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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Organic Foods Production Act OFPA' Category


23
May

Study Shows Value of Organic Practices in Lowering Environmental Impact of Agriculture 

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2024)  A study recently published in the journal Nature compared the impact of organic and conventional food production using eight environmental health indicators and found that organic food has a significantly lower environmental impact than conventional food production for six of the eight indicators, including a lower potential for contributing to acidification of the environment, energy use, and biodiversity loss. For the analysis, scientists reviewed 100 different “life cycle assessments” (LCA) of organic and conventionally grown food products from cradle-to-farm gate.    LCA is a commonly used methodology to estimate food production system impacts on the environment through resource depletion and pollutant emissions. The results—that organic food production is less impactful on the environment—add to the robust body of research that underscores the importance of organic farming to the development of a sustainable global food system while addressing climate change. Beyond Pesticides has long argued that one of the most powerful tools in fighting global warming is organic agriculture, as it sequesters atmospheric carbon, eliminates the use of fossil fuel-based synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, and provides environmental and human health benefits. This study and most of the 100 studies it evaluates, do not recognize that conventional […]

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09
May

Take Action: Advocates Call for Strong Organic Mushroom and Pet Food Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8-9, 2024) In its proposal on mushrooms and pet food, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program is following up on recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to ensure that two areas of organic production are clarified and in compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). The notice raises questions of standards that ultimately grow the organic market while ensuring that the USDA organic label is backed by standards that have integrity and garner the public’s trust. In this spirit, Beyond Pesticides participates in the NOSB review/recommendation process and USDA rulemaking through public comments. [Note: Beyond Pesticides has served on the NOSB for a five-year term (2010-2015) and urges other environmental organization representatives to consider self-nominating for service on the board.] The issues relating to clear standards for mushrooms and pet food have been before the NOSB and in discussion for some time as a part of ongoing efforts to ensure continuous improvement of standards governing the organic sector. While virtually all in the organic community and industry agree that the USDA proposals are needed and long overdue, Beyond Pesticides points to problems in the proposed rule that need correcting: (i) Re. […]

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24
Apr

EPA Draft Herbicide Strategy Update Further Weakens Plan to Protect Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2024) On April 16, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an “update” to the Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework (Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework to Reduce Exposure of Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Species and Designated Critical Habitats from the Use of Conventional Agricultural Herbicides) that was released last summer, weakening aspects of the agency’s efforts to “protect” endangered species from herbicide use. The update outlines three types of modifications to the Draft Strategy, including “simplifying” its approach, increasing growers’ “flexibility” when applying mitigation measures, and reducing the mitigation measures required in certain situations. By reducing the stringency of the Strategy, advocates are again questioning EPA’s commitment to fulfilling legal requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or protecting endangered species and their habitats in the midst of an unprecedented rate of global extinction. ESA is celebrated as one of the most far-reaching conservation laws globally, credited with preventing the extinction of 99 percent of those species the government targets for protection, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). ESA establishes a framework to categorize species as “endangered” or “threatened,” granting them specific protections. Under ESA, EPA is required to consult with relevant agencies […]

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11
Apr

Chemical-Intensive Practices in Florida Citrus Lead to Harm and Collapse, as Organic Methods Offer Path Forward

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2024) Scientists are moving forward in testing an agroecological method of “push-pull” pest management (reducing the attractiveness of the target organism and luring pest insects towards a trap) to fight the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) in Florida orange groves, as it spreads a plant disease known as the pathogenic bacteria huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, which is deadly to citrus trees. The disease is spread by the pathogenic bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas).  The chemical-intensive, or conventional, citrus industry is under intense pressure to find alternatives, as synthetic antibiotic use for this purpose has been successfully challenged in court. ACP is the carrier, or vector, for HLB, spreading it through the citrus groves and killing the trees. The chemical-intensive industry has focused on using antibiotics, which the environmental and public health community has rejected because of serious medical concerns associated with life-threatening bacterial resistance to antibiotics used to protect humans. A federal district court decision in December 2023 found illegal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to register the antibiotic streptomycin in Florida citrus without adequate review of its impact on endangered species. The streptomycin lawsuit, filed in 2021 by a coalition of […]

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09
Apr

Industry Stops PFAS Restrictions, Reverses EPA in Court, as Plastic Leaches Contaminants

(Beyond Pesticides, April 9, 2024) The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in an opinion authored by Circuit Judge Cory T. Wilson, has vacated an action by the U.S. Environmental Protection  Agency (EPA) that had ordered the Texas-based manufacturer Inhance Technologies, L.L.C. to stop producing plastic containers that leach toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into pesticides, household cleaners, condiments, and additional products. EPA has taken action after the agency determined that the PFAS created during the fluorination process “are highly toxic and present unreasonable risks that cannot be prevented other than through prohibition of manufacture.” While the court is not challenging EPA’s authority to determine the hazards associated with PFAS exposure to be unacceptable, on a technicality, it is finding that the agency used the wrong section of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Section 5, which the court says is focused on new uses. According to the Court, “The EPA is just not allowed to skirt the framework set by Congress by arbitrarily deeming Inhance’s decades-old fluorination process a “significant new use,” even though EPA’s awareness of the PFAS contamination was “new” to the agency and not disclosed by the manufacturer. Even if EPA were […]

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26
Mar

Study Finds Copper Sulfate and Glyphosate in Waterways, Linked to Human and Environmental Hazards

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2024) The authors of a case study in Canale D’Aiedda, Taranto, Italy, published in Scientific Reports, conclude that, “[T]he results of monitoring and modeling activities revealed a chronic risk associated with the presence of Cu [copper] from November to April in several river reaches and acute risk associated to the presence of glyphosate in several reaches mainly in the wet season.”  According to the authors, “The most important factor influencing the chronic risk for Cu were the combination of two factors: the high surface runoff and the Cu applications. The most important factor influencing the glyphosate peaks of concentration is the streamflow.” The authors of the study measure the flow of pesticide concentrations through the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT). The ecotoxicological data was collected at two stations in Germany that flow into Italy, within the Canale d’Aiedda basin. The streamflow was monitored between August 2017 and December 2019. Out of hundreds of pesticides and six metabolities investigated in this study, “only traces of copper and glyphosate were found.” The authors continue, “The banks and the bed of the river system are almost all covered by concrete. The hydrological regime is natural and intermittent in […]

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18
Mar

Getting Toxics Out of Food Production and Communities Requires Strong Organic Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2024) Comments are due by 11:59 pm EDT on April 3, 2024. Organic standard setting provides for democratic input, full transparency, and continuous improvement. The current public comment period is an important opportunity for the public to engage with the organic rulemaking process to ensure that the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the USDA National Organic Program uphold the values and principles set forth in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). With the threats to health, biodiversity, and climate associated with petrochemical pesticide and fertilizer use in chemical-intensive land management, advocates stress that this is critical time to keep organic strong and continually improving. Organic maintains a unique place in the food system because of its high standards, public input, inspection system, and enforcement mechanism. But, organic will only grow stronger if the public participates in voicing positions on key issues to the NOSB, a stakeholder advisory board. Beyond Pesticides has identified key issues for the upcoming NOSB meeting below! The NOSB is receiving written comments from the public on key issues through April 3, 2024. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on April 23 and 25 and the deliberative hearing on April 29 through […]

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24
Jan

Regulatory Capture: USDA’s Organic Governance Board Dominated by Affiliates of Industry’s Corporate Lobby

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2020) Continuing a trend well established by prior Republican and Democratic administrations, the five new members recently appointed by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) all have a current or past relationship with the industry’s major lobby group, the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Over the past decade, Big Food has consolidated ownership of most of the largest and best-known organic brands. At the same time, many have criticized USDA for “stacking” the board, which is charged with guiding the regulatory oversight of organic farming and food production, with members from, or friendly to, corporate agribusiness interests. OrganicEye, the investigative arm of Beyond Pesticides, has issued an industry briefing paper profiling the five newly appointed members of the NOSB with a focus on their relationship to corporate agribusiness and the industry’s powerful lobby group, the Organic Trade Association (OTA). The NOSB was established when Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) as part of the 1990 farm bill. The board was created to ensure that the voice of organic farmers and consumers drove the direction of USDA’s organic program when there was grave concern about handing over the budding organic farming […]

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