertilizer in resistant ponds as it is a significant source of phosphorus. Other studies, too, have noted that phosphorous loading is an overlooked impact of glyphosate contamination. Phytoplankton matter because their disruption can cause a trophic cascade and impact other organisms. “These tiny species at the bottom of the food chain play […]

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04
Mar

Soil-Based Organic Agriculture Takes on the Climate Crisis, Economic Insecurity, and Health Inequity

  (Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2020) California produces the most food of any state in the U.S. – more than half of all domestic fruits and vegetables – but only 4% of its agriculture is organic. After releasing a report on the benefits of organic agriculture last year, the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) Foundation is continuing to offer a “Roadmap to an Organic California” with an extensive policy report. The document proposes a wealth of concrete strategies for California lawmakers to employ. Organic agriculture, the authors skillfully reason, can respond to three pressing issues in California: climate resilience, economic security, and health equity. Additionally, the report highlights the need for focus on organic integrity in order to sustain positive change away from toxic practices. Climate Resilience The climate crisis is already impacting California; heat waves, droughts, and devastating wildfires are occurring more frequently and severely. Organic agriculture is often forgotten as politicians consider solutions. CCOF proposes that policy makers help combat the climate crisis through supporting healthy, carbon-sequestering soil practices that are federally mandated in organic agriculture. In addition to building farm resilience, healthy soil secures some of the state’s water supply. Because it is porous and sponge-like, well-maintained […]

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03
Mar

Chemical-Intensive Agriculture Increases Pregnant Mother’s Risk of Her Child Developing Leukemia

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2020) Pregnant mothers living in areas where carcinogenic pesticides have been used are at increased risk of their child developing an acute form of leukemia, according to research published last month in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles. The findings are based on a review of pesticide use data in rural, agricultural areas of California, where many minority, low-income and farmworking communities live. Under current laws, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permits the use of cancer-causing pesticides with an expectation that a certain number of cancers (anywhere from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,000,000, based on the pesticide in question) should be considered ‘acceptable risk.’ While past studies have shown similar connections between pesticide exposure in the womb and the development of childhood cancer, this is one of the first to utilize geographic information systems (GIS) data, rather than parental interviews on past exposures. Researchers used California public records of cancer incidence from 1998-2011, alongside statewide pesticide use reports (California is the only state to make this information publicly accessible and searchable). A list of 65 pesticides were investigated for their specific connection […]

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02
Mar

Take Action Today: Tell EPA to Ban Atrazine

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2020) Deadline today! Tell EPA to Ban Atrazine; Protect Children and Frogs from this Endocrine Disrupting Pesticide. Atrazine, the second most-used herbicide in the U.S., is an insidious poison. Atrazine is known for producing developmental abnormalities in frogs. It also affects the endocrine system and reproductive biology of humans. In addition to its agricultural uses on corn, sorghum, and sugar cane, atrazine is also used on home lawns, school grounds, and parks, where exposure to children is common. Nontoxic alternatives are available for all of these uses. Act today, March 2. Sign the petition demanding that EPA ban atrazine and its cousins simazine and propazine. Act today! Beyond Pesticides will submit comments: Docket: EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0750 (FRL-10002-92) Petition to EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs: We have serious concerns with the proposed interim decisions on reregistration of three triazine pesticides: atrazine, simazine, and propazine. These triazines are highly mobile and persistent in the environment and have been linked to numerous adverse health and environmental effects which have motivated numerous public interest campaigns to ban their use in the U.S. as well as in Europe. The Draft Ecological Risk Assessments for the Registration Review of Atrazine, Simazine, and Propazine dated October 5, 2016 […]

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28
Feb

Idaho Legislation Advances to Eliminate Even Minimal Protections from Pesticides, including Drift

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2020) State legislators in Boise, Idaho have advanced House Bill 487, An Act Relating to Pesticides and Chemigation, out of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee. If passed, the statutory alterations in this bill would, according to the Idaho Statesman, loosen some rules on aerial application by crop-dusting airplanes, and reduce state agricultural investigators’ ability to regulate the spraying of pesticides. The legislation replaces sections of current rules and deletes language regarding drift, including “Chemicals shall not be applied when wind speed favors drift beyond the area intended for treatment or when chemical distribution is adversely affected.” Such changes will exacerbate the already-significant issue of pesticide drift. In an overview of the pesticide dicamba, Beyond Pesticides recently reported on this legislative development, as well as on a precipitating exposure event in an Idaho hops field. Banning of aerial spraying, as has been attempted by some localities, would go a long way toward eliminating the harms of pesticide drift. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is the following: As the problem of drift grows and farmers’ crops and people are put at risk, this legislation attempts to define away serious problems and eliminate protections. The Idaho […]

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26
Feb

Tell Your Congressional Representative to Support the Agriculture Resilience Act

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2020) Agriculture both suffers from the impacts of the climate crisis and contributes significantly to global warming. Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine has introduced H.R. 5861 aimed at achieving a 50% reduction in agricultural emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2040, relative to 2010 levels. Tell Your Congressional Representative to Cosponsor H.R. 5861. July of 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high (over 415 ppm) was during the Pliocene period – between 5.3 and 2.6 million years ago. We have seen changing precipitation and temperature patterns, resulting in flooding of some agricultural regions and droughts in others, crops and livestock varieties no longer suited to the geographical area where they have been produced, and new problems with insects, weeds, and disease. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use contributes about 23% of total net anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. At the same time, organic production can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon in the soil. 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, […]

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24
Feb

Longest Field Trials Show Organic Practices Yield Higher Returns than Chemical-Intensive Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2019) With more than 90% of total pesticide use deployed in agriculture, organic farming is the keystone solution to the myriad health, environmental, and biodiversity harms of pesticides. A transition to organic and regenerative farming practices — across which there is great overlap — is critical and a tall order, given the entrenched, chemically intensive practices that currently dominate in the U.S. and much of the world. A long-standing research effort by the storied Rodale Institute — the Farming Systems Trial, which began in 1981— is demonstrating that organic agriculture is not only a nontoxic solution, but also, an economically viable one that is critical to a sustainable future. Through the Farming Systems Trial (FST), the Rodale Institute has collected data on crop yields, soil health, energy efficiency, nutrient density of drops, and water use and contamination in organic and conventional systems managed with different levels of tillage. Among the findings of the nearly 40-year research project are these: after a five-year transition period, organic yields are competitive with conventional yields• in drought years, organic yields are as much as 40% higher than conventional yields farm profits are 3–6 times higher for products from organically managed systems […]

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06
Feb

Farmer Takes Bayer/Monsanto to Court for Crop Damage Caused by the Herbicide Dicamba

(Beyond Pesticides, February 6, 2020) Bill Bader, a Missouri peach farmer, is taking on agrichemical giants for damages to his crops, allegedly caused by the volatile herbicide dicamba drifting from neighboring properties. Mr. Bader says that not only did he lose over 30,000 trees, his remaining peaches are now smaller and his trees are less productive. According to Bader, the damage has cost him $20.9 million for which he seeks restitution. The case is claiming that Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, and German partner company BASF knew that the sale of their products would result in crop damage due to drift, but sold dicamba-resistant cotton and soybean seeds anyway. The companies deny the claims. Dicamba is a benzoic acid herbicide that exerts an auxin-like growth regulatory effect when absorbed by plant tissue, ultimately causing the plant to outgrow its nutrient supply and die. Originally developed in the 1950’s, dicamba has become more popular as crops become resistant to glyphosate. It is extremely volatile and prone to drift. Soybeans are particularly sensitive to dicamba, and drift damage can pit neighbor against neighbor in rural communities. Risk of crop damage alone can drive farmers to buy dicamba-resistant soybean seeds. In addition to […]

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05
Feb

In a Landscape Context, Organic Cropland Provides Refuge to Biodiversity and Is More Profitable than Chemical-Intensive Sites

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2020) A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirms that organic agriculture provides refuge for biodiversity in an increasingly toxic, chemical-intensive landscape and that organic sites are more profitable than chemical-intensive agriculture despite slightly lower average crop yields (depending on crop type). Considering the impact of landscape context, the value of organic agriculture to biodiversity increased when surrounded by large chemical-intensive fields, but profitability slightly decreased. Small, organic farms near urban centers, for example, can be more profitable than large organic farms in remote areas. Researchers conducted a global meta-analysis considering the relationship between landscape context and biotic abundance, biotic richness, crop yield, and profitability. They used landscape metrics that “reflected composition (amount of land cover types), compositional heterogeneity (diversity of land cover types), and configurational heterogeneity (spatial arrangement of land cover types).” Datasets from 148 different studies spanned 60 crops on six continents across a range of farming practices and landscape types. Profitability data only related to US crops. Organic sites had 34% higher biodiversity than chemical-intensive crops. This should come as no surprise, as mono-cultural croplands have become increasingly large and increasingly toxic to organisms such as pollinators and […]

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30
Jan

Croplands’ Toxicity to Pollinators Has Skyrocketed Since the Turn of the Century

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2020) The practice of coating seeds with insecticides, now widely adopted as a result of the agrichemical industry, has created increasingly toxic conditions for pollinators foraging on US cropland, finds a study published in Scientific Reports by Penn State University scientists. The data finds that even as overall volume of insecticide use has decreased, the total “bee toxic load” – a term branded by researchers – has increased markedly due in large part to the use of hazardous seed coatings. The switch from one toxic chemical to another is indicative of a chemically-driven agricultural system that, in order to reverse insect, pollinator and bird declines, must undergo rapid changes over the next several decades. Researchers used information from multiple US databases to determine regional patterns in pesticide use and corresponding toxicity loads to pollinators. Thus the term “bee toxic load” was determined by combining the area of land where insecticides were applied with the total toxicity of the particular insecticide used. To compare the impact of changes in the mode of action of the insecticides used, toxicity data was separated between oral and contact toxicity.    Findings indicate that from 1997-2012, contact bee toxic load remained […]

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07
Jan

What Happens When You Paint Zebra Stripes on a Cow? Eliminate Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2020) It may seem peculiar at first sight, but painting zebra stripes on domestic cattle has the potential to significantly reduce the livestock industry’s use of toxic pesticides, according to research published last year by Japanese scientists at the Aichi Agricultural Research Center in Nagakute, Japan. Each year, farmers spend an estimated $1.6 billion on pesticides in the livestock industry, while biting flies cause over $2 billion of economic loss. This clever example of applied ecology could change those numbers with the added benefit of a safer environment.    While long considered a mystery, the science is now generally in agreement that zebras developed their stripes in order to confuse and ward off biting flies and the various ailments that can be passed on by the pests. While some cow breeds were developed with spotted patterns that may confer some fly deterrence, researchers used mono-colored Japanese Black cows to test their hypothesis. Six cows were separated into one of three groups: white and black stripes, black stripes, and an unpainted control. Stripes were painted with a water-based lacquer. The cows were observed starting 30 minutes after the paint was applied and allowed to air out. For […]

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06
Jan

End Factory Farms: Support the Farm System Reform Act

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2020) In the midst of recalls of romaine lettuce contaminated with a pathogenic strain of E. coli, states and counties across the country are calling for a moratorium on large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Now Senator Cory Booker is seeking to pass similar legislation at the national level. These industrial-scale operations are commonly referred to as “factory farms.” Tell your U.S. Senator to cosponsor the Farm System Reform Act introduced by Sen. Cory Booker. In the last week of November 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a food safety alert concerning a multistate outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California. As of November 25, 67 cases had been reported across 19 states, 39 of which required hospitalization, including six who developed kidney failure. The E. coli strain causing the outbreak — O157:H7, also known as STEC — is genetically identical to that responsible for lettuce-related outbreaks in 2017 and 2018. STEC is a dangerous, Shiga toxin-producing type of E. coli. Other outbreaks occurred earlier in 2019 as well. Dangerous strains of E. coli, including O157:H7, are typically associated with cattle in feedlot conditions. The first of the two […]

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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.ÂŽ 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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