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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


04
Dec

Protection of Pregnant Farmworkers Under Civil Rights Protection; Will There Be Enforcement.

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2023) With a history of neglect of farmworker protection in the workplace, advocates are pointing to the need for ensuring stringent enforcement of regulations that are expected to take effect under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) this month. In addition to weak laws and protections that typically exempt farmworkers, enforcement for farmworker protections that do exist has been lacking. A report on enforcement of wage and hour law under Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has documented diminished capacity to detect and enforce against violations. A report by the Economic Policy Institute (2020) shows the dramatic failures of DOL, which is underfunded and understaffed to enforce the law. As the agency charged with operationalizing the new law to protect farmworkers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will be up against a federal pesticide law enforcement system that is dependent by agreements with state agencies, mostly departments of agriculture, that have a history of failing to enforce the limited protections provided for farmworkers. The EEOC is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and operates 53 field offices in every part of the country. Farmworkers have endured a long history of discrimination in the United […]

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30
Nov

Viruses Shown to Be Effective Biological Control

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2023) Scientists at Minami Kyushu University in Japan have made a groundbreaking discovery of a new biological control for a target insect. They have identified a virus in tobacco cutworms that kills males, creating all-female generations. The discovery was described in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences and The New York Times as evidence that multiple viruses have evolved to kill male insects. This “male-killing” virus could be added to the growing attempts to control unwanted insects with biological, as distinguished from genetically engineered (GE) solutions. Efforts range from the introduction of natural predators, to radiation-based sterilization of insects, CRISPR-based genetic mutations, and other techniques. While the GE approach has run into controversy because of unanswered questions associated with their release into natural ecosystems, some approaches have also run into resistance problems. Nearly a decade ago, researchers found armyworm resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-incorporated genetically engineered (GE) maize in the southeastern region of the U.S., calling this evolution of insect resistance to a naturally occurring soil bacterium engineered into crops “a serious threat to the sustainability of this technology.” The general population knows to avoid eating raw eggs because the bacteria salmonella, […]

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21
Nov

Plant-Based Diets: Beneficial for the Environment But Potentially High in Pesticides?

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2023) According to a study in the Scientific Reports Journal, plant-forward diets might increase exposure to pesticide residues compared to meat-heavy diets. However, a switch to organic plant-based options significantly reduces this risk, with a separate research study indicating that vegetarians and vegans—often favoring organic products—are generally less exposed to synthetic pesticides than omnivores. The study also corroborates other research emphasizing the environmental benefits of plant-based diets, advocating for policies that make organic plant-based foods more widely accessible and emphasizing their crucial role in enhancing both environmental and human health.   Plant-based diets are increasingly popular—and with good reason. The intensification of animal agriculture is a major cause of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and high water usage. In particular, Brazil accounts for one-third of global tropical deforestation, with 80% of this deforestation in the Amazon due to cattle ranching. Additionally, animal products like fish, eggs, and meat, responsible for about 83% of land use, supply only 37% of the global protein. Numerous studies suggest that reducing meat and animal product consumption can significantly mitigate environmental impacts, particularly regarding land use and greenhouse gas emissions. However, managed grazing in organic animal agriculture reduces many of the hazards […]

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15
Nov

Glyphosate Exposure Linked to Behavioral and Gut Health Concerns in New Studies

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2023) A study previously published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is drawing renewed attention to the gut microbiome in the scientific community. The study, involving a team including Demetrio Sierra-Mercado, PhD, of the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, initially established a link between glyphosate exposure and increased anxiety and fear-related behavior in rats. Glyphosate, a widely-used herbicide, has been detected in trace amounts in fruits, vegetables, grains, and other food and beverages, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Originally deemed safe for humans due to the way it interacts with the shikimic acid pathway—a metabolic route that is absent in humans—glyphosate’s indirect effects on human health are now under scrutiny as the research linking it to anxiety-like behavior grows.  Dr. Sierra-Mercado’s team is expanding on his previous research to take a closer look at the compound’s potential disruption of the gut microbiome, which plays a pivotal role in regulating both physical and mental health. His upcoming study, anticipated in August 2024, aims to delve into the intricate relationship between glyphosate exposure and the gut-brain axis, with a focus on how this may influence neurological and emotional health […]

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14
Nov

Celebrated 2021 Ag Ban of Deadly Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos, Reversed by Court Despite Decades of Review and Litigation

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2023) One of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) strongest tools for avoiding responsibility is delay—a tactic that kept cancellation of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos at bay for 21 years—until May 2021, when a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, responded to a petition filed in 2007 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Pesticide Action Network, and numerous other groups. The Ninth Circuit ordered the agency to quit lollygagging and acknowledge chlorpyrifos’s threat to human health, something the agency had acknowledged already. The Ninth Circuit instructed EPA to either revoke the “safe” tolerances the agency had set for chlorpyrifos’s residue in various foods or demonstrate that they are actually safe. Finally capitulating, EPA issued a final rule in August 2021 revoking all food tolerances for the neurotoxicant. Tell your governor and mayor to adopt policies that support organic land management.  This looked like progress until February 2022, when a different set of petitioners—pesticide companies, U.S. farmer groups, and other countries’ agricultural interests—filed an action in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. On November 3 of this year, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit reversed EPA’s decision, thereby neutralizing the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. Chlorpyrifos, […]

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13
Nov

Commentary and Action: Court Decision and History Calls into Question Value of Pesticide Law

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2023) The news of a federal Appeals Court’s reversal of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision in early November calls into question the value of the basic structures, processes, and authorities of pesticide law that the public has been told are protective of health and the environment. After decades of review and litigation, this reversal, especially on a highly neurotoxic insecticide like chlorpyrifos, identifies a fundamentally flawed system that does not protect the health of people, in this case, children’s brains. >>Tell your governor and mayor to adopt policies that support organic land management.  It was EPA’s finding that chlorpyrifos was destructive of the nervous system, particularly in children, and the functioning of the brain that led to an EPA-negotiated chemical company (Corteva/Dow Chemical) settlement in 1999 (took effect in 2000) that removed residential uses of chlorpyrifos from the market. The 2020 EPA decision, 21 years later, to stop agricultural uses followed another Appeals Court decision, departing from the agency’s usually long drawn-out negotiations that ultimately compromise health and the environment. EPA banned agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos in 2016 in the Obama Administration, but the decision was reversed by the Trump Administration in 2017. Because […]

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09
Nov

Protection of Children from Pesticides under Threat in Farm Bill Negotiations, Data Shows

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2023) Two-hundred-foot pesticide spray “buffer zones” around 4,028 U.S. elementary schools contiguous to crop fields—according to data evaluated by Environmental Working Group—are threatened by potential Farm Bill amendments now under consideration. Legislative language, if adopted, would take away (preempt) the authority of states and local jurisdictions to protect children and restrict agricultural pesticides used near schools. Pesticide drift is a widespread problem throughout the U.S. that has attracted national attention in recent years because of crop damage caused by the weed killer dicamba in numerous midwestern states. In the face of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to mitigate drift hazards, states enact limits on when and how pesticides can be used, establish buffer zones around application sites, and in some cases, ban uses. In 2018, Arkansas banned dicamba use from mid-April through the end of October (and survived a Monsanto challenge to the ban. For a historical perspective on the drift issue, see Getting the Drift on Pesticide Trespass. Children, in particular, face unique risks from pesticide and toxic chemical exposures. Due to their smaller body size, they absorb a higher relative amount of pesticides through the food they consume and the air they breathe. Additionally, children’s developing […]

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07
Nov

Pesticide-Intensive Agricultural Practices Lead to Elevated Childhood Cancer Rates in Brazil

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2023) Two decades after the introduction of genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant crops and the consequential exponential growth in weed killers, Brazil is seeing an increase in childhood cancer. This is the conclusion reached in a comprehensive study spanning 15 years (2004-2019), “Agriculture Intensification and Childhood Cancer in Brazil,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in October. For the past 20 years, soybean herbicides have been killing and sickening children in the Cerrado and Amazon regions–where soybean cultivation is concentrated. The study reveals a link between an increase in soy cultivation and a spike in cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer affecting children, among indirectly exposed populations. Researchers identify pesticide-contaminated drinking water as the driving force behind the increased cancer rates occurring downstream from soybean sites.  In 2003, Brazil legalized its first official genetically modified (GM) crop, welcoming the era of GM soybeans and sparking a radical transformation in its agricultural landscape–for better or worse. The introduction of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybean seed promised farmers an efficient and herbicide-resistant alternative to traditional crops. A significant shift occurred in the areas dedicated to soy cultivation in the Cerrado region, tripling from […]

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02
Nov

Childhood Leukemia Linked to Pesticides Used in Vineyards

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2023) A study published in Environmental Health Perspective finds the risk of acute childhood leukemia (AL), specifically acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), slightly increases with exposure to pesticides (i.e., insecticides and herbicides) from uses on vines, a crop subject to intensive pesticide use. Within 1 kilometer [km] of vineyards, the risk of ALL among children increases in areas with a higher density of vines. Although medical advancements in disease survival are more common nowadays, childhood AL remains the secondary cause of child mortality following physical injury. Furthermore, childhood leukemia survivors can suffer from chronic or long-term health complications that may be life-threatening. The etiology or cause of childhood AL involves the interaction of multiple components, including lifestyle and genetics; emerging evidence indicates that environmental contaminants (e.g., pesticides, air pollution, solvents, diet, etc.) play a role in disease. Pesticide contamination is widespread in all ecosystems, and chemical compounds can accumulate in human tissues, resulting in chronic health effects. Children are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of pesticide exposure as their developing bodies cannot adequately combat exposure effects. Already, studies find low levels of pesticide exposure during pregnancy or childhood cause adverse health effects, from metabolic disorders to mental and physical disabilities. Moreover, […]

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30
Oct

Despite a Beetle’s History of Resistance to Insecticides, EPA Is Pushing Genetically Engineered Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2023) TAKE ACTION. It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And so it goes with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to register a new genetically engineered pesticide for the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB); this time with a pesticide that has not been fully evaluated for its adverse effects to people and the environment. [Submit a public comment before comment period ends today, October 30, 2023.] Chemical-intensive agriculture has failed to control CPB since resistance to DDT was identified in 1952 and has continued with every family of pesticides since then. CPB has been dubbed the billion-dollar-bug because of the investment in failed attempts of chemical manufacturers to control the insect, the profits generated by chemical companies despite this failure, and the resulting losses for chemical-intensive farmers—not to mention government expenditures for the registration of chemicals that have short efficacy, pollution costs associated with chemical production and use, and lost ecosystem services. But, EPA is at it again, registering a new novel pesticide active ingredient, Ledprona, which raises the stakes on potential harm. The only winners in this ongoing failure […]

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27
Oct

EPA To Allow Genetically-Based Pesticides, Incomplete Testing, and Documented Adverse Effects

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2023) In a typical move, EPA proposes to greenlight a type of genetic engineering to solve a problem created by the industrial paradigm for pest control, i.e. vast acreages of monoculture treated with millions of tons of toxic pesticides leading to rapid resistance among crop pests. In this case EPA wants to approve using a nucleic acid—double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)–called “interfering RNA,” or RNAi—to silence a gene crucial to the survival of the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB), the scourge of potato farmers around the world. But EPA has skipped over important steps in its decision-making process and rushed to judgment. Like chemical pesticides, genetically-based pesticides are regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In 2020, Massachusetts-based GreenLight Biosciences applied for registration of its RNAi active ingredient, Ledprona, and its end-use product, Calantha. The company executive heading the effort is an alumnus of Monsanto and several other major chemical companies. Last May EPA granted GreenLight an Experimental Use Permit (EUP) authorizing field studies in states that produce tons of potatoes. A mere five months later, EPA announced its decision to approve the registration based almost entirely on incomplete EUP data and giving the public very […]

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25
Oct

Study Further Strengthens Link Between Common Insecticide Class and Psychiatric Disorders

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2023) A study published in Environmental Pollution finds farming and organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposure are risk factors for depression, with pesticide poisoning being a risk factor for suicidal behavior. Additionally, psychiatric disorder prognosis affects men more than women, with depression and suicidal outcomes more common among pesticide-exposed males. Age also affected depression and suicidal consequences, with elevated rates among older farmers. Research on pesticide-induced diseases commonly investigates pesticide exposure concerning the development of various physical illnesses. However, previous studies show that occupational (work-related) risks of developing depression are high in agriculture, where pesticide use is widespread. Acute exposure to chemicals, including organophosphate, organochlorine, triazine, and carbamate pesticides, tends to put farmers at elevated risk. More study is needed on pesticide exposure and similar psychological (psychiatric) effects in the general population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects 322 million people globally, with the number of diagnosed patients increasing by 18.4% from 2005 to 2015. Although the etiology of depression—and many other psychiatric disorders—is often genetic, studies suggest that other etiological factors, like pesticide exposure, play a role in depression incidents. Poor mental health has a tangible influence on physical health (e.g., depression and cardiovascular disease); therefore, the combination of pesticide exposure […]

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24
Oct

Depleted Soils and Petrochemical Fertilizers Destabilize Africa and Globe

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2023) Sub-Saharan Africa, often celebrated for its rich cultural diversity and stunning landscapes, is also home to a growing crisis beneath its surface – the depletion of its ancient soils. These soils–some of the oldest in the world–have undergone long periods of weathering and erosion, leading to severe nutrient deficiencies. Potassium, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus, vital for crop growth, are notably absent from these soils. Due to this and a dependency on synthetic fertilizers, along with an absence of soil and water conservation programs and other complex issues stemming from poor infrastructure, pervasive government instability, and colonialism, African soils have a markedly decreased ability to sustain high-yielding food crops. As a result, restoring soil health through the nurturing of microbial activity and the natural cycling of nutrients is identified as the number-one priority to improve agricultural productivity and ensure food sovereignty. While it might seem that African farmers could turn to organic or chemical fertilizers to address soil nutrient deficiencies, the reality is quite different. The high costs associated with these fertilizers make them largely inaccessible to most African farmers. Even though the average fertilizer application rate In Sub-Saharan Africa is 22 kilograms per hectare, significantly […]

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23
Oct

Don’t Get Comfortable: Government Shutdown Exacerbates Food Safety Threats

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2023) As the immediate threat of a government shutdown has temporarily subsided, concerns are mounting over the potential threats to food safety in the United States if the government shuts down in mid-November. Experts are warning that a shutdown could jeopardize critical food safety inspections and oversight. A partial government shutdown in 2019 disrupted federal oversight of food monitoring for various pathogens and pesticides, as labs were shuttered, with agency employees furloughed. See Beyond Pesticide’s reporting about food safety risks during the last government shutdown. However, it should be noted that residues of pesticides in food continue to raise concerns about safety of food grown in chemical-intensive (conventional) farming operations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) contingency plans dictate that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continue its regulatory inspection of meat, poultry, and egg products, as mandated by law. However, it is important to note that the FSIS will operate with a reduced workforce, with a portion of employees deemed “essential personnel” for food safety operations. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is also preparing for a potential shutdown. According to HHS’s contingency […]

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16
Oct

EPA Rejects Petition Seeking Review of Complete Ingredients in Pesticide Products

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2023) After six years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally responded to a citizen petition requesting that the agency evaluate complete formulations of pesticide products, not just the ingredients the manufacturer claims attack the target pest (so-called “active” ingredients). EPA’s response: No. Nowhere in EPA’s denial of the need for a more robust toxicological analysis is the problem more evident than in its refusal to require analyses of the so-called “inert ingredients” or “adjuvants” included in various formulations of pesticide products. The citizen petition [see more background] was followed by a lawsuit for the same purpose in 2022. Inerts and formulants are substances that enhance the distribution or adhesion of the active ingredient; adjuvants enhance the effectiveness of the active ingredient. These terms suggest that those chemicals have no effect on anything in the area where the pesticide is applied—a wildly inaccurate implication. At least as early as 1987, EPA had recognized that some inerts and adjuvants were “of toxicological concern,” yet it still requires very few toxicological tests of whole-formula pesticides or their purportedly inactive components. EPA responded to the petition as follows: “[T]he Agency appropriately assesses, as part of its review, the impacts to […]

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19
Sep

Bayer’s Use of EU-Forbidden Pesticides Ignites Protest in South Africa 

(Beyond Pesticides, September 19, 2023) Farmworkers in Paarl, South Africa took to the streets on Friday, September 8, demanding an end to the indiscriminate importation and use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides containing substances prohibited by the European Union (EU). This protest is part of a broader global trend of outcry against systemic issues of environmental racism that disproportionately burden communities with environmental and health risks.   Organized by the Women on Farms Project, the protesters marched to the headquarters of Bayer. The German pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and pesticide company, responsible for producing and exporting agrochemicals known to be toxic to ecosystem and human health, has previously faced multiple lawsuits, including a multimillion-dollar one linking their glyphosate weed killer products (RoundupÂź) to non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. At the Bayer office, the protesters presented a memorandum demanding an end to the importation and use of EU-prohibited substances.    Protesters sought to expose the hypocritical tactics European agrochemical companies use to sell products in developing nations, even when those products are deemed unsafe in their home countries. Numerous farmworkers, like victim-turned-activist Antie Dina, spoke out about their health issues from petrochemical exposure. In her talk, Dina emphasizes that, “… enough is enough, we do not want any […]

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08
Sep

[Reflection] Climate March on September 17 and Action: Interconnection between Climate Change and Petrochemical Pesticides and Fertilizers

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2023) In a united effort, climate and environmental justice movements from around the world have come together to announce a global “end to fossil fuels,” including the end of pesticides. The “March to End Fossil Fuels” is scheduled for September 17 and the Secretary General’s Summit in New York City on September 20. See the full map for other marches around the world. At the Beyond Pesticides, 2022 National Forum session on climate (November, 2022), we discussed the science and the urgent need for a strategic response to the climate crisis as part of a constellation of crises that intersect. Whether we are talking about a health crisis borne out of chemical-induced diseases, the collapse of life-sustaining biodiversity, or the dramatic catastrophes caused by greenhouse gases and rising temperatures—the interconnectedness of the crises requires strategic solutions that are holistic and nurturing of our relationship with nature —a relationship we have minimized as a matter of policy and practice. The data on climate calls on us to be audacious in our demand for urgent change in our households and communities, and from decision makers at all levels of government. At Beyond Pesticides, our audacious goal is to […]

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30
Aug

Management of New Insect Pests Presents Safety Challenge for People and Environment: Yellow-Legged Hornets

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2023) Invasive yellow-legged hornets have been spotted near Savannah, Georgia, causing concern among agriculture officials. These hornets are known for their ability to prey on honeybees and other pollinators, and their presence in the United States is a cause for alarm. This is the first time a live specimen of this species has been detected in the open United States, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The hornets, which are native to Southeast Asia, have been spotted in other parts of the world, including Europe, where they have caused significant damage to bee populations. They are considered “invasive,” which means the hornet is not native and officials expect their introduction to result in economic, environmental, or health-related damage to humans, animals, plants, or the environment. In response to the sighting in Georgia, officials are taking action to eradicate the hornets before they can cause any harm to US agriculture. One of the methods being used to eradicate the hornets is the localized use of the highly toxic insecticide cypermethrin on nests. The pesticide has been registered for use in agriculture and residential pest control since the 1970s. It kills insects such as mosquitoes, flies, ticks, […]

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29
Aug

Pollinator Health: Common Fungicide Linked to Changes in Honey Bees’ Brain through Oxidative Stress

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2023) A study published in Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology finds the widely used azole fungicide, tebuconazole, has damaging impacts on the redox homeostasis (the process of maintaining balance between oxidizing and reducing reactions) and fatty acid composition in honey bees’ brain via oxidative stress. Acute, field-realistic sublethal exposure to tebuconazole decreased the brain’s antioxidant capacity, key antioxidant defense systems, and oxidative degradation and alteration of lipids (fats) in the brain. Thus, this study adds to the scientific literature on the adverse effects of chemical exposure on pollinator health, especially in sublethal concentrations. Degenerating cognitive skills can threaten honey bee survivability, decreasing colony fitness and individual foraging success. Much research attributes the decline of insect pollinators (e.g., commercial and wild bees and monarch butterflies) over the last several decades to the interaction of multiple environmental stressors, from climate change to pesticide use, disease, habitat destruction, and other factors. Pollinator declines directly affect the environment, society, and the economy. Without pollinators, many plant species, both agricultural and nonagricultural, will decline or cease to exist, as U.S. pollinator declines, particularly among native wild bees, depress crop yields. In turn, the economy will take a hit, since much of the economy (65%) depends upon the […]

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24
Aug

Scientific Breakthrough Sheds Glowing Light on Pesticide Research

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2023) Researchers are investigating a cutting-edge method to identify the impact of pesticides on reproductive health—shrinking the wait time from months to weeks. Scientists at the University of California, Davis, are developing a method for identifying harmful chemicals in pesticides with the help of glowing fish. This scientific breakthrough could revolutionize pesticide research and help prevent long-term health problems caused by exposure to these chemicals.  Pesticide exposure can cause acute and long-term health problems for the human endocrine system, the hormone system that regulates many biological processes from reproduction to blood sugar, growth, and more. Beyond Pesticides has written about the connections between EPA-registered pesticides and involuntary abortions, reproductive cancers, pregnancy loss, early-onset puberty, and more.   The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has expressed concern over the limited or missing data regarding the health effects of pesticides and food additives on infants and children, who are more vulnerable to chemical exposures. AAP has identified several compounds as being of particular concern, including bisphenols, which are commonly used in the lining of metal cans; phthalates, which are used in adhesives and plasticizers; nonpersistent pesticides, which have been addressed in a previous AAP policy statement; perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs), […]

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17
Aug

[REFLECTION] The Lies about Maui’s Largest Wildfires: There is Nothing “Natural” about the Disaster on Maui and the Flames Fueled by Biodiversity Collapse, Climate Change, and Colonization

(Beyond Pesticides, August 17, 2023) Governor Josh Green of Hawai’i declares the recent Maui wildfires as the largest natural disaster in the state’s history, yet advocates say the tragedy is anything but “natural.” As of Wednesday, the death toll has risen to over 100 lives lost and more than 2,200 structures in Lāhainā — the original capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom have burned to ash. With so much loss, many people are asking who is responsible and how another disaster can be prevented. The answer to who is to blame is not simple. The initial reports of the fire repeated a trope that Lāhainā is a dry area on Maui and is prone to wildfire, yet in recent days, the news stories have shifted to reveal the area’s ecological history as a wetland. Lāhainā was historically known for its aquatic landscape, with common images of boats around Waiola Church, and the Hawaiian fish pond systems. People in Hawai’i lament Lahaina’s devastation, mourning the loss of its Native Hawaiian history and culture, while also bracing for the lasting impact this tragedy might have on their communities. Kaniela Ing, the national director of the Green New Deal Network, shared his perspective in […]

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15
Aug

The Ultimate Buzz Kill – Officials Find Pesticides in Marijuana
 Again

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2023) Marijuana regulators in the state of Washington issued administrative holds on 18 licenses due to pesticide-contaminated marijuana, forcing producers and processors to cease operations until now. This shutdown of legal marijuana businesses serves as a window into a broader historical backdrop of pesticide issues within the marijuana industry. Within Washington, pesticide concerns have been growing since a study in 2018 of legal marijuana farms in the state had 84.6% (of 26 samples) with significant quantities of pesticides including insecticides, fungicides, miticides, and herbicides. Last year, a national study identified a list of contaminants in 36 states and the District of Columbia and found 551 pesticides within cannabis products. For over a decade, Beyond Pesticides has sounded the alarm about the highly-concentrated levels of pesticides in marijuana products, calling on state officials to require organic marijuana, especially in the context of medical marijuana. The absence of federal regulations for pesticides in cannabis production has raised significant concerns about exposure risks for recreational and medicinal use, exposure risks to workers, and potential environmental contamination impacting wildlife. Since marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act, the EPA does not regulate pesticides in […]

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09
Aug

Feds To Evaluate Endangered Species Impacts under Clean Water Act’s General Pesticide Permits

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2023) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have agreed to assess the harms of applying pesticides in waterways to threatened and endangered wildlife under a legal agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). Under the Clean Water Act, a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) permit is needed when pollutants are discharged from a point source (an identifiable source) into the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS), but federal authorities, in their general permitting process, have long failed to assess effects to threatened and endangered species. According to the terms of the settlement agreement, FWS must complete consultations required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to prevent harm to protected species such as bull trout, pallid sturgeon, Oregon spotted frogs, and other threatened aquatic organisms.  The agreement is a step in implementing the 1973 ESA, a law that is saving numerous species from extinction, facilitating the recovery of hundreds more, and enabling the preservation of habitats. The humpback whale, bald eagle, and snail darter are among the species that have been saved thanks to the ESA. For years, Beyond Pesticides has reported on decades of neglecting to fully implement and fund […]

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