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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Alternatives/Organics' Category


08
Nov

Study Confirms Chemical-Intensive Production Contaminates Organic with Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2018) Two months after publishing its first series of tests, part two of an Environmental Working Group (EWG) study finds residues of Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, in all General Mills’ Cheerios and PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats products sampled. Health advocates are expressing concern about the consequences of chronic glyphosate exposure, and say U.S. federal agencies must limit the herbicide’s use on oat-based breakfast foods regularly marketed to children. In addition, organic itself is under threat, as chemical-intensive management practices undermine the future of the growing organic movement. In this second round of testing, EWG scientists purchased products around San Francisco and Washington DC. 28 samples of conventional and 16 samples of organic oat products were collected. Approximately 300 grams of each General Mills and PepsiCo product were packaged and shipped to Anresco Laboratories, in San Francisco. Detected glyphosate residues were compared to EWG’s own health benchmark of 160 parts per billion (ppb). This benchmark is based on risks of lifetime exposure and what EWG scientists consider allowable and protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.  EWG’s results detected glyphosate residues in all 28 samples of conventionally grown oat products. The vast majority (all but two) […]

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01
Nov

Bumblebees Shown to Suffer Reproductive Failure after Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2018) A new study offers fresh evidence that wild bumblebee pollinators are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides, finding that exposure to these compounds interferes with mating success and population stability. Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, measuring real-world harms of neonicotinoids, indicate that the impacts they found to bumblebee “reproducers,” namely queen and drone (male) bees, does not bode well for the array of plant species that relies on them. Though advocates warn that destabilizing managed pollinators could threaten U.S. food production and exports, with food prices increasing as cost of bringing pollinators to farms increases, the study’s authors and advocates insist that the impacts of such widespread poisoning of wild bees could be felt well beyond agriculture. Researchers in the lab compare behavioral and psychological responses of virgin queens, workers, and male Bombus impatiens from multiple colonies to field-realistic doses of the neonicotinoid clothianidin. While every bee was given a replenishing supply of pollen based on body weight and energy demands, four distinct concentrations of diluted analytical-grade (pure) clothianidin (including a control with no pesticide added) were mixed into a nectar-like solution and fed to the bumblebees orally for 5 […]

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29
Oct

Urgent: Help Protect the Integrity and Meaning of the USDA Organic Label

(Beyond Pesticides, October 29, 2018) Protect the integrity of the organic standard setting process that determines whether a synthetic substance will be allowed in food labeled organic. Help stop an attack on the meaning of the organic label in the Farm Bill, which may be voted out of conference committee by the end of November. By changing the substance review process, a provision will open the floodgates to allowed synthetic chemicals in organic production, handling, and processing under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). OFPA incorporates values and principles that build and regenerate soil, protect pollinators and biodiversity, eliminate toxic pesticide use, and contains a default provision that strictly limits synthetic chemicals in certified organic products. This will all change with the Farm bill amendment. Ask your U.S. Representative and Senators to tell Farm Bill conferees to reject Section 10104(e) National Organic Standards Board in the Senate Farm Bill (S.3042), a provision that will increase the use of synthetic substances in organic food production. OFPA incorporates language that ensures that the process for allowing synthetic chemicals in organic production, handling, and processing is very rigorous. This meets a public expectation that food labeled organic is subject to a higher degree of […]

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25
Oct

Bees’ Medicine Chest Should Include Sunflower Pollen, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2018) A study published last month in Scientific Reports finds that eating sunflower pollen significantly reduces protozoan infection in bumblebees. Studying ecosystem services and what she calls “floral rewards,” evolutionary ecologist Lynn Adler, Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst says sunflowers may provide a long sought after solution for improving bees’ immune system response to both disease and parasites. The researchers studied the protozoan Crithidia bombi, a common parasitic infection of bumble bees, known to impair learning and foraging, shorten lifespan and destabilize colony hierarchies by impacting queen bee behavior. From the outset of the study, Dr. Adler says, “the more sunflowers were grown at the farm, the lower the Crithidia load for the bees at that farm.” Knowing pollinators eat pollen as a source of protein and healthy fats, Dr. Adler hypothesized that both pollen and nectar might have medicinal effects against disease and parasites. However, her experiment did not show consistent results with nectar. After bees in the lab were starved for 4-6 hours, researchers fed individual worker bees from small colonies a drop of fructose fluid containing 6,000 Crithidia cells, being the approximate concentration bees may encounter in the wild while foraging. After […]

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23
Oct

Chief Minister of Sikkim State in India Urges World to Adopt Organic Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2018)  The Chief Minister of the Sikkim state in northeast India, Pawan Chamling, addressed a news conference in the Italian Parliament on October 15 to issue a call for a complete, global transition to organic agriculture by 2050. Citing the increasing dangers of climate disruption and its impacts, Mr. Chamling said that such conversion to pesticide- and petrochemical-free practices would reduce carbon emissions by 50%. The call for banning pesticides in communities and countries nationwide is gaining increasing traction, as the shift to organic land management is increasing exponentially. The town of Mals, Italy (93 square miles in area, encompassing ten villages and hamlets, as well as farmland, home to 5,092 people) passed a ban on a ballot initiative with 75% in favor and 69% of the electorate voting. In 2013, the country of Bhutan adopted completely organic practices  throughout its nation. Although not affecting agricultural pesticide use, towns across the U.S. are adopting measures that stop pesticide use community-wide. Ordinances in the cities of Ogunquit, South Portland, and Portland, Maine and the City of Takoma Park, Maryland are examples of city-wide pesticide bans. A petition in Switzerland calls for the banning of pesticides country-wide. States in northeast India — […]

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11
Oct

Study Finds Organic Farming Methods Help Maintain Healthy Pollinator Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2018) Healthy, stable populations of bees and butterflies are best preserved in farm fields that are certified organic, according to an extensive, three-year study conducted by Swedish researchers at Lund University. The research, published last month in the journal Biological Conservation, highlights the benefits that organic farms provide pollinators by improving floral resources and forgoing the use of toxic pesticides. The data continues to support the need for a broad-scale conversion to more sustainable organic practices in the U.S. and internationally. “This is the first large-scale study over the course of several years to show that organic farming has a consistent, stabilizing effect on pollinator diversity,” says Romain CarriĂ©, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at CEC. Researchers recorded observations of bumblebees, butterflies and flowering plant species at 10 organic and 9 conventional farms throughout Sweden for three years. Farms were compared across type, including cereal fields, temporary grasslands, and semi-natural grasslands. The study aimed to observe the spatio-temporal aspects (continuity of the number of different species in space and time) of pollinators and flowering species in these fields. Results of the study found that, overall, organic farms had and sustained a higher rate of floral, bee, and butterfly […]

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10
Oct

Shareholders Urge General Mills to Stop Pesticide Use in Its Supply Chain, Popular Products

(Beyond Pesticides, October 10, 2018) Nearly one-third of General Mills shareholders called on the company last month to improve product stewardship and eliminate pesticides like bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides or the probable carcinogenic weed killer glyphosate from its supply chain. The proposal was put forward by nonprofit organization As You Sow, and Green Century Equity Fund (GCEF), a mutual fund. This is the latest public shareholder action GCEF has made in regards to corporate pesticide reform, with the company previously putting pressure on the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group for its allowance of pesticides within its supply chain. While the actions are encouraging, some advocates are urging shareholder groups to go beyond increased accountability and transparency and push companies to focus on sourcing organic to ensure that no pesticides make their way into food products. The shareholder proposal ultimately garnered support from 31% of General Mills shareholders. “Shareholders believe the company can, and should, do more to protect the health of their supply chain and the public from toxic pesticides,” said Christy Spees, environmental health program manager at As You Sow to the StarTribune. The proposal states, “While the company asserts that it is currently ‘document[ing] continuous improvement’ concerning environmental impacts from its supply […]

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03
Oct

Reminder Take Action: Comment to Protect Organic by Thursday, October 4

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2018) REMINDER: The Fall 2018 NOSB public comments are due by Thursday, October 4, 2018. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov  until 11:59 pm ET October 4, 2018. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment. On our Keeping Organic Strong page, Beyond Pesticides will be providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration of the Board when it meets in Saint Paul, MN on October 24 – 26, 2018. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either the subject of petitions or the subject of sunset review (concerning whether to be allowed for another 5 years). To be allowed, materials must have evidence summarized in the proposals that they meet the OFPA requirements of essentiality, no adverse effects on humans and the environment, and compatibility with organic practices. […]

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17
Sep

Take Action: Comment by October 4 to Protect Organic Integrity!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2018) The Fall 2018 NOSB meeting dates have been announced and public comments are due by October 4, 2018. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov  until 11:59 pm ET October 4, 2018. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment. On our Keeping Organic Strong page, Beyond Pesticides will be providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration of the Board when it meets in Saint Paul, MN on October 24 – 26, 2018. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either the subject of petitions or the subject of sunset review (concerning whether to be allowed for another 5 years). To be allowed, materials must have evidence summarized in the proposals that they meet the OFPA requirements of essentiality, no adverse effects on humans and the […]

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12
Sep

Amsterdam Leads Bee Recovery Efforts by Banning Bee-Toxic Pesticides, Improving Habitat

(Beyond Pesticides, September 12, 2018) The city of Amsterdam, Netherlands is leading global bee recovery efforts by increasing its diversity of wild pollinator species, according to reporting and an analysis by NBC News. A new map published by the city identified 21 bee species not found in an earlier 1998 survey recorded by Amsterdam officials. The increase has been attributed to a range of pollinator-protective measures, including a ban on bee-toxic pesticides and the planting of native flowers, prioritized by the city government since the turn of the century. Local communities throughout the world can look to Amsterdam for policies and practices that will safeguard their own unique pollinator populations. The NBC News report notes several initiatives undertaken by the Amsterdam government. Many of these measures come out of a $38.5 million fund aimed at broadly improving environmental sustainability. “Insects are very important because they’re the start of the food chain,” said Geert Timmermans, an Amsterdam ecologist to NBC News. “When it goes well with the insects, it also goes well with the birds and mammals.” Insect and bee hotels are often installed in conjunction with the development of green roofs, which are encouraged for all new buildings. And parks […]

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11
Sep

Report Ranks Organic Dairy Producers on Farming Principles and Practices, Downgrading ‘Factory Farms’

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2018) A report released this summer by the nonprofit group The Cornucopia Institute helps consumers avoid ‘factory farmed’ dairy products in light of disturbing revelations uncovered in a 2017 Washington Post investigation of major organic brands. The report, The Industrialization of Organic Dairy, traces the broken promises of many major dairy companies and provides a scorecard enabling consumers to review brands for their overall sustainability and adherence to truly organic standards. “With the USDA’s failure to protect ethical industry participants and consumers from outright fraud, using our Organic Dairy Scorecard is a way for organic stakeholders to take the law into their own hands,” said Mark A. Kastel, codirector and senior farm policy analyst of Cornucopia, on the group’s website. “In every market and product category, consumers can vote in front of the dairy case to economically support authentic organic farmers while simultaneously protecting their families.” The Washington Post’s 2017 report found that Aurora Organic Dairy, a major milk supplier for big box retailers like Walmart and Safeway, is producing milk that was less nutrient dense compared to small-scale organic family farms. Information on nutritional deficits in this milk was preceded by an earlier 2014 Cornucopia […]

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11
Jul

Regenerative Farms Yield Soil Health and Higher Profits than Chemical-Intensive Operations

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2018) Ecologically-based farming systems contain far fewer pests and generate much higher profits than their conventional, chemical-based counterparts according to research published in the journal PeerJ earlier this year by scientists at South Dakota State University and the Ecdysis Foundation. The study supports calls to reshape the future of agriculture, as ‘regenerative’ farms, which avoid tillage and bare soil, integrate livestock, and foster on-farm diversity. These farms are found to represent an economically viable alternative to overly simplified, pesticide and fertilizer-dependent cropping systems. Given the study’s focus on corn cropping systems, such a shift is possible for thousands of farmers throughout the United States. Researchers looked at roughly 75 fields on 18 farms, measuring the organic matter in the soil, insect pest populations, corn yield as well as profit. Farms using pesticide treatments, which in corn fields is represented primarily by the use of neonicotinoid-coated seeds, had 10x higher pest levels than regenerative farms. As noted in the study, pest populations are a function of the biodiversity within the crop field. Biodiveristy increased on regenerative farms not only because farmers sprayed fewer pesticides, but because they also allowed more plants to grow in between rows. More […]

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26
Jun

House Passes Farm Bill with Provisions that Weaken Organic, Poison Waterways and Harm Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2018) On June 21, 2018, the controversial 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2) narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives 213 to 211 with provisions that will eliminate federal review of pesticide impacts on endangered species, undermine organic standards, and ease requirements regarding releases of pesticides into waterways. In May, the bill failed to pass when it got caught in the debate over immigration reform, but now this dangerous bill is much closer to becoming a major threat to the environment. The bill, H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, is a major win for the pesticide industry, which spent $43 million on lobbying this Congressional season, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. At the forefront are provisions that weaken the organic standards and the elimination of the requirement that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) assess pesticide impacts on endangered species before U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves a pesticide for use. The bill also exempts those applying pesticides to lakes, streams, and rivers from having a permit under the Clean Water Act. This will allow indiscriminate contamination of waterways in spite of reports that pesticides are detected frequently and at environmentally relevant […]

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06
Jun

EU’s Highest Court Upholds Ban of the Three Top Bee-Killing Neonicotinoid Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 6, 2018) By the close of 2018, three top neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides, linked to the worldwide decline in bee populations, will be banned for outdoor use in the European Union (EU), based on the General Court of the European Union’s (GCEU) ruling last month. The GCEU, the equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled in favor of taking precautionary action to protect pollinators from clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam. This ruling allows for the limited use of neonic-treated seeds grown in permanent greenhouses where contact with bees is not expected. In its lawsuit, multinational seed and chemical companies, Syngenta and Bayer –manufacturers of the neonics in question– argued unsuccessfully that the pesticides do not necessarily harm bees if farmers use them according to label instructions. Syngenta also sought compensation of approximately $435 million to offset market losses resulting from the ban, but that, too, was denied. In rejecting the arguments of Syngenta and Bayer, the high court aligned itself with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and its assessment of the harm caused by the widely used pesticides. EFSA’s updated assessment, released in February of this year, provided convincing evidence that neonics represent a risk to wild bees and […]

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29
May

Take Action: Help Defeat the Farm Bill –Unless Dramatic Changes Are Made

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2018) The Farm Bill is beginning to move in the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and your voice is critically needed to help stop provisions that are harmful to health and the environment. Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative that they should vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed. In addition to sending this urgent action on the Farm Bill, consider reaching out to your U.S. Senators and Representative when they return to your state for the Memorial Day holiday. If you’re part of a group, ask for a meeting. If you see them at an event or in town, let them know how important it is to keep the dangerous provisions listed below out of the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2, reported favorably out of the House Agriculture Committee, is stalled, after being defeated on the floor over unrelated immigration legislation. The House bill is a direct attack on organic standard setting, the authority of local governments to restrict toxic pesticides, and the protection of farmworkers, endangered species, and the environment. Without public outcry, it is likely […]

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18
May

USDA Ends Organic Checkoff Program

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2018) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is putting an end to the process of creating an organic “check-off” promotion program, according to an announcement posted to the Federal Register earlier this week. The program, controversial from the start, split the organic community. While the industry group the Organic Trade Association (OTA) pushed for the program, small producers and family farmers cited exorbitant costs and ineffective government bureaucracy in their opposition. Check-off programs are traditionally created for producers to pool their money together to further research, information sharing, and promotion of a particular food commodity. Famous programs of the past include “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner,” “Got Milk?” and “I Love Eggs.” The proposed organic program was unique in that it aimed to promote an entire industry, rather than a specific food product. However, opponents view the program as another tax on farmers that is unnecessary and potentially damaging to small organic producers, citing a history of rigid guidelines, fund mismanagement, and lack of accountability. In the past, successful checkoff programs were associated with declines in family farmers, and opponents believe the program would promote low-priced organic imports at the expense of growing U.S. organic acreage. […]

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17
May

Research Shows Greenspace and Biodiversity Protect Kids from Asthma

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2018)  Among the many reports of the salutary effects of nature on human health and well-being comes new research demonstrating that children who live in “green” neighborhoods have reduced risk of developing asthma. Researchers Jeroen Douwes, PhD and Geoffrey H. Donovan, PhD, of New Zealand’s Massey University (Centre for Public Health Research) and the U.S. Forest Service, respectively, conducted the longitudinal study with New Zealand subjects born in 1998, following them until 2016. The authors say the study results “suggest that exposure to greenness and vegetation diversity may be protective of asthma.” Of concern are the pesticides used in green spaces. See Beyond Pesticides’ brochure, Asthma, Children, and Pesticides and El Asma, los Niños y los Pesticidas: Lo que usted debe saber para proteger a su familia. Also, see Children and Pesticides Don’t Mix. In addition to the well-substantiated benefits of exposure to nature — reduction of the experience of stress; reduction in production of cortisol (the “stress” hormone that is linked to weight gain, hypertension, cardiac disease, weakened immune function, and loss of bone density); improved mental health; better cognitive function; and lower  BMI (body mass index) — this latest research evaluates the impact on children’s risk for asthma. […]

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16
May

Pesticides Contaminate Fish Farms, Fish Farm Fined

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2018) Northern Harvest Sea Farms, an ocean-based fish farm in New Brunswick, Canada, was appeared in court yesterday to answer legal charges stemming from the off-label use of an unnamed pesticide added to its operations to combat severe sea lice outbreaks. The company holds nine licenses for farmed Atlantic salmon cages on the Bay of Fundy, as well as for fish farms off the Newfoundland coast. Sea lice outbreaks are a common at over-crowded, ocean-based fish farms because such facilities afford the optimum conditions for rapidly reproducing and spreading lice. In response, some companies have turned to using illegal and off-label pesticide applications to stave off the problem, which causes huge farmed salmon kills. The company was issued a $12,000 fine that was challenged as inadequate by the Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association. Bonnie Morse, project manager for the association told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news, “I think any time there’s a fine that’s a deterrent to illegal activity, it should be an actual deterrent to the activity,” said Morse. “When you’re looking at $1.5 million worth of fish, their actions speak for themselves.” Maria Recchia, the executive director of the Fundy North Fishermen’s Association, questioned the allowance of fish […]

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30
Apr

Tell Congress to Vote Against the Farm Bill if It Weakens Organic Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, April 30, 2018) Organic standards are under attack in the Farm Bill, H.R. 2, passed by the Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and in language emerging in the Senate Agriculture Committee. This adds to the attacks on which we have previously taken action. Tell Congress to Vote Against the Farm Bill if It Weakens Organic Standards The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) gives the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) broad authority and responsibility to ensure organic integrity. The Farm Bill contains provisions that: Will permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sidestep the NOSB in allowing post-harvest handling substances (sanitizers) to be used in organic production; Change the classification of types of people who may be appointed to the NOSB by adding employees of farmers, handlers, and retailers; and Force consideration of the judgment of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when those agencies find a material to meet their own (less stringent) criteria for use. These provisions are a direct attack on the strength of organic standards. When OFPA was passed and placed under USDA authority, Congress established a board composed of members of the organic community –farmers, handlers/processors, […]

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27
Apr

European Parliament Sets Stronger Organic Regulations than U.S., Rejects Labeling Hydroponic as Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2018)  After more than five years of intensive negotiations, European Members of Parliament (MEP) overwhelmingly passed the long-anticipated, new organic certification and labeling regulations, with 466 voting in favor, 124 against and 50 abstentions. While the European Union (EU) Council of Ministers, must formally adopt the regulations, their easy passage is expected. Regulations will take effect in January 2021. The new organic regulations are purported to provide more clarity to organic producers and consumers and to harmonize organic regulation across the EU. But, they also are likely to fuel disharmony with the U.S. National Organic Program (NOP) by failing to act swiftly to curtail fraudulent organic exports and by prohibiting hydroponics systems of production in organic, which the US currently allows. “The development of organic production is a political objective of the EU,” According to the EP’s background document on the regulations. As a strategy for increasing organic agriculture, which now encompasses 6.7% of EU agricultural land, MEPs intend for the new regulations to encourage more farmers to go organic, enhance consumer trust in the EU organic logo, and improve the quality of organic food. According to the European Parliament’s press release, “Strict, risk-based checks will take […]

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26
Apr

More Reasons than Ever to Buy, Eat, and Support Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2018) Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. The guide includes the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists of conventionally grown produce items that, respectively, are the most heavily tainted by toxic pesticide residue, and by contrast, have little if any residue. EWG analyzes testing conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Pesticide Data Program to arrive at its annual assessment. Its report for 2018 found that nearly 70% of conventional produce is contaminated with residue and/or breakdown byproducts of one or more of the 230 pesticides that USDA evaluated. The top items on the 2018 Dirty Dozen list include strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, and grapes. One-third of all the strawberry samples harbored 10 or more pesticides, and one sample showed residue of 22 different compounds. Pesticide contamination was found in 97% of spinach samples, 94% of nectarines, 90% of apples, 96% of grapes, and 99% of peaches. Topping the 2018 Clean 15 list of the least-toxic conventionally grown produce items are avocados (99+% of samples tested negative for pesticides), sweet corn (98+%), pineapples (90%), onions (90+%), and cabbage (86%). EWG again this year added hot peppers as […]

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02
Apr

Last Chance to Comment on Issues for National Organic Standards Board Spring Meeting

(Beyond Pesticides, April 2, 2018) The comment period closes Wednesday, April 4 at 11:59 pm for the Spring 2018 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Meeting. Decisions governing the substances allowed in organic food production are subject to public input twice a year. Public participation in this process is critical to the quality of the decisions and meeting both consumer and farmer expectations. In this context, Beyond Pesticides analyzes the proposals before the NOSB, shares its analysis and comments with the public, and urges people to engage the process and make their views known to decision makers. Details are provided below. In addition to the other priorities in our previous alert (preventing fraud in organic, removing incentives to convert native ecosystems to organic crop production, and the use of bisphenol A [BPA] and other chemicals in organic packaging), we focus attention here on some genetic engineering (GE) issues, contaminated inputs, and “inert” ingredients. New to Regulations.gov? See our two-minute tutorial. Comment now! Beyond Pesticides provides you with our positions, which you can use as the basis for your comments. If you have limited time, you can use the sample comments on priority issues, below. If you have more time, please use the […]

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30
Mar

Chemical-Intensive Farms Singled Out for Excessive Use of “New” Nitrogen Fertilizers

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2018) While conventional farming practices rely primarily on new sources of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to grow crops, organic agriculture conserves nitrogen by using recycled sources, as detailed by new research published by the University of Virginia (UVA) and The Organic Center. Of concern is ‘reactive nitrogen,’ which is nitrogen in a form that will eventually be used by plants (ex. nitrous oxide (N2O), nitrate (NO3–), nitrite (NO2–), ammonia (NH3), and ammonium (NH4+)), rather than benign, non-reactive nitrogen in the form of N2.  “This research is significant and timely because its findings show that many common organic farming practices—like composting and the use of manure fertilization in place of synthetic fertilizers—can recycle reactive nitrogen that is already in the global system rather than introducing new reactive nitrogen into the environment, and thus have a much smaller environmental impact,” said Jessica Shade, PhD of The Organic Center. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of California Davis published a study in Science Advances with the finding that regulators in the state drastically underestimate chemical-intensive agriculture’s contribution to nitrogen oxide (NOx) caused air pollution, acid rain, and respiratory illness in the state. While NOx  pollution is usually associated with energy production and […]

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