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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


10
Sep

More Scientific Evidence that Endocrine-Disrupting Pesticides Disrupt Thyroid Function

(Beyond Pesticides, September 10, 2021) Research conducted in Thailand shows that exposures to pesticides, even at low levels, can impact the human endocrine system and distort thyroid function. The study looked specifically at interactions of genetics and environment: it investigated associations between variations in genes involved in pesticide metabolism and altered thyroid hormone concentrations in agricultural workers. This research underscores some of the complexity and difficulty of determining human vulnerability to impacts of pesticide exposures, given genetic variables. Beyond Pesticides believes that this very complexity is a cogent argument for anchoring regulation of pesticides in the Precautionary Principle. If exposure to a pesticide can cause damage to human (or environmental) health, it sometimes will do so. Thus, to protect people’s health, agriculture and other land management practices must transition from the use of synthetic pesticides to broad adoption of organic regenerative approaches that obviate the need for such chemicals. This research is part of a longitudinal study that seeks to evaluate sub-chronic impacts, on thyroid hormone levels, of repeated exposures to a variety of pesticides. The farmworkers studied in this phase comprise two groups: those working on organically managed farms (216 subjects), and those working on conventional farms that use pesticides […]

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03
Sep

Danone (Horizon Organic) Threatens the Backbone of Organic Dairy—Family Farms and Their Consumer Supporters

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2021) Groupe Danone, multinational corporate owner of Horizon Organic, has announced that it is terminating its contracts with 89 small-to-medium-sized organic dairy producers in the Northeast as of August 2022. At that point, all of Horizon’s contracted organic dairy farms in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and northern New York may well have no buyers for their milk and will likely face a very uncertain future. In July 2021, Beyond Pesticides covered a major contributor to this development — the failure of the NOP (National Organic Program) to protect the integrity of organic dairy, which failure has advantaged large producers over smaller operations (see more on this below). This development in a region with historically strong demand for organic dairy products is of concern on several fronts, not the least of which is the fate of these small producers. A letter with the news was sent by Danone to 28 Vermont producers, 14 in Maine, 2 in New Hampshire, and 45 in New York State’s three northernmost counties. The company plans, instead, to source milk primarily from larger producers, including “organic” concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) — in Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Midwest, and some Western states — that […]

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31
Aug

Study Underscores Chemical-Intensive Farming Hazards and Need to Shift to Regenerative Organic Models

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31 2021) To ensure long-term ecological, human health, and socioeconomic benefits, food production, distribution and consumption must transition from conventional to regenerative, organic food value chains, as outlined in research published in the journal Productions and Operations Management. “We are paying a high price for a lack of transparency in our food supply and realize that taking shortcuts, or efficiencies, is not sustainable,” said Aleda Roth, PhD, study coauthor and professor in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business at Clemson University. “We need to look at multiple performance outcomes, and in doing so, it will become evident that a regenerative, socially responsible approach to agriculture is imperative to a sustainable food supply, but it also extends across other business sectors.” This research is the latest to underscore the importance of revamping the U.S. food system towards a focus on organic practices that account for externalities and provide multiple add-on benefits for society at large.   To make the case, Dr. Roth and her co-author Yanchong Zheng, PhD, an associate professor in the Sloan School of Management at MIT, define and contrast conventional and regenerative, organic food value chains, with an eye toward “quadruple aim […]

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30
Aug

Tell EPA to Ban ALL Uses of Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2021) As with other actions on pesticides, EPA’s chlorpyrifos decision is filled with exceptions that respond to vested interests seeking to ignore or deflect the science. EPA, since announcing its decision in 1999 to ban “residential” uses of chlorpyrifos, continues to allow the following uses: (i) Residential use of containerized baits; (ii) Indoor areas where children will not be exposed, including only ship holds, railroad boxcars, industrial plants, manufacturing plants, or food processing plants; (iii) Outdoor areas where children will not be exposed, including only: golf courses, road medians, Industrial plant sites; (iv) Non-structural wood treatments including: fenceposts, utility poles, railroad ties, landscape timers, logs, pallets, wooden containers, poles, posts, and processed wood products; (v) Public health uses: Fire ant mounds (drench and granular treatment); (vi) nurseries and greenhouses; and (vii) Mosquito control. These uses are unaffected by EPA’s announcement. We need to finish the chlorpyrifos job. Tell EPA to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. The collective effort to remove this one chemical is a tremendous feat in eliminating one exposure to a hazardous material for children. Achieving the ban on food uses required an enormously resource-intensive effort at a time in history when we are […]

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24
Aug

Socioeconomic and Environmental Benefits in Organic Farming Exceed Chemical Practices

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2021) Organic agriculture provides multiple ecosystem functions and services at greater economic benefit to farmers than conventional, chemical-intensive cropping systems, according to research recently published in the journal Science Advances. The study, conducted by a team of scientists based in Switzerland, goes beyond farming evaluations based solely on ecosystem services to include socioeconomic elements. “We did this because agroecosystems also have a socioeconomic dimension for producers and policy makers,” the authors note. While it is unsurprising based on prior research that organic practices provide greater environmental and economic benefits, the study lays bare the true cost of policies that myopically focus on yield while ignoring other factors. Researchers conducted their study using data derived from a long-running Farming System and Tillage Experiment (FAST) based in Switzerland. FAST tracked four types of cropping systems: conventional intensive tillage, conventional no tillage, organic intensive tillage, and organic reduced tillage. Cropping systems were evaluated based on four broad categories, including provisioning (ie food production), regulating (ie water, air, and soil management), and supporting (ie biodiversity and soil health) ecosystem services, as well as socioeconomic well-being. These categories were subsequently broken down into nine assessments: soil health preservation, erosion control, biodiversity […]

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23
Aug

Tell EPA Misleading Biopesticide Classification Must Be Redefined

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2021) “Biopesticides”—widely regarded as an alternative to chemical pesticides and hence given a special status in regulation—need a better definition. “Biopesticide” is generally poorly understood, and defined differently by various entities and stakeholders. The term can be misleading and mixes contradictory approaches. It is troublesome when we continue to look for product replacements or substitutions for agricultural practices that are clearly ineffective, and in the process avoid the changes necessary to transition to organic practices, which represent the real, long-term solution to concerns among chemical-intensive farmers that they are losing pesticides in their arsenal, either to organism resistance or regulatory restrictions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses the following definition for “biopesticides”: Substances that interfere with mating, such as insect sex pheromones, as well as various scented plant extracts that attract insect pests to traps (and synthetic analogs of such biochemicals); Microbial pesticides consisting of a microorganism (e.g., a bacterium, fungus, virus or protozoan) as the active ingredient; Plant-Incorporated-Protectants (PIPs), pesticidal substances that plants are genetically engineered to produce. Tell EPA it’s time to redefine “biopesticide.” It is deceptive and misleading. The definition should not include genetically modified organisms or synthetic analogs of naturally occurring […]

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19
Aug

Commentary: Are Children, Agricultural Workers, and the Food Supply Safe with EPA’s Chlorpyrifos Decision?

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2021) Does a science-based, public health-oriented, occupational safety focused, children-concerned, ecologically protective society allow the use of toxic pesticides that are unnecessary to achieve land management, quality of life, and food productivity goals? Should victims of poisoning have to plead with regulators to protect them? Should organizations have to fight chemical-by-chemical to achieve basic levels of protection from individual neurotoxic, cancer causing, endocrine disrupting pesticides? Of course not. But, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that it is stopping food uses of the insecticide chlorpyrifos after being registered 65 years ago provides us with an important opportunity for reflection, not just celebration. The collective effort to remove this one chemical is a tremendous feat in eliminating one exposure to a hazardous material for children. That is the point. The action we’re celebrating required an amazingly resource-intensive effort at a time in history when we are running against the clock in an urgent race to transition our society and global community away from the use of petroleum-based, toxic pesticides—to move to meaningful practices that sustain, nurture, and regenerate life. In this context, let’s put chlorpyrifos in perspective. EPA was forced into its decision by a court […]

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18
Aug

Bayer Files “Hail Mary” Petition with U.S. Supreme Court after Losing Jury Verdicts on Cancer Causing Roundup/Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, August 18, 2021) Multinational chemical company Bayer filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court this week, seeking a reversal of a lower court verdict that established Bayer liable for damages from the use of its weed killer Roundup. After purchasing Roundup-maker Monsanto in 2018, Bayer has been mired in a deluge of court battles from injured customers throughout the country who assert that their use of the glyphosate-based herbicide resulted in their cancer diagnosis. Bayer, for its part, has consistently lost these court cases. The company’s Supreme Court petition is now regarded as its best and last chance to avert responsibility for the ongoing harm to public health caused by its carcinogenic herbicide. Bayer’s Supreme Court challenge pertains to the Hardeman v. Monsanto case. In that suit, a California court found unanimously in favor of the plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman. Mr. Hardeman told the jury he had used Roundup since the 1980s to spray poison oak and weeds around his property, resulting in his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2014. He was awarded $5.27 million, while his punitive damages were ultimately reduced from $75 to $20 million. Bayer is bringing two main arguments to the Supreme court. First, […]

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17
Aug

Global Review Identifies Key Drivers of Pollinator Decline, Threat for Humanity

(Beyond Pesticides, August 17, 2021) “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.” This quote is often attributed to Albert Einstein (although its true origins are unknown), but it begs an important question: What are the consequences to humankind of a world where pollinators are rapidly declining? Modern-day scientists have begun to explore that question, and a group of 20 experts recently published a global-scale assessment of the risks associated with the ongoing worldwide decline of pollinator populations in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. While the study experts do not provide such a dire time frame, the message unfortunately is not too far off from the Einstein-attributed quote. “What happens to pollinators could have huge knock-on effects for humanity,” said lead study author Lynn Dicks, PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK. “These small creatures play central roles in the world’s ecosystems, including many that humans and other animals rely on for nutrition. If they go, we may be in serious trouble.” With a study objective of identifying the key drivers and implications for global pollinator decline, a group of 20 pollinator experts from throughout the world […]

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16
Aug

Tell EPA: It Must Ban Pesticides Unless Shown Not To Be Endocrine Disruptors

(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2021) The failure of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to meet its statutory responsibility to protect people and wildlife from the dire consequences of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals must end. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for EPA has issued a damning report on the agency’s progress in protecting the population from potentially damaging endocrine disruption impacts of exposures to synthetic chemical pesticides (and other chemicals of concern) that shows the situation to be even worse than previously reported. The OIG’s summary statement says, “Without the required testing and an effective system of internal controls, the EPA cannot make measurable progress toward complying with statutory requirements or safeguarding human health and the environment against risks from endocrine-disrupting chemicals.” As a result, according to the OIG, “we have yet to see EPA use endocrine disruption findings in pesticide registration decisions.” Tell EPA that pesticide use cannot continue without findings of no endocrine disruption. Over recent decades, evidence has mounted showing that many pesticides interfere with hormones—and are therefore endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In 1996, the promise of screening pesticides for endocrine disruption generated support from environmentalists and public health advocates for the Food Quality Protection Act […]

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10
Aug

Biden EPA Reapproves Paraquat with Weaker Protections than Trump Administration Proposed

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2021) President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under Administrator Michael Regan, is set to reapprove the highly hazardous herbicide paraquat with fewer protections than those proposed by the Trump administration. Despite strong links to Parkinson’s, and bans on the herbicide in the European Union, China, Brazil, and many other countries, EPA’s press release inexplicably states, “No direct one-to-one alternatives to paraquat are available.” The move is part of a string of actions that have pesticide reform advocates increasingly concerned that the Biden Administration is not living up to his initial promises to improve health and environmental protections. Paraquat is the most toxic herbicide still on the market. As EPA readily admits, one small sip of paraquat can be fatal. Apart from its acute toxicity, chronic exposure to the herbicide is strongly linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. But its association with Parkinson’s is merely the most well-known health concern – the chemical is a likely carcinogen, harms the reproductive system, and damages organs like the kidney and liver. It is hazardous to birds and bees, and prone to leaching into groundwater, where it disrupts the health of aquatic ecosystems. The Trump administration’s decision to reapprove […]

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09
Aug

Biden EPA Must Hold Pesticide Manufacturers Accountable for Poisoning

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2021) What’s going on at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? Last month, Bayer/Monsanto announced it would voluntarily cancel “residential lawn and garden” uses of glyphosate products, “exclusively to manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns.” EPA has done virtually nothing to restrict glyphosate/Roundup since the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 classified the chemical as probably carcinogenic. It is now expected, as with other voluntary cancellations, that EPA will make no health or environmental findings that could affect other uses (e.g., agricultural) of glyphosate, but will accept the action by Bayer/Monsanto. The company refers to its action as “risk mitigation”—that’s risk to the company’s profitability, economic viability, and shareholder investment, not public health or environmental protection. Voluntary actions by the companies are highly compromised and do not include agency determinations or findings—allowing false claims of safety, offering a shield from liability, and unencumbered international marketing. The Biden administration began with high hopes for the environment. Combating climate change is a priority. On his first day in office, President Biden issued an executive memorandum, Modernizing Regulatory Review, that appears to establish a new framework supporting healthy people and ecosystems, as it […]

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04
Aug

Typical Neonicotinoid Insecticides at Any Level Likely to Kill Off Wild Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2021) Neonicotinoid insecticides applied to nursery plants sold at garden centers kill off wild, solitary pollinators regardless of the amount applied, according to research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The news is unlikely a surprise for those tracking the science around pollinator declines, but nonetheless a stark reminder of the lack of progress from federal regulators to stop practices that contribute to the ongoing crisis. With new science consistently showing unacceptable hazards to pollinator populations, advocates are urging Congress to take up and pass the Saving America’s Pollinators Act. Since 2006, scientists and beekeepers have singled out neonicotinoids, a class of systemic insecticides, for their role in pollinator die-off and decline. Once applied onto a seed or sprayed on a plant, neonicotinoids distribute themselves throughout the plant’s structure. This causes soft-bodied sucking insects like aphids to be killed when they eat any part of the plant. However, neonicotinoids also make their way into the pollen and nectar the plant produces, as well as the dew drops plants will secrete and pollinators will often use to grab a quick drink. The use of these insecticides on native plants sold at nursery stores throughout […]

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30
Jul

Commentary: Will Playing Fields, Parks, and Lawns Be Safe After Glyphosate in Roundup Residential Use Ends in 2023?

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2021) Bayer (Monsanto), the maker of the deadly herbicide glyphosate/Roundup, after hinting in May that it would end the weed killer’s residential uses in the U.S., made it official yesterday. With its announcement to shareholders, Bayer puts an end to residential uses beginning in 2023 and allocates $4.5 billion to cover “the company’s potential long-term exposure” from lawsuits by those harmed by the chemical. At the same time, the company announced it is seeking a U.S. Supreme Court hearing to reverse significant jury verdicts (from $289 million to $2 billion) for individuals who have suffered health damage they tie to glyphosate exposure. Bayer claims that it will argue that federal pesticide law preempts litigation against products that it has registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA). Similar arguments have been tried before, most notably in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences (2005), and the Supreme Court has found that federal pesticide law does not protect “manufacturers of poisonous substances.” (See more below.) Despite the extensive scientific review (see Pesticide Gateway) of glyphosate/Roundup and a “probable” cancer causing ranking by the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015, Bayer says, “This move is being made exclusively […]

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29
Jul

Pesticides and Other Volatile Chemicals Cause Air Pollution Linked to Premature Deaths

(Beyond Pesticides, July 29, 2021) Between 340,000 and 900,000 premature deaths each year can be linked to air pollution caused by the release of volatile organic compounds, such as pesticides, paints, and cleaning agents, from anthropogenic sources. The findings, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, included an international team of over 50 scientists, lead by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “The older idea was that to reduce premature mortality, you should target coal-fired power plants or the transportation sector,” lead author of the study Benjamin Nault, PhD, said. “Yes, these are important, but we’re showing that if you’re not getting at the cleaning and painting products and other everyday chemicals, then you’re not getting at a major source.” While the connection between air pollution and direct sources of particulate matter in the atmosphere have a large body of supporting literature, there is little understanding of the impact caused by other chemical products that humans use. Those direct sources, such as exhaust fumes from cars and the smoke stacks from coal-fired power plants, are generally regulated by government agencies in the U.S. and in other countries. Even secondary sources of pollution – such as nitrous oxides caused when fumes […]

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26
Jul

Take Action: Tell EPA Not to Allow Unnecessary Pesticide Risks

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2021) Despite federal law that directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to register pesticides only if they do not cause unreasonable adverse effects on humans or the environment, EPA allows pesticides known to cause many adverse effects on humans and the environment. These include health effects such as asthma, autism and learning disabilities, birth defects and reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and several types of cancer—and environmental effects such as decimation of pollinator populations, direct and indirect killing of wildlife, reducing carbon sequestration in the soil, and poisoning air, water, and land. The risks are particularly high for farmworkers and fenceline communities. Why does EPA consider these effects “reasonable” when the pesticides are not necessary to achieve pest management or prevention goals? Tell EPA not to allow unnecessary pesticide risks. When evaluating pesticide registration applications, EPA does not require data demonstrating “benefits” against which these risks may be weighed. That kind of calculation only takes place years down the line, if EPA believes there is reason to consider canceling a pesticide’s registration. On the other hand, the existence of organic producers fueling $62 billion in organic sales in the U.S., with virtually all […]

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23
Jul

Report Finds True Cost of Food in 2019 Was $2.1 Trillion in Adverse Health, Environmental, and Other Effects

(Beyond Pesticides, July 23, 2021) The Rockefeller Foundation has just published a report, True Cost of Food: Measuring What Matters to Transform the U.S. Food System, which identifies the real-but-under-recognized downsides of the U.S. food system. The report notes that, for all its reputed bounty, the food system “comes with hidden costs — to our health, to our climate,” and to the many people who make sure that food reaches the population. The report calls for a true accounting of the costs of food in the U.S. Beyond Pesticides welcomes the broad framework of the report, but notes that a true accounting would necessarily include the costs of the externalities of conventional agriculture, including those related to pesticides: the costs of pollution and its cleanup (when that even happens), of lost pollination and biodiversity, of lost productivity from illness, and of health care costs related to pesticide use. Remarkably, for all its repetition of deleterious impacts on climate, biodiversity, and health, the report barely mentions either pesticides’ roles in causing such impacts, or the clear solution to so many of the negatives in the food system — organic, regenerative agriculture. The report’s economic analysis applies a true cost accounting (TCA) […]

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21
Jul

Millions of Acres in West To Be Sprayed with Toxic Insecticides for Grasshoppers

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2021) Western states are in the midst of one of the largest spray campaigns in recent history, targeting native grasshopper species on more than two million acres of rangeland with highly toxic insecticides. Grasshopper populations have exploded this year due to the West’s ongoing drought, and government officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are hoping that hazardous pesticide use will stop the voracious winged insects from consuming forage used by cattle operations. Environmental groups are urging changes to the program, which has conducted insecticide campaigns against the native grasshoppers since the 1930s. “Aerial application of insecticides on this scale will eliminate millions of insects that pollinate, recycle plant nutrients and perform natural pest control,” said Sharon Selvaggio, Pesticide Program Specialist with the Xerces Society. “Insecticide sprays on this scale across native ecosystems are short-sighted and unsustainable.” According to a June 2020 press release, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is spending $5.3 million dollars of taxpayer money in order to conduct what it calls “suppression treatments.” APHIS claims the $5.3 million will protect $8.7 million worth of agricultural resources, but advocates argue that the agency has failed to meet the “level of economic […]

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20
Jul

Insecticide Chlorpyrifos Interacts with Genes to Increase Autism Risk, Research Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2021) Chlorpyrifos exposure results in the expression of genetic mutations associated with autism spectrum disorder in a laboratory model, finds research published in Environmental Health Perspectives by scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This is a step forward in showing an interplay between genetics and environment and its potential role for autism spectrum disorder,” says study lead Lena Smirnova, PhD, a research associate in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Bloomberg School. The findings support reams of research already conducted that show strong associations between autism and exposure to hazardous environmental stressors like toxic pesticides. Scientists conducted their study using a ‘brain organoid’ model, which is essentially a cluster of cells artificially grown in the lab from stem cells in order to mimic a developing human brain. These tests provide certain benefits over animal testing, as they are more relevant to human disease, and can be performed faster with less cost. The organoid model also represents an improvement on typical 2d cell-based models, increasing cell survival, shelf-life, and thus providing opportunity to model for later stages of brain development. Brain organoids in this study carried a gene called CHD8, which […]

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16
Jul

Death of as Many as 107,000 Bumblebees from Neonicotinoid Insecticides Studied

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2021) Recently published research reviews the 2013 Wilsonville, Oregon mass bumblebee die-off from application of the neonicotinoid dinotefuran on 55 linden trees in a big-box-store parking lot. In that single event, the research paper (published in Environmental Entomology) estimates between 45,830 and 107,470 bumblebees from some 289–596 colonies were killed. Reporting on the new study, by Entomology Today, quotes primary conclusions of the co-authors: “Our study underscores the lethal impact of the neonicotinoid pesticide dinotefuran on pollinating insect populations,” and, “It is likely that the vast majority of mass pesticide kills of beneficial insects across other environments go unnoticed and unreported.” As Beyond Pesticides has chronicled, the U.S. and the world are undergoing a pollinator crisis, caused in significant part by agricultural pesticides. Dinotefuran, the neonicotinoid (neonic) that killed those Oregon bumblebees, is used against fleas, thrips, tree-boring caterpillars, emerald ash borers, hemlock woolly adelgids, and in the Oregon case, aphids. Entomology Today (ET) notes that the timing of this particular application could not have been worse: it happened on a warm day when the linden trees were in full flower and the bees out in force. Ironically, it occurred during Nation Pollinator Week. ET pens a […]

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15
Jul

Multi-Crop (Mixed Culture) Farming Practices Promote More Fruitful Farmland than Single-Crop (Monoculture)

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2021) A study by ETH Zurich finds multi-crop (mixed culture) farmlands, which include a diverse array of crops, produce higher biomass and seed yields than single-crop (monocultures). Monocultures are most prevalent among arable farmland as commercial industrial farming uses this practice to increase sowing, managing, and harvesting efficiency for higher yields. However, less crop diversity leads to higher, more intensive pesticide use as pests favor the consistent food availability monocultures provide. An increase in toxic chemical use threatens human, animal, and environmental health, as well as food security. Ecological research already finds a positive association between plant diversity and biomass productivity in grasslands and meadows. In addition, a University of California, Santa Barbara study demonstrates that crop diversity in commercial agriculture is just as essential to supporting a stable biological system as plant diversity on non-commercial landscapes (i.e., grasslands/meadows). Therefore, this research highlights the need to develop policies that help farmers and global leaders make more knowledgeable decisions regarding crop diversity to sustain yield without toxic pesticides. The researchers note, “While crop diversification provides a sustainable measure of agricultural intensification, the use of currently available cultivars [(plant varieties for selective breeding)] may compromise larger gains in seed yield. We, therefore, advocate regional […]

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14
Jul

Parents of Harmed Children Sue Manufacturer of Brain-Damaging Insecticide Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2021) Corteva (formerly DowDupont) is facing a potential class-action lawsuit after several California families filed suit claiming that the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos around their homes resulted in birth defects, brain damage, and developmental problems in their children. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that has been linked to a range of health ailments, posing significant hazards particularly for pregnant mothers and their children. The lawsuits come as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approaches a court-imposed 60-day deadline to decide the fate of the pesticide’s registration. Attorneys for the court cases, filed on behalf of individuals located in four California communities (Fresno, Kings, Medera, and Tulare counties), indicate they intend to pursue class-action status, which would allow additional injured parties to join the lawsuit. The plaintiffs argue that the effects of chlorpyrifos exposure lingers in the agricultural communities where they reside. “We have found it in the houses, we have found it in carpet, in upholstered furniture, we found it in a teddy bear, and we found it on the walls and surfaces,” said Stuart Calwell, lead attorney for the plantiffs. “Then a little child picks up a teddy bear and holds on to it.” […]

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02
Jul

Second Highest Honey Bee Loss in 15 Years Documented

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2021) The second highest bee loss in 15 years has reported by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) in its 2020–2021 National Colony Loss and Management Survey, released on June 30. For the “winter” period of October 1, 2020 through April 1, 2021, approximately 32% of managed bee colonies in the U.S. were lost. This represents an increase of 9.6% over the prior year’s winter loss and is roughly 4% higher than the previous 14-year average rate of loss. For all of the past year (April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021) the colony loss was 45.5%. Beyond Pesticides has covered the related issues of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the ongoing and devastating impacts of pesticides on bees and other pollinators, and the larger context of what some have called the “insect apocalypse.” These recent BIP data appear to indicate that “we,” writ large, are failing to remedy these problems. Three out of four food crops globally depend on pollinators, at least in part. Commercially kept bees account for a significant portion of pollination of some U.S. crops; almonds are the leading crop, followed by apples and melons. The commercial bee business is huge — a $691 million […]

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