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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


26
Apr

Study Finds High Levels of Pesticide Exposure among Teenage Girls in California’s Salinas Valley

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2019) Research by the youth participatory action team of the CHAMACOS of the Salinas Evaluating Chemicals in Homes and Agriculture (COSECHA) reveals that teenagers in the Salinas Valley, California are routinely exposed to concerning levels of multiple toxic pesticides, several of them known endocrine disruptors. In an interview with Kion News, COSECHA research director Kimberly Parra remarked that the study is especially important because teenagers are in a stage of rapid reproductive development. As the study authors emphasize, it is their developmental stage that makes teenagers more vulnerable to the effects of endocrine disrupting pesticides, with potentially devastating consequences for lifelong health. The COSECHA study quantifies exposure to 72 pesticides, captured through volatile-trapping silicone wristbands, across 97 teenage girls living in various areas of the Salinas Valley region. Of the 72 pesticides analyzed, authors report that subjects are exposed to as many as 20 and an average of 8 pesticides over one week of routine indoor and outdoor activity. Given the well-documented dangers of pesticide co-exposures, these multiple-exposure findings are particularly concerning. Ranking the highest for prevalence among the studied pesticides is fipronil sulfide, a breakdown product of the insecticide fipronil, detected in 86.6% of the analyzed wristbands. […]

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25
Apr

Deadly Fungal Infection Raises Concerns about Fungicides Used in Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2019) As reported by Mother Jones, the New York Times (NYT) published, on April 6, a distressing report about a deadly fungus that has been advancing steadily across the world during the past five years. Candida auris is an emerging fungal pathogen that threatens those with compromised or immature immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, people taking steroids for autoimmune disorders, diabetics, those undergoing chemotherapy, and even smokers. Nearly half of those who contract a C. auris infection die within 90 days. One of the factors making this fungus so deadly is that it has developed resistance to existing antifungal medicines, with 90% of infections resistant to one drug, and 30% to two or more. As is true for resistant bacteria, culprits in C. auris’s development of resistance may be the overuse of antifungal medications in health care and overreliance on fungicides in agriculture. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added C. auris to its list of pathogens considered “urgent threats.” It is an “emerging fungal pathogen,” meaning that the incidence of infection has been increasing across multiple countries since it was first recognized in 2009 in Japan (although a different strain had […]

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24
Apr

Federal Court Orders EPA to Justify Use of Chlorpyrifos within 90 Days

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2019) On April 19, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide a justification for why chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic insecticide commonly used in agriculture, should remain in the U.S. market. The EPA has 90 days to comply. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to damaging and often irreversible health outcomes in workers, pregnant women, and children. Low levels of exposure early in life can lead to increased risk of learning disabilities including lowered IQ, developmental delay, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Farmworkers and their children are disproportionately affected by the use of this chemical because they are exposed at work, home, and even at school. “While we are moving forward, the tragedy is that children are being exposed to chlorpyrifos, a pesticide science has long shown is unsafe,” said Earthjustice Attorney Patti Goldman in a statement. “We hope Trump’s EPA finally decides to protect the future of countless children and the health of millions of farmworkers.” The battle against chlorpyrifos has been long and drawn out, though there has been significant movement in the last few months. Beyond Pesticides has put together a brief timeline of events: A […]

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18
Apr

Organic Farming Curbs the Spread of Foodborne Pathogens, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2019) Organic farming promotes natural resistance to common foodborne human pathogens, according to a study that evaluates the benefit of soil organisms. By protecting valuable species of dung beetles and soil bacteria, organic farming systems naturally act to clean up and decompose potentially pathogen-bearing animal feces. While these natural systems suppr ess pathogens on organic farms, coventional chemical-intensive farms are left with higher levels of fecal residues and are therefore significantly more likely to yield produce carrying such foodborne pathogens as E. coli. The authors emphasize that curbing the spread of common foodborne pathogens could save thousands of lives and prevent millions of illnesses each year. The study, “Organic farming promotes biotic resistance to foodborne human pathogens,” published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, compares dung beetle populations, soil bacteria diversity, and feces removal rates on 70 organic and conventional broccoli farm fields across the west coast of the U.S. In addition to studying field conditions, authors conducted additional microcosm studies to directly test the effects of dung beetles and soil microbes on the suppression of introduced E. coli. Results from field analyses show that organic management practices lead to greater biodiversity among dung beetles and soil […]

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08
Apr

Focus on Pesticide Bans Continues in U.S. and EU, While Toxic Pesticide Use Continues

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2019) Officials in Europe and the U.S. focus on banning problem pesticides, raising concerns about their replacements in the face of pesticide-intensive management strategies, while organic advocates call for a systems change in land management. In reference to widespread community bans of Roundup/glyphosate, Cary Gillam, author of Whitewash, told last year’s Beyond Pesticides’ Forum, “Glyphosate is the poster child for the bigger pesticide problem.” She continues, “If it goes away tomorrow, we are not okay.” Because of this, Beyond Pesticides has strategically sought to transform our country’s approach to pest management, both agricultural and residential/structural, by eliminating a reliance on pesticides and advancing organic management practices that do not rely on toxic inputs. This Daily News Blog post offers updates on progress in the European Union (EU), in the U.S. Congress, and in communities and sates nationwide. The EU is poised to ban clorothalanil, a commonly used — and highly toxic — organochlorine fungicide, The Guardian reported, in mid-to-late May 2019. After a review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), EU states voted to approve a ban. EFSA identified as a chief safety concern the possibility that breakdown products (metabolites) of the compound may cause damage […]

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01
Apr

Protect the Integrity of Organic Food Production and Continuous Improvement

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2019) National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets next month in Seattle, Washington to debate issues concerning what goes into your organic food. Written comments are due April 4. The format for messaging the NOSB requires copying and pasting comments into regulations.gov, so we apologize that this is not a “single click” action. Please add a personal message about why this is important to you at the top of your comments, if possible. Lend your voice to continuous improvement by learning about issues and submitting comments to regulations.gov (directions below, or click here). From the very beginning, with the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in 1990, “organic” has meant “continuous improvement ” in organic food production. The primary mechanism for this is the high level of public involvement that comes from twice-annual meetings of the stakeholder board and decisions related to the allowance of substances/materials used in organic production. The second mechanism is the sunset process, which helps move synthetic substances out of organic production as we learn more about hazards and alternatives. Those substances allowed in organic production must be placed on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances and may be re-listed every five […]

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26
Mar

Another Study Links Glyphosate to Cancer

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2019) In a study investigating the carcinogenic effects of pesticide exposure by analyzing data on 316,270 farmers and farmworkers in the U.S., Norway, and France, researchers have identified elevated risk for non Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and some subtypes, linking glyphosate and large B-cell lymphoma. Other pesticides linked to the disease include the pyrethroid deltamethrin and chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma; and terbufos and NHL overall. Researchers also found “inverse associations of NHL overall with the broader groups of organochlorine insecticides and phenoxy herbicides, after adjusting for exposure to other pesticides”; such inverse associations were not found with active ingredients within these groups. The research underscores how complex the science of pesticide impacts on human health, and on cancer incidence, can be. To wit: in evaluating 14 different pesticide categories and 33 individual, active chemical ingredients, Maria E. Leon, et al., conclude that associations of pesticides with the development of NHL appear to be (NHL) subtype- and chemical-specific. Published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in mid-March, the study, “Pesticide use and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoid malignancies in agricultural cohorts from France, Norway and the USA: a pooled analysis from the AGRICOH consortium,” uses data from three large cohort […]

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25
Mar

Take Action: Help Stop Pesticide-Treated Seeds from Poisoning the Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2019) EPA is using a regulatory loophole – the “treated articles exemption” – to allow systemic insecticides to be used in mass quantities, without regulating or labeling them as required under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA does not currently assess adverse effects on the environment and public health caused by widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides delivered through seeds coated with the insecticides, resulting in widespread exposure to one of the most environmentally damaging classes of chemicals on the market. Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA must fully regulate treated seeds to protect the environment and public health. Pesticide-coated seeds are now ubiquitous, yet their far-reaching impacts on wildlife and human health continue to go unregulated. The introduction and spread of seed-delivered pesticides to major field crops, beginning around 2003, caused a massive increase in total neonicotinoid use nationwide. As of 2011, 34 to 44% of soybeans and 79 to 100% of maize acres were planted with coated seeds, accounting for an astounding 35-fold increase in nationwide neonicotinoid use from baseline rates prior to 2003 (Douglas and Tooker, 2015). Alarmingly, because the national pesticide survey conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service fails to […]

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22
Mar

Study Finds that Commonly Occurring Levels of Neonicotinoid Insecticide Harm White-tailed Deer

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2019) A two-year study, published March 14,  finds that field-relevant contamination with the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid causes reduced body weight and metabolism in white-tailed deer, and – in fawns – mortality. Remarkably, researchers uncovered imidacloprid levels in free-ranging deer a full 3.5 times higher, on average, than the levels in the animals treated in their experiment. These new findings add to the mounting evidence of the hazards posed by current patterns of neonicotinoid use, while evidence of benefits remains sparse. The study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, includes two years of data on the physiological and behavioral outcomes of imidacloprid contamination in 80 white-tailed deer housed in a South Dakota State University captive research facility. Notably, researchers were unable to entirely control imidacloprid levels in untreated deer, most likely due to background contamination from corn- and soy-based feed, and surrounding vegetation infiltrated by runoff from nearby agricultural fields. This background contamination altered, but did not compromise, the analysis. Researchers found that imidacloprid levels detected in the spleens of treated and control animals were significantly predictive of reduced thyroid hormone levels, shorter jawbones, lower activity levels, and higher fawn mortality. Lead authors Elise Berheim, Jonathan Jenks, PhD, […]

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11
Mar

Take Action: Call for Moratorium on the Release of RNAi Pesticides that Manipulate Genes

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2019)  We must stop the expanded commercialization of genetically engineered pesticides. The failure of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fully evaluate environmental impacts of gene-manipulating pesticides raises serious concerns in light of the agency’s ongoing failure to predict ecological effects of pesticides, such as the dramatic decline of pollinators. With the release of a 2019 peer-reviewed scientific article, Environmental Fate of RNA Interference Pesticides: Adsorption and Degradation of Double-Stranded RNA Molecules in Agricultural Soils, on the potential impact on soil and non-target microorganisms in soil, the study’s co-author, Kimberly Parker, PhD, remarked, “The ecological risk assessment of these emerging pesticides necessitates an understanding of the fate of dsRNA [double stranded RNA] molecules in receiving environments, among which agricultural soils are most important.” This technology, given that it is systemic to the plant and leaves traces in the soil, can cause widespread indiscriminate poisoning—as has been seen with bees, butterflies, birds, and the larger catastrophic decline of insect populations. Tell your members of Congress that the ecological effects of RNAi gene-manipulating pesticides raise serious questions—they have not been fully studied by EPA and, until they are, the agency should issue a moratorium on their release. Previously, […]

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07
Mar

Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Insecticide Exposure Linked to Hormone-Dependent Breast Cancer

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2019) A publication in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives highlights findings from a recent study showing that environmental concentrations of the neonicotinoid insecticides thiacloprid and imidacloprid increase expression of a gene linked to hormone-dependent breast cancer. Authors of the featured study uncovered a pathway through which neonicotinoids stimulate excess estrogen production, known to occur during the development of progressive hormone-dependent breast cancer. In the words of the authors, “Our findings highlight the need for further research to assess the potential impacts of low-dose and chronic exposure to neonicotinoids on endocrine processes affecting women’s health.” The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives in April 2018 by researchers at the University of Quebec, is not the first to point to a potential link between neonicotinoid exposure and breast cancer. A 2015 study by the same research group revealed that the neonicotinoids thiacloprid and thiamethoxam, along with the herbicide atrazine, induce similar effects in breast cancer cells. In both studies, exposure to neonicotinoids alter promoter activity to induce heightened production of the enzyme aromatase, which is known to stimulate estrogen production and thereby cancer cell proliferation. The recently published study, authored by Silke Schmidt, PhD, brings greater urgency to […]

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28
Feb

Study Confirms Findings on Carcinogenic Glyphosate, Suggests “Compelling Link”

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2019) Earlier this month, a team of U.S. scientists published a meta-analysis of studies on glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH), concluding that the evidence “suggests a compelling link between exposures to GBH and increased risk of NHL [non-Hodgkin lymphoma],” corroborating findings by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The analysis, authored by researchers from University of California, Berkeley, University of Washington, Seattle, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, is the latest to support the conclusions established by the International Agency for Research on Cancer that products containing glyphosate pose a cancer risk to humans. As research continues to accumulate on the risks posed by this chemical, the case for transitioning to less toxic alternatives to safeguard public health is becoming increasingly urgent. Researchers took every available published human study on NHL and glyphosate, including the most recently updated data from the ongoing U.S. Agricultural Health Study (AHS), in conducting their review. Focus was put on individuals within these studies exposed to the highest amounts of glyphosate. The reasoning, researchers indicate, is that if there is a true association between glyphosate and a health outcome like cancer, exposures to higher amounts for a longer […]

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27
Feb

Glyphosate Residue Found in 95% of Tested Beers and Wines

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2019) U.S. PIRG tested 20 common beers and wines and found glyphosate residues in all but one. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is the most commonly used agrichemical in the world. Though it is linked to many health and environmental issues, there is no current EPA limit for glyphosate residues in beer or wine. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not regularly test for glyphosate on either food or beverages. Researchers used an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect glyphosate levels. Sutter Home Merlot had the highest level of glyphosate residues at 51 ppb (parts per billion). Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon and Beringer Estates Moscato had slightly lower levels: 36.3 ppb and 42.6 ppb, respectively. Organic wines results were ~5 ppb. The beer samples had just slightly lower average levels of residues, the highest being Tsingtao beer with 49 ppb. Miller Lite, Corona, and Budweiser ranged from 25-30 ppb. Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager had a 5.7 ppb glyphosate concentration, and Peak Beer Organic IPA was the only sample with no detectable level of glyphosate. By U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates, nearly 300 million pounds of glyphosate are annually applied to U.S. crops. Vineyards spray […]

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25
Feb

New York Bill and Lawsuit Push for Farmworkers’ Right to Organize

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2019) A bill introduced in the New York State Assembly and the Senate this month will break the century-long legal exclusion of agricultural workers from common labor protections. Among other protections, the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act will give New York farmworkers the right to collective bargaining, making employer intimidation and retaliation against organizing workers illegal. Citing farmworkers’ exposure to toxic chemicals among other occupational risks, former dairy farmworker and worker organizer Crispin Hernandez states, “The legislation would do a lot to end the pervasive climate of fear, intimidation and retaliation that exists on farms today. It would also make farmworkers’ lives safer.” The National Farm Worker Ministry notes that, “A union contract allows workers to report problems on the job without fear of getting fired.” In the case of farmworkers, problems on the job include exposures to toxic pesticides that workers, if organized, could freely report and collectively negotiate to remove from use to ensure their safety. The bill, introduced to the Assembly by Queens Assemblymember Cathy Nolan and to the Senate by freshman Senator Jessica Ramos (D), will amend the New York State Labor Relations Act (NYSLRA) by removing farmworkers from the list of […]

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21
Feb

EPA Loophole Allows Expanded Use of Bee-Toxic Chemical

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2019) In 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved 16.2 million acres of crops to be sprayed with the bee-toxic insecticide sulfoxaflor under an emergency exemption. Sulfoxaflor was used in 18 different states on cotton and sorghum — plants known to attract bees. In response to a lawsuit headed by beekeepers, the EPA reclassified sulfoxaflor in 2016 and, recognizing its toxicity to bees, prohibited use on crops that draw in these pollinators. However, Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) gives the EPA authority to permit temporary emergency use of unapproved pesticides. This loophole is used regularly in response to predictable stressors. “Emergency” use was approved 78 times for sulfoxaflor on sorghum and cotton between 2012-2017. Sulfoxaflor is a systemic insecticide that acts similarly to neonicotinoid pesticides. After application, the chemical is absorbed and distributed throughout the plant, including pollen and nectar. These kinds of chemicals are selective agonists of insects’ nicotinic acetylcholine receptors—they bind to the receptor and cause it to activate. The impact on foraging bees is sublethal, but devastating on a population level. Even at low levels, sulfoxaflor impairs reproduction and reduces bumblebee colony size. Sufloxaflor is functionally identical to […]

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20
Feb

DDT Exposure During Early Life Associated with Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2019) Women exposed to DDT during ‘early windows of susceptibility’ in their childhood are at increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to new research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Nearly 75 years after the chemical was first used in the U.S., and 50 years after its ban, DDT is continuing to adversely affect the health of Americans. The data brings needed attention to the dangers of early-life pesticide exposure, and underlines the need to take a precautionary approach to the introduction of biocides in our environment so that future generations do not suffer from the same mistakes of the past. “What we have learned is that timing really matters. We know that if harmful exposures occur at times when breast tissue is rapidly changing, such as during puberty, they impact breast development in ways that can later result in cancer,” said lead author Barbara A. Cohn, PhD, of the Public Health Institute’s (PHI) Child Health and Development Studies. “The research published today suggests that DDT affects breast cancer as an endocrine disruptor, that the period of time between first exposure and cancer risk seems to be around 40 years–and that other […]

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15
Feb

Corroborating Earlier Studies, a Reduction in Pesticide Residues in Consumers Found after Switching to an Organic Diet

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2019) A study, published in January 2019 in the journal Environmental Health, demonstrates that consumption of organic foods reduces significantly the levels of synthetic pesticide residues in the bodies of U.S. children and adults. Pesticide residues are found four times as frequently in conventionally grown food as in organically produced foodstuffs. Although the number of subjects in this study was relatively small, the results point to the importance of organics, and add to the evidence that organic food production and consumption are key to protecting human health. Study subjects comprised members of racially diverse families — from Oakland, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Atlanta — who did not typically consume an organic diet. Study participants, ages 4 to 52, ate their typical diet of conventionally grown foods for five days; for the following six days, they switched to a certified organic diet (provided by researchers) for consumption at home, work, school, or daycare, including all foods and beverages other than water. Urine samples were gathered prior to the “organic” days, and first thing on the morning after those six days. Fourteen different pesticides and metabolites were present in all participants’ urine in the “pre-organic” analysis; following the organic diet […]

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14
Feb

Bavarians Gather Enough Petition Signatures to Advance Legislation to Save the Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2019) Over the course of the last two weeks in Bavaria – a southern state of Germany – locals rallied in an effort to save the bees. Braving the cold in eye-catching bee outfits, a broad coalition of activists collected over a million signatures (the necessary 10% of the state’s eligible voters) to move a petition into legislature. The petition pushes forward changes in farming practices to support pollinators; while bees are the charismatic champion of the campaign, changes will support biodiversity in general. Now that signatures are gathered, the state parliament has three months to handle citizens’ requests. Then, parliament can either accept the proposal as is or put it to a statewide referendum. In a statewide referendum, there will be a “yes” or “no” vote by a simple majority, with government bound by the result. A central motion within the petition is to increase percentage of organic farmland from 10% to 30% by 2030. This number is based on the global movement to conserve 30% of the world by 2030 in order to avoid environmental catastrophe. Proponents of the petition suggest that the demand for organic products is higher than current Bavarian capabilities, and that the […]

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13
Feb

Adding to Residue Studies, Report Documents Toxic Pesticides in Common Foods Sold by Major Retailers

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2019) Friends of the Earth (FOE) released a report last week again showing pesticide residues in the food supply. The report, Toxic Secret, found store and name brand foods produced and sold by the top four U.S. food retailers — Kroger (NYSE:KR), Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Costco (NYSE:COST) and Albertsons — contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of serious health and environmental problems. Among the pesticides found is the herbicide glyphosate, confirming residue testing results found in numerous studies. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has has been detected in popular foods, including “100% pure” honey, Doritos, Oreos, Goldfish, Ritz Crackers, German beers, California wines, and UK bread. Glyphosate has been ranked as potentially cancer causing in humans and adversely affects the human gut microbiome. See Residue Testing Find More Glyphosate in Popular Cereals. The FOE study finds that oat cereals, apples, applesauce, spinach and pinto beans at the retailers contained detectable amounts of glyphosate, organophosphates and neonicotinoids. The average level of glyphosate found in cereal samples (360 parts per billion) was more than twice the level set by scientists at Environmental Working Group for lifetime cancer risk for children. The average level of glyphosate found in pinto beans (509 ppb) was more […]

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31
Jan

USDA Challenged for Flood of “Organic” Hydroponics

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2019) On January 16, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a new rulemaking petition demanding that USDA explicitly prohibit hydroponics from the organic label and revoke all existing organic certifications on hydroponic operations. CFS and more than a dozen co-signing organizations grounded their demands in the failure of hydroponic production to increase soil fertility, conserve biodiversity, and build soil organic matter, all legally required to achieve certification under the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA). Hydroponic plants are grown without soil and fed entirely through manufactured nutrient solutions. Hydroponic operations rely on nutrient inputs that do not return to the system. Whether or not these inputs are organic products, the hydroponic practices themselves, CFS notes, fulfill zero out of the three core requirements that define “organic production” in OFPA: to “foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” The central principle of the legal argument is that soil is integral to organic production. Citing OFPA, to be called organic, producers must engage in practices that actively support the rich, living biodiversity of the soil that sustains future production. The prohibition of hydroponics from organic certification has been the position of organic regulators and the […]

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28
Jan

Take Action: Help Close the “Emergency” Pesticide Use Loophole

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2019) A  September 2018 report from the Office Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified issues important to protecting health and the environment. The EPA’s response to the report left many of these problems unresolved. Measures and Management Controls Needed to Improve EPA’s Pesticide Emergency Exemption Process (Report No. 18-P-0281, September 25, 2018), finds that the agency’s practice of routinely granting “emergency” approval for pesticides through its Section 18 program does not effectively measure risks to human health or the environment. Tell Congress to Ask the EPA Administrator to Close the “Emergency” Pesticide Use Loophole, and Adopt All the Recommendations of the Office of the Inspector General. Under Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA has the authority to approve the temporary emergency use of unapproved pesticides if the agency determines the pesticide is needed to prevent the spread of an unexpected outbreak of crop-damaging insects, for example. But this provision has been widely abused. The inspector general recommends EPA “develop and implement applicable outcome-based performance measures to demonstrate the human health and environmental effects of the EPA’s emergency exemption decisions.” EPA disagreed and said, [T]he development […]

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24
Jan

Study Reveals Pollinator Conservation Necessitates Social Justice Perspective

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2019) A UK Study has concluded that the expansion of community gardens, identified as “pollinator hotspots” with “high pollinator diversity,” offer an important opportunity for assisting ailing pollinator species and improving community quality of life, particularly in low income neighborhoods. Consequently, researchers suggest towns and cities can be planned and managed more effectively to steward existing urban biodiversity to create essential havens for pollinators and people under stress. The study finds that, “A high level of community robustness to species loss is increasingly recognized as an important goal in restoration ecology, since robust communities are better able to withstand perturbations.” As previous research has shown that organic agriculture boosts local economies, researchers account for and compare a key socioeconomic factor; household income. Affluent neighborhoods have larger, more numerous, and more consistently maintained gardens and green spaces. To increase city-scale robustness, researchers suggest increasing community garden allotments, planting perennial flowering plants in cemeteries, and improving management of public parks. However, researchers explain that increasing the number of community gardens, particularly in communities of low-income, would be the best strategy per unit area, as it would expand viable habitat for pollinators throughout cities while providing much-needed green space […]

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23
Jan

Acute Pesticide Incidents May Lead to Loss of Smell

(Beyond Pesticides, January, 23, 2019) Individuals that have been acutely poisoned by pesticides at some time in their life may be more likely to lose their sense of smell, according to a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.  Researchers focused on the effect of high pesticide exposure events (HPEE), such as a pesticide spill or other incident, on a farmers’ ability to smell later in life. This is the first study to indicate pesticide exposure may result in olfactory impairment. Farmers from Iowa and North Carolina enrolled in an ongoing U.S. Agricultural Health Study have been asked about their pesticide use roughly every 5 to 6 years since 1993. In the most recent survey, taken from 2013-2015, farmers were asked additional questions about HPEE in their lifetime and whether they had a significantly decreased or impaired sense of smell. “Studying farmers gives us more reliable data on pesticide exposures than if we had studied the general population,” says Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, lead author and professor of epidemiology at Michigan State University in a press release. “Because they use pesticides more and it’s part of their job, they’re more likely to remember what pesticides they used and in cases […]

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