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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


23
Nov

Study Finds that Pollinators, Not Pesticides, Are More Important to Higher Crop Yields

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2022) A new study throws into question the value of the pest management concept of setting action levels around pest infestations. In the course of watermelon production over a span of two years, pollination, not pest levels, was the key determining factor for yield. “These data advocate for a reprioritization of management, to conserve and protect wild bee pollination, which could be more critical than avoiding pest damage for ensuring high yields,” the study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, indicates. Action levels are considered an important aspect of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach in agriculture, whereby a pest infestation reaches levels considered economically unacceptable, leading to a decision to engage in pest control. The concept of IPM however has been influenced by the chemical industry over the decades since its original definition and recent data indicates that it has failed to stop toxic pesticide use. The original intent of IPM was the adoption of preventive practices and utilization of nonchemical tools, placing pesticide use as a last resort when pest control is warranted. However, farms that self-identify as IPM operations use pesticides, sometimes as the first line of defense, while attempting to […]

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22
Nov

Fungi that Survive Fungicide Use Multiply and Thrive

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22, 2022) Fungus that survive a fungicide application may be able to multiply and thrive, putting plant yields at risk. This finding comes from research recently published by scientists at University of Illinois, focusing on the impact of fungicide use on soybean yields and the disease Septoria brown spot, caused by the fungus Septoria glycines. The research underlines the danger of preventive chemical applications in an attempt to protect yield and shows how precarious pesticide use can be when subject to the complexity seen in field conditions. Scientists began with the intent of analyzing the soybean’s phyllosphere mycobiome, the fungal microbial make-up of the outside of the plant, including all its surfaces above-ground. A field trial was established near Urbana, Illinois, and soybeans plants were separated into four different plots according to their treatment. One group was inoculated with Septoria glycines, another inoculated and sprayed with a fungicide, a third not inoculated yet sprayed with a fungicide, and a final control group neither inoculated nor treated with a fungicide. A range of different analyses were conducted to view changes in the disease development and mycobiome composition over time. Soybean plants that had been inoculated with Septoria showed […]

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15
Nov

Synthetic Fertilizers and Pesticides Make Plants Less Attractive to Bumblebees, Research Shows

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2022) Spraying a flowering plant with synthetic fertilizers makes it less attractive to bumblebees, according to research published this month in PNAS Nexus.  “A big issue is thus—agrochemical application can distort floral cues and modify behaviour in pollinators like bees,” said study author Ellard Hunting, PhD, of the University of Bristol, UK. The findings underscore the limited understanding that proponents of chemical agriculture have for the complex processes that food production relies upon and reinforce calls for a broad scale transition to regenerative, organic farming practices. Scientists began with the knowledge that spray applications of various agrichemicals affect the visitation patterns of bumblebees and other pollinators through a range of different processes. Past research finds that notorious bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides not only kill bees outright, but also result in a range of complex damage, including their ability to impede bees’ olfactory senses and adversely affect their vision and flying ability. Other chemicals like glyphosate weaken bees’ ability to distinguish between colors.   A growing area of research is investigating the ways in which pollinators use static electric fields surrounding flowers to find food sources. A 2013 study found that bumblebees use floral electrical fields to discriminate […]

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14
Nov

Findings Add to Crisis, Antibiotics in Agriculture, Lawns, and Landscapes Threaten Health

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2022) Glyphosate weed killers induce antibiotic resistance in deadly hospital-acquired bacteria, according to a new study published late last month in the journal Scientific Reports. This is the latest finding connecting commonly used herbicides to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria. To put this finding in context, antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world, according to the World Health Organization. In the May 1, 2022, issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Samira Choudhury, PhD, et al. writes, “Often referred to as the silent pandemic, antimicrobial resistance claims the lives of over 700,000 people annually.” The authors continue, “A study suggests that if no actions are taken, antimicrobial resistance will cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050 and an economic impact of over 100 trillion United States dollars.” Tell EPA and Congress that antibiotic pesticides in agriculture, lawns, and landscapes must be eliminated. Use of antibiotics in animal agriculture has long been recognized as a contributor to widespread antibiotic resistance. More recently, recognition of the contribution of antibiotics in plant agriculture has led to pressure to eliminate agricultural uses of antibiotics used in medicine. However, two facts […]

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11
Nov

Weed Killer Use Destroys Soil Life and Ecosystems, Paper Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, November 11, 2022) A paper published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution in late October sounds an unnerving alarm about the globally ubiquitous use of herbicides and the ecological destruction being caused. It asserts that widespread environmental contamination with these herbicide compounds is influencing soil, plant, and animal microbiomes in ways that are not only not well understood, but also, can have significant impacts on the functioning of organisms and their ecosystems — with evolutionary implications. Impacts of herbicides on microbiota in soils include, for example, those on nutrient cycling, and altered organism and plant performance, which can affect pollination and animal consumption of plants. This research reinforces what Beyond Pesticides wrote in covering a 2021 study: “The popular herbicide glyphosate negatively affects microbial communities, indirectly influencing plant, animal, and human health. Exposure to sublethal concentrations of glyphosate shifts microbial community composition, destroying beneficial microorganisms while preserving pathogenic organisms.” Herbicides are a category of pesticide used to control weeds in agriculture and commercial forests, on managed landscapes, byways, gardens, and lawns, and directly on surface waters to control aquatic weeds. They are designed to kill “target” plant species considered undesirable in any of those circumstances. Herbicide use has exploded […]

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08
Nov

Glyphosate Induces Antibiotic Resistance in Deadly Hospital-Acquired Infection

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2022) Glyphosate weed killers induce antibiotic resistance in deadly hospital-acquired bacteria, according to a new study published late last month in the journal Scientific Reports. This is the latest finding connecting commonly used herbicides to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, with prior research showing glyphosate, 2,4-D, and dicamba able to create resistance in Salmonella and E. coli. While federal regulatory agencies continue ignore the role of pesticides in the development of antibiotic resistance, it is critical for states and localities to take action to protect their most vulnerable both from toxic exposure to these herbicides and the multitude of indirect effects caused by their use. This is all happening as antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world, according to the World Health Organization. In the May 1, 2022 issues of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Samira Choudhury, PhD, et al. writes, “Often referred to as the silent pandemic, antimicrobial resistance claims the lives of over 700,000 people annually.” The authors continue, “A study suggests that if no actions are taken, antimicrobial resistance will cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050 and an economic impact of […]

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07
Nov

Take Action: Bill Addresses PFAS; Remediation Needed for All Legacy Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2022) The Maine Congressional delegation — Senators Collins (R) and Angus King (I), and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D) and Jared Golden (D), along with New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) — have  introduced a bipartisan bill — the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act — to help farmers who have been adversely affected by the scourge of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals. The bills are the identical S. 5070 and H.R. 9186, both titled “Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act.” Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to cosponsor the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act. If they are already cosponsors, thank them. Tell EPA to stop the spread of legacy chemicals. PFAS chemicals, also known as “forever chemicals,” are legacy contaminants or those whose historical use, including many decades ago in some instances, has led to their toxic persistence in the environment and in organisms. PFAS chemicals are not the only legacy contaminants. Others include wood preservatives, DDT, dioxins, and the termiticide chlordane. Unfortunately, some of these continue to be added to the environment, sometimes inadvertently, but also intentionally, particularly through pesticide use. As indicated by the title of these bills, farmers […]

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04
Nov

Life On or Near Chemical-Intensive Farms Associated with Increase in Respiratory Diseases

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2022) Rural populations in the U.S., a new study finds, are particularly at risk for agriculture-related exposures associated with respiratory diseases and other kinds of airway inflammation. The exposures include those to pesticides, livestock facilities, smoke from biomass burning, agricultural dust, and endotoxin. The study paper also looked at potential protective roles for dietary DHA, and for raw milk consumption (early in life). Beyond Pesticides has regularly covered the relationships between pesticide exposures and asthma (including the outsized risks for children), COPD (chronic, obstructive pulmonary disease), and other respiratory anomalies. See our webpage on Pesticide-Induced Diseases: Asthma/Respiratory Effects for more information. Published in Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America [please note: this research paper is behind a paywall], and authored by a team from the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the study used data from the past five years plus literature reviews of research on asthma and respiratory issues in rural populations. The team notes that multiple studies have suggested that “farming-related exposures as an adult increase the risk of asthma or asthma-like symptoms development,” adding that agricultural workers are exposed to “a complex working environment […]

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01
Nov

Pesticide Mixtures Reduce Life Span of Honey Bees, Damage Gut Microbiome

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2022) Honey bees exposed to a combination of multiple pesticides suffer a reduced lifespan and experience adverse changes to their gut microbiome, increasing susceptibility to pathogens and disease. This finding comes from a study published recently in Science of the Total Environment, which examines the interactions between the insecticides flupyradifurone and sulfoxaflor and the fungicide azoxystrobin on honey bee health. Both insecticides studied are considered substitutes for notorious bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides, which move through the vascular system of the plant and contaminates its pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets. As declines in pollinator and insect life continue throughout the world, it is critical not only to understand and restrict widely used chemicals like neonicotinoids, but also the regrettable and deleterious substitutions the agrichemical industry has developed to replace them. As the present study reveals, pesticide risk assessments do not inadequately capture the range of harm that can result when pesticides are combined, necessitating a shift toward safer, alternative, and regenerative organic farming systems that do not use these dangerous chemicals. To better understand the impacts of combined pesticide exposure on honey bees, researchers employed three colonies located in Germany’s Martin Luther University that were inspected and free […]

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28
Oct

Bill in Congress Will Pay for Treating Illness and Financial Impact Caused by PFAS

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2022) The Maine Congressional delegation — Senators Collins (R) and Angus King (I), and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D) and Jared Golden (D) — along with New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D), have introduced a bipartisan and bicameral bill — the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act — to help farmers who have been impacted by the scourge of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals. (The Senate version of the bill is available; the House version should be soon.) PFAS contamination has, as Beyond Pesticides documented in two Daily News Blog articles (here and here), become a huge, life-altering problem for agricultural producers in Maine and many other states. An early 2022 Safer States analysis of state-level legislation on PFAS demonstrated the extent of the problem via the response: more than 32 states have begun to act on the issue. Beyond Pesticides has covered the presence of PFAS in pesticides and pesticide containers, and in so-called “biosludge” or “biosolids”— realities that only reinforce the call for a rapid transition off of chemical-dependent agriculture and to regenerative organic agricultural practices that do not carry the enormous health and environmental risks of pesticide products and contaminated fertilizers. There […]

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17
Oct

Systemic Racism Exposed that New EPA Office of Environmental Justice May Not Address

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2022)  A recent report, Exposed and At Risk: Opportunities to Strengthen Enforcement of Pesticide Regulations for Farmworker Safety, by the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law and Graduate School, in partnership with the nonprofit advocacy group, Farmworker Justice, again highlights the systemic racism of our country’s pesticide policies. Our nation depends on farmworkers, declared “essential workers” during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure sustenance for the nation and world. Yet the occupational exposure to toxic pesticides by farmworkers is discounted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while study after study documents the disproportionate level of illness among farmworkers. While we are encouraged to see the formation of EPA’s new Office of Environmental Justice and Civil Rights, the agency has a historical bias against preventive action to ensure the protection of those disproportionately poisoned by toxic chemicals. While critically important to clean up contaminated communities, EPA must stop the flow of toxic pesticides at the front end because of the disproportionate poisoning effects of use, handling, transportation, and disposal. We live in an age of practices and products that make toxic pesticides unnecessary and their use unconscionable. Yet, EPA insists on the acceptability of harm […]

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12
Oct

EPA Asks Federal Court to Allow Reconsideration of Its Decision to Permit Paraquat’s Continued Use

(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2022) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is asking a federal court for permission to go back and reconsider its decision to reapprove use of the highly hazardous herbicide paraquat, according to a filing submitted by the agency late last month. Advocates see the move as encouraging, since meaningful EPA action on this Parkinson’s-linked chemical is long overdue. Last year, advocates condemned the Biden Administration for its reapproval of the weed killer with fewer protections than those proposed by the Trump Administration, marking a deeply concerning sign for pesticide reform campaigners looking to the administration for positive change. EPA’s request is the result of a legal challenge brought by the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Earthjustice, Farmworker Association of Florida, Pesticide Action Network, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.  The groups argued that the agency’s decision to reregister paraquat was not legal based on substantial evidence that the chemical poses unreasonable risks to human health and the environment. While EPA made its initial decision to reapprove paraquat in the late days of the Trump Administration, it was under the Biden Administration that the agency reversed a proposed ban on aerial use, permitting broad-scale […]

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06
Oct

Despite EPA Safety Assurances, Alarming Levels of PFAS Found in Commonly Used Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2022) A new study finds alarmingly high levels of PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) “forever chemicals” in commonly used pesticides, calling into question assurances from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that contamination is limited to storage containers. For some pesticides, PFAS levels are nearly one billion times higher than the EPA’s recently updated Health Advisory for the PFAS chemical PFOS. “If the intent was to spread PFAS contamination across the globe there would be few more effective methods than lacing pesticides with PFAS,” said Kyla Bennett, PhD, of the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “These findings point to an appalling regulatory breakdown by EPA.” A team of researchers based in Texas, including scientists from Texas Tech and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Cropping Systems Research Laboratory, participated in the study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials Letters. Ten different formulated pesticide products were tested for 24 different PFAS substances. The pesticide products selected were determined based on unexpected PFAS contamination at USDA’s research facility. During the course of conducting a separate study on plant uptake of PFAS, detectable levels of PFAS were found in plants intended to be used as unexposed controls. […]

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28
Sep

“Weedy Rice” Develops Herbicide Resistance: Agrichemical Industry Repeating Mistakes?

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2022) ‘Weedy rice,’ a close relative of cultivated rice that invades rice fields and reduces yields, is rapidly developing herbicide resistance in critical rice growing areas throughout the United States. According to research published this month in Communications Biology, the widespread planting of herbicide-resistant rice, developed through traditional, transitional (non-genetically engineered) breeding techniques, is driving this concerning phenomenon. The findings highlight the risk to agricultural production that relies on crops developed to tolerate repeated applications of synthetic chemicals, regardless of their method of development. Weedy rice is a form of rice that was “re-wilded,” or “de-domesticated” from cultivated rice, independently evolving multiple times throughout the world. It is highly adapted to grow in areas where cultivated rice is produced, and can result in significant yield loses, as well as a reduction in quality that reduces marketability. In the early 2000s, the agrichemical industry believed they had found a solution to the weedy rice. Multinational chemical corporation BASF developed a line of rice cultivars, produced through traditional breeding, that conferred resistance to imidazolinone class herbicides. This includes chemicals like imazapyr, imazaquin, imazethapyr, and imazamox, which poses cancer, reproductive, and neurotoxic risks to human health, and is toxic […]

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20
Sep

Not Accessible to All, Court Finds QR Codes Unlawful as Means of Disclosing Genetically Engineered Food Ingredients

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2022) A federal court this month declared that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) acted unlawfully in allowing food retailers to label genetically engineered (GE, or GMO) foods with only a “QR” code. The decision, made by U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, comes as a result of a lawsuit against USDA by a coalition of nonprofits led by Center for Food Safety, along with organic retailers Natural Grocers and Puget Consumers Co-op. “This is a win for the American family. They can now make fully informed shopping decisions instead of being forced to use detective work to understand what food labels are hiding,” said Alan Lewis, Vice President for Advocacy and Governmental Affairs at Natural Grocers. “The public’s rejection of hidden GMOs has been weighed by the Court to be greater than the agrochemical industry’s desire to hide GMOs behind incomprehensible bureaucratic rules.” In 2016, Congress passed the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standards Act, which established federal standards around labeling GE foods. That bill, dubbed by GE transparency advocates as the DARK (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, was the result of a deal between U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MO) and […]

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16
Sep

Farmworkers Still Inadequately Protected from Pesticides, Report Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2022) A report issued on September 7 analyzes the U.S. regulatory structure that is supposed to protect agricultural workers from the harms of pesticide use. Its conclusion? The current, “complex system of enforcement . . . lacks the capacity to effectively protect farmworkers. . . . [and] the cooperative agreement[s] between federal and state agencies makes it nearly impossible to ensure implementation of the federal Worker Protection Standard.” The report, Exposed and At Risk: Opportunities to Strengthen Enforcement of Pesticide Regulations for Farmworker Safety, was developed by the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law and Graduate School, in partnership with the nonprofit advocacy group, Farmworker Justice. Beyond Pesticides’ coverage of farmworker exposure to pesticides and resultant harms began in the late 1970s; it continues today, most recently with attention to incidence of kidney damage, systemic racism in the farmworker policies of EPA (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), and extra risks endured by farmworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Exposed and At Risk is issued as part of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) Food System Workers Law and Policy Project. Previously, CAFS issued a report in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Center […]

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16
Aug

Toxic Pesticide Residues on Over Half of U.S. Food, 1 in 10 Samples Violate Legal Limits, Says FDA

(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2022) Over half of all food samples tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contain the residues of at least one pesticide, and one in ten samples have levels that violate legal limits established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These findings, published by FDA this month in its 2020 Pesticide Residue Monitoring Report, are simply par for the course for government regulators, as FDA indicates the 2020 results “were consistent with recent years.” However, while reporting on the dangerous pesticides present in U.S. food has become routine for FDA, more and more Americans are rejecting regular exposure to unnecessary toxics in their food by going organic with their food choices, planting their own pesticide-free gardens, and encouraging their elected officials to embrace safer, sustainable land care policies.   FDA has conducted a review of pesticide residues on food on an annual basis since 1987, evaluating both domestic and imported foodstuffs into the US market. While EPA sets “pesticide tolerances,” also known as “maximum residue levels,” of allowed pesticide residues on certain foods, FDA (and USDA, for some specific items like meat, poultry, and eggs) is tasked with enforcing these provisions. Pesticide tolerances, […]

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11
Aug

Acute Kidney Failure Higher Among Farmers: High-Middle-Low Income Countries Suffer Disparities

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2022) A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health finds that Brazilian agricultural workers are more likely to die from acute kidney failure (AKF) than other acute illnesses. Among the agricultural workers, the prevalence of AKF is higher for individuals at younger ages, who are female, and located in regions south of chemical use, particularly rural areas. However, the AKF mortality rate in urban areas is also increasing, but not as fast as in rural areas. Over six million people in the U.S. have kidney disease (i.e., nephritis [kidney inflammation], nephrotic syndrome (improper protein filtration), and nephrosis). Although many studies find an association between exposure to environmental contaminants like pesticides and chronic kidney disease (CKD), the association between pesticides and acute kidney failure remains unclear. CKD is a risk factor for AKF, and other environmental factors can increase the risk of AKF mortality. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need for comprehensive information regarding co-occurring exposure patterns and disease prevalence that can have global implications. The study notes, “Our findings reinforce the need for more robust epidemiological studies that account for co-exposures and conditions of agricultural work in the relationship between pesticide exposure and kidney […]

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10
Aug

Cover Cropping Techniques Increase Organic Farm Sustainability

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2022) Cover crops added in-between rows of organic corn while they are still growing can provide a range of benefits that improve a farm’s sustainability and lowers its impact on the surrounding environment, according to a study published in Agronomy Journal by scientists at Pennsylvania State University. “The use of cover crops in organic grain systems has many potential benefits,” says study coauthor Sarah Isbell, PhD. “These include improvements in soil quality, increased nutrient retention, prevention of erosion, and suppression of weeds. In organic systems where synthetic inputs are not used, cover crops can be managed to reduce nitrate leaching through soils and supply nitrogen to cash crops.” As demand for organic products continues to increase, and more and more farmers are embracing the organic mantra of “continuous improvement,” research like the present study is critical to the development of new efficiencies and ecologically sustainable practices. Scientists set out to understand the best method for planting cover crops under organic corn grown for grain or silage (fed to cattle and other animals). Determining a planting time for corn cover crops is difficult because corn is often harvested late in the fall, leaving little time for a […]

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29
Jul

With Industry Support, a Republican U.S. Senator Introduces Bill to Codify Easier Access to Ag Pesticides–As If It Wasn’t Easy Enough

(Beyond Pesticides, July 29, 2022) Perhaps attempting to capitalize on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision limiting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ability to regulate carbon emissions, Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas (R) has filed a bill in the Senate that seeks to limit the agency’s ability to regulate pesticide use. The so-called EPA Transparency for Agriculture Products Act of 2022 is touted, on Senator Marshall’s website, as “a comprehensive bill to prevent . . . EPA . . . from overregulating essential pesticides that the ag industry heavily depends upon.” In truth — and perversely, given that he is a medical doctor — the bill aims to provide more license to use toxic pesticides that harm human health, the environment broadly, and ecosystems already under assault from toxic, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, habitat destruction, and climate change. Couched in language about “feeding the world,” the bill’s central concern seems to be financial impacts or challenges that farms (a good portion of which, let us remember, are giant, well-resourced agribusinesses) may face because of EPA pesticide regulations. Those regulations, of course, are promulgated by the agency to protect people, organisms, ecosystems, and natural resources from harmful impacts and risks […]

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26
Jul

Inspector General Finds Secret EPA Meetings with Industry and Use of Untested Science to Lower Cancer Risk for Dangerous Fumigant

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2022) Secret meetings with industry, the elevation of unqualified individuals to decision-making roles, using an untested scientific approach, failing to conduct a simple literature review, and an overall absence of public transparency. This is how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) conducted its cancer review for the potent fumigant pesticide 1,3-Dichloropropane (1,3-D; brand name: Telone), according to a report from EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). EPA’s actions allowed a product once considered to pose a 1 in 10,000 risk of cancer to Americans to increase exposure by 9,000% (from 7.7 μg/m3 to 690 μg/m3). “These departures from established standards during the cancer assessment for 1,3-D undermine the EPA’s credibility, as well as public confidence in and the transparency of the Agency’s scientific approaches, in its efforts to prevent unreasonable impacts on human health,” the OIG report states. Yet, even with the agency’s failings laid out in clear view, EPA’s lackluster response to OIG’s corrective actions in this case add insult to its injurious actions against public health. OIG initiated a review of EPA’s cancer assessment for 1,3-D after the submission of multiple complaints. 1,3-D is a highly toxic fumigant used on a variety of crops, […]

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08
Jul

Supreme Court Politicizes Fed Agency Response to Climate Crisis, Limiting Broad Regulatory Action without Congressional Mandate

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2022) Among the multiple, wrenching decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in a week-long tranche (June 24–30) was one that limits the ability of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants. The decision may also, and with much broader implication, call into question the established authority of federal agencies to promulgate regulations not specifically authorized by Congress, but related to their overall mission to protect health and the environment. In this respect, the current court majority of six, arguably very conservative, justices has thus dealt a serious-though-not-fatal blow to EPA’s ability to carry out efforts to thwart the existential climate crisis and other crises on the short horizon, such as biodiversity collapse. The court has left these science-based decisions and strategies to a body locked in political logjam—the U.S. Congress. As Chief Justice John Roberts opined for the majority, “A decision [on carbon emissions] of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.” Beyond Pesticides and other health, environmental, and environmental and climate justice advocates, as well as Democrats across […]

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01
Jul

EU Bans Pesticides in Parks, Playgrounds, and Playing Fields; Fails to Set Organic Transition Goals in Ag

(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2022) The European Commission (EC) introduced on June 22 new rules that ban all pesticides in “public parks or gardens, playgrounds, recreation or sports grounds, public paths, as well as ecologically sensitive areas.” In agriculture, the policy adopts strategies for achieving the pesticide use- and risk-reduction goals of its Farm to Fork initiative. The EC — the European Union’s (EU’s) politically independent executive arm — proffered new rules that are binding on all EU Member States. Those states must, in turn, adopt their own binding targets to help meet the overall EU targets — a 50% reduction in use and risk of chemical pesticides, and a 50% reduction in use of more-hazardous pesticides, by 2030. Beyond Pesticides has covered the shortcomings of the EU’s previous approach, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy and its 2021 disparagement by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, and his apparent turnaround in the large and recently announced USDA investment in the U.S. transition to organic agriculture (albeit without metrics or acreage goals), a transition F2F seeks to advance for the EU. Regarding the ban of pesticides in parks, the policy says: “Use of plant […]

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