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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category


17
May

Stop EPA’s Racist Policies that Disproportionately Harm Farmworker Children’s Brains: Ban Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has less than two months to decide whether to cancel or modify its registration of the brain-damaging organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, following a decision from a federal appeals court. The ruling comes after more than a decade of delay from the federal agency tasked with protecting public health and the environment from the hazards of chemicals like chlorpyrifos. The decision now falls to the Biden Administration’s EPA Administrator Michael Regan, after the previous administration reversed a proposal to ban agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos in 2017. Most residential uses of the chemical were banned in 2000.  Tell EPA to ban chlorpyrifos and other neurotoxic pesticides. The target of action by which chlorpyrifos and many other pesticides kill is the nervous system. It is not surprising, then, that pesticides also target the nervous system in humans. They are particularly hazardous to children, who take in greater amounts of pesticides relative to their body weight than adults, and whose developing organ systems are typically more sensitive to toxic exposures. The body of evidence in the scientific literature shows that pesticide exposure can adversely affect a child’s neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems, even at […]

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11
May

Bayer Loses Bid to Overturn Neonicotinoid Ban in Europe

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2021) Last week, multinational agrichemical company Bayer Cropscience lost its bid to overturn a 2018 ban on bee-toxic neonicotinoids throughout the European Union. The ruling from the European Court of Justice rejected all grounds on which the company filed its appeal, noting, “It must be held that the arguments put forward by Bayer CropScience cannot, in any event, succeed.” In denying the appeal, the court ruled Bayer responsible for paying its own legal fees, as well as the fees of environmental organizations that intervened to defend the ban. Environmental groups are applauding the ruling, as it reinforces several important aspects of the EU’s pesticide policy that favor greater public health and environmental protections. In an interview with EURACTIV, policy officer Martin Dermine at Pesticide Action Network Europe notes that the decision provides more leeway for pesticide regulators to consider new scientific evidence on pesticide hazards. “More than that,” he told EURACTIV, “the Court confirms the definition of the precautionary principle:  in case of doubts on the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission is entitled to ban it.” Pesticide regulators in Europe began restricting neonicotinoids in 2013, when a continent-wide moratorium was put in place based […]

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10
May

TAKE ACTION: USDA Must Complete Rulemaking Initiated by the National Organic Standards Board

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2021) USDA is dragging its heels in completing rulemaking recommended by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)—including recommendations passed as early as 2001 and including those concerning both materials and organic practices. This threatens organic integrity and public trust in the process governing the USDA organic label. When the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) was passed in 1990, supporters had grave mistrust of the commitment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—a department that had embraced chemical-intensive agriculture and promoted the dependence on pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Therefore, Congress built into the law protections by assigning a major role for the NOSB—an advisory board comprised of representatives of all the stakeholders including producers, processors, retailers, certifiers, consumers, scientists, and environmentalists. Not only must the NOSB vote on allowed synthetic materials used in organic production, but USDA must also consult with the NOSB on all aspects of the National Organic Program (NOP).  Tell USDA that NOSB recommendations must be proposed as regulations. Crucial to organic practices, and written into OFPA, is the concept of continuous improvement. The importance of this concept is most apparent in materials review, which includes a sunset provision that requires all synthetic materials […]

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07
May

Meta-Review: Pesticides Kill or Harm Soil Invertebrates Essential to Soil Health

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2021) Soil health is one of the linchpins on which the food production that sustains human life — as well as biodiversity, pollinator health, and carbon sequestration — depend. A recent meta-review of nearly 400 studies finds that, in 71% of the cases reviewed, pesticides kill or otherwise harm soil invertebrates that contribute mightily to soil health. In their paper, “Pesticides and Soil Invertebrates: A Hazard Assessment,” published in Frontiers in Environmental Science in early May, the researchers write, “A wide variety of soil-dwelling invertebrates display sensitivity to pesticides of all types . . . [These results] support the need for pesticide regulatory agencies to account for the risks that pesticides pose to soil invertebrates and soil ecosystems.” Beyond Pesticides, which has long reported on impacts of pesticides on soil health, concurs with that conclusion, and adds that the real solutions to noxious pesticide impacts lie in the adoption of  regenerative organic approaches to all land management because they obviate any need for petroleum-based toxic chemical controls. The term “pesticide” can refer to myriad kinds of chemical treatments — including antimicrobials, disinfectants, rodenticides, and others — but in the agricultural and land management realms, primarily means insecticides, […]

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04
May

Federal Court Gives EPA 60-Day Deadline to Decide the Fate of Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has less than two months to determine whether cancel or modify its registration of the brain-damaging, organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, following a decision from a federal appeals court last week. The ruling comes after more than a decade of delay from the federal agency tasked with protecting public health and the environment from the hazards of chemicals like chlorpyrifos. The decision now falls to the Biden Administration’s EPA Administrator Michael Regan, after the previous administration reversed a proposal to ban agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos in 2017. Most residential uses of the chemical were banned in 2000.   “The EPA has had nearly 14 years to publish a legally sufficient response to the 2007 Petition,” reads a 2-1 opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. “During that time, the  EPA’s  egregious  delay  exposed  a  generation  of  American  children  to  unsafe  levels  of  chlorpyrifos.” Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that is currently registered for use on a range of food crops, golf courses, and for public health mosquito control (in cases of mosquito-borne diseases). It is highly acutely toxic, causing numbness, tingling sensation, in-coordination, dizziness, vomiting, […]

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30
Apr

Research Shows Adverse Impacts of Glyphosate on the Human Gut Microbiome

(Beyond Pesticides, April 30, 2021) A bioinformatics tool developed by researchers from the University of Turku in Finland indicates that “54% of species in the core human gut microbiome are sensitive to glyphosate.” This tool may help predict which microbes in the human gut could be negatively affected by exposure to the ubiquitous herbicide. Because damage to the gut biome is linked to a variety of diseases, this information could prove critical in recognition of the role(s) glyphosate may play in the development of human diseases. Published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, the researchers’ paper states, “The widespread use of glyphosate may have a strong effect on gut microbiomes as well as on human health.” Beyond Pesticides has long reported on the relationship between glyphosate and human health, including potential effects on the human gut microbiome. Used in multiple herbicide formulations, glyphosate has become widely known as the active ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto’s RoundupÂŽ, the most-used herbicide worldwide. The pervasiveness of glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH) use in agriculture, and of Roundup in particular, is due largely to their pairing with genetically engineered (GE) seeds for soy, canola, and corn crops. In many regions, these GE seeds — engineered to resist the glyphosate […]

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29
Apr

Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Sustainable Agriculture Do Not Mix!

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2021) Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are incompatible with sustainable agriculture goals, according to a recent scientific literature analysis by scientists at Tufts University, Massachusetts. Glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, including Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) RoundupTM. The use of this chemical has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate. However, studies demonstrate glyphosate is the main contributor to human, biotic, and ecosystem harms as toxicities from herbicides are now double what it was in 2004.  The National Academy of Sciences identifies four goals of sustainable agriculture—productivity, economics, environment, and social well-being for future generations. However, pesticides like glyphosate are ubiquitous in the environment, putting the health, economy, and food/resources for future generations at risk. Therefore, research like this is vital for understanding how chemical use can undermine sustainable agriculture goals to protect humans, animals, and environmental health. Researchers note, “[W]hether or not GBHs are viewed as essential or unessential to contemporary agriculture, and notwithstanding their role in non-tillage agriculture, this study shows that glyphosate-based herbicides do not reach the bar of agricultural sustainability, with respect to humans and the environment, making the system they are part of unsustainable.” Researchers thoroughly examined […]

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27
Apr

Florida Officials Put a Stop to Trump Era Proposal to Spray Highly Toxic Insecticide in Citrus Groves

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2021) The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is denying a chemical company’s application to use a highly toxic insecticide on the state’s citrus crops due to the risks the chemical poses to human health and the environment, according to a statement from FDACS released last week. At issue is aldicarb, a carbamate class insecticide that was cancelled in the U.S. over a decade ago. “While there are promising new horizons for fighting citrus greening, like recent breakthroughs at UF/IFAS on genetic resistance, aldicarb poses an unacceptable risk to human, animal, and environmental health in Florida, is one of the world’s most toxic pesticides, and is banned in more than 100 countries,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “The registrant’s application does not meet the requirements of state law, and we must therefore deny the registration of aldicarb for use in the State of Florida.” At the end of the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took “aggressive actions” by announcing it was registering aldicarb and the antibiotic streptomycin for use against citrus greening, a disease that is damaging Florida’s citrus industry. The registration provided for a supplemental label allowing use on […]

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26
Apr

Tell Your U.S. Representative and Senators to Support the Agricultural Resilience Act

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2021) Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M), and 17 House cosponsors have reintroduced the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), which establishes a roadmap for achieving net-zero emissions from agriculture by 2040, while empowering farmers with the tools and resources needed to improve soil health, sequester carbon, reduce emissions, enhance their resilience, and tap into new market opportunities. Pingree first introduced the legislation in the 116th Congress, where it served as a model for recognizing agriculture as a part of the climate solution. Ask your U.S. Representatives and Senators to Cosponsor the Agricultural Resilience Act. Thank those who already have. The ARA offers farmer-driven climate solutions to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. agriculture by 2040: Research Increases funding for USDA’s Regional Climate Hubs Invests in public breed and cultivar research Soil Health  Authorizes USDA to offer performance-based crop insurance discounts for practices that can be demonstrated to reduce risk Creates new USDA grants to state and tribal governments to improve soil health Directs USDA to establish a Soil Health and Greenhouse Gas Advisory Committee Farmland Preservation and Farm Viability  Creates a new Local Agriculture Marketing Program (LAMP) subprogram to help  Farmers develop and expand markets for […]

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20
Apr

Roundup Shown to Kill Bees—But Not How You Might Expect

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2021) Roundup products manufactured by Bayer-Monsanto kill exposed bumblebees at high rates, according to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, which points to undisclosed inert ingredients (those that typically make up a majority of the product formulation) as the primary culprit. Roundup products have become synonymous with their main active ingredient glyphosate, but Bayer-Monsanto has been quietly reformulating its flagship product with different herbicides in a likely attempt to rebrand as glyphosate cancer lawsuits drag down the company’s performance. The new study reveals that these new Roundup products present the same hazards to pollinators as glyphosate-based formulations, raising important questions about the pesticide regulatory process. Researchers based at Royal Holloway University of London, UK conducted the present study to better understand the hazards posed by herbicides often characterized as “bee safe” to the public. To do so, 10 healthy bumblebee (Bombus spp) colonies were retained, split into small groups, and sprayed with a particular herbicide. Four different herbicide products were employed, including: i) Fast Action RoundupÂŽ Ready‐To‐Use (containing glyphosate); ii) RoundupÂŽ Speed Ultra (containing acetic acid and no glyphosate); iii) WeedolÂŽ Gun! Rootkill Plus (containing glyphosate) and; iv) RoundupÂŽ ProActive (contains glyphosate […]

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16
Apr

Pesticide Pollution in Recreational Lakes Documented

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2021) Recent research, published in Environmental Pollution in late 2020, examines levels and persistence of pesticide pollution in recreational lakes. The study finds: (1) concentrations of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid at levels exceeding ecotoxicity limits for aquatic invertebrates in a recreational lake that receives predominately urban runoff, and (2) that pesticide residues persist in the studied lakes throughout the growing season. Based on their findings, the scientists emphasized the importance of stricter regulation of insecticide compounds, and of better education about their impacts. Beyond Pesticides maintains that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for several reasons, not least of which is the extreme damage they cause to pollinators. The goal of the study was to evaluate potential ecosystem exposure to pesticide contamination in Midwestern recreational lakes, as well as the persistence of pesticide residues in those water bodies over the course of the growing season. Study authors hypothesized that watersheds with significant agricultural land uses would have higher concentrations of pesticides compared to largely urban and herbaceous watersheds. This research, out of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the University of Kentucky, looked to evaluate the occurrence of neonicotinoid and organothiophosphate insecticides, and some fungicides, in three lakes with differing […]

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14
Apr

Lawsuits Mount for Syngenta/ChemChina Over Claims Paraquat Herbicide Causing Parkinson’s Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2021) Litigation on the highly toxic herbicide paraquat may soon move into its next phase as lawyers representing victims recently requested cases be consolidated in the federal district court of Northern California. Over a dozen lawsuits have been filed against the Swiss-based agrichemical corporation Syngenta in several states throughout the U.S. The complaints allege that exposure to Syngenta herbicides containing paraquat resulted in their diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Paraquat dichloride (paraquat) is a highly toxic herbicide that has been registered for use in the United States since 1964. Although not permitted for residential use, the product is registered on a wide range of agricultural land, from row crops to vegetables and trees, and on non-farm areas, including airports, certain industrial sites and commercial buildings. It can be used as a preemergent, post-emergent, and post-harvest as a desiccant or harvest aid in the field. The lawsuits target both Syngenta and Chevron corporation, which previously held the rights to sell paraquat in the 1960s under an agreement with a company that was eventually purchased by Syngenta. Syngenta itself, while still headquartered in Switzerland, is now owned by the Chinese National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) after a 2016 merger. Despite […]

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13
Apr

“No Pollinator is Safe” — New Evidence of Neonicotinoids Harming Wild, Ground Nesting Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2021) A new study is making it increasingly clear that current laws are not protecting wild, ground nesting bees from the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides. According to research conducted under a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) projects, Blue Orchard Mason Bees (Osima spp) are at particular risk from pesticide-contaminated soil they use to create their nest. Authors of the study note that with honey bees already in decline, pollination services provided wild managed bees like Mason bees are growing in importance. “Wild bees such as Osmia are becoming increasingly popular as managed pollinators in many systems, as there is growing concern that honeybees may not be able to continue to meet the increasing demands of agricultural pollination if these trends continue,” the study reads. The study looked at three overarching threats to mason bee populations, aiming to identify risks from pesticide contaminated soil used as a nest, effects on larvae exposed to contaminated soil, and whether female mason bees could determine the difference between contaminated and uncontaminated soil. “Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid, which is a group of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees,” said Christine Fortuin, PhD, […]

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09
Apr

Chemical-Intensive Land Management Contributes to Toxic Lagoons Overflowing with Synthetic Fertilizer Waste

(Beyond Pesticides, April 9, 2021) In early April, the leaking, open-air, Piney Point storage pond near Tampa, Florida necessitated hundreds of resident evacuations over concerns that the “reservoir” would breach and flood a three-county area with what was described as a potential “20-foot wall of water.” Ultimately, controlled releases from the 480-million-gallon “pond” (into Tampa Bay) avoided such a flood, but the event underscores the “ticking bomb” nature of such open-air, toxic-liquid-waste facilities, which are used by multiple industries in the U.S. Among those are, as in this case, the phosphate mining sector, and the synthetic fertilizer industry. The latter is tied directly to the chemical-intensive agriculture crisis, and to the exact kind of waste storage facility at issue in the Florida event. This “double whammy” related to synthetic fertilizers further validates Beyond Pesticides’ advocacy for a global transition to organic land management — which rejects the use of synthetic fertilizers for the myriad harms they cause. As reported by The New York Times, that Florida storage pond contains “legacy processed water” — code for wastewater with traces of heavy metals and other toxicants — contained by walls of phosphogypsum tailings at least 70 feet high. Phosphygypsum tailings are the […]

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08
Apr

Invertebrates and Plants Face Increasing Threat from Pesticide Use, Despite Declining Chemical Use Patterns

Pesticide use threatens aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and plants more than ever, despite declining chemical use and implementation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the U.S., according to a University Koblenz-Landau, Germany study. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), many environmental agencies have banned the use of pesticides like organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects, particularly on vertebrates, including humans. However, this ban created a pathway for a new generation of pesticides (e.g., neonicotinoids, pyrethroids) to take hold. Although these pesticides are more target-specific, requiring lower chemical concentrations for effectiveness, they have over double the toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators.  Invertebrates and plants are vital for ecosystem function, offering various services, from decomposition to supporting the food web. Furthermore, invertebrates and plants can act as indicator species (bioindicators) that scientists can observe for the presence and impact of environmental changes and stressors. Therefore, reductions in invertebrate and plant life have implications for ecosystem health that can put human well-being at risk. Study lead author Ralf Schulz, PH.D., notes, “[This study] challenge[s] the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM [genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE)] crops and call for action to reduce the […]

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07
Apr

Toxic Pesticides Are Polluting Over Half of Arable Land, Reinforcing Need for Global Organic Transition

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2021) Toxic pesticides are putting more than half of the Earth’s farmland at risk of pesticide pollution that contaminates water, harms biodiversity, and ultimately undermines food security, according to research published in Nature Geosciences last month.  While there is firm understanding that environmental crises like climate change are affecting the entire globe, the impacts of pesticide pollution are often thought of as local, or regional issues. This study, led by researchers based at the University of Sydney, Australia, underscores the wide-ranging effects of modern civilization’s global dependence on toxic pesticide use. “Although protecting food production is essential for human development, reducing pesticide pollution is equivalently crucial to protect the biodiversity that maintains soil health and functions, contributing towards food security,” said lead study author Fiona Tang, PhD. To better understand pesticide risks at a global scale, scientists sectioned a world map into 10×10 kilometer (6.2×6.2 mile) squares that were assessed for their pesticide risk. The map also included data relating to water scarcity, biodiversity, and national income, to better determine trends and hot spots of concern. Scientists evaluated 92 different pesticide active ingredients and determined their risk within each square on the map based upon information […]

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06
Apr

Living Within 2.5 Miles of Chemical Farming Increases Risk of Childhood Brain Tumors

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2021) Pregnant women living within 2.5 miles of agricultural pesticide applications have an increased risk that their child will develop central nervous system (CNS) tumors, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research by a team at University of California, Los Angeles. The results are particularly concerning as it reveals that individuals do not have to be in close contact with pesticides for risky, health-harming exposures to occur. “This transition from farmland to residential neighborhoods is abrupt across California, and, of course, constantly changing as farmland is developed,” said study co-author Myles Cockburn, PhD. “The simplest way to mitigate these risks is by reductions in exposure to pesticides, through restrictions to aerial spraying and air blast that lead to increased drift, and by farming methods that decrease reliance on pesticides.” Researchers note that the present study is unique in that it was able to pinpoint the specific pesticides related to the development specific types of tumors. To make these determinations, scientists made use of California’s Cancer Registry records. Diagnosed children aged 0-5 were matched to maternal residences where pesticide applications were made within 4000 meters (~2.5 miles). Pesticide application records were obtained from data […]

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05
Apr

Ban Endocrine Disrupting Pesticides Now

(Beyond Pesticides, April 5, 2021) The failure of EPA to meet its statutory responsibility to protect people and wildlife from the dire consequences of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals must end. Over recent decades, evidence has mounted showing that many pesticides interfere with hormones—and are therefore endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In 1996, the promise of screening pesticides for endocrine disruption generated support from environmentalists and public health advocates for the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), which traded the absolute prohibition of carcinogens in food of the Delaney Clause for a risk assessment standard that is subject to manipulation and an underestimation of real-life hazards. And now, 25 years later, we have yet to see EPA use endocrine disruption findings in pesticide registration decisions. >>Tell EPA that pesticide use cannot continue without findings of no endocrine disruption. The endocrine system consists of a set of glands (thyroid, gonads, adrenal and pituitary) and the hormones they produce (thyroxine, estrogen, testosterone and adrenaline), which help guide the development, growth, reproduction, and behavior of animals, including humans. Hormones are signaling molecules, which travel through the bloodstream and elicit responses in other parts of the body. More than 50 pesticide active ingredients have been identified as […]

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02
Apr

Lawsuit Challenges EPA Allowance of Antibiotic Streptomycin in Citrus

(Beyond Pesticides, April 2, 2021) Having raised the alarm for many years (and most recently in November 2020) on the dangers of the burgeoning antibiotic resistance crisis, Beyond Pesticides has joined a coalition of public interest groups in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its approval of use of the medically important antibiotic streptomycin on citrus trees. Beyond Pesticides executive director Jay Feldman comments: “It is past time to take urgent action to transition away from practices in agriculture that are dependent on antibiotics, advance organic farm management, and avoid new deadly pandemics. This lawsuit is an important action to reverse the previous administration’s decision to ignore the science and allow expanded use of an antibiotic in agriculture.” According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the suit charges that EPA “failed to ensure that the approved uses of streptomycin as a pesticide would not cause unreasonable harm to human health or the environment and failed to adequately assess impacts to endangered species.” The coalition of plaintiffs includes Beyond Pesticides, NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, Farmworker Association of Florida, Farmworker Justice, Migrant Clinicians Network, and U.S. PIRG. The coalition is represented […]

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01
Apr

Pesticides Are More Widespread in Both Conventional and Organic Agricultural Soils than Previously Thought

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2021) A legacy of toxic pesticide use in agriculture is showing up as residues on organic farms, emphasizing the threat of a history of weak regulatory standards that has left farmland poisoned and the urgent need to transition to organic. A study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, documents the findings of pesticide residues on organic farmland and shows a decrease in residues after transition, with lingering effects for decades.  Some banned pesticides like organochlorines (e.g., DDT and chlordecone) are stable as research demonstrates these chemicals can bind to and linger in the dirt for years to decades. However, other current-use pesticides also pose a soil contamination risk due to drift, runoff, and leaching.  Widespread, increasing pesticide use in genetically engineered crops has implications for contamination of natural resources, including soils. Since pesticide residues can kill off beneficial soil life, impacting soil health and function, agricultural production may decline. Past studies examining pesticide residues rarely investigate residue’s presence in the soil where the chemical has never been used, like organic systems. Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to examine the effect potential pesticide contamination has on soil health, especially in organic where reliance on biological soil […]

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29
Mar

Suspension of Deadly Insecticide Use and Transition to Organic Needed to Save Hummingbirds

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2021) New data on the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides calls for urgent regulatory action. The same pesticides that are linked to the worldwide decline of insect pollinators also present significant risks to their avian counterparts, hummingbirds. Widely known for their nectar-fueled hovering flight powered by wings beating up to 80 times per second, hummingbirds display unique reactions to toxic pesticides. Research by scientists at the University of Toronto finds that hummingbirds exposed to systemic neonicotinoid insecticides for even a short period of time can disrupt the high-powered metabolism of this important and charismatic animal. Tell EPA and Congress to save the hummingbirds by suspending use of neonicotinoid insecticides and supporting the transition to organic practices. While hovering, a hummingbird consumes calories faster than any other bird or mammal. That’s why the finding that exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid slows metabolism up to 25% is so disturbing. Systemic pesticides like imidacloprid and other neonics are transported throughout the plant, including nectar. Findings on the danger neonicotinoids pose to hummingbirds decades after the chemicals were first permitted to be used in the environment, and by independent scientists, not regulatory agencies, is indicative of a regulatory approach that fails […]

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26
Mar

Court Rules Soil-less Hydroponics Allowed Under Organic Standards, Organic Farmers/Consumers Say No

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2021) Certified organic, soil-based growers were dealt a blow on March 22 when a U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled that soil-less hydroponic growing operations can continue to be eligible for USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) organic certification within the National Organic Program (NOP). According to the Center for Food Safety, the judge ruled that USDA’s exemption of hydroponics from the “soil fertility requirement mandatory for all soil-based crop producers was permissible because the Organic Foods Production Act did not specifically prohibit hydroponic operations.” The litigation was brought by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and eight organic producers, and asked that the court to prevent USDA from allowing hydroponically grown crops to be sold under the USDA certified organic label. Beyond Pesticides has advocated against allowing soil-less crop production to be certified as organic under the NOP because doing so “undermines the authenticity of organic farming, and creates unequal competition, market instability, and consumer distrust in organic certification.” The coalition of plaintiffs in the suit included some long-standing U.S. organic farms, such as Swanton Berry Farm, Full Belly Farm, Durst Organic Growers, Terra Firma Farm, Jacobs Farm del Cabo, and Long Wind Farm, in […]

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24
Mar

Kenyan Farmers Are Resorting to Hand Pollination After Pesticide Use Kills Off Local Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2021) The worst predictions of scientists and advocates are playing out in the fields of eastern Kenya, as chemical-intensive farming there threatens the future of food production. According to Radio France Internationale (RFI), Kenyan farmers have resorted to pollinating their crops by hand after pesticide use killed off most of the pollinators they rely on. “We are mostly affected by pesticides because they have killed most pollinators which pollinate our crops—this has affected our food production compared to previous years,” said Joseph Mbithi, a farmer in Mbakoni village, Makueni County, Kenya to RFI. Crop yields in the region have tapered off over the last two years, and farmers like Mr. Mbithi are pointing to pesticide use as the cause, citing past reliance on the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) and the organophosphate insecticide malathion. “Pollinators such as bees and butterflies are not around due to chemicals which we spray in our farms,” he told RFI.   As a result, farmers are using toothbrushes and sponges as a substitute for the buzzing work of local pollinators. And it’s more complicated than one may think. ‘’The flowers are different in shape and are different in sizes. The male one is […]

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