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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


19
Jan

Trump Administration Set to Slash EPA Staff in Half

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2018) Scientists, public health managers, and others charged with protecting the health of the public and the environment at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are being encouraged to exit the agency. This, as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt plans to meet his goal of cutting agency staff and programs by 50 percent. Aides to Mr. Pruitt confirmed to the Washington Examiner that by the end of President Trump’s first term, the agency’s staff will be cut by nearly half. Administrator Pruitt told the Washington Examiner he was “proud” of his efforts to dismantle, some say cripple, the very agency he leads, which is responsible for enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the pesticide registration program the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program, among others. By early 2021, Mr. Pruitt and his team are aiming to reduce the staff of what was nearly 15,000 to below 8,000. Among the people who are being encouraged to “retire” are more than 200 scientists and nearly 100 environmental protection specialists. According to the Washington Examiner, as of January 3, 2018, the EPA has 14,162 employees. The last time EPA was at […]

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18
Jan

Neonicotinoids Found in UK Honey Despite Partial Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2018) Research published in early January 2018 has shown that — despite a partial ban on neonicotinoid insecticides instituted in 2014 — 25% of British honey is still contaminated with residue of these “potent, bee-killing” pesticides. The partial ban, which extended to flowering crops, such as oilseed rape (from which canola oil is made), was instituted by the European Union (EU) in response to evidence of serious threats to bee populations. Samples for this study came from beekeepers and were each from a single location. After the partial ban went into effect, scientists had seen some reduction in the contamination rate of neonicotinoids in honey, from greater than 50% prior to the ban. This study demonstrates that these powerful pesticides nevertheless remain common in agricultural areas, posing serious threats to bees (and other pollinators). This discovery is likely to accelerate pressure on the EU to ban all outdoor use of neonicotinoids, with a vote coming perhaps as soon as in the next few months. “While the frequency of neonicotinoid contaminated samples fell once the EU ban was in place, our data suggest that these pesticides remain prevalent in the farming environment,” said Ben Woodcock, of the UK’s […]

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16
Jan

Take Action: Tell EPA that Neonics Pose Unacceptable Ecological Threats!

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2018) In spite of findings that neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides pose both acute and chronic risks to pollinators, aquatic life, and birds, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comment that could support their continued use. Comments are due by February 20, 2018.  Tell EPA that neonics pose unacceptable risks to pollinators, aquatic life, and birds! And, ask your Congressional delegation push EPA to do the right thing. Last month, EPA released preliminary ecological (non-pollinator) assessments for the neonicotinoids clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, and the terrestrial ecological assessment for imidacloprid, finding that these pesticides pose both acute and chronic risks to aquatic life and birds. Treated seeds are identified as posing the highest dietary risks to birds, confirming previous research that neonics are highly hazardous not only to bees, but also, to birds, aquatic life, and other non-target organisms. However, EPA’s assessments also cover spray treatments. EPA opened the public comment period for these assessments on December 15, 2017. Along with outlining the risks identified in the assessments, the agency is especially requesting feedback on the benefits of continued use of the neonics on cotton and citrus crops, identified in last year’s pollinator assessments as posing risks to honey bees. […]

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08
Jan

Protections from Agricultural Pesticide Drift over Schools Take Effect in California

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2018)  With a long-documented history of children’s exposure to pesticides that drift from agricultural fields to school yards, California’s new regulations establishing no-spray buffers took effort January 1, as labor and public health groups acknowledged the progress and inadequacy of the measure. The new rule, DPR 16-004 Pesticide Use Near Schoolsites, adopted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), prohibits many pesticide applications within a quarter mile of public K-12 schools and licensed child day-care facilities during school hours, Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. This includes all applications by aircraft, sprinklers, air-blast sprayers, and all fumigant applications. In addition, most dust and powder pesticide applications, such as sulfur, will also be prohibited during this time. The new rule was announced in November, 2017. Advocates say the new rules fail to address persistent low-level exposures associated with the use of the pesticides near schools, which are in agricultural areas that are disproportionately Latino and from farmworker families. There is continuing concern about children’s exposure to hazardous pesticides because children use school grounds after school hours and on weekends and residues from drift may remain on school grounds. Many pesticides used are persistent and systemic, lingering […]

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03
Jan

Canada To Impose Fines Up to $1 Million for Cannabis Growers Using Banned Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2018) Companies licensed to grow cannabis in Canada will be required to submit to mandatory testing and will receive fines of up to $1 million if their product contains banned pesticides. The new measures announced by Health Canada come as the country prepares to launch its recreational market in July 2018, and reports from national news outlets are sounding the alarm over widespread contamination of the ongoing medical cannabis market. Canada’s move is being closely watched by growers and regulators in the United States, where 29 states currently allow some form of medical or recreational cannabis to be sold, each with different pesticide rules. Health Canada, the primary pesticide enforcement agency in the country, had previously indicated that fines were unlikely because, as regulators told The Globe and Mail, companies were aware that banned pesticides were illegal and disallowed. However, after the country began regular testing, and news outlets began reporting on multiple instances of banned and highly toxic pesticides making their way onto the market, the agency decided to change its approach. Both growers and patients are encouraged by the new rules. Chairman of the Cannabis Canada Association, Neil Closner, told The Globe and Mail, […]

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22
Dec

It is an honor to work with you, the members and network of Beyond Pesticides

Thank you for your support and collaboration. Onward in 2018! (Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2017)  We deeply appreciate your donation to our program in 2017 and it is easy to donate HERE. Year in Review At Beyond Pesticides, we collaborate with organizations and advocate across the country to get our message out on the threat that pesticides pose to human health and the environment. We support local action to stop this threat. And, we assist communities nationwide with the adoption of organic management practices that are more effective and protective than chemical-intensive practices. The partnerships that have been established are, at a more rapid pace, resulting in the adoption of land management practices that are supported by Beyond Pesticides’ strategic vision for a world free of toxic pesticides. Information for Action Beyond Pesticides expanded its role in the forefront of pesticide and organic advocacy with our Action of Week  and Q&A of the Week, in addition to our Daily News, which identifies and delves into key science, policy, and actions that inform local action. The Summer issue of our journal, Pesticides and You, highlighted David Montgomery’s talk at Beyond Pesticides’ National Forum on the importance of soil microbiota and gut microbiome to healthy ecosystems […]

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18
Dec

Take Action: Tell Congress to Support Organic Certification Cost Share

(Beyond Pesticides, December 18, 2017)  Organic certification cost share enables small and medium-sized organic farms to become certified. The costs of annual certification are increasing.  The two federal programs providing certification cost share offer a modest, partial (75 percent) reimbursement of up to $750 annually per certification, to help defray these costs. Having a diversity of scale of operations involved in organic production helps to maintain the integrity, vitality and opportunity of the U.S. organic sector. Tell Congress to reauthorize both the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program through the next Farm Bill, to provide assistance needed by small and medium-sized organic producers. Organic certification cost share helps to increase domestic production of organic products to better meet growing demand. Sales of organic products continue to grow at a rapid rate. Nationwide, U.S organic sales reached $47 billion in 2016, with nearly 24,000 family farms and other businesses represented. However, U.S. organic production is lagging behind demand for organic products.  Unless we are able to get more U.S. farmers certified as organic, the United States will continue to import a growing percentage of organic food and feed from other nations. There are […]

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12
Dec

Monsanto Offers Farmers Payments to Use Controversial Herbicide Dicamba, According to Reuters

(Beyond Pesticides, December 12, 2017) According to a Reuters story, agrichemical company Monsanto plans to offer farmers a cash incentive to use its highly toxic and drift-prone dicamba-based herbicide next season, despite links to widespread crop damage that has pitted neighbor against neighbor in agricultural communities throughout the country. The move comes as more and more states enact or consider restrictions on use of the herbicide, which is intended to be paired with genetically engineered (GE) soybean seeds resistant to both dicamba and another controversial herbicide produced by Monsanto, glyphosate. Monsanto plans to provide farmers more than half of the cost of herbicide per acre as an incentive to plant its GE seeds. However, given the range of new regulations surrounding the products, as well as the social stigma around its use, it remains to be seen whether the offer will sway farmers. Dicamba has stirred up fights between neighbors in a number of agricultural communities. Bader Farms, which grows over 110,00 peach trees on over 1,000 acres in Missouri, is suing Monsanto after its insurance company issued a refusal to pay for damages caused by dicamba drift from surrounding farms. In June of this year, University of Arkansas’ agricultural […]

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04
Dec

Take Action: Don’t Allow Dow Chemical to Poison Farms and Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2017) You told the Arkansas Plant Board to exercise its authority to protect farmers, consumers, and the environment from use of the herbicide dicamba on genetically engineered (GE) soybeans, and the board listened. Now, we need to ask the board to stop the use of 2,4-D on GE cotton. The action of states is critical as the federal government ignores basic safety concerns. Action in Arkansas will influence other states. Tell the Arkansas Plant Board to adopt the proposed rule and to prohibit use of 2,4-D on cotton! The decision concerning 2,4-D use on herbicide-tolerant cotton goes to the Arkansas Plant Board on December 12. The choice has many similarities to the decision to allow — and then prohibit — the use of dicamba on herbicide-tolerant soybean varieties. Both 2,4-D and dicamba are phenoxy herbicides — 2,4-D being the infamous ingredient (along with 2,4,5-T) of Agent Orange. Our voices were heard when the Arkansas Plant Board considered dicamba, so please weigh in on 2,4-D. At this December 12 meeting, the Arkansas Plant Board is holding a hearing on a proposed regulation that would allow the Board to request more information from pesticide registrants, which could support restrictions based on conditions within Arkansas. The […]

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27
Nov

Take Action: Ask Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act!

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2017) Congress is working on the 2018 Farm Bill, which will determine how $956 billion of our tax money will be spent over the coming years in shaping our food system. This year, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced a bill that, if passed, will implement many of the food policy reforms that sustainable agriculture policy advocates have long supported. Ask Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act! The bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Don Beyer (D-VA), is a result of a two-year conversation, “Sing Your Own Farm Bill,” in which the U.S. Representative engaged a diverse group of farmers, ranchers, fiscal hawks, food and agriculture policy experts, environmentalists, animal welfare advocates, and others to brainstorm ideas for shaping future farm and food policy. According to Farm Forward, factory farms receive approximately $4 billion in annual benefits under the current Farm Bill –which result in many negative impacts, such as: •    Diet-Related Disease – A diet high in food commodities subsidized by the Farm Bill is linked to a greater probability of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. •    Climate Change –The top five factory-farm mega-corporations […]

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08
Nov

Monsanto Pulls New Seed Treatment Product after Complaints of Skin Irritation, Blames Users

(Beyond Pesticides, November, 8, 2017) Farmers who purchased and handled Monsanto’s new treated seed product, NemaStrike, for nematode or roundworm control (nematicide) have been reporting skin irritation, including rashes that occurred after use. Now the seed giant is pausing a full rollout of the product, while blaming farmers for not using gloves and other protective equipment to handle the treated seeds. This is another blunder from Monsanto and the latest incident highlighting the deficiencies in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pesticide registration process in light of the millions of acres of crop damage from Monsanto products green-lighted by EPA. While touting that NemaStrike went through three years of extensive field trials and “extensive evaluations” by EPA, Monsanto stated in a bulletin to its customers on its website that it will pause commercialization of the product in light of reports of skin irritation from users. These adverse reactions to the product are being blamed on the failure of users to wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling the treated seeds. This is not the first time that Monsanto has tried to shift responsibility for the toxic effect of its products to users. Last year, Monsanto blamed farmers for drift […]

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06
Nov

Take Action: Tell Your U.S. Representative to Support Organic in the Next Farm Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2017) The next Farm Bill will be up for negotiation soon. Bi-partisan legislation to address two issues that are important for organic agriculture –increasing funding for organic research and strengthening enforcement of the organic standards: The Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) will provide $50 million in funding annually for the USDA’s flagship organic research program, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).  The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act of 2017 will improve oversight of organic imports. This action will allow you to send messages to your U.S. Representative requesting that they co-sponsor the bills or thanking the member if she/he is already a co-sponsor. Ask your U.S. Representative to support organic in the next Farm Bill by co-sponsoring these two bills. If your Representative is already a co-sponsor, send a thank you. Organic is one of the fastest growing sectors in U.S. agriculture. The bi-partisan Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) introduced by U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will help more farmers transition to organic production in response to growing demand in the marketplace. Organic research helps farmers become more productive, efficient, and profitable and leads to the development of new agricultural practices that can […]

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30
Oct

Deadline Today: Stop Monsanto from Poisoning Farms and Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2017) Tell the Arkansas State Plant Board to stand up to Monsanto, and protect farmers by banning dicamba’s use in Arkansas agriculture. Comment period closes today, Monday, October 30, 2017, at 4:30pm (Eastern Time). Your comments are needed to stop the disaster in Arkansas being created by Monsanto’s new genetically engineered (GE) cropping system, which relies on the toxic pesticide dicamba. If Arkansas bans dicamba, other states should and will follow —given the chemical industry’s takeover of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is allowing this extremely hazardous pesticide use. This is a problem that has regional and national implications, given the breakdown of the EPA and its pesticide program. We cannot let this failure of protection stand in Arkansas or anywhere in the country. Promoted by Monsanto as a way to address rampant Roundup (glyphosate) resistance, Monsanto’s new GE soybeans are now able to withstand both glyphosate and dicamba, an older herbicide with a range of documented health effects —from neurotoxicity to reproductive problems. Dicamba is also highly volatile and, as a result, has drifted across crop fields throughout the region, damaging high value fruit tree and organic operations. The Arkansas State Plant Board is […]

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25
Oct

Farmers Challenge Oregon County’s Ban on Aerial Pesticide Spraying Adopted by Ballot Initiative

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2017) Oregon is the most recent site of an effort by a locality to establish more-protective pesticide regulations than are provided by the state. Voters in Lincoln County, on the north-central Oregon Coast, approved a ballot measure earlier this year that established a ban on aerial spraying of pesticides in the county. Immediately, county landowners Rex Capri and Wakefield Farms, LLC, both of whom use aerial spraying on their properties, filed a legal challenge to the ordinance created through that vote. The issue is whether the state of Oregon has the legal authority to stop its local political subdivisions from adopting more rigorous than those enacted by the state. When the state of Maine considered legislation to preempt its local jurisdictions (take away their authority to act) this summer, Beyond Pesticides wrote, “The democratic process is foundational to the culture of Maine and the country. LD 1505 betrays the democratic process. Maine communities want to be able to adopt standards that exceed or are more stringent than state standards as a matter of public health and environmental protection, or quality of life. Why would a town or city want to do use its local authority to adopt […]

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20
Oct

New EPA Restrictions of Herbicide Dicamba, Prone to Drift, Criticized as Not Stopping Major Crop Damage

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2017) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that label changes to the herbicide dicamba would be made to try to minimize drift that has left thousands of acres of crops already damaged this season. The label changes include making dicamba “restricted use,” which allows only certified applicators to apply the chemical. Dicamba drift has been damaging farmers’ crops for at least two years due to the approval of new dicamba-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) crops. Advocates says that the new changes do not ensure that drift will be eliminated. According to EPA, the agency reached an agreement with the makers of dicamba, (Monsanto, BASF and DuPont) to restrict its application. This comes after hundreds of official complaints of crop damage related to dicamba across 17 states this year alone, leading to questions about the new formulation of the chemical used in genetically engineered (GE) crop productioon. New GE crops developed by Monsanto must be paired with specific formulations of dicamba, and thus led to a vast increase in dicamba use over the past couple growing seasons. Dicamba-based herbicide use has climbed dramatically as farmers have adopted, especially, Monsanto’s GE soybean seeds; in the 2017 season, 20 […]

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18
Oct

Monsanto Banned from Lobbying European Parliament

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2017) Effective immediately, the European Parliament has banned Monsanto lobbyists, excluding the chemical company from access to committee meetings and digital resources, as well as no longer permitting Monsanto lobbyists to meet with any Member of the European Parliament (MEP). This limit to its influence is a serious blow to Monsanto’s advocacy campaign to promote the safety of its weedkiller glyphosate, (Roundup). The decision to ban came amid mounting public pressure to deny European Union re-licensing of glyphosate, one of the world’s most widely used herbicides. (See glyphosate listing in Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticides Gateway, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.) Glyphosate is classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Monsanto, the world’s largest GE-seed and seventh-largest pesticide company, is eager to suppress IARC’s ranking. In fact, before being banned, the European Parliament had questioned Monsanto’s funding of counter-studies in order to discredit independent scientists working to limit the public’s exposure to toxic chemicals. In a related development, independent scientists sent a letter to the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology, calling for the retraction of a 2016 paper that refuted glyphosate’s cancer risks after it was learned that […]

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29
Sep

Study Shows Climate Change Threatens Soil Organisms Essential to Life

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2017) Protect polar bears and “big charismatic wildlife!”  But do not ignore the microscopic organisms essential to ecological sustainability. That is the take from a new study at University of California Berkeley, which, for the first time, links global climate change to the loss of a “shockingly high” number of critical microbial species essential to ecological systems, biodiversity, and organic land management. Other studies link chemical-intensive agriculture, and its reliance on petroleum-based substances, to adverse effects on soil organisms and insects and birds essential to ecological balance, while indicating the importance of organic management practices in protecting biodiversity and curtailing global climate change. As stated in the study, “Models predict that up to 30% of parasitic worms are committed to extinction, driven by a combination of direct and indirect pressures.”  Furthermore, for those species “successfully tracking climate change,” the search for food and water, in once unavailable habitat, will cause them to “invade” and to “replace” native plants and animals with “unpredictable ecological consequences.” Lead author of the study, Ph.D. candidate Colin Carlson, states that for symbiotic parasites, those with numerous beneficial roles, “a loss of suitable habitat” comes as a result of “host-driven coextinctions.” In an interview […]

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18
Sep

Action: Tell California To Ban Chlorpyrifos, a Dangerous Developmental Poison!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2017) Ask California to ban the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos that’s on the food we eat from California –since the administrator of EPA refused to take the action agency scientists said is necessary to protect children. Tell California to ban chlorpyrifos! In view of EPA’s retraction of its proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of the highly neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos, despite its own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is especially important that California take action to ban the chemical. California, the home of the largest agriculture industry in the country, used over 1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos on over a million acres in 2012. EPA’s assessment is also support for the classification of chlorpyrifos as a developmental toxicant, an issue being considered on a parallel track by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which oversees the “Prop 65” list. EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. […]

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06
Sep

Farmers’ Greater Risk of Diabetes Linked to Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, September, 2017) A recently released report, Gallup-Sharecare State of Well-Being: The Face of Diabetes in the United States, looks at high diabetes rates across various U.S. demographic groups, including those in farming. People working in the transportation sector registered the highest incidence of diagnosed diabetes at 10.6%. But those working as farmers and fishermen came in second, with 8.5% reporting a diagnosis of the disease. Based on a self-reporting survey, The Face of Diabetes in the United States did not differentiate between Type 1 diabetes (which typically manifests in childhood or young adulthood) and Type 2 diabetes (which commonly emerges in adulthood). It did, however, consider lifestyle risk factors that can influence development of each form of the disease. The “farmer and fisher” folks placed more-or-less in the mid-range among all occupations vis-à-vis several of the lifestyle factors that can impact development of the disease (smoking, diet, and obesity), and a bit higher in alcohol consumption, but in fact, reported more exercise than any other category of worker. These data points would seem to suggest that farmers would be at less risk than those in some other occupational categories. For instance, those working in “installation and repair” reported […]

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31
Aug

Birth Abnormalities Linked to Pesticide Exposures

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2017) Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara report in a new study that exposure to pesticides as a result of living near agricultural areas increases the risk of giving birth to a baby with abnormalities. These results are more significant for those exposed to very high levels of pesticides, underscoring the continued risks faced by farmworkers and farmworker families, especially mothers living near chemically-intensive treated fields. The study, “Agricultural pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes in the San Joaquin Valley of California,” looked at individual birth and demographic characteristics for over 500,000 birth observations between 1997 and 2011 in the agriculturally dominated San Joaquin Valley, California. The researchers, who report their findings as, “the most comprehensive to date, bringing together the largest data file ever compiled on street-address level birth outcomes and fine scale exposure to agricultural pesticides,” analyzed residential agricultural pesticide exposure during gestation, by trimester, and by toxicity influences on birth outcomes: birth weight, gestational length, or birth abnormalities. Adverse birth outcomes increased by 5–9% among those exposed to very high quantities of pesticides (e.g., top 5th percentile, i.e., ~4,200 kg per square mile applied over gestation). According to the results, “ The magnitude of effects were further enlarged […]

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25
Aug

Organic Agriculture: Visions and Challenges –Topic of Article

(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2017) While organic agriculture still represents only a fraction of the world’s food production, organic food sales have enjoyed remarkable growth over the past couple of decades, which is captured in a recent article, Building a global platform for organic farming research, innovation and technology transfer, published by Springer online. This growth of organic is propelled by consumers and farmers who recognize significant environmental and health advantages of organic, compared to chemical-intensive agriculture. In this context, studies conclude that organic agriculture may be the best way to meet the world’s food security and environmental needs. A bit of history for some context on this issue: for millennia, of course, all agricultural was “organic.” Even the Industrial Revolution — which brought the combustion engine that enabled machines that made tilling, planting, and harvesting less animal-bound and human-labor intensive — had minimal impact on other aspects of how food was planted, raised, and harvested. In the 1960s, the so-called “Green Revolution” took hold, powered in part by the post-WWII technological and industrial boom in scientific and technical discoveries and applications, and in part by a rapidly growing global population that shared inequitably in the world’s food production. This […]

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21
Aug

Take Action: Insist that the Organic Label Be Regulated on the Basis of Law, Not Whim!

(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2017) Consumers of organic food expect a clear set of production standards that are enforced with a rigorous system of inspection and certification. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) is currently undermining this central organic principle. During a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) webinar, NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy extolled the new “flexibility” of his program in allowing organic certification of operations not permitted by regulations. Although the webinar focused on the program’s allowance of hydroponics, Mr. McEvoy’s comments apply to a wide variety of permitted practices for which USDA has yet to approve standards. Click here to take action: Tell the NOSB, NOP, Secretary of Agriculture, and your Congressional delegation that organic certification must be based on law, not the arbitrary judgment of the Deputy Administrator. Some NOSB members pointed out the problems with NOP’s arbitrary approach to standards –that the criteria for approving them have not gone through the transparent public review process required by law; that problems of health and environmental impacts and consistency with organic principles may be discovered during the public process; that consumers expect certification to be based on uniform standards enforced consistently; and that once […]

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18
Aug

How Just Is that Glorious Farm-to-Table Meal?

(Beyond Pesticides, August 18, 2017) The exuberant consumer interest in Farm-to-Table (aka Farm-to-Fork) dining experiences, which germinated in the 1970s, grew dramatically during the last couple of decades, as consumers became far more interested in eating healthfully and knowing more about the sourcing of their food. The bloom may be coming off the rose just a bit, as people respond to a variety of concerns, including pricing; some perception of “preciousness” or elitism about the movement; the occasional “food fraud” — cutting corners and/or “greenwashing” — perpetrated by those looking to cash in on the trend without delivering the real goods; and ethical concerns rooted in a growing recognition of health, safety, and inequality problems in the U.S. In the early 2000s, those clued in to the food and agriculture scene witnessed an exciting new trend: Farm to Table (FTT) restaurants, and a concomitant focus on local sourcing, and organic and sustainably raised food. The idea promised foods grown and produced nearby, greater transparency about that sourcing, relationships with a region’s producers, more organics, and generally, more-healthful fare. As the sector has grown, those working in it have begun to talk about the difficulties inherent in such an enterprise. Andrea Reusing, […]

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