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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Alternatives/Organics' Category


09
Jul

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

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

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30
Jun

Implications for Human Health: Pesticides and Other Environmental Contaminants Alter Gut Microbiome

(Beyond Pesticides, June 30, 2020) A review of scientific literature on the toxic effect of environmental contaminants—including pesticides—published in the journal Toxicological Science, “The Impact of Environmental Chemicals on the Gut Microbiome,” associates these chemicals to changes in the gut microbiome and other adverse health implications. The review, by researchers at the University of Illinois, looks at how environmental contaminants adversely effects and reinforce chemical disruption of the gut microbiome. It highlights the importance of evaluating how environmental contaminants, like pesticides, impact body regulation by gut microbiota. The study has significant implications for considerations that should be, but are not currently, a part of pesticide review and registration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Gut microbiota plays a crucial role in lifelong digestion, immune, and central nervous system regulation, as wells as other bodily functions. Through the gut biome, pesticide exposure can enhance or exacerbate, the adverse effects of additional environmental toxicants on the body. Since the gut microbiome shapes metabolism, it can mediate some toxic effects of environmental chemicals. However, with prolonged exposure to various environmental contaminants, critical chemical-induced changes may occur in the gut microbes, influencing adverse health outcomes. Karen Chiu, Ph.D., a graduate research fellow at the […]

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18
Jun

Household Pesticide Exposure Associated with the Risk of Developing Depression Symptoms

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2020) Residential exposure to household pesticide products increases the risk of developing symptoms associated with depression, according to a study published in Environmental Research by researchers at Medical College of Georgia—Augusta University, School of Medicine—Jinan University, and Guangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), China. Research on pesticide-induced diseases commonly investigates pesticide exposure concerning the development of various physical illnesses, and previous studies show there are occupational risks of developing depression, especially in agriculture where pesticide use is rampant. However, there is a lack of information connecting pesticide exposure to the subsequent psychological (psychiatric) effects on the general population. Additionally, household pesticide exposure varies from occupational exposure via exposure frequency, duration, intensity, and type. This research highlights the significance of researching potential mental health effects resulting from pesticide exposure, especially as society tends to rank mental health risks second to physical health. The study’s scientists note, “Our results highlight the importance of the cautious use of household pesticides because the chronic effects of poisoning may contribute to an elevated risk of depression.”  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects 322 million people globally, with the number of diagnosed patients increasing by 18.4% from 2005 to 2015. Although the etiology of depression—and […]

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02
Jun

Take Action: Tell the National Organic Program that Inaction on “Inert” Ingredients Is Unacceptable

(Beyond Pesticides, June 2, 2020) During the April meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), there was near-unanimous sentiment expressed by NOSB members and stakeholders that the failure of the National Organic Program at USDA to act on NOSB recommendations regarding so-called “inert” ingredients hurts organic producers and consumers and the environment. The NOSB has only one alternative left to force USDA action—denying relisting at the Fall meeting. Tell the National Organic Program and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to initiate action to begin NOSB review of “inerts” now. Dr. Asa Bradman, who summarized the issue for the NOSB at the Spring 2020 meeting, is an expert in environmental health, and as part of his day job, leads studies focusing on pesticides, flame retardants, metals, emerging pollutants, VOCs, indoor air quality and other contaminants. As he said at the meeting, “These are often active ingredients.” In fact, the ingredients not listed on a label of a pesticide product—which are not fully reviewed for their adverse effects—may be the most toxic chemicals in the formulation. Recent research, Toxicity of formulants and heavy metals in glyphosate-based herbicides and other pesticides (Toxicology Reports 5, 2018), by Defarge, de VendĂ´mois, and SĂŠralini demonstrates the need to […]

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26
May

EU Proposes 2030 Goal to Reduce Pesticide Use by 50% and Increase Arable Land in Organic Production by At Least 17%

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2020) Across the pond, the European Commission (EC) has announced plans to protect biodiversity and build a more sustainable food system, and identified the reduction of pesticide use  and the expansion of organic agriculture as pillars of the scheme. The EC expects that the initiative, which will require EU member states’ endorsement, will advance progress on the EU goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, given that 10% of emissions arise from the agricultural sector. The EC’s goals are important and laudable, but Beyond Pesticides is clear: reduction of pesticide use in service of them is not an adequate strategy to ensure long-term success. Genuine success requires the elimination of the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and other toxic inputs, and the transition to agricultural and land management systems that work with nature, rather than fight against it. Regenerative, organic practices are the path to a livable future, according to Beyond Pesticides. The EC, which is the executive branch of the EU, expects its plan to reduce use of pesticides by 50% by 2030; reduce use of antimicrobial chemicals, including antibiotics, in fish and animal farming by 50%; dedicate a minimum of 25% of arable […]

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22
May

Take Action: Tell USDA to Crack Down on “Organic” Livestock Factories

(Beyond Pesticides, May 22, 2020) For years, USDA has been looking the other way as giant corporate agribusinesses, primarily producing conventional eggs and poultry, have squeezed family-scale farmers out of the market and misled and defrauded consumers. Due to a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration on the scuttling of new rules that would make it harder for factory farms to qualify for organic status, USDA is seeking input on what was previously an error-filled and biased economic assessment of the rulemaking. Please sign the letter by noon on Tuesday, May 26, to include your voice in our response to the official proceedings. If you would prefer to write your own custom comment you can submit it on Regulations.gov. Letter to National Organic Program (Jenny Tucker, Ph.D. To the National Organic Program: Please include my comment below in evaluating the economic analysis report pursuant to the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rulemaking. Docket number: AMS-NOP-20-0037 Both the current and previous OLPP analyses include the following misstatements and omissions: It is a misconception to refer to, and judge, the economic impacts of the OLPP as if the requirement for outdoor access was a new and onerous regulation. In fact, from the beginning of the USDA organic […]

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21
May

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

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

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19
May

California Proposes “Comparable-to-Organic” Marijuana Certification

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2020) The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is taking public comments on a proposal to establish statewide comparable-to-organic standards for cannabis production. Although cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, and thus cannot be labeled with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic seal, there is no prohibition on a state-specific program that follows federal organic requirements, but does not use the word “organic.” While such a program has the potential to provide another level of protection for medical patients, questions and concerns remain over the allowance of certain products, and the impact the certifying scheme may have on the future trajectory of the cannabis production industry. Under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation Safety Act, passed in 2017 after the success of Proposition 64 by California voters, state agencies were tasked with establishing a state-level program to certify cannabis to the standards set out by USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). CDFA is required to finalize this program for cannabis production by the start of 2021, while the California Department of Public Health will create a separate program to certify manufactured cannabis products. As outlined by CFDA, cannabis would be certified through third-party […]

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11
May

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

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

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01
May

Experts Warn Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) Could Lead to the Next Pandemic

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2020) As the globe settles in for a long summer of social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, experts warn that concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), more commonly referred to as “factory farms,” are setting the table for the next pandemic. Crowded conditions and prophylactic use of antibiotics, scientists say, are creating an environment ripe for viruses and bacteria to evolve and jump from animal to human populations. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said back in 2013, “Livestock health is the weakest link in our global health chain.” Alternatively, organic principles offer an existing federal guideline for ecologically and environmentally viable conditions for agriculture. Michael Greger, M.D., Ph.D., author of Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, explains, “When we overcrowd animals by the thousands, in cramped football-field-size sheds, to lie beak to beak or snout to snout, and there’s stress crippling their immune systems, and there’s ammonia from the decomposing waste burning their lungs, and there’s a lack of fresh air and sunlight — put all these factors together and you have a perfect-storm environment for the emergence and spread of disease.” Dr. Greger notes that the spread of […]

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30
Apr

Animal Fodder – A Driver of the Global Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) Industry

(Beyond Pesticides, April 30, 2020) Chemical-intensive farming of crops for animal fodder powers the global market for highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs), according to data analyzed by Unearthed, and the Swiss NGO Public Eye. Animal fodder production not only intensifies global pollution, but it also increases pesticide exposure and degrades human, animal, and environmental health. This data analysis supports advocates advancing pesticide policies to eliminate HHPs by identifying which toxic chemicals lead global pesticide sales. However, it will take more than eliminating the worst chemicals to address the impending biodiversity collapse and the climate crisis, according to experts who point to the need for an urgent shift to organic land and agricultural management practices. United Nations’ (UN) special rapporteur on toxic substances and human rights, Baskut Tuncak, says, “There is nothing sustainable about the widespread use of highly hazardous pesticides for agriculture. Whether they poison workers, extinguish biodiversity, persist in the environment, or accumulate in a mother’s breast milk, these are unsustainable, cannot be used safely, and should have been phased out of use long ago.”  Unearthed and Public Eye investigated over $23 billion in global pesticide market sales to determine the proportion of pesticides considered highly hazardous by the Pesticide Action Network’s […]

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23
Apr

Monarch Butterfly Larvae Adversely Affected by Pesticide Drift from Contiguous Soybean and Maize Crop Fields

(Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2020) Pesticide spray drift from adjacent farmlands expose butterfly larvae to lethal pesticide concentrations, according to research published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry by Iowa State University (ISU). Lack of previous experimental pesticide toxicity data makes it unclear as to what degree insecticides impact monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) productivity in milkweed (Asclepias spp.) habitats near pesticide-treated pasture. This study adds weight to the idea that pesticides are playing a role in the ongoing decline of this iconic butterfly, as researchers find insecticide drift from adjacent fields to be strongly associated with larval mortality. Future monarch butterfly conservation efforts should consider risks stemming from pesticide exposure when developing butterfly rehabilitation efforts, according to advocates. As co-author Niranjana Krishnan (ISU graduate student) states, “In order to make the best decisions about how and where to plant milkweed, we first need to find basic toxicity and exposure data.”  ISU researchers established monarch butterfly colonies by collecting larvae from roadside milkweeds, which they then reared in the laboratory for incubation. To analyze the relative toxicity of various insecticides on monarch butterflies, researchers applied normal field-application rates of each pesticide at different larval development stages. Scientists used a bioassay to measure the […]

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22
Apr

Earth Day 2020: The Road to Recovery is Organic

In 1962, Rachel Carson said we stood at a crossroads: “The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.” Eight years later, on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day encouraged collective action for conservation. Now, in the midst of a pandemic and cascading environmental crises (arguably, down the road of disaster), forging a new path toward restoration will take courage and imagination. This Earth Day, Beyond Pesticides is putting forth a toolkit to abandon half measures and forge ahead with an organic approach for repairing human health and the environment. LISTEN TO SCIENCE Biodiversity is plummeting worldwide. The climate crisis looms even as COVID-19 grabs headlines. Environmental pollution is a predictor of coronavirus death. Never has it been more obvious that the global community is interconnected, and enforcing preventative measures is critical before it is too late. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignores science, moving ahead with deregulation to […]

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20
Apr

Tell USDA that Organic Production Matters to Nutrition Guidelines

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2020) As USDA takes public comments on its updated dietary guidelines, it important that sustainable, regenerative organic food production practices are an integral part. Since 1990, Congress has required an every-five-years review of its Dietary Guidelines — recommendations intended to promote public health and prevent chronic diseases. The next review and a draft updated version, the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is currently underway. USDA says that the dietary guidelines provide “information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families.” In order to make healthy food choices, the guidelines must go beyond the traditional parameters to include how the food is produced. How food is produced affects the health of Americans not only as a result of the nutritional quality of the food, but also due to environmental contamination. Sign the petition to USDA and send a letter to Congress. Tell them that organic food must be emphasized in new dietary guidelines. Although research on the nutritional density of organic produce is equivocal, showing some higher levels of antioxidants, results are decidedly clear for animal products. Pastured organic animal products—including beef, lamb, pork, dairy, poultry, and eggs—have been shown to be superior to that of products of […]

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16
Apr

Farmland Birds’ Exposure to Neonicotinoid-Treated Seeds (during Winter Seeding) Confirmed by Blood Plasma Tests

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2020) Pesticide exposure in farmland birds is a concomitant of pesticide-treated muesli (cereal) seed commonly planted during winter months, according to research published in Science of the Total Environment by United Kingdom (UK) scientists. Not only do pesticide-treated seeds pose the highest dietary risk to birds, but pesticide-treated seeds also go underreported as farmers often lack knowledge of what pesticides are on the seeds they plant. This study emphasizes the global effects of treated seeds, and their corresponding pesticide exposure, on bird species. Future risk assessments for bird should address these implications when implementing agricultural pesticide policies.  Farmers use of treated seeds exposes farmland birds to pesticides like neonicotinoids (neonics), including clothianidin (CLO). Pesticide residues then accumulate in the birds’ blood. UK scientists examined pesticides in farmland bird blood samples to connect the field-based use of treated seeds to clothianidin exposure patterns. At the time of this study, CLO was the most widely used pesticide on treated winter cereal seeds in the UK. Scientists recorded the presence of neonicotinoid-treated seed in 39 fields of 25 farms after seeding. Camera traps monitored farmland birds’ seed consumption. To measure CLO concentration in treated seed and seedling, scientists used liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to identify inorganic, organic, […]

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12
Apr

Federal Dietary Guidelines Needed to Promote Sustainably Grown Food for a Healthy Public and Environment, According to Report

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2020) Since 1990, Congress has required an every-five-years review of its Dietary Guidelines — recommendations that are supposed, minimally, to promote public health and prevent chronic diseases. The next review and a draft updated iteration, the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are currently underway. The Union of Concerned Scientists (and several colleagues) have examined recent studies on dietary patterns and sustainability; their analysis reveals that the current federal guidelines on diet are unlikely to support sustainability of the food system in the long-term. Beyond Pesticides concurs, and maintains that a transition to sustainable, organic, regenerative agriculture is the path to both improved human health and long-term sustainability of the natural world essential to life. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS’s) report — In Support of Sustainable Eating: Why U.S. Dietary Guidelines Should Prioritize Healthy People and a Healthy Planet — identifies this next version of the federal guidelines as a critical opportunity to shift the direction of the U.S. food and agricultural system toward far greater sustainability. UCS asserts that such a shift is beyond due: the food system in the U.S. has huge environmental impacts on pollution, use of chemical pesticides, biodiversity, and emissions that significantly […]

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08
Apr

Tell USDA to Support Organic During the Coronavirus Pandemic

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2020) We are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on organic farmers, farmworkers, businesses, certifiers and inspectors, and consumers. We are mindful of the need to protect the health and safety of all who are involved in organic agriculture, certification, and compliance. We also seek to advocate for responsible actions that will protect the integrity of the USDA organic seal during this difficult time. Send a message to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for support to organic farmers, farmworkers, businesses, certifiers and inspectors, and consumers. The recently enacted CARES Act includes a $9.5 billion emergency fund: “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by providing support for agricultural producers impacted by coronavirus, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools, and livestock producers, including dairy producers.” It is critical that organic farmers and others in the organic community are included in the emergency response actions taken by USDA. Beyond Pesticides, as a member of the National Organic Coalition (NOC), is asking USDA Secretary Perdue to take action to support USDA organic through the coronavirus pandemic.  Please note, our form letter to Secretary Perdue is close to the […]

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01
Apr

Help Ensure that Organic Production Meets the Standard You Expect to Protect Health and the Environment; Comments due April 3

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2020) Your comments are due by Friday, April 3, end of day. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets April 29-30 online to debate issues concerning what goes into your organic food. Lend your voice to continuous improvement by learning about issues and submitting comments. From the very beginning, with the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, “organic” has meant “continuous improvement.” The primary mechanism for continuous improvement in organic production is the high level of public involvement that comes from twice-annual meetings of the stakeholder board. The second mechanism is the sunset process, which helps move synthetic substances out of organic production as the market invests in growing organic inputs and ingredients. Despite USDA’s efforts to weaken the sunset process, the 5-year cycle of review of every synthetic substance currently used in organic production and processing, offers us an opportunity to keep organic strong and strengthen any weaknesses. Items on the NOSB agenda in April include materials allowed in organic production, as well as discussion of policies and sunset materials on which the NOSB will vote in the Fall. We have identified some priority issues of both kinds. The only voting issue on […]

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30
Mar

Lawsuit Challenges TruGreen Chemical Lawn Care Company for Deceptive Safety Claims; Pesticide Applications Stopped by Some States During COVID-19 Crisis as Nonessential

NOTICE: Beyond Pesticides urges Governors to stop the use of lawn pesticides during the COVID-19 crisis because the toxic chemicals used are typically immune and respiratory system toxicants, elevating key risk factors for those vulnerable to coronavirus hazards. Contact your Governor to classify chemical lawn care as non-essential. (Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2020) Last week, Beyond Pesticides sued TruGreen, the national chemical landscaping company, for misrepresenting the safety of the toxic chemicals that it uses to treat lawns. The case is Beyond Pesticides v. TruGreen (DC Superior Court, Case No. 2020CA001973B, March, 20, 2020). At the same time, the organization is urging all states to prohibit toxic chemical spraying in neighborhoods as non-essential and hazardous. Widespread exposure to lawn pesticides, which are immune system and respiratory toxicants, can elevate serious risk factors associated with COVID-19 (coronavirus). As part of its marketing, TruGreen tells consumers that it offers environmentally friendly, sustainable lawn care services that use no chemicals that may cause cancer, allergic reactions, or other health or environmental harms. These claims, according to Beyond Pesticides’ complaint, are false and deceptive and illegal under the laws of the District of Columbia. Advocates suggest that during the COVID-19 crisis the cessation of […]

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19
Mar

As COVID-19 Disrupts Maui Community, Organizers Take Action for Local Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2020) As communities across the U.S. brace for an unimaginable health crisis and difficult economic times in the wake of COVID-19, the Beyond Pesticides Hawai’i team has linked arms with Maui’s small farms and community organizations to make sure local farms have the support they need to feed communities and stay in business. The virus is causing shutdowns of everything from farmers markets to restaurants, but community organizers in Maui are making an effort to transform COVID-19 related challenges into a spring board for long-term increase in locally produced, organic food—a sorely needed commodity in Hawai’i.  Hawai’i is the most isolated island chain on the planet. Its fertile soil and climatic conditions coalesce to make Hawai’i potentially a major producer of nutritious food for its residents and for export. However, a complicated plantation history and off-island investment influence has skewed the economy toward tourism and development. The current stark reality is that 85-90% of Hawai’i’s food is imported, making the islands particularly vulnerable to disasters and global events that might disrupt the economy or infrastructure.  COVID-19 is now disrupting the economy and local infrastructure of Maui. Farmers markets and other public gatherings have closed. Tourism is […]

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18
Mar

Infectious Human Disease, Snail Fever, Worsened by Pesticide Run-Off into Fresh Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2020) Freshwater habitats are threatened now—more than ever—by the adverse effects of pesticide pollution, according to a report published in Scientific Reports by a collaborative research team from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Pesticide pollution, attributed to runoff from agricultural farms, indirectly increased the rate of the tropical disease schistosomiasis, which infects over 280 million people (2018). This research underlines the range of uncertainties that exist as a result of pesticide contamination, making it critically important that subtropical areas where this disease threat exists move toward organic and pesticide-free approaches.  Increased prevalence of this disease is devastating to socioeconomic development in affected regions, as life expectancy, employment rate, and gross domestic product (GDP) decreases. Schistosomiasis (snail fever), or bilharzia, is a tropical disease caused by parasitic flatworms (trematodes) in the genus Schistosoma and transmitted via freshwater snail (genus Biomphalaria) to its definitive human host. Freshwater snails act as a vector for schistosomiasis as they play a vital role in the lifecycle of the parasitic flatworm. Professor Matthias Liess (Ph.D.), Head of the Department of System Ecotoxicology at the UFZ, and his research team investigated pesticide pollution’s […]

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13
Mar

European Commission’s Agricultural Policy Clashes with Its ‘Green Deal’ Plan

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2020) The European Commission’s proposed (post-2020) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a failure and must be dramatically changed to embrace organic practices and support small farmers, according to a paper written by 21 scientists and published in the British Ecological Society’s journal, People and Nature. The authors point to provisions that permit anemic implementation of critical sustainability goals, and say that as it stands, the CAP fails “with respect to biodiversity, climate, soil, [and] land degradation as well as socio‐economic challenges.” The authors call on the European Parliament, Council, and Commission to adopt 10 urgent action points that advance a goal that “all CAP elements, without exception, should be aligned with the principles of sustainability, multi‐functionality and public payments for public goods.” The paper’s authors say that the CAP continues, in fact, to support practices that exacerbate the climate emergency, soil erosion, land degradation, and biodiversity loss, and fails to fund initiatives that could address climate and other critical issues. Happening concurrently with the CAP is development of the European Commission’s (EC’s) “European Green Deal,” which the EC describes as a roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable, and making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. […]

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11
Mar

Global Growth of Organic Farmland Further Advances UN Sustainable Development Goals

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2020) Worldwide, organic farming practices quadrupled from 2000 to 2018, with over 180 countries leading a global transition to organic agriculture. Newly published global survey data by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements – Organics International (IFOAM) reveal global organic agriculture to be at an all-time high, with 71.5 million hectares (mha) of farmland in production. Organic agriculture’s rise in popularity makes important progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as organic agriculture is essential for a sustainable future; it is a solution to the global food crisis and eliminating the health risks engendered by chemical-intensive farming. According to Monica Rubiolo, PhD of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), “Access to quality data on organic farming not only helps to measure success toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals but also to orient decision-makers and other stakeholders along the whole value chain.” In a period of rapid population growth, a climate crisis, environmental degradation, and high energy costs, organic farming addresses human health, environment, and socioeconomic concerns. Organically managed farmland increased by a total of 2 mha (2.9%), in all continents, between 2017 and 2018. Australia has […]

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