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Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


25
Jan

EPA: Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb on Oranges

(Beyond Pesticides. January 25, 2021) First registered in 1970 and voluntarily cancelled in 2010, aldicarb (Temik™) was being manufactured in Bhopal, India in 1984 when a leak of a precursor—methyl isocyanate (MIC)—spread over the city, ultimately killing more than 25,000 people and leaving more than 120,000 people who still suffer from severe health problems as a result of their exposure. In 1989, Union Carbide Corporation—the manufacturer of aldicarb at the time—paid $470 million (equivalent to $860 million in 2019) to settle litigation stemming from the disaster. Aldicarb, now made by Bayer, has been allowed by the outgoing Trump EPA for use on oranges. >>Tell EPA to Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb! No pesticide epitomizes the “cradle-to-grave” dangers of pesticides better than aldicarb. The disaster in Bhopal was followed by others, including a leak in Institute, WV in 1985 that injured at least 135 people and a 2008 explosion in Institute, WV that killed two and injured at least eight. In use, it has been implicated in poisoning of workers and their children, poisoning deer and other game consuming contaminated seeds, and notably, poisoning food grown in soil treated with the chemical. The effects don’t stop there—aldicarb is also […]

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22
Jan

Will Biden Reverse Last Minute Trump EPA Approval of the Deadly Insecticide Aldicarb, Previously Cancelled?

(Beyond Pesticides, January 22, 2021) After the past four devastating years, hopes and expectations of the Biden/Harris administration abound among the environmental and public health communities. The ears and eyes of many advocates, as well as those in the agricultural community, are attuned (among myriad candidates) to the fate of the pesticide aldicarb. Although Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration of this terribly toxic insecticide was cancelled in 2010, various limited-use reapprovals since then have meant that the compound has found its way to increasing levels of use. On January 12, as another parting shot of midnight rulemaking, Trump’s EPA approved expanded uses (see below). The $64,000 question is whether the new administration will use its authority under the Congressional Review Act — which enables Congress to pass a joint resolution (then signed by the President) to overturn a new federal agency rule and prevent its reissuance in the future — to get this pesticide retired for good. Beyond Pesticides urges President Biden’s EPA to do so. Notably, the Trump administration used the Congressional Review Act to destroy myriad environmental rules when it came into power. This permitting of expanded aldicarb uses fits the pattern. Environmental Health News notes that, as of early […]

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19
Jan

Take Action: Tell the Biden USDA and Congress to Protect COVID relief for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Military Veteran Farmers!

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2021) Inadequate funding proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the “Section 2501” program) fails to address historic discrimination and inadequate assistance for farmers of color and military veteran farmers. Funding for the Section 2501 program, which for three decades, has been the only farm bill program specifically addressing needs of these underserved populations in agriculture is smaller this year, placing undue stress on already stretched-thin community organizations working to respond to farmers during this unprecedented period of prolonged economic hardship. Tell the Biden USDA to ensure that the full Section 2501 funding reaches farmers of color and military veteran farmers. Since 1990, the goal of the Section 2501 program has been to increase historically underserved farmers’ awareness of and access to USDA resources—addressing the historic inequities that farmers of color, or socially disadvantaged farmers, faced in accessing USDA programs, including Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans. Congress added military veterans to the program in 2014 as an additional underserved audience. Section 2501 grants provide funding to community-based organizations and minority-serving academic institutions to conduct critical outreach and technical […]

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13
Jan

Ethanol Plant Processing Pesticide Coated Seeds Contaminates Nebraska Town

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2021) An ethanol processing plant located in the small village of Mead, Nebraska has been using seeds coated in bee-toxic chemicals as part of its production process, according to reporting published in The Guardian earlier this week. The plant, owned by a company called AltEn, may be the only plant in the U.S. producing biofuels with toxic seeds. There is a reason for that, and Mead residents are experiencing the adverse effects of EPA not regulating treated seeds. The prevalence of the use of seed coatings in chemical agriculture has increased over the last several decades, as the pesticide industry works to increase product sales by exploiting a loophole in federal pesticide law. Under FIFRA (the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act), a clause known as the “treated article exemption” permits seeds to be coated with highly toxic pesticides without any requirement for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess environmental or public health effects of their use. This allows hazardous pesticides (primarily insecticides and fungicides) to be used indiscriminately with no effective oversight. Research finds that over 150 million acres of farmland are planted with toxic seeds, including nearly four tons of bee-killing neonicotinoids […]

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04
Jan

Join Together for Food Security and the Future of Local Organic Farmers

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2021) As we begin the new year, one of the most pervasive problems that our country faces, which has been particularly painful especially during the holiday season, is food insecurity—now affecting 54 million people. Food insecurity in the U.S. is real. As we continue through the dark winter months with the threat of even greater surges in COVID-19, it is important to strengthen those connections that support food security and those who produce our food. Ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to make permanent support for small and medium sized local farmers, building on the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Package. Worldwide, the threats of impending famine have been met by extraordinary responses from countries and private donors. These events are evidence that food shortages are caused by inequities in distribution rather than underproduction, consistent with continuing population growth and contrary to claims by the pesticide industry. Peasant activists Jeongyeol Kim and Pramesh Pokharel argue that the solution to food insecurity is food sovereignty—that a food system depending on big agribusiness and corporations does not support local food production. That food system contributes to food insecurity for both the countries depending on food imports that may not be […]

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23
Dec

Trump EPA Gives Neurotoxic Insecticide Chlorpyrifos Another Thumbs Up, Ignoring Brain Effects in Children

(Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2020) The litany of parting shots by the waning Trump administration got longer on December 4, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed interim decision on the very toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, functionally continuing its registration for many agricultural uses. The interim decision purports to put in place new limitations on use of this pesticide, but they are wholly inadequate to the threat this compound represents — to young children, most concerningly, as well as to farmworkers, critical species and ecosystems, and the public. Chlorpyrifos should not be re-registered for use — i.e., its sale and use should be banned altogether, as Beyond Pesticides has asserted for years. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide used on scores of food crops, for mosquito (and other pest) control, and for some turf management (golf courses, especially). It has been demonstrated to be highly neurotoxic, especially to young children, leading to impaired cognitive function, developmental delays, lower IQs, attention deficit disorder, and a variety of other pervasive developmental and learning disorders. The essence of the compound’s toxicity to developing brains lies in its function as a cholinesterase inhibitor; chlorpyrifos binds to the receptor sites for acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme […]

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22
Dec

Farmworkers and Conservationists Ask Court to Remove Monsanto’s Roundup from the Market

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2020) Opening arguments and evidence were filed by a coalition of farmworkers, farmers, and conservationists last week in litigation challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) re-approval of glyphosate, best known as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s “Roundup” pesticides. The lawsuit charges that the Trump Administration unlawfully ignored cancer risks and ecological damage of glyphosate.  Represented by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), plaintiffs, including the Rural Coalition, Farmworker Association of Florida, OrganizaciĂłn en California de Lideres Campesinas, and Beyond Pesticides, filed the federal lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in March. The groups seek to have the pesticide prohibited from use or sale because of its unlawful approval. “Farmworkers are on the frontlines of nearly every health and environmental crisis, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, and are particularly at risk of health impacts from pesticide spraying,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at CFS. “EPA failed these essential workers. It rejected evidence that glyphosate causes cancer and entirely failed to assess the main way people are exposed at work, through their skin.” The court filing includes volumes of evidence showing how EPA ignored glyphosate’s health risks, including cancer risks, to farmworkers and farmers exposed during spraying. The evidence […]

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21
Dec

Stop EPA from Limiting State Pesticide Restrictions as Corporate Deception on Hazards Continues

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2020) The toxic herbicide dicamba is once again at the center of a larger story about states’ authority to regulate pesticides more stringently federal dictates and a response to corporate corruption in the marketing of pesticide products. The Trump EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has just made it much harder for state regulations to be more protective than federal rules. It did so via a footnote embedded in dozens of pages of regulatory documents related to EPA’s registration of three new dicamba products.  Tell the Biden transition team that EPA must respect states’ rights to protect people and property in their states. Meanwhile, a report by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found Monsanto and BASF, a German chemical company that worked with Monsanto to launch the system coupling dicamba with resistant crops, knew their dicamba herbicides would cause large-scale damage to fields across the U.S., but decided to push them on unsuspecting farmers anyway, in a bid to corner the soybean and cotton markets with their dicamba-resistant seeds. For nearly 30 years, state regulators have used Section 24 (“Special Local Needs” section) of FIFRA, the Federal, Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act—the law that gives EPA […]

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18
Dec

Investigation on Weed Killer Dicamba Adds to Pattern of Corporate Deception on Pesticide Hazards

(Beyond Pesticides, December 18, 2020) The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published a story in early December on yet another example of the corporate malfeasance that exalts profit far above concerns for safety, health, and ecosystems. The Midwest Center’s investigation finds that Monsanto and BASF, makers of the extremely problematic herbicide dicamba, engaged in a variety of deceitful, unethical, and possibly fraudulent practices to enable its use. The bottom line is that the companies knew, before they released dicamba, about the massive damage it would cause — and then put it on the market. Beyond Pesticides has reported on the corporate greed that fuels the downstream public health, environmental, and economic devastation these pesticides cause, and advocated for their removal from the market. Such unscrupulous behavior is not confined to these companies; Bayer (which now owns Monsanto) and Syngenta are also implicated in similar actions related to other pesticides: glyphosate and atrazine, respectively. Over the course of the past couple of decades, large agrochemical corporations have pursued not only extreme market penetration for their toxic products, but also, vertical integration that, in the case of Bayer/Monsanto, “represents a near-monopoly on the agriculture supply chain.” Corporate ownership of the patent on genetically […]

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17
Dec

EPA Considers Approving Uses for Highly Toxic, Broadly Banned Pesticide on Citrus Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2020) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is contemplating the reapproval of toxic, widely banned insecticide aldicarb for use on citrus fruits in Texas and Florida. A vast amount of scientific evidence reports a dramatic decline in insect population (i.e., the insect apocalypse), like pollinators and other beneficial biotas, from environmental pollution sources like pesticides. Therefore, it is important to assess regulatory decisions that can potentially jeopardize the protection of these species and, consequently, human health. Nathan Donley, PhD, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), states, “The fact that U.S. regulators would even consider expanding use of this dangerous, widely banned pesticide is a stunning indictment of our broken regulatory system. This application vividly reaffirms why the pesticide industry considers us the dumping ground for the world’s worst pollutants. We’ll be watching closely to see whether the Biden administration steps up and puts public health before pesticide company profits.” Aldicarb is a highly toxic, systemic carbamate insecticide, with initial production beginning in 1965. The chemical is a fast-acting cholinesterase inhibitor that permanently binds to the active site of an essential enzyme for normal nerve impulse transmission, acetylcholinesterase (AChE), deactivating the enzyme. In […]

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15
Dec

Migrant Farmworkers Repeatedly Doused with Toxic Pesticides, Lawsuit Documents

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2020) Over two dozen Texan farmworkers working in Illinois fell ill after toxic pesticides were repeatedly sprayed over them via aircraft, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court this month. As the suit details, indiscriminate pesticide spray brought harm to several minors, elderly workers, and a pregnant mother. Plaintiffs are seeking numerous claims against Pioneer Hi-Bred, a subsidiary of Corteva (formerly DowDupont), as well as the aerial spray company and applicator that contaminated workers. These include violations of federal law and other tort, wage, contract, and damage claims. “No farmworker should be exposed to poisonous chemicals when doing their job, let alone multiple times in two weeks,” said Lisa Palumbo, Director of Legal Aid Chicago’s Immigrants and Workers’ Rights project, which filed the suit alongside several other legal advocacy groups. “Migrant farmworkers are some of our most vulnerable workers, who grow and harvest the food we eat. Their employer is obligated to ensure they are safe from pesticide exposure, and that they are properly cared for and provided truthful information if exposure occurs. This did not happen here.”   Two incidents are detailed in the complaint. With the first, occurring in July 2019, all […]

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14
Dec

Open Letter to Biden-Appointed USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack: Moving Forward, Meeting Challenges, Correcting the Past

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2020) As the President-elect chooses the leadership in his administration, it is critical that we in the affected communities establish our expectations of what is needed from agencies to address critical issues of the day. While we may feel that different choices of personnel could have been made, ultimately we are looking forward to advancing programs across all agencies that represent meaningful and foundational changes to our social, economic, and environmental norms. As we focus on the appointment of a Secretary of Agriculture, issues of foundational change come into sharp focus, relating to sustainable land management, distribution of resources and access to land, food security, protection of human and ecosystem health, and climate. It is normal, therefore, to look at any individual appointee’s past performance and positions as a measure of future decisions or policies that may be advanced. Ultimately, though, it is the administration that sets the tone, establishes a framework, and forges the direction of the government’s programs and policies. President-elect Biden has talked about a framework for policy to which we can and must hold all officials in the administration accountable across all agencies. These key elements of the framework intersect with the […]

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10
Dec

New Test Will Help Researchers Understand Pesticide Threats to Wild Bat Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2020) A new test developed by a team of Mexican and Canadian scientists will help field researchers detect early warning signs of pesticide exposure in wild bat populations. There are relatively few studies on the effects of pesticide exposure on bat populations, the authors note in a study published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, but there is considerable need to monitor the health of these important species. “Access to resources might be limited for institutions with less financial support such as conservation NGOs and researchers in developing countries,” said co-author Natalia Sandoval-Herrera, PhD. “The use of early warning biomarkers such as genotoxic effects are most needed in these regions, where the use of pesticides is extensive and there is high biodiversity.” The test in question is referred to as a micronucleus test. Although it does not measure the level of pesticide contaminating a bat’s body, it can assess genotoxicity (the effect of pesticides and other chemical agents that damage genetic information in a cell). This is done by taking blood samples of bats, and testing for the presence of micronuclei formation, which are materials in blood that contain damaged chromosomes not incorporated into a cell after […]

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09
Dec

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like an Organic Christmas…Tree?

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2020) For consumers, the holiday season is full of complicated choices, including the conundrum of how to find the perfect Christmas tree. The most important part of selecting a tree is not its size and shape, but rather finding one that will pose the least risk to the health of your family, pets, and the environment. Thus, the safest holiday choice for you, and yours, is purchasing an organic tree as opposed to one that is artificial or grown using harsh chemical methods. However, the organic tree industry is still fairly novel, therefore following these helpful tips can ensure you purchase a beautiful organic tree and dispose of it in a responsible way to begin the New Year. Why Buy Organic? Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States, with Christmas trees accompanying the celebration of the holiday season. On average, Americans purchase 25 to 30 million Christmas trees annually, with 2020 showing an almost 30 percent increase in sales. However, organic Christmas trees, which follow the same U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic standards as agricultural crops, make up only 1% of all Christmas tree purchases. Fortunately, public awareness regarding the need for more ecologically friendly, organic products is […]

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08
Dec

Scientists Discover Parasite that “Liquifies” Slugs, Shows Promise as Potential New Biological Control

(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2020) Researchers at Oregon State University recently made a promising discovery that could significantly improve the ability for North American farmers and gardeners to manage invasive, crop damaging slugs. It isn’t a pesticide, but a nematode (Phasmarhabditis spp.), a microscopic animal whose phylum contains potentially millions of different species. Oregon State researchers think they’ve found the specific type of nematode that will parasitize and kill Deroceras reticulatum, also known as the grey garden slug. The research underscores the critical importance of funding and supporting research on biological controls and other non-toxic pest management approaches.   Researchers were keyed into the potential to use nematodes for slug biocontrol by a product that has been successfully used in Europe for over 25 years, known as Nemaslug. However, the product is not registered in the United States by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “The thought process is that if it works in Europe and we find it here and it works here, it might be easier to get it registered by the EPA,” study coauthor Rory Mc Donnell, PhD, said. “If we can provide evidence it’s native, that makes a strong case for developing it as a bio-control. […]

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25
Nov

Pesticide Exposure Triggers Headaches and Other Cognitive Issues Among Youth in Farms Areas

(Beyond Pesticides, November 25, 2020) New research from the Centre for Environment and Occupational Health Research at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, finds a link between pesticide exposure and adverse neurological symptoms among children and adolescents living in agricultural areas. Considering the etiology (cause) of many brain and neurological disorders are unknown, research like this is significant for understanding how pesticide exposure promotes disease development, especially among vulnerable populations. Researcher notes, “Children who indicate activities related to pesticide exposure may be at higher risk for developing headaches and lower cognitive performance in the domains of attention, memory and processing speed. […]Given [the] history and socio-economic divide to the farm laborers, […]future interventions should aim to reduce the health risks of these vulnerable populations, including their children.” The study demonstrates that there is a relationship between pesticide exposure from various farm-related and leisure activities and headaches and neurocognitive functioning (i.e., autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), lower intelligence (IQ), and harmful social behavior and behavioral regulation) in children and adolescents. To assess which farm-related/leisure activities concerning pesticide exposure cause cognitive symptoms, researchers administered a questionnaire addressing child pesticide handling, direct consumption of field crops, interaction with field adjacent water sources, […]

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24
Nov

Food For Thought: Eating Organic Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

(Beyond Pesticides, November 24, 2020) Reinforcing a body of scientific evidence, a new study finds that eating organic food lowers one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. With 1 in 10 (34 million) Americans afflicted with type 2 diabetes, and 1 in 3 (88 million) with prediabetes, new strategies focused on prevention are urgently needed. The results of the study, published by a team of French and American researchers in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, reinforce the triple bottom line (profit, people, and the environment) benefits of organic food for public health, the environment, and the wider economy. Scientists used data from NutriNet-SantĂ©, a massive study including over 170,000 participants (averaging 52 years old) that regularly respond to questions concerning lifestyle, dietary intake, body type, physical activity, and health status. Roughly 33,000 NutriNet-SantĂ© participants completed food frequency questionnaire regarding how often they consumed organic food. After four years, 293 surveyed individuals had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Researchers then looked at how organic food consumption affected the risk of developing the disease, adjusting for body mass index, gender, family history of diabetes, physical activity, education, economic status, occupation, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Higher organic food […]

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23
Nov

Tell the Biden Transition Team to Harness the Power of Organic to Combat Climate Change 

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2020) The Biden transition plan for combatting climate change caused by agriculture does not mention organic. Yet research shows the potential of organic agriculture for reducing and preventing climate change. These studies also apply to land management in cities, parks, and playing fields. Tell the Biden transition team to harness the power of organic to combat climate change. Organic agriculture practices combat climate change by: Reducing Emissions of Nitrogen Oxides. Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers in chemical-intensive agriculture is driving global nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions higher than any projected scenario, putting the world at greater risk of a climate catastrophe. According to research published by an international team of scientists in the journal Nature, failure to adequately address nitrous oxide emissions has the potential to impede the ability for the world to keep warming below the 2°C target established under the Paris Climate Agreement, necessitating further cuts in other greenhouse gasses.  A 2018 study from the University of Virginia and The Organic Center found that “reactive” nitrogen, in the form readily available to be taken up by plants, is conserved in organic systems. Jessica Shade, PhD of The Organic Center, noted that the research was “significant […]

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20
Nov

Flea Treatment Pesticides Found to Contaminate Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2020) Many pet owners likely do not consider what is actually in the flea treatments they administer to their animals. That should change, and recent research demonstrates why. Scientists sampling rivers in England found extreme contamination with two neurotoxic pesticides commonly used in flea products for dogs and cats: fipronil and the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. In many instances, the concentrations in the waterways were far higher than accepted “safe” levels. Though these compounds are banned for agricultural uses in the United Kingdom (UK), risk assessment for them, as used on animals, has been minimal because of the assumption that the amounts used for veterinary treatments would mean far-less-significant environmental impact than might be expected with agricultural-scale use. This research out of the University of Sussex voids that assumption, and the researchers recommend “re-evaluation of the environmental risks posed by pet parasite products, and a reappraisal of the risk assessments that these products undergo prior to regulatory approval.”   Apart from being an active ingredient in flea treatments for pets, fipronil is used in insect baits, and in turf management and agriculture in the U.S. It is highly toxic to insects, including bees, to birds, and to aquatic invertebrates. […]

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19
Nov

Crop Diversity in Commercial Agriculture Decreases Pests and Pesticide Use, Stabilizes Biodiversity

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2020) A new study by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) finds that crop diversity in commercial agriculture is just as essential to supporting a stable biological system as plant diversity on non-commercial landscapes. Furthermore, less diverse crop areas lead to higher, more intensive pesticide use, indicating a threat to environmental and human health, as well as food security. This research highlights the need to develop policies that facilitate a decrease in overall pesticide use by helping farmers and global leaders make more knowledgeable decisions about crop area size and diversity to sustain biodiversity. Researchers note, “While [crop] complexity increases stability and reduces high deviations in insecticide use, accounting for crop and farmer-specific characteristics is crucial for statistical inference and sound scientific understanding. In this study, researchers aim to understand how crop and landscape diversity impacts pest populations, using insecticide use data as a surrogate for pest populations data. Data observations are from Kern County Agricultural Commissioner (CAC), California, over the period 2005 to 2017. Crop data includes crop type, acceptable field size, field and farmer permit number, and active dates for the field. To estimate pesticide use variance, researchers summated annually and peak insecticide […]

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17
Nov

Synthetic Fertilizers Accelerate Climate Crisis; The Way We Feed People Conflicts with Stabilizing Climate

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2020) Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture is driving global nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions higher than any projected scenario, putting the world at greater risk of a climate catastrophe. According to research published by an international team of scientists in the journal Nature, failure to adequately address nitrous oxide emissions has the potential to impede the ability for the world to keep warming below the 2°C target established under the Paris Climate Agreement, necessitating further cuts in other greenhouse gasses. The paper is a clarion call for greater attention to agriculture’s role in generating and mitigating the climate crisis. “The dominant driver of the increase in atmospheric nitrous oxide comes from agriculture, and the growing demand for food and feed for animals will further increase global nitrous oxide emissions,” explains study lead author Hanqin Tian,  PhD, director of the International Center for Climate and Global Change Research at Auburn University in Alabama. “There is a conflict between the way we are feeding people and stabilizing the climate.” Nitrous oxide both damages ozone and warms the atmosphere, as it is roughly 300x better at capturing heat than carbon dioxide. To account for global nitrous oxide emissions, […]

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16
Nov

Tell President-elect Biden that We Need an Organic USDA

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2020) Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sits at the nexus of complex and systemic problems that need urgent attention—pesticide-dependent genetically engineered crops, the integrity of certified organic agriculture, and the climate crisis—the choice of the agency’s head is critical to meeting the challenges necessary to sustaining life. USDA has long been a big promoter of chemical-intensive agriculture. With President-elect Joe Biden committed to priorities of addressing health care, systemic racism, and climate change, the time is now for USDA to change the way it does business. We need an organic advocate in the Secretary of Agriculture, who must be committed to transitioning chemical-intensive agriculture to organic practices—thereby eliminating petroleum-based pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, sequestering atmospheric carbon, protecting farmworker and farmer health, delivering a safe food supply, and ensuring clean air, water, and healthy terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Tell President-elect Biden to appoint an organic leader as USDA Secretary. The purview of USDA is far-ranging—from SNAP (food stamps) to agricultural support programs to research to inspections and other regulations. And the National Organic Program. Research includes programs promoting pesticides and genetically engineered crops. USDA’s history with President-elect Biden’s priority issues has not been good historically. […]

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13
Nov

EPA by Fiat Overturns State Authority to Restrict Pesticides in the Face of Its Faltering Programs

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2020) The toxic herbicide dicamba is once again at the center of a larger story about states’ authority to regulate pesticides beyond federal dictates. The Trump EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has just made it much harder for state regulations to be more protective than federal rules are. It did so via a footnote embedded in dozens of pages of regulatory documents related to EPA’s registration of three new dicamba products. Given conservatives’ long-standing lip service to “states’ rights,” this EPA’s thwarting of the wishes of individual states to respond to their respective circumstances could easily be regarded as an odd — though, during this administration, hardly singular — stance. This latest development underscores EPA’s continuing failures to protect people and the environment, and the increasing tension between centralized, federal regulation and more-local regulation, whether by states or smaller localities. For nearly 30 years, state regulators have used a Section 24 provision of FIFRA, the Federal, Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act — the law that gives EPA authority to regulate pesticides — to establish specific restrictions, on use of federally registered pesticide products, that go beyond what EPA has mandated. The agency has long allowed states to add […]

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