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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


29
Jul

Much Higher Rates of Covid-19 Infection and Death in Farmworkers and Landscapers, May Be Enhanced by Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, July 29, 2020) Farmworkers and landscapers are deemed essential employees during the coronavirus outbreak, but without mandated safety protocols or government assistance, have experienced an explosion in Covid-19 cases. Workers in these industries are primarily Latinx people of color, many of whom are undocumented. According to a report published by the University of California Los Angeles, Latinx Californians aged 50 to 64 have died from the virus at rate five times higher than white people of the same age. The poor working conditions farmworkers and landscapers are subject to already put them at disproportionate risk of pesticide-induced diseases. Alongside other hardships such preexisting health problems, family obligations, cramped housing and transportation, threat of deportation, and communication difficulties, the risks of these essential workers contracting and dying from Covid-19 are compounded exponentially. The PBS Frontline documentary “Hidden Toll” follows the experiences of many California farmworkers, and how their daily struggle has been exacerbated as a result of the virus. One worker profiled, Sinthia Hernandez, has both diabetes and cancer but must continue to go to work to support her family. “In these times, it’s necessity that makes us work despite the fear we have,” Hernandex told Frontline. Despite the […]

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16
Jul

Health and Behavioral Development of Beneficial Black Garden Ants Stunted by Low Levels of Pesticide Exposure in Soils

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2020) Long-term exposure to sublethal (low-level) concentrations of the neonicotinoid in soil negatively affects the health and behavioral development of black garden ants (Lasius niger) colonies, according to a study published in Communications Biology by scientists at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Ants are one of the most biologically significant insects in the soil ecosystem, acting as ecosystem engineers. Their burrowing behavior aerates the soil, allowing oxygen and water to penetrate down to plant roots. Additionally, ants increase soil nutrient levels by importing and accumulating organic material like food and feces, thus enhancing nutrient cycling. Like many other insects, ants are unfortunate victims of the global insect apocalypse or population decline, and much research attributes the recent decline to several, including pesticide exposure. Broad-spectrum pesticides, like neonicotinoids, indiscriminately kill pests and nontarget organisms alike, as their ubiquitous use contaminates soils, even in untreated areas. This study highlights the necessity of rethinking chemical pest management, developing sustainable agricultural practices that reduce the use of agrochemicals, like pesticides, to prevent permanent environmental ecosystem damage. Researchers in the study note, “To prevent irreparable damages to functioning ecosystems, [we] suggest to either fully incorporate long-term effects in risk assessment schemes, or to make a shift […]

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13
Jul

Take Action: Demand to Keep the Soil in Organic, Reject the Labeling of Hydroponic Crops as Organic!

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2020) Soil is central to organic production. Therefore, hydroponic operations should not be considered eligible for organic certification, and the National Organic Program (NOP) must take a clear position in opposition to hydroponics and other non-soil-based methods in organic production, including containers. Organic farmers and consumers strongly agree that organic production must be soil-based.  Tell NOP hydroponics is not organic! Educate your congressional representatives and senators. NOP authorizes the certification of hydroponic operations as organic. This undermines the authenticity of organic farming and creates unequal competition, market instability, and consumer distrust in organic certification. Organic farming and soil are inextricably linked. The microorganisms in healthy soils interact in a symbiotic manner with plant roots, strengthening the plant, enabling it to resist diseases and facilitating water and mineral uptake. The essence of organic production is maintaining and enhancing the organic matter content of soil by relying on environmentally beneficial methods such as green manure, crop rotation, and biological pest management. On March 3, 2020, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit challenging the USDA’s decision to allow hydroponics operations to be certified organic. Organic farmers and consumers believe that the organic label means two things: […]

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09
Jul

From Udder to Table: Toxic Pesticides Found in Conventional Milk, Not Organic Milk

(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2020) Conventional U.S. milk contains growth hormones, antibiotics, and low to elevated levels of pesticides not found in organic milk, according to a study published in the journal of Public Health Nutrition by Emory University researchers. Milk can bioaccumulate certain organic pollutants, making it a valuable medium to assess what chemical we might be ingesting daily. With milk being one of the most consumed beverages in the U.S., in addition to its use in other popular drinks (i.e., coffee and tea), this study discloses widespread contamination and highlights the need for improved regulation. Researchers in the study note, “To our knowledge, the present study is the first study to compare levels of pesticide in the U.S. milk supply by production method (conventional vs. organic). It is also the first in a decade to measure antibiotic and hormone levels and compare them by milk production type.”  The market for conventional milk, produced in chemical-intensive agriculture, is declining, but the demand for organic milk is increasing due to concerns over chemical contamination in consumer products from pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits for pesticide residues in food products, the agency […]

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07
Jul

Study Matches Parkinson’s Disease Risk to Zip Code, Proximity to Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, July 7, 2020) One’s zip code plays an important role in the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to data published by Louisiana State University researchers in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. With genetics and exposure to agricultural pesticide use identified as the main factors affecting PD, proximity to certain cropland and its effluent had a major impact on disease risk. As with most environmentally related diseases, this study highlights the disproportionate risk and environmental racism low income, indigenous and people of color communities endure. Researchers received access to over 23,000 PD diagnoses in Louisiana between 1999 and 2012, and mapped these data by zip code. Risk was determined calculating the number of diagnoses per 10,000 people in a given zip code, based on census data. To flesh out the role agriculture was playing in PD diagnoses, additional data derived from water quality samples taken by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and the U.S. Geological Survey pesticide use estimates were compared against reported disease incidence. Results show that certain zip codes faced significantly higher incidence of PD than others in the state. Further, “The PD high-risk areas match closely the arbor-pastoral […]

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06
Jul

Sign by Today, July 6, 4pmEDT: Tell EPA to Ban the Persistent Toxic Herbicide Clopyralid that Contaminates Compost

(Beyond Pesticides, July 6, 2020) EPA’s proposed interim decision (PID) on the weed killer clopyralid is inadequate to protect human health, property, nontarget plants, and pollinators from damage. Clopyralid poses unreasonable adverse effects that cannot be remedied by EPA’s proposed fixes. It should be banned. Sign the petition by noon Monday, July 6! Tell EPA to ban the persistent toxic herbicide clopyralid. Clopyralid is a toxic persistent herbicide used to control broadleaf weeds on lawns and turf, range, pastures, right-of ways, and on several crops. Approximately 1.6 million pounds of clopyralid is used on 20 million acres per year in the U.S. on agricultural land, but it is also commonly used to kill dandelions, clover, and thistles. Lawn care operators applied over a million pounds of clopyralid in 2013. Clopyralid is notorious for causing damage to nontarget plants. The registration was modified in 2002 to delete residential turf uses from the clopyralid product label. Additionally, under the amended label professional applicators are required to notify property managers not to compost clippings from treated grass. EPA proposes to expand the prohibition to include school turf, but clopyralid products will continue to be used on golf courses and certain other forms of […]

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01
Jul

U.S. and Brazil Trying to Force Thailand to Accept Food Coated in Hazardous Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2020) As the U.S. is subject to searing criticism for inadequately regulated hazardous pesticides domestically, administration officials are standing in the way as other countries’ work toward modest reforms. According to a report published in Reuters, the U.S. is standing alongside the corrupt Bolsonaro administration in Brazil to oppose Thailand’s efforts to protect its citizens from highly toxic pesticides used in food production. Both countries launched separate complaints to the World Trade Organization after Thailand announced it would ban imports of the brain-damaging insecticide chlorpyrifos and weedkiller paraquat, which has been strongly linked to Parkinson’s disease. On June 1, Thailand added paraquat and chlorpyrifos to its list of most hazardous substances. This listing initiated a follow-on regulation that banned the import of these substances on food, set to take effect in mid-July. Thailand has been feeling the brunt of U.S. diplomatic pressure since it first proposed restrictions on toxic chemicals late last year. By December, the U.S. was able to get Bangkok to remove glyphosate from its proposal, and delay the listing of paraquat and chlorpyrifos until June. But as the current situation shows, the U.S. had no plans to stop pressuring the Bangkok government after […]

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29
Jun

Tell USDA to Reject Bayer-Monsanto’s Multi-Herbicide Tolerant Corn—Please sign the petition by Monday, July 6, 4pm EDT

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2020) Bayer’s Monsanto is requesting non-regulated status for corn that will increase the use of drift-prone and toxic herbicides. This means that the planting of a new genetically engineered (GE) variety of corn, which requires substantial weed killer use, will not be restricted in any way. The syndrome of ‘more-corn, more-pesticides, more-poisoning, more-contamination’ must stop—as we effect an urgent systemic transformation to productive and profitable organic production practices. Because USDA is proposing to allow a new herbicide-dependent crop under the Plant Protection Act, the agency must, but does not, consider the adverse impacts associated with the production practices on other plants and the effects on the soil in which they are grown. Business as usual is not an option for a livable future. Sign the petition. Tell USDA we don’t need more use of 2,4-D, Dicamba, and other toxic herbicides associated with the planting of new GE corn. Bayer-Monsanto has developed multi-herbicide tolerant MON 87429 maize, which is tolerant to the herbicides 2,4-D, dicamba, glyphosate, glufosinate, and aryloxyphenoxypropionate (AOPP) acetyl coenzyme A carboxylase (ACCase) inhibitors (so-called “FOP” herbicides, such as quizalofop). Now the company wants this corn to be deregulated—allowing it to be planted and the herbicides […]

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26
Jun

Bayer-Monsanto Chalks Up Court Victory that Takes Cancer Warning Off Roundup™-Glyphosate in California, Makes Case for Fundamental Overhaul of Pesticide Law

(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2020) A court decision in California, challenging a cancer warning on products containing the weed killer glyphosate, highlights the distinct  ways in which scientific findings are applied under regulatory standards, in toxic tort cases evaluated by juries, and by consumers in the marketplace. These differences came into focus as a U.S. court quashed California’s decision to require cancer warning labels on glyphosate products on June 22. The ruling, by Judge William Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, bars the state from requiring labeling that warns of potential carcinogenicity on such herbicides. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015 classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. At this point, Monsanto began a worldwide campaign to challenge glyphosate’s cancer classification. The IARC finding spurred the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, in the same year, to announce that glyphosate would be listed as a probable cancer-causing chemical under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). With that announcement came another: the state would mandate that cancer warning labels be applied to glyphosate-based products in the state when any of four […]

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25
Jun

Bayer-Monsanto, Committed to Continued Sales of Roundup™-Glyphosate, Announces $10.9 Billion Settlement with Cancer Victims, Protects Company from Future Trials by Jury

(Beyond Pesticides, June 25, 2020) Facing approximately 125,000 lawsuits on cancer caused by the weed killer Roundup™ (glyphosate), Bayer/Monsanto announced yesterday that it will pay up to $10.9 billion to resolve current and potential future litigation. According to Bayer, the settlement will “bring closure” to approximately 75% of current Roundup™ litigation. “The company will make a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve the current Roundup™ litigation, including an allowance expected to cover unresolved claims, and $1.25 billion to support a separate class agreement to address potential future litigation,” according to Bayer’s press release. At the same time the company announced a $400 million settlement with farmers whose crops have been damaged by the weed killer dicamba and $820 million for PCB water litigation. Bayer is a German multinational pharmaceutical and chemical company that purchased Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018. Bayer’s stock price increased by 2.5% after the news of the settlements. Bayer Settles, but Defends the Safety of Roundup™As expected, Bayer is not acknowledging any harm caused by glyphosate. According to chief executive officer of Bayer, Werner Baumann, “The decision to resolve the Roundup™ litigation enables us to focus fully on the critical supply of healthcare […]

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24
Jun

Communities Ban Biosolid (Sewage Sludge) Use As Researchers Investigate Whether It Can Contain Covid-19

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2020) Communities across the U.S. are restricting the use of biosolids (sewage sludge) in their jurisdictions, as researchers at Michigan Tech plan to study whether Covid-19 can persist in wastewater and sewage sludge. While relatively unknown to many city-dwellers, the use of recycled human waste on farm fields is a common practice in many rural communities throughout the country. Issues associated with smell, runoff, and contamination are often the impetus for local leaders to investigate and consider banning their spread, but the potential for the waste to vector coronavirus gives the issue a new sense of urgency.    In Oklahoma, the small town of Luther earlier this month voted to ban the use of biosolids on farmland. The issue was brought to town leaders after a report from FOX 25 found that a local sewer plant was spreading the waste on area farmlands. “Our goal with the biosolids program is to get beneficial reuse rather than just taking it to a landfill and filling up a landfill with this…And [the farmers] get it for free and of course, the farmers line up for this,” Kris Neifing, Director of Water Resources for Edmond, OK, told FOX 25. […]

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23
Jun

Insecticides the Pesticide Industry Said Were “Safer for Bees” Found to Stress and Kill Honey Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2020) Next-generation systemic insecticides, billed by the agrichemical industry as “safer for bees” than neonicotinoids, have been found to stress and kill honey bees. As reported, a study by researchers at Oregon State University in the journal PLOS One, sulfoxaflor and flupyradifurone (in the products Transform and Sivanto, respectively) were found to increase apoptosis (cell death) and increase oxidative stress in exposed honey bees. The study indicates that, “With the recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval for use of both flupyradifurone and sulfoxaflor, and with the growing concern regarding pollinator health, it is important to better understand any potential negative impacts (especially sub-lethal) of these pesticides on bees.” However, this statement begs the question ‘why these two new bee-toxic pesticide were approved by EPA in the first place.’ This process is familiar and frustrating to those who continue to fight against the decline of pollinators: the chemical industry introduces and EPA approves new toxic pesticides marketed as “safer” to the specific problem caused by its older products, only to find out through independent and academic research that the problem is not solved in the least. Researchers conducted two exposure assessments: one six-hour long study, and another […]

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19
Jun

Toxic Trade: Will the U.S. Force a Trade Agreement that Allows More Poisons in the UK?

(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2020) As it navigates an exit from the European Union (EU) and its trade agreements, the UK is considering the establishment of its own Free Trade Agreements, including commodities treated with pesticides, with various partner countries. Toxic Trade, a new report from Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) and others, reveals how such agreements between the UK and other countries — and the U.S., in particular — threaten to weaken existing protections from pesticides in the UK, which are stronger than those in most other countries. The report points to potential harms to UK residents, environment, and wildlife; it further suggests that the likelihood of the U.S. successfully imposing a weakening of UK protections is high. In November 2019, Beyond Pesticides covered the warnings from PAN UK and the Soil Association that the UK’s “Brexit” might result in greater pesticide use and/or exposure. The UK, and other European countries, have taken a more-precautionary approach to the permitting of pesticide use than does the U.S., Australia, or India. The UK bans a long list of pesticides that threaten human health, pollinators, ecosystems, and natural resources; many of these same compounds continue to be used in these three other […]

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17
Jun

Court Victory on Three Dicamba Weed Killers Underscores the Need to Reform Pesticide Law

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2020) The June 3 decision in a high-profile “dicamba case” — against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and for the plaintiffs, a coalition of conservation groups — was huge news in environmental advocacy, agriculture, and agrochemical circles. The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated EPA’s 2018 conditional registration of three dicamba weed killer products for use on an estimated 60 million acres of DT (dicamba-tolerant through genetic modification/engineering) soybeans and cotton. There is, however, a related issue that accompanies this and many other pesticide cases. When EPA decides to cancel or otherwise proscribe use of a pesticide (usually as a result of its demonstrated toxicity and/or damage during litigation), the agency will often allow pesticide manufacturers to continue to sell off “existing stocks” of a pesticide, or growers and applicators to continue to use whatever stock they have or can procure. Beyond Pesticides has opposed, covered, and litigated against this practice. To greenlight predictable harm is a violation of any recognized moral code, never mind of the agency’s mission — “to protect human health and the environment.” According to Beyond Pesticides, EPA should never permit continued use of a dangerous pesticide once that compound’s […]

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10
Jun

Federal Court Halts Use of Drift-Prone Dicamba on Millions of Acres of GE Soy and Cotton

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2020) Use of the weed killer dicamba on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and soybeans is now prohibited after a federal court ruling against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week. A coalition of conservation groups filed suit in 2018 after EPA renewed a conditional registration for dicamba’s ‘over the top’ (OTT) use on GE cotton and soy developed to tolerate repeated sprayings of the herbicide. “For the thousands of farmers whose fields were damaged or destroyed by dicamba drift despite our warnings, the National Family Farm Coalition is pleased with today’s ruling,” said National Family Farm Coalition president Jim Goodman in a press release. First registered in the late 1960s, dicamba has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, birth defects, and kidney and liver damage. It is also toxic to birds, fish and other aquatic organisms, and known to leach into waterways after an application. It is a notoriously drift-prone herbicide. Studies and court filings show dicamba able to drift well over a mile off-site after an application. Bayer’s Monsanto thought they could solve this problem. The “Roundup Ready” GE agricultural model the company developed, with crops engineered to tolerate recurrent applications of their […]

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08
Jun

Take Action: EPA Considers “Emergency” Pesticide Use with Bee-Toxic Pesticide for 10th Year in a Row

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2020) EPA has received applications from the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for the “emergency” use of the bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticide dinotefuran to control brown marmorated stinkbugs in pome and stone fruits. These three states (and others) have received emergency exemptions for this use for the nine previous years and it must not be allowed for a tenth year. Rather than skirt the regulatory process of review, this use pattern must be subject to EPA registration review in combination with all other neonicotinoid uses. Sign the Petition to EPA and Send a Letter to Your Congressional Representative and Senators: EPA Must Deny Routine “Emergency” Exemptions As a neocotinoid insecticide, dinotefuran presents an alarming hazard to bees and other pollinators. Like other neonicotinoids, it is systemic and can indiscriminately poison any insects feeding on nectar, pollen, or exudates. It is also highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates and soil organisms, as well as being highly persistent. In addition to the serious ecological impacts, dinotefuran is toxic to the immune system. This is, of course, an effect that should avoided during the coronavirus pandemic—when the immune system is under attack. Section 18 of the federal pesticide law (FIFRA—Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, […]

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08
Jun

Report Finds Monocropping and Toxic Pesticides Threaten Brazil’s Native Bees as Country’s President Challenges Environmental Protection

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2020) Brazil is home to more than 300 native bee species — many of them stingless — that help pollinate the nation’s valuable agricultural crops and provide other important environmental services. Yet, chemical-intensive agriculture’s intensive pesticide use and devotion to monocropping are a serious threat to these bees, Mongabay reports. Beyond Pesticides maintains that elimination of such pesticides is key to protecting critical pollinators, ensuring a nontoxic food supply, supporting ecosystems and biodiversity, and ensuring safe working conditions for agricultural workers and safety for rural residents. Organic, regenerative agricultural practices, which often avoid monocropping, achieve all of these important goals. Advocates maintain that a transition to such practices is imperative in ensuring a far less toxic future for humans, other residents of Planet Earth, and Nature itself. The Brazilian Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services estimates the financial value of pollinators in Brazil, which include bees, moths, bats, butterflies, wasps, beetles, and other organisms, at roughly $8 billion annually. Most honey production in Brazil (and globally) comes from one species, Apis mellifera — a hybrid of European and African species that arrived in the Americas in the early 17th century. A. mellifera is still the dominant […]

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04
Jun

The Pesticide Atrazine and 200 Other Toxic Chemicals Found in Fracking Wastewater; Contamination Goes Unregulated

  (Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2020) A new, simultaneous chemical identification method has found the presence of the weed killer atrazine and 200+ other hazardous chemicals in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) wastewater or produced water, according to collaborative research published in the Journal of Separation Science by scientists at the University of Toledo (UToledo) and the University of Texas at Arlington. Although produced water is a waste product of fracking, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows many states to reuse produced water in agriculture and other industries or dispose of it into waterways. There is serious concern about the safety of produced water and it being a widespread source of pollution. Current disposal and purification practices do not guarantee environmental pollutant’s removal from produced water. This research, “Optimization of thin film solid phase microextraction and data deconvolution methods for accurate characterization of organic compounds in produced water,” highlights the need for comprehensive chemical composition assessment of produced water, whether for reuse or disposal. Currently, EPA waives requirements that chemical companies (e.g., Syngenta in the case of atrazine) monitor for the presence of pesticides in waterways, endangering public health of the environment. Because produced water, whether treated or not, is typically not void of toxic […]

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28
May

Occupational Exposure to Pesticides, and Other Environmental Chemicals Increase Risk of Developing ALS

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2020) Exposure to agricultural and industrial pesticides, solvents (thinners), electromagnetic fields, and heavy metals predispose humans to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to an Italian research study, “Environmental and Occupational Risk Factors of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Population-Based Case-Control Study,” published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Although research supports ALS’s genetic etiology, epidemiologic research associating ALS risks and to environmental, or work-related risk factors (i.e., pesticide use, pollutant exposure, heavy metal exposure, etc.) has been inconsistent and non-definitive. This research demonstrates the importance of assessing aggregate health risks associated with occupational pesticide exposure, especially when determining potential exposure routes in specific occupational sectors. In the study, researchers note, “In particular, having an occupation in the agricultural sector, especially with a long duration of the working activity as well as occupational exposure to some chemicals…might increase ALS risk.” While scientists extensively study the epidemiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—a rare, yet fatal neurodegenerative disease—occupational and environmental hazards inducing random (sporadic) or hereditary ALS diagnoses remain vague. With researchers predicting a global ALS incidence increase of 69% by 2040, identifying ALS’s causal factors are important to future research. In this research, Italian researchers conducted a case-control, […]

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21
May

Study Finds an Association between Dicamba Use and Increased Risk of Developing Various Cancers

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2020) Use of the herbicide dicamba increases humans’ risk of various acute and chronic cancers, according to research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Many pesticides are “known or probable” carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), and their widespread use only amplifies chemical hazards, adversely affecting human health. However, past research lacks comprehensive information regarding human health effects associated with long-term pesticide use. This study highlights the significant role that long-term research plays in identifying potential health concerns surrounding registered pesticides, especially as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to reaffirm its decision to allow dicamba use on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a scientist with the environmental health program at the Center for Biological Diversity, comments: “This sweeping study exposes the terrible human cost of the EPA’s reckless decision to expand the use of dicamba. […]For the EPA to approve widespread use of this poison across much of the country without assuring its safety to people and the environment is an absolute indictment of the agency’s persistent practice of rubber-stamping dangerous pesticides.” Dicamba—a benzoic acid chemical that controls broadleaf weeds—is one of the most widely applied herbicides in corn production. As a result of weed resistant to […]

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12
May

California Governor Emphasizes Pesticide Enforcement During Coronavirus Outbreak

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2020) California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) is issuing new enforcement guidelines intended to protect children and residents from toxic pesticides during the Covid-19 pandemic. With schoolchildren spending their time at home while in quarantine, many, particularly those in agricultural communities, are at increased risk of pesticide exposure. “During this public health crisis, it is important to ensure the strict enforcement and oversight of regulations that protect children from pesticide exposure,” Governor Newsom wrote in a letter to the state Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA). While much of the guidance simply reinforces current legal requirements, it places an emphasis on strict enforcement. County Agricultural Commissioners (CACs), the state’s primary enforcement officers for pesticide laws, must “strictly enforce all applicable health protections around homes and schools” during the pandemic, seven days a week. Further, it stresses that pesticide applications “are expressly prohibited,” when there is, “reasonable possibility of contamination of the bodies or clothing of persons not involved in the application.” The state will prioritize the investigation of any violations made in residential areas. The state will also “take a strict approach to assessing penalties.” Violations of pesticide law that occur near homes or schools during coronavirus quarantine will […]

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11
May

Tell EPA and Congress that ALL Ingredients in Pesticides Must Be Disclosed

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2020) Protecting ourselves from Covid-19 requires not only that we avoid contact with the virus, but also that we avoid exposing ourselves to chemicals that may disrupt our immune or respiratory systems. But when it comes to pesticide products—and disinfectants are pesticides—we encounter once again the problem of so-called “inert,” or nondisclosed, ingredients. Tell EPA and Congress that ALL Ingredients in Pesticides Must Be Disclosed. “Inert” ingredients are not necessarily chemically or biologically harmless. “Inert” or “other” ingredients—as distinguished from “active” ingredients—are generally the majority of the product formulation that makes up the liquid, spray, dust, or granule, but does not specifically attack the pest, according to the manufacturer. They include emulsifiers, solvents, carriers, aerosol propellants, fragrances, and dyes. Many “inerts” are quite toxic, and may be “active” ingredients in other products. “Inert” ingredients may also be described as “adjuvants” or “formulants.” “Inerts” are typically not listed on the label, and hence are often called “secret ingredients.” Beyond Pesticides reviews the disinfectants on EPA’s List N, which are approved for use against the novel coronavirus, but it is only possible to review the active ingredients. One product on the list, for example, contains 99.7784% “other ingredients.” Unfortunately, although this product may […]

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04
May

Take Action: Protect Farmworker Children

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2020) Exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act allow children to work unlimited hours in agriculture at the age of 12 and allow child farmworkers to perform hazardous work at the age of 16. These exemptions apply only to farm labor and are significantly less stringent than law applying to other sectors. U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard of California has reintroduced H.R. 3394, the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety (CARE) to correct these inconsistencies, which harm farmworker children. Tell your Congressional Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3394. Thank those who are co-sponsors of the bill. Currently, children ages 12-13 may not be employed outside the home in non-agriculture labor, but may work in agriculture outside of school hours. Children ages 14-15 may work in non-agriculture only with strict limitations on time of day and hours per week, but may work in agriculture outside of school hours without any restrictions. The minimum age for hazardous work in agriculture, such as pesticide handling, is 16, but is 18 for non-farm labor. H.R. will make the restrictions for agriculture child labor consistent with non-agriculture labor. The bill does not apply to the sons and daughters of farmers working on their family farm. The worker protection […]

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