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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Alternatives/Organics' Category


07
Jun

Tell Home Depot and Lowe’s to Promote Herbicide Alternatives; Organic Is Focus of June 8 Forum

(Beyond Pesticides, June 7, 2021) Beyond Pesticides and Friends of the Earth (FOE) collaborated to analyze herbicide products at two of the most popular home and garden retailers, Home Depot and Lowe’s. This new Commercial Herbicide Analysis highlights the adverse health and environmental effects of widely available toxic pesticides while encouraging retailers to expand on—and consumers to use—safer, least/nontoxic pesticide approaches. Tell Home Depot and Lowe’s to remove toxic herbicides from their shelves and replace them with products that promote least-toxic practices. According to Akayla Bracey, Beyond Pesticides’ science and regulatory manager and lead researcher on the review, “People generally aren’t aware that the pesticides widely available in garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are a threat to health and the environment, and that there are safer approaches that are available and used in organic land management.”  When it comes to weeds, gardeners need good tools that enable them to control them with minimal effort and damage to their plants. Although gardeners differ in their preference for style of garden hoe, all must be sharp to operate efficiently, so files for sharpening should be located near the hoes, and customer service representatives should be prepared to demonstrate their use.  […]

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26
May

Coffee Leaf Rust Hits Hawai’i, Emergency Fungicide Approved, Hyperparasite Biocontrol Possible

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2021) Coffee leaf rust, caused by a fungus that can devastate fields of coffee plants, and the coffee industry of entire countries, was recently detected on the Hawaiian Islands for the first time. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted quickly to approve the emergency use of a synthetic fungicide, but new research conducted in the fungus’ home range shows the promise of a hyperparasite biocontrol. Caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix, coffee leaf rust was first documented in its home range of Africa in the 1860s. By the later part of that decade, it had spread to Sri Lanka, and destroyed the country’s monoculture coffee plantations, which were subsequently replaced with tea cultivation. The disease has now been found in every coffee producing country, but up until late last year, it had never been seen on the Hawaiian Islands. Thus, Hawaiian coffee farmers are rightly concerned about the disease. In response, EPA permitted the use of a product called Priaxor Xemium, a fungicide consisting of the active ingredients fluxapyroxad and pyraclostrobin, which has been linked to birth and developmental effects, and presents significant hazards to birds and aquatic organisms. “Hawai’i coffee growers now have an […]

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24
May

Take Action: Ensure Regenerative Agriculture Incorporates Organic Standards in Order to Fight Climate Change

(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2021) Agriculture is a major contributor to climate change. In a recent article in Science, Clark et al. show that even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately, emissions from the global food system alone would make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5°C and difficult even to realize the 2°C target. According to the International Panel of Climate Change, agriculture and forestry account for as much as 25% of human-induced GHG emissions. The contribution of animal agriculture has been estimated at 14.5% to 87% or more of total GHG emissions. These estimates include emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ammonia. The carbon dioxide contribution largely comes from converting land from natural forest to pasture or cropland. Tell EPA and USDA that “regenerative” agriculture must be organic. “Regenerative” agriculture is widely considered to be a solution for reducing or even reversing these impacts. Unfortunately, a movement by promoters of chemical-intensive agriculture has fooled some environmentalists into supporting toxic “regenerative” agriculture. The so-called “regenerative agriculture” promoted by these groups ignores the direct climate impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the damage to soil health caused by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and the fact that pesticide and fertilizer […]

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21
May

A Toxic-Free Future. Scientific Understanding. Systemic Change. Organic Transition. Collective Action.

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2021) Do those ideas scratch your curiosity, science, policy, agriculture, and/or activist itch? Great — because the 2021 Annual National Pesticide Forum, Cultivating Healthy Communities: Confronting Health Threats, Climate Disasters, and Biodiversity Collapse with a Toxic-Free Future — begins very soon, so it is time to register! Cultivating Healthy Communities is a singular opportunity to learn from top experts and connect with kindred people from all over the U.S. (as well as with some international participants). During plenary sessions, presenters will share their understandings and ideas about the problems we face, and about urgently needed strategies and solutions to solve them. The workshop sessions will be interactive, providing attendees the chance to interact with one another and presenting experts. This annual National Pesticide Forum conference is convened, in 2021, by Beyond Pesticides and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai’s Institute for Exposomic Research. (“Exposomic” references the multitude of environmental factors to which an individual is exposed, and which can have effects on health.) If you are groaning or rolling your eyes at the thought of yet another conference, know that Cultivating Healthy Communities is not one of those events (think old school, boring, and expensive, […]

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20
May

New Commercial Pesticide Toxicity Analysis Highlights Need to Shift to Organic Products

(Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2021) Beyond Pesticides and Friends of the Earth (FOE) collaborated to analyze herbicide products at two of the most popular home and garden retailers, Home Depot and Lowe’s. This new Commercial Herbicide Analysis highlights the adverse health and environmental effects of widely available toxic pesticides while encouraging retailers to expand on—and consumers to use—safer, least/non-toxic pesticide products. According to Akayla Bracey, Beyond Pesticides’ science and regulatory manager and lead researcher on the review, said, “People generally aren’t aware that the pesticides widely available in garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are a threat to health and the environment, and that there are safer products that are available and used in organic land management.” “Many herbicides that are widely available at home and garden stores are associated with a range of toxic impacts on human health and the environment, including harm to bees and other pollinators. To meet growing consumer demand for safer and more environmentally friendly products, home and garden stores must commit to phase out the most toxic products from their shelves and to increase the number of organic and safer alternatives that they offer,” says FOE senior staff scientist Kendra Klein, Ph.D. Friends […]

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18
May

Conventional Meats Contaminated with Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria, at Significantly Higher Rates than Organic Meats

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2021) Organic meat is far less likely to be adulterated with multi-drug resistant bacteria (MDRB) than conventional meat, according a study published earlier this month in Environmental Health Perspectives. The research by experts at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is the latest news on the health and safety benefits of choosing organic, which prohibits the regular use of risky antibiotics, for one’s food purchases. Scientists indicate that contaminated foods pose serious dangers for consumers, public health, and the economy at large. “The presence of pathogenic bacteria is worrisome in and of itself, considering the possible increased risk of contracting foodborne illness,” senior author Meghan Davis, PhD, associate professor at the Bloomberg School said. “If infections turn out to be multidrug resistant, they can be more deadly and more costly to treat.” To determine the level of contamination in various packaged meats, scientists turned to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), a collaborative program between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For a five year period spanning 2012-2017, NARMS collected meat products (chicken breast, ground beef, ground turkey, and […]

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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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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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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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23
Apr

New York City Council Passes Landmark Law Eliminating the Use of Toxic Pesticides in City Parks and Playgrounds, Stipulates List of Allowed Materials

It all started with New York City public school teacher Paula Rogovin and her kindergarten class. They went down to city call, wrote letters, shared artwork, and got the attention of Council Member Ben Kallos, who sponsored reform legislation. (Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2021) Yesterday, on Earth Day, the New York City Council passed landmark legislation to eliminate the use of toxic pesticides in parks and playgrounds. This new law eliminates the use of toxic pesticides, like glyphosate/Roundup, codifying a ban on pesticides with an allowance for only those permitted under federal organic standards. A few hours before passage of the bill, Intro. 1524 (see detailed factsheet below), the measure’s sponsor, Council Member Ben Kallos, and the Speaker of the Council, Corey Johnson,  were joined at a press conference by: Bertha Lewis, president of the Black Institute; those who began the movement for the legislation, retired teacher Paula Rogovin and some of her fomer students from Public School (PS) 290 in Manhattan; Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides; and, Patti and Doug  Wood, executive director and program director, respectively, of Grassroots Environmental Education. “Parks should be for playing not pesticides,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “All families should be […]

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18
Apr

Take Action This Week for Earth Day – Local Action Makes A Difference

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2021) In celebration of Earth Day and its fourth annual Ladybug Love campaign throughout the month of April, Natural Grocers is supporting Beyond Pesticides. The campaign celebrates insects that play a crucial role in food supply stability, and regenerative farming practices that use ladybugs and other beneficial insects instead of harmful synthetic pesticides to control pests. Natural Grocers will donate $1 to Beyond Pesticides for each person who pledges (including renewals) “not use chemicals that harm ladybugs and other beneficial insects on their lawn or garden, and to support 100% organic produce.”  >>1. Sign the Ladybug Pledge and support Beyond Pesticides.  You do not have to be a Natural Grocers shopper to sign this nationwide pledge. For shoppers at any of Natural Grocers’ 161 stores—all in 20 states west of the Mississippi—you can donate to Beyond Pesticides at checkout. Thank you! Ladybug Love also features in-store promotions. >>2. Advertise your commitment with a Beyond Pesticides “Pesticide Free Zone” sign. Natural Grocers’ fundraising efforts have supported Beyond Pesticides and local leaders in converting the following parks and recreational areas to convert exclusively to organic practices and to eliminate the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers: Roosevelt Park in […]

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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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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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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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22
Mar

Keep Antibiotics Out of Organic—Keep Organic Strong on Range of Issues; Comment by April 5

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2021) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through April 5. This precedes the upcoming public hearing on April 20 and 22—concerning how organic food is produced. Also, by April 5, sign up to speak (3 minutes) at the virtual NOSB hearing. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. As always, there are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Spring. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong and the Spring 2021 issues page. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is considering a petition to allow the antibiotic kasugamycin to be used in organic apple and pear production. Earlier NOSB members struggled long and hard to erase the stigma of antibiotic use in organic fruit production—something that was left over from the transition of so many chemical-intensive fruit orchards after the Alar “scare” in which apple and apple products were contaminated with the cancer-causing plant growth regulator daminozide. Do we now want to step on that treadmill again? The reasons for rejecting the kasugamycin petition are the same as the reasons for eliminating the antibiotics streptomycin and tetracycline in crop production. Now that we have learned what a pandemic […]

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15
Mar

Dangerous Levels of Heavy Metals in Baby Food; USDA and FDA Must Act!

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2021) A staff report produced for the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy of the Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives has documented substantial levels of the heavy metals arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in infant foods. The researchers examined organic as well as nonorganic brands, finding contamination of both. They found that heavy metals were present in both crop-based ingredients and additives. However, many unknowns remain regarding the precise origin of the metals. Tell FDA and USDA to get heavy metals out of baby food! Two U.S. Senators (Amy Klobuchar, D-MN and Tammy Duckworth, D-IL) and two U.S. Representatives (Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-IL and Tony Cardenas, D-CA) have drafted legislation to strengthen regulations for infant food safety, but meanwhile want the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use existing authority to take immediate action. The National Organic Program should also take action to ensure that parents can depend on organic baby food to be the best possible. Heavy metals can have serious health impacts, especially on young children. As stated in the report, Children’s exposure to toxic heavy metals causes permanent decreases in IQ, diminished future economic productivity, and increased risk […]

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11
Mar

Ecosystem Health: Pesticide Use from Forest Management Practices Threatens Essential West Coast Marine Organisms

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2021) A Portland State University (PSU) study finds that pesticides from the forestry industry threaten clams, mussels, oysters (bivalves) along the Oregon state coast. Bivalves are excellent indicator species, signaling environmental contamination through their sedimentary, filter-feeding diet. However, continuous pesticide inputs—from various forestry management regimes—into watersheds along Oregon’s coastal zone endanger these species in downstream rivers and estuaries (river mouths). Although research demonstrates many forestry practices (e.g.., road building, planting, clearcutting, thinning) have cumulative effects on the ecosystem, there is a lack of studies addressing the overall impact of multiple chemical mixtures and application on watersheds and subsequent aquatic transport. Like agriculture, conventional forest management across the U.S. depends on the use of toxic pesticides to control pest populations. However, pesticide residues from application drift, runoff, and contamination continuously jeopardize the health and fitness of various non-target species, including humans. Marine ecosystem pollution is difficult to track and measure, and forestry pesticide regulations can invoke variations in water quality requirements through discrepancies in buffer zones and application concentrations. Therefore, studies like this can help guide future forest management practices to reduce the number of chemicals entering aquatic ecosystems. Researchers in the study note, “These findings highlight the need to […]

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04
Mar

Implications for Human Health: Glyphosate-Related Soil Erosion Re-Releases Toxic Pesticides from Soil

(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2021) A new study finds glyphosate use stimulates soil erosion responsible for releasing banned, toxic pesticide chlordecone (Kepone), which was used in banana production. For years, an unknown pollution source continuously contaminated water surrounding islands in the French West Indies (Martinique and Guadeloupe). However, researchers from the University of Savoie Mont Blanc in France have found that chlordecone—extensively used on banana farms from 1972 to 1993—is the contamination culprit. Glyphosate is the most popular herbicide in the world, thus ubiquitous in the environment. Therefore, it is vital to understand the implication glyphosate use has on soil health and the potential re-release of soil-bound, toxic contaminants into the surrounding environment to safeguard human health. Researchers note, “[Chlordecone] fluxes drastically increased when glyphosate use began, leading to widespread ecosystem contamination. As glyphosate is used globally, ecotoxicological risk management strategies should consider how its application affects persistent pesticide storage in soils, transfer dynamics, and widespread contamination.” Conventional pesticide use contaminates soil and their respective Critical Zone (CZ) compartments. These CZ compartments interact between the four main spheres (i.e., hydrosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere) of the Earth to support life. Recent decades demonstrate an increase in soil erosion due to sediment changes […]

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01
Mar

Support National Reckoning to Bridge Racial Divides with Meaningful Action

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2021) The greatest impediment to entering organic farming is access to land. Since organic farming requires a long-term commitment to avoiding prohibited substances, building soil, and conserving biodiversity, it is difficult to manage on rented land or land farmed on “shares.” Black, Indigenous, and other people of color are especially disadvantaged because of institutionalized racism embodied in U.S. policies, which has either prevented access or has undermined land ownership. With deep reflection into the injustice associated with past policies, from pioneers to slaveholders, members of Congress are elevating the national discussion of policy changes and reparations to address a past of racial injustice. This discussion has taken on greater general public understanding since the killing of George Floyd, as there is more national awareness of systemic racial injustice and the deep adverse impact that it has on all aspects of life. One of those institutional effects to Indigenous, Black, and other people of color is the taking away or denying access to land ownership. Tell your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative to support for increased equity for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in farming. Holistic systemic change is needed to restore relationships between members of […]

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26
Feb

Current and Projected Patterns of Global Pesticide and Fertilizer Use Are Not Sustainable, Says UN. . .Again

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2021) The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the environment arm of the highest-profile international organization (the UN), has issued a draft report whose top finding is this: “The global goal to minimize adverse impacts of chemicals and waste by 2020 has not been achieved for pesticides and fertilizers.” Increased use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers — driven by rising demand for food, feed, fiber, fuel, and feedstock crops — is cited as causal, at least in part. Those factors no doubt contributed to the failure, but Beyond Pesticides asserts that such increased uses are symptomatic of the larger issue: in the U.S. and globally, chemical agriculture is a dangerous dead-end for public and environmental health. According to Beyond Pesticides: With this dominant system in place, “reductions” in use and impact are laudable but wholly insufficient. The whole system of petrochemical farming needs to be transitioned to organic, regenerative practices in agriculture, and in all land management. Such systems do not cause health and environmental harms, but are beneficent, viable, and profitable. The report warns that, going forward, “Business-as-usual is not an option.” The UNEP draft report was produced just ahead of the fifth session of the UN Environment […]

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22
Feb

Help Get Congress to Support National Biodiversity Strategy Legislation

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2021) Congressional Rep. Joe Neguse, Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife Rep. Jared Huffman have reintroduced their resolution (H.Res. 69: Expressing the need for the Federal Government to establish a national biodiversity strategy for protecting biodiversity for current and future) to create a national biodiversity strategy. Everywhere we turn, we see signs of ecological collapse—wildfires, the insect apocalypse, crashing populations of marine organisms, more and more species at risk, rising global temperatures, unusual weather patterns, horrific storms, and pandemics. Never was a holistic strategy on biodiversity more urgent. Tell your U.S. Representative to cosponsor Rep. Neguse’s National Biodiversity Strategy Resolution, H.Res. 69. The resolution calls for a natio. 69.nal commitment to addressing the biodiversity crisis by establishing a strategy to be developed through an interagency process announced by the president in an Executive Order. The strategy process will encourage agencies to identify and pursue a full range of actions within existing laws and policies and encourage consideration of new ones. It would also promote accountability and progress in addressing the biodiversity crisis through a new quadrennial assessment. “The decline of biodiversity presents a direct threat to the security, […]

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19
Feb

Herbicide Use in “Regenerative” No-Till Contaminates Waterbodies

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2021) Governments and policy makers are feeling a lot of pressure to mount effective responses to the climate crisis and to extraordinary levels of pollution in our environment. Tackling any one problem without precautionary attention to potential consequences of a solution — before it is enacted — is the opposite of the holistic understandings and strategies needed to solve environmental crises. Piecemeal approaches often generate unintended consequences. To wit: Vermont Public Radio (VPR) reports on revelations from a retired state scientist, Nat Shambaugh, who finds that farmers’ efforts to reduce agricultural runoff from fields into waterbodies, by planting cover crops, has resulted in significant increases in the use of herbicides to kill off those crops. So as one kind of pollution is reduced, another has become intensified. In Vermont and elsewhere, there has been much attention paid to nutrient pollution of waterbodies and waterways from agricultural runoff, largely because phosphorous and nitrates from fertilizers lead to contaminated drinking water, as well as to blooms of algae (some of which have their own toxic byproducts) and hypoxic dead zones in water bodies. The most notorious of these dead zones in North America are at the mouth of […]

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