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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Alternatives/Organics' Category


27
Oct

Global Pollinator Declines Threaten Plant Biodiversity

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2021) Declines in pollinator populations throughout the world may result in the loss of tens of thousands of wild flowering plants that rely on their services, according to research published this month in the journal Science Advances. “Our paper provides the first global estimate of how many plant species mostly or completely rely on animal pollinators to make seeds and thus to reproduce,” wrote author James Rodger, PhD, in an article in The Conversation. “We found that it’s about 175,000 plant species – half of all flowering plants. This means declines in pollinators could cause major disruptions in natural ecosystems, including loss of biodiversity.” Pollinators are being threatened with multiple interacting stressors, from climate change, to pesticide use, disease, habitat destruction, and other factors. In the US, an increasing number of pollinators, including iconic species like the American bumblebee and monarch butterfly, are being added or in consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Systemic neonicotinoid insecticides implicated for their earth-spanning hazards to pollinator populations themselves put 89% or more of U.S. endangered species at risk. Many are aware of the fact that pollinators help make available one in three bites of food. Research studies […]

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26
Oct

Groups Tell EPA’s Pesticide Program It’s a Failure, Call for Immediate Reforms

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2021) The Office of Pesticides Programs within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has become so captured by industry that it has lost sight of its health and environmental mission, according to a scathing critique issued today by 37 environmental, public health, and sustainable agriculture groups, including beekeeper councils. Led by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and Beyond Pesticides, the groups are urging the Biden administration to adopt reforms within OPP to ensure pesticide approval and use decisions are science-based. EPA’s OPP has registered more than 18,000 separate pesticide products — far more than any other country — and more than 2 billion pounds of pesticides are sold annually in the U.S. They are used annually over roughly 250 million acres of farmland, across millions of acres of urban and suburban lands, and inside millions of homes, schools, and other buildings.  The coalition letter points to employee reports that managers within  OPP – Push through “Yes packages” of pesticide approvals greased by industry lobbying; Suppress toxicological and other concerns raised by professional staff; and Engage in outrageous waivers of vital toxicity study requirements, instead relying on “conditional” registrations to allow pesticide uses, despite missing key data. Seeing […]

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18
Oct

Stopping the Use of Toxic Pesticides in State Parks and Transition to Organic Land Management 

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2021) The most recent science on pesticides raises serious health and environmental effects associated with pesticide use for lawn and landscape management. While the data is often not assembled in one place, updated factsheets bring together the science on the 40 commonly used pesticides used for conventional landscape management. Governors have the authority to stop the use of these hazardous materials that are used on parks and playgrounds, either by executive order or through their work with their state legislature, and transition land management to organic practices. Tell your governor to stop hazardous pesticide use on state lands and transition to organic land management. The new factsheets document with scientific citations a wide range of diseases and ecological effects linked to pesticides. The underlying analysis supporting the adverse health and environmental effects identified in the factsheets are based on toxicity determinations in government reviews and university studies and databases. What do the factsheets disclose? Of the 40 most commonly used lawn and landscape pesticides, in reference to adverse health effects… 26 are possible and/or known carcinogens 24 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system 29 are linked to reproductive effects and sexual dysfunction 21 […]

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14
Oct

New Factsheets Alert Communities to Adverse Effects of Commonly Used Landscape Pesticides

Health and environmental effects disclosed on factsheets to guide community decisions on lawn and landscape management that do not poison people and contaminate the environment. WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 14, 2021) — Today, the national environmental and public health group Beyond Pesticides is releasing its health and environmental effects factsheets for “40 Commonly Used Lawn Pesticides,” updating and expanding on previous factsheets on 30 pesticides. These comprehensive factsheets documents with scientific citations a wide range of diseases and ecological effects linked to pesticides. The underlying analysis supporting the adverse health and environmental effects identified in the factsheets are based on toxicity determinations in government reviews and university studies and databases. What do the factsheets disclose? Of the 40 most commonly used lawn and landscape pesticides, in reference to adverse health effects, 26 are possible and/or known carcinogens, 24 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system, 29 are linked to reproductive effects and sexual dysfunction, 21 have been linked to birth defects, 24 are neurotoxic, 32 can cause kidney or liver damage, and 33 are sensitizers and/or irritants. Regarding adverse environmental effects, 21 are detected in groundwater, 24 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 39 are toxic to […]

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12
Oct

Stop Ag Secretary Vilsack from Undermining Climate Initiative to Transition Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2021) Tell President Biden and Congress that there is no room for agriculture policies that are not in line with the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review. USDA must remove all barriers to a national transition to organic agriculture. One of President Biden’s first actions, on the day of his inauguration, was the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review, requiring the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This mandate should reverse the trend of regulatory review, which has so far protected the status quo, rather than advancing urgently needed change. Why, then, do we see Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack opposing moves in the direction laid out by the Presidential directive? A recent Mother Jones article by Tom Philpott focuses on Mr. Vilsack’s opposition to the “Farm to Fork” initiative in the European Union, which aims to “push the continent’s agriculture in a healthier, more resilient direction, to reduce the use of toxic chemicals […]

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08
Oct

Ag Secretary Vilsack Pushes Petroleum Farming Inputs, Fights EU’s Climate-Friendly Organic “Food to Fork’ Initiative

(Beyond Pesticides, October 8, 2021) Taking a page from the playbook of Trump Administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the current secretary, Tom Vilsack, used a September G20 summit in Italy to target the European Union’s “Farm to Fork” (F2F) strategy, a part of its European Green Deal. Mr. Perdue had said that F2F is “more . . . ‘political science’ than demonstrated agricultural science”; Secretary Vilsack called it “a path very different from the one the U.S. is pursuing.” The F2F initiative aims to transition the EU to a sustainable food system such that it also achieves significant mitigation of climate change. But Mr. Vilsack chose to counter the F2F efforts by promoting an “alternative strategy” — under the moniker “Coalition for Productivity Growth” — through which “other nations pledge not to follow the European path on farm policy.” He has described this alternative, U.S.-led strategy as “a market-oriented, incentive-based, voluntary system [that] is effective” at slashing agricultural carbon emissions. Climate, pesticide, organics, and other environmental and health advocates, including Beyond Pesticides, are troubled by these actions. Mother Jones poses the central question in the headline of its September 30 article: Why is Secretary Vilsack So Afraid of a Plan to Cut […]

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06
Oct

Monoculture Agriculture Leads to Poor Soil Health

(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2021) Agricultural soils under monoculture cropping systems are not as healthy as soils with diverse plantings, finds research recently published in the journal Agrosystems, Geosciences and Environment. Soil and soil quality are declining rapidly in the United States and around the world, with recent data indicating that the U.S. Corn Belt has lost 35% of its topsoil. Advocates say it is critical that the response to this problem focus on practices that conserve and improve the soil health by building organic matter and healthy microbial populations. “Understanding the management practices that lead to healthier soils will allow farmers to grow the same crops while reducing costly chemical inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides) and protecting the environment,” said study coauthor Lori Phillips, PhD. To investigate disparities in soil health between cropping systems, researchers analyzed a long-term cropping system that includes 18 years of continuously grown soy, corn, and perennial grasses. Each cropping system was evaluated for its bacterial and fungal population, as well as a test called CNPS, which measures the enzymes produced by microbes specifically related to the soil’s carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur cycles. Researchers indicate that these measurements create “a holistic measure of biological activity,” […]

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04
Oct

Tell EPA and Congress to Protect the Integrity of Minimum Risk Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2021) Recent findings of high levels of toxic pesticides in products permitted to be used as “minimum risk pesticides” (terminology used for essentially nontoxic) point to the need for greater oversight of these products and more severe penalties for violations. Pesticides classified as minimum risk are allowed under Section 25(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) [40 CFR 152.25(f)] to be used without going through EPA’s pesticide registration process. These products are limited to a specific list of ingredients, and all ingredients, including “inert” ingredients, are required to be listed on the label.  Minimum risk pesticides are used by organic growers, municipalities, and others who are not permitted to use, or choose to avoid, toxic chemicals.  Tell EPA and Congress to protect the integrity of minimum risk pesticides. Organic growers can lose their organic certification if they apply materials that are prohibited, which include the toxic ingredients glyphosate, bifenthrin, permethrin, cypermethrin, and carbaryl, found by the state of California in dangerous and misbranded Eco-MIGHT and W.O.W. (Whack Out Weeds!) products, falsely labeled as 25(b) minimum risk. Contamination of these products came to light in late July, when the California Department of Food and […]

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29
Sep

Conventional Agriculture Decreases Diversity of Gut Bacteria in Foraging Bats

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2021) Bats foraging in chemical-intensive banana plantations have much less gut diversity than bats foraging in organic banana fields and natural forestland, finds research published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. Although there is increasing recognition that a diet of conventional, chemically grown food leads to adverse disruptions of the gut microbiome (also known as dysbiosis), little research has been conducted on the effect of production practices on the gut of wild foraging species. According to the present study there are significant differences that regulators must begin to account for in pesticide risk assessments, and consumers should consider when making choices at the supermarket. Researchers focused their investigation on Pallas’s long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina), a nectar feeding bat native to Central and South America. The bat is highly adapted to human environments, sustaining populations in both conventional and organic banana plantations, as well as surrounding forest land. For the study, researchers trapped nearly 200 bats across the country of Costa Rica over a 22-month time span. After trapping, physiological characteristics, like size and body weight, were measured, and bat guano was analyzed for its microbial population. All sampled bats were released back […]

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27
Sep

Last Chance to Protect Organic this Fall—Submit Comments by September 30!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2021) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through September 30. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on October 13-14 and online meeting October 19-21—in which the NOSB deliberates on issues concerning how organic food is produced. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. As always, there are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Fall. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong (KOS) and the Fall 2021 issues page. In the spirit of “continuous improvement,” we urge you to submit comments (please feel free to use our comments on the KOS page) that contribute to an increasingly improved organic production system. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requires that all synthetic materials used in organic production be approved by the NOSB, included on the National List, and reassessed every five years. Among the issues up for consideration at this meeting is a material that the National Organic Program (NOP) has taken off the NOSB’s sunset agenda for several years—sodium nitrate. There are also issues affecting organic integrity that need to be addressed—systemic fraud and plastic—as well as decisions about other materials that are described on the […]

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22
Sep

EPA Urged to Stop Use of Misbranded “Minimum Risk” Pesticides, Step Up Oversight and Enforcement

(Beyond Pesticides, September 22, 2021) Health and environmental organizations are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state pesticide regulators to immediately stop the use and sale of dangerous and misbranded Eco-MIGHT and W.O.W. (Whack Out Weeds!) products, falsely labeled as 25(b) minimum risk. Recent laboratory testing by the state of California found the presence of hazardous pesticides, including glyphosate, bifenthrin, permethrin, cypermethrin, and carbaryl in these products. “From organic farmers to municipal landscapers and home gardeners, consumers employing minimum risk products are working intentionally to avoid the dangers associated with toxic pesticide exposure,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “It is critical that EPA and state regulators coordinate to ensure the integrity of the minimum risk program.” Coordination is critical yet reports indicate that EPA is falling down on the job. The issue first came to light in late July, when the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) State Organic Program issued a Stop Use Notice to farmers alerting them to adultered Eco-MIGHT and W.O.W products. The products make a range of claims, marketed as “organic,” “natural,” “glyphosate-free,” and “non-toxic and safe.” As CDFA Secretary Karen Ross noted, “It is imperative that we alert California […]

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21
Sep

Study Finds Packaged Organic Foods Are Healthier than Conventional Products

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2021) Processed organic foods are healthier than their conventional, chemical-intensive counterparts in important ways, according to a new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Nutrients led by scientists at the Environmental Working Group. While a steady diet of whole, unprocessed foods is ideal, packaged foods are ubiquitous in U.S. supermarkets and often unavoidable. In addition to eliminating concerns over highly toxic pesticide use, according to this new research, choosing packaged organic is an effective means of evading highly processed ingredients associated with adverse health outcomes. Researchers began with a food product dataset including over 72,000 conventional and 8,000 organic packaged foods, representing 85% of all food products sold to U.S. consumers. These products and their ingredients were then classified into four groups corresponding with the amount of processing, with one being unprocessed or minimally processed and four being ultra-processed. A statistical analysis was then conducted on a range of product variables to differentiate various health concerns between organic and conventional products.   Results show that organic packaged foods present far fewer health concerns than conventional products. Processed organic products were likely to have lower amounts of salt, saturated fat, sugar and added sugar. According to the […]

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17
Sep

Retailers Fail to Protect Pollinators…Badly

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2021) Against the backdrop of what The New York Times in 2018 called the “insect apocalypse,” and the dire plight of pollinators in particular, Friends of the Earth (FOE) recently issued its retailer scorecard, which benchmarks “25 of the largest U.S. grocery stores on pesticides, organic offerings and pollinator health”— with the vast majority of retailers failing to protect pollinators. FOE reporting shows some, but far too slow and anemic, progress by corporate actors in enacting pollinator- and bee-friendly policies across both retail sites and supply chains. Such policies, to be genuinely effective and protective of pollinators (and human health), would eliminate or at least dramatically reduce the presence of pesticides in the food supply. The path out of the chemical pesticide quagmire is organic: companies must do more to move suppliers to organic, regenerative production practices, and EPA should be pulling these toxic compounds from the market. Tracking the pollinator policies and enforcement activities of various huge companies yields a useful barometer in monitoring the travel of pesticides to the consumer. Yet the results in the FOE scorecard — e.g., only two of those 25 retailers scored even in the “B” range, and 21 scored […]

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14
Sep

Stamford, CT Passes Organic Land Ordinance Restricting Toxic Pesticide and Fertilizer Use on Public Property

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2021) Last week, Stamford, CT became the latest U.S. City to pass an organic community ordinance, restricting toxic pesticide use on public spaces in favor of safer, natural land care practices. The ordinance, championed by Nina Sherwood of the Stamford Board of Representatives with strong support from Stamford Mayor David Martin, is an outgrowth of years of research and coordination within city government. Advocates note that strong support from both national, state, and local groups like Pollinator Pathway Stamford helped make the case at public hearings. “By garnering support for the public hearing, many Stamford Pollinator Pathway members, Stamford residents and organizations from around the country let their voices be heard,” said Melanie Hollas, co-chair of Pollinator Pathway Stamford and a Stamford Parks and Recreation Commissioner. “Today, I am proud to be a Stamford resident and want to thank everyone, including Beyond Pesticides, for all their hard work to make this goal achievable.” Ms. Hollas describes the ordinance as, “a comprehensive easy to use system to help employees shift from long-term usage patterns of chemicals to products, and more importantly practices, that create a healthy ecosystem along with beautiful landscaping and usable sports fields.” The ordinance […]

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07
Sep

Save Organic Dairy, Family Farms and Consumer Support for Organic!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 7, 2021) If regulations concerning “origin of organic livestock” and “access to pasture” seem beyond your comprehension as an organic consumer, think again. Lacking enforcement of strong regulations on these topics, organic dairy is in imminent danger. Multinational food conglomerate Danone, owner of Horizon Organic, has just sent notice to 89 organic milk producers in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and at least three counties (Clinton, Franklin and Saint Lawrence) in New York that it is cancelling their contracts. While this action is devastating to the affected farms and the economies of those states, it has much broader implications. Why is Danone cancelling contracts as organic milk production in the Northeast is increasing? In Danone’s words, the company “will be supporting new partners that better align with our manufacturing footprint.” Ed Maltby, executive director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers, explains this “footprint,” with reference to low cost, ultra-pasteurized milk that is easily transported and warehoused, which has become a staple on the organic shelf. More importantly for the future of organic dairy is the expectation that USDA will promulgate a weak regulation on origin of livestock—that “will allow the massive loophole of being able to sell or […]

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03
Sep

Danone (Horizon Organic) Threatens the Backbone of Organic Dairy—Family Farms and Their Consumer Supporters

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2021) Groupe Danone, multinational corporate owner of Horizon Organic, has announced that it is terminating its contracts with 89 small-to-medium-sized organic dairy producers in the Northeast as of August 2022. At that point, all of Horizon’s contracted organic dairy farms in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and northern New York may well have no buyers for their milk and will likely face a very uncertain future. In July 2021, Beyond Pesticides covered a major contributor to this development — the failure of the NOP (National Organic Program) to protect the integrity of organic dairy, which failure has advantaged large producers over smaller operations (see more on this below). This development in a region with historically strong demand for organic dairy products is of concern on several fronts, not the least of which is the fate of these small producers. A letter with the news was sent by Danone to 28 Vermont producers, 14 in Maine, 2 in New Hampshire, and 45 in New York State’s three northernmost counties. The company plans, instead, to source milk primarily from larger producers, including “organic” concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) — in Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Midwest, and some Western states — that […]

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31
Aug

Study Underscores Chemical-Intensive Farming Hazards and Need to Shift to Regenerative Organic Models

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31 2021) To ensure long-term ecological, human health, and socioeconomic benefits, food production, distribution and consumption must transition from conventional to regenerative, organic food value chains, as outlined in research published in the journal Productions and Operations Management. “We are paying a high price for a lack of transparency in our food supply and realize that taking shortcuts, or efficiencies, is not sustainable,” said Aleda Roth, PhD, study coauthor and professor in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business at Clemson University. “We need to look at multiple performance outcomes, and in doing so, it will become evident that a regenerative, socially responsible approach to agriculture is imperative to a sustainable food supply, but it also extends across other business sectors.” This research is the latest to underscore the importance of revamping the U.S. food system towards a focus on organic practices that account for externalities and provide multiple add-on benefits for society at large.   To make the case, Dr. Roth and her co-author Yanchong Zheng, PhD, an associate professor in the Sloan School of Management at MIT, define and contrast conventional and regenerative, organic food value chains, with an eye toward “quadruple aim […]

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27
Aug

Maui Prohibits Toxic Pesticides and Fertilizers on County Land, Allows Only Organic-Compatible Materials

(Beyond Pesticides, August 27, 2021) On August 24, as reported by The Maui News, the Maui (Hawai’i) County Council approved legislation that will stop use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers in county land management practices, allowing only those materials permitted under federal organic law. The approach set out in the bill is the creation of a comprehensive list of such materials that will be either allowed or prohibited for use, as the legislation indicates, on “any County highway, drainageway, sidewalk, right-of-way, park, building, community center, or other facility.” This decision comes on the heels of years of grassroots work and advocacy, including that of Beyond Pesticides Director of Hawai’i Organic Land Management Program Autumn Ness. The legislation (CR 21-56), which passed with a vote of 8–0 (with one member excused), will regulate pesticide and fertilizer use on county properties broadly, but will not affect property managed by the state or private owners, county agricultural parks, or county property used for agricultural purposes. The new ordinance will take effect for most county parcels one year from the August 24 approval date; the effective date for Maui’s War Memorial Stadium Complex and Ichiro “Iron” Maehara Baseball Stadium is two years from approval, and for the […]

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25
Aug

Slugs and Snails Controlled with Bread Dough, Really

(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2021) Scientists at Oregon State University have found a highly effective bait for slugs and snails: bread dough. Although not quite as exciting as the slug-liquefying nematodes the OSU research team published data on last year, bread dough has the potential to revamp mollusk management, particularly in developing countries where resources are limited. “Bread dough is a nontoxic, generic, and effective tool that could be used in the detection and management of gastropods worldwide,” said study lead author Rory Mc Donnell, PhD. “It represents a tool to aid in managing pest gastropod infestations, either using baited traps or in attract-and-kill approaches. It could also be incorporated into existing baits to improve their attractiveness.” Critically, bread dough was found to be a more effective bait than commercial attractants like the product Deadline® M-Ps™, which contains the hazardous compound metaldehyde. To test effectiveness, researchers began by making the bread dough using a combination of flour, water and yeast. In a lab setting, slugs were starved for 24 hrs, and then given the option of either bread dough or water (water was used as a control to test if the slugs were simply attracted to humidity). Researchers determined through […]

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24
Aug

Socioeconomic and Environmental Benefits in Organic Farming Exceed Chemical Practices

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2021) Organic agriculture provides multiple ecosystem functions and services at greater economic benefit to farmers than conventional, chemical-intensive cropping systems, according to research recently published in the journal Science Advances. The study, conducted by a team of scientists based in Switzerland, goes beyond farming evaluations based solely on ecosystem services to include socioeconomic elements. “We did this because agroecosystems also have a socioeconomic dimension for producers and policy makers,” the authors note. While it is unsurprising based on prior research that organic practices provide greater environmental and economic benefits, the study lays bare the true cost of policies that myopically focus on yield while ignoring other factors. Researchers conducted their study using data derived from a long-running Farming System and Tillage Experiment (FAST) based in Switzerland. FAST tracked four types of cropping systems: conventional intensive tillage, conventional no tillage, organic intensive tillage, and organic reduced tillage. Cropping systems were evaluated based on four broad categories, including provisioning (ie food production), regulating (ie water, air, and soil management), and supporting (ie biodiversity and soil health) ecosystem services, as well as socioeconomic well-being. These categories were subsequently broken down into nine assessments: soil health preservation, erosion control, biodiversity […]

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23
Aug

Tell EPA Misleading Biopesticide Classification Must Be Redefined

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2021) “Biopesticides”—widely regarded as an alternative to chemical pesticides and hence given a special status in regulation—need a better definition. “Biopesticide” is generally poorly understood, and defined differently by various entities and stakeholders. The term can be misleading and mixes contradictory approaches. It is troublesome when we continue to look for product replacements or substitutions for agricultural practices that are clearly ineffective, and in the process avoid the changes necessary to transition to organic practices, which represent the real, long-term solution to concerns among chemical-intensive farmers that they are losing pesticides in their arsenal, either to organism resistance or regulatory restrictions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses the following definition for “biopesticides”: Substances that interfere with mating, such as insect sex pheromones, as well as various scented plant extracts that attract insect pests to traps (and synthetic analogs of such biochemicals); Microbial pesticides consisting of a microorganism (e.g., a bacterium, fungus, virus or protozoan) as the active ingredient; Plant-Incorporated-Protectants (PIPs), pesticidal substances that plants are genetically engineered to produce. Tell EPA it’s time to redefine “biopesticide.” It is deceptive and misleading. The definition should not include genetically modified organisms or synthetic analogs of naturally occurring […]

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19
Aug

Commentary: Are Children, Agricultural Workers, and the Food Supply Safe with EPA’s Chlorpyrifos Decision?

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2021) Does a science-based, public health-oriented, occupational safety focused, children-concerned, ecologically protective society allow the use of toxic pesticides that are unnecessary to achieve land management, quality of life, and food productivity goals? Should victims of poisoning have to plead with regulators to protect them? Should organizations have to fight chemical-by-chemical to achieve basic levels of protection from individual neurotoxic, cancer causing, endocrine disrupting pesticides? Of course not. But, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that it is stopping food uses of the insecticide chlorpyrifos after being registered 65 years ago provides us with an important opportunity for reflection, not just celebration. The collective effort to remove this one chemical is a tremendous feat in eliminating one exposure to a hazardous material for children. That is the point. The action we’re celebrating required an amazingly resource-intensive effort at a time in history when we are running against the clock in an urgent race to transition our society and global community away from the use of petroleum-based, toxic pesticides—to move to meaningful practices that sustain, nurture, and regenerate life. In this context, let’s put chlorpyrifos in perspective. EPA was forced into its decision by a court […]

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05
Aug

Debilitating Ear Blisters Plague Long Island Turtle Populations from Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2021) A recent report by Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons finds Long Island, New York turtles are experiencing higher rates of deadly aural abscesses or ear blisters from pesticide use. Previous research documents the role chemical exposure from environmental toxicants play in inner ear abscess formation among turtles. However, synergism (collaboration) between viral infection and toxic chemical exposure increases aural abscess instances. Considering these infections are taking a toll on the Long Island turtle population, government and wildlife officials must assess how chemical exposure promotes disease development to safeguard human, animal, and environmental health. Karen Testa, executive director of Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons, cautions, “I’m urging Long Islanders to think about how these pesticides are negatively impacting the natural world. Is your perfect green lawn worth the life of a turtle?” Aural abscesses are painful ear blisters that can grow as big as a golf ball. Medical intervention is necessary to remove abscesses from turtles and treat them with an antibiotic regimen to prevent death. Turtle Rescue facility workers report a staggering 50 percent of turtles currently within their care to have aural abscesses. The percentage of turtles with this diagnosis is much higher than in past years. […]

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