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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Announcements' Category


29
Aug

US Allows ChemChina-Syngenta Merge to Move Forward, EU Considers Impact Next

(Beyond Pesticides August 29, 2016)  Last week, the state-owned China National Chemical Corporation cleared a major hurdle in its  quest to acquire Swiss seed and chemical company Syngenta, getting the nod of approval from a United States regulatory agency to move forward with the deal. The decision came from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), a government body with the  power to block deals  it deems a threat to the nation’s security. Environmental groups opposed to the merger were waiting on this decision with baited breath, urging  CFIUS to  oppose the deal, given it has  previously proven to be an obstacle for cross-border agreements involving Chinese companies. The  agency’s  authority to weigh in on the merger stems  from the fact that about a quarter of Syngenta’s sales come from North America. CFIUS’s decision to let the merger move forward is a major cause of concern to those who would like to see a transition away from chemical-intensive, or conventional,  agriculture, as China has been open about its  plans to use this deal to increase the availability of genetically engineered seeds and their correlating herbicides and  insecticides  available for use within their country. Such a drastic increase in […]

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05
Aug

Fighting Zika – Growing Concerns over Pesticide Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2016) Concerned health officials in Miami, Florida are investigating suspicions that Zika-spreading mosquitoes have become resistant to the pesticides commonly used synthetic pyrethroid insecticides used in mosquito control. As the region works to contain a Zika outbreak in northern Miami, officials are beginning to recognize that broadcast pesticide applications are not effective at controlling populations, and are looking into cases in the U.S.  and in other parts of the world of mosquitoes developing resistance to chemical controls, or whether other factors are at work. At the same, the broadcasting of the pesticides by truck and plane and the resulting exposure to people and the environment also raise serious health issues. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has the ability to live indoors and reproduce even in tiny pools of water, is the primary way the Zika virus is spread, although there are reports that the disease can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Zika virus has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. The virus has been detected in several Latin American countries, including Brazil where the outbreak was first observed and linked to increased cases of microcephaly. However, locally […]

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04
Aug

Investigative Report Uncovers Dangerous Pesticide Misuse on Golf Courses in New York

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2016) Complaints about a green residue that appeared on golfers’ shoes at Rye Golf Club in New York last spring prompted an investigative report by The Journal News/lohud.com, that  revealed what reporters are describing a region-wide “environmental toxic time bomb” caused by the over and misuse of pesticides throughout the state. The investigation uncovered (i) gaps in the oversight of millions of pound of toxic pesticides applied throughout the Lower Hudson Valley, (ii) heightened health risks in Westchester and Rockland counties where pesticides are used the most, (iii) significant flaws in pesticide data collected in the state of New York, and (iv) the failure of authorities to catch the illegal sale and use of unregistered pesticides. Rye Golf Club, which turned into a “field of dustbowls” within weeks of the green residue appearing on golfer’s shoes, had to close 18 putting greens, leading members to demand thousands of dollars in refunds and city leaders to address the severely damaged city-owned golf course. The cause of the mysterious green residue was later revealed to be the result of an application of a contaminated batch of the fungicide ArmorTech ALT 70, whose active ingredient is azoxystrobin. Rye Golf […]

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03
Aug

Terminix To Pay Delaware Family $87 Million Settlement for Poisoning with Methyl Bromide in U.S. Virgin Islands

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2016) Home pest control giant Terminix reached a tentative settlement agreement this week of $87 million with  the  Esmond family for the severe poisoning of the mother, father and two teenage children with the highly neurotoxic pesticide fumigant  methyl bromide.  The company treated  a neighboring unit  to  their vacation residence  last spring  at a  condo resort complex in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. This amount is in addition to $3 million already paid to the family to cover the insurance deductible, and an undisclosed amount that the company’s insurance carriers have agreed to pay pursuant to their general liability insurance policies, according to an earnings report filed by the Terminix’s parent company, ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. of Memphis, Tennessee. Stephen Esmond became paralyzed after the March 2015 incident, while his two sons spent weeks in critical condition. The mother,  Theresa Devine is still recovering. Beyond Pesticides’ executive director, Jay Feldman, spoke to CBS Evening News August 2 on the poisoning. Watch news piece  here.   Methyl bromide is a restricted use pesticide and is not registered for residential use, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2013 Methyl Bromide Preliminary Workplan. It was taken off […]

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01
Aug

President Signs Weak Product Labeling Law on Genetically Engineered Ingredients, Preempts States

(Beyond Pesticides, August  1, 2016) As expected, President Obama signed into law an amendment to S. 764, the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, which establishes a national GMO (genetically modified  organisms or genetically engineered-GE) food labeling requirement that food safety advocates say may be deceptive, preempts states from adopting stronger label language and standards, and excludes a large portion of the population without special cell phone technology. Pushed by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), the law is being characterized by its supporters as a compromise, stronger than the original legislation, the Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act (S.2621), which was dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. That bill failed to reach cloture in the Senate in March. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, a big supporter of genetically engineered food production, will have two years to develop the standard, during which time it will assess the question of equitable access to the disclosure of ingredients. This new law will invalidate a stronger GMO labeling law that took effect in Vermont on July 1. The law, signed by the President on July 29, does very little to ensure that consumers will actually be able to […]

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27
Jul

Colombia Cautiously Declares End to Mosquito-Borne Zika Epidemic

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2016) In South America, Colombia has officially declared an end to its Zika epidemic. The country, which previously had the highest cases of suspected Zika virus infection after Brazil, with a total of more than 99,721 people infected since September 2015 have registered a drop in the number of infections to 600 new cases a week, down significantly from a peak of more than 6,000 cases a week in February, according to health officials. Fernando RuĂ­z, M.D., Deputy Minister of Health and Service Provision in Colombia, said the numbers signaled that the epidemic had given way to an endemic phase of the disease, in which it continues to be present but spreads much more slowly. This news arrives following the publication of Zika Virus Disease in Colombia —Preliminary Report, which suggests that infe ctions late in pregnancy may pose less risk to the fetus than widely feared. The report follows thousands of women in Colombia who have had symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease during pregnancy to try to better understand the risk the virus poses. At the time of the report, the country had only seven official cases of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by […]

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22
Jul

Walmart Takes Limited Step to Eliminate Toxic Ingredients in Products It Sells

(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2016) This week, Walmart released the names of eight chemicals, including one pesticide,  classified as High Priority Chemicals (HPCs), which it has asked suppliers to remove from their products. The HPCs are a subset of Walmart’s list of Priority Chemicals (PCs), which is compiled from chemicals identified as hazardous by a number of state, national, and international authorities. In 2013, Walmart released a Sustainable Chemistry Policy and pledged to increase transparency of product ingredients, advance safer formulations of products, and to attain U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Safer Choice certification for Walmart’s own private brand products. After three years, Walmart has not hit the mark on many of its stated goals. The transparency provision of the Sustainable Chemistry Policy requires all suppliers to provide full online ingredient disclosure beginning January 2015 and Walmart Priority Chemicals on packaging beginning January 2018. Walmart says that 78% of suppliers responding reported disclosure for all products. For their goal of advancing safer formulations of products, Walmart focused on reducing the HPCs. Importantly, seven of the eight high priority chemicals are undisclosed so-called “inert” ingredients in pesticide products, which should be disclosed under the policy. However, the disclosure occurs through the […]

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21
Jul

Mixtures of Multiple Pesticide Ingredients in Products Not Evaluated by EPA for Elevated Toxicity

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2016) An investigative report released yesterday by Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) concludes  that, over the past six years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved nearly 100 pesticide products with chemical mixtures that elevate the formulations’  toxicity, but are not specifically evaluated  by the agency. CBD finds that these formulations add  more stress to already-jeopardized pollinators and rare plants. The report Toxic Concoctions: How the EPA Ignores the Dangers of Pesticide Cocktails, highlights a long-running blind spot within EPA’s pesticide evaluation program, which Beyond Pesticides has long sounded the alarm on: the risk associated with combining mixtures of different pesticide active ingredients, which independent science shows may be more toxic than a single active ingredient by itself, also known as pesticide synergism. The mixtures occur as a result of multiple ingredients in individual products or  because of exposure to multiple pesticide product residues in food, air, water, and land areas, such as lawns, playing fields, and parks. “It’s alarming to see just how common it’s been for the EPA to ignore how these chemical mixtures might endanger the health of our environment,” said Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a scientist with the CBD, and author of […]

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20
Jul

Designated Pollinator Habitat Areas Still Put Pollinators At Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2016) Farmers and land managers across the U.S. are being encouraged to plant pollinator habitat adjacent to farmlands to provide shelter and food for pollinator species. But according to a new study published last week, these conservation areas still put bees at risk for pesticide contamination, as they fail to provide spatial or temporal relief. This study emphasizes that meaningful solutions to reversing pollinator decline does not lie with focusing on planting pollinator habitat, but ensuring that these refuge areas are free from pesticide contamination, highly toxic to bees and other pollinators, and reducing the reliance on toxic chemical inputs in agriculture and other landscapes. The study, “Neonicotinoid-contaminated pollinator strips adjacent to cropland reduce honey bee nutritional status,” finds that pollinator habitat adjacent to agricultural areas not only becomes a source for pesticide, especially neonicotinoid, exposures, but also poses significant risk to honey bees. The authors, Christina Mogren, PhD, and former USDA entomologist, Jonathan Lundgren, PhD, initially sought to study whether increasing forage by planting pollinator habitat in an agricultural-dominated region would serve to buffer against the harmful effects of plant-incorporated pesticides. However, the authors note that it soon became apparent that the unintended consequence was […]

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19
Jul

Common Pesticide Exposure Alters Behavior of Fish and Amphibians

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2016) Exposure to common pesticides at levels often found in the environment can have subtle but significant impacts on the behavioral health of fish, amphibians and other aquatic invertebrates. According to researchers at Northern Arizona University, who analyzed data from nearly 40 experiments to reach their conclusion, fish and amphibians swam 35% slower and were 72% less active after pesticide exposure. Chemical Class Type Example Pesticides Carbamates Insecticide Carbaryl, Aldicarb Organochlorine Insecticide DDT, Endosulfan, Chlordane Organophosphates Insecticide Diazinon, Chlorpyrifos Organotins Biocide Tributyltin Phosphonoglycines Herbicide Glyphosate, Glufosinate Pyrethroids Insecticide Permethrin, Bifenthrin, Esfenvalerate Triazines Herbicide Atrazine, Simazine The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that the overall effect on aquatic wildlife varied based on the chemical class the animals encountered. While pyrethroids, carbamates, and organophosphates resulted in a significant decrease in swim speed, triazines and phosphonoglycines showed no overall effect. Pyrethroids, carbamates, organophosphates, organochlorines, and organotins decreased activity, while phosphonoglycines had no overall effect, and triazines actually increased activity. “I didn’t think that we would see [an effect] across such a wide range of pesticides so consistently, but we did,” said study co-author, Catherine Propper, PhD to KNAU, “and that leads to some concerns about […]

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18
Jul

Glyphosate Causes Changes to DNA Function Resulting in Chronic Disease, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides July 18, 2016) A  review of the scientific literature links  glyphosate, one of the most popular weed killers in the U.S. and the active ingredient in Roundup, to a wide range of diseases through a mechanism that modifies DNA functioning, adding a new even more troubling dimension to the herbicide’s cancer classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. According to the most recent review, Glyphosate pathways to modern disease V: Amino acid analogue of glycine in diverse proteins, conducted by independent scientists Anthony Samsel, Ph.D. and Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), glyphosate acts as a glycine analogue that  incorporates into peptides during protein synthesis. In this process, it alters a number of proteins that depend on conserved glycine for proper function. According to the authors, glyphosate substitution for glycine correlates with  several diseases, including diabetes, obesity, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson’s disease, among others. Glycine, the smallest amino acid commonly found in proteins, has unique properties that support flexibility and the ability to anchor to the plasma membrane or the cytoskeleton.  This new direct biological evidence, taken together with correlational data, make a compelling case that […]

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15
Jul

Toxic Algae Bloom in Florida’s Largest Lake Tied to Chemical-Intensive Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2016) A toxic algae bloom that has expanded throughout Florida’s largest freshwater body, Lake Okeechobee, and around south Florida beaches, has created vast problems for residents, compelling Governor Rick Scott to declare an environmental state of emergency.  However, the Governor’s  declaration fails to address the root of the problem””including the extreme levels of nutrient buildup and the dangerous amount of phosphorous and nitrogen found in the water, caused by excess fertilization runoff from both chemically-intensive agricultural and residential sources. Instead, Gov. Scott has placed blame on the federal government due to their lack of proper maintenance on the Herbert Hoover Dike, which prevents Lake Okeechobee from overflowing into nearby water sources. While this is certainly problematic, the crux of the issue stems from the polluted water itself, which allows bacteria to grow swiftly when nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen are abundant. “We just are putting way too much nitrogen and phosphorus into our natural waters, and they respond,” Florida Atlantic University research professor, Bill Louda, Ph.D. told CBS news. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, as a means of flood prevention,  released  the lake’s water  into local canals  with a […]

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14
Jul

Congress Proposes to Strip Farmworker Protection Standards in Funding Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2016) A funding bill (H.R. 5538) for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Interior Department is receiving pushback from conservation groups, environmental lobbyists, and workers’ rights advocates for containing dozens of controversial amendments, including  one that would strip funding for parts of the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which establishes many  protections for  those  in the country who experience the highest and most dangerous pesticide exposure — farmworkers. Title IV, Section 437 of H.R. 5538 states that, “None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used to implement or enforce, or to require States to implement or enforce, the provisions of 40 CFR 170.311(b)(9) as published in the Federal Register on November 2, 2015.” The provisions of 40 CFR 170.311(b)(9) refer to the WPS revisions passed in 2015, which had previously not been updated for over 20 years. The revisions are designed to provide at least some protections from pesticide exposure to farmworkers and their families is scheduled to effect in  December 2016. Historically, farmworker advocates have criticized  WPS as woefully inadequate in protecting the health of agricultural workers, but these new revisions strengthen the standards through increased training for […]

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13
Jul

California to List Atrazine and Other Triazine Weedkillers to Prop 65 as Reproductive Toxicants

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2016) California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has announced that atrazine, its chemical cousins,  propazine,  simazine,  and its break down triazine compounds des-ethyl atrazine (DEA),  des-isopropyl atrazine (DIA)  and  2,4-diamino-6-chloro-s-triazine (DACT)  would be added to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity for purposes of the state’s Proposition 65. The formal listing has been delayed and will not be effective until July 15, 2016 due to litigation from the manufacturer, Syngenta, which opposes the listing. In 2014 the state announced its Notice of Intent to list the triazines: atrazine, propazine, simazine and their breakdown products under Proposition 65 — the state’s law on toxic chemicals. The listing of these chemicals was initially to be effective on August 3, 2015. However, Syngenta, manufacturer of atrazine, challenged the listing decision, leading to a delay in the formal decision. Syngenta Crop Protection v OEHHA  (Sacramento Superior Court case#34-2014-800001868). Syngenta’s challenge was unsuccessful and now the official listing can move forward, in spite of Syngenta’s pending appeal. The six chemicals will now be known as reproductive toxicants in the state of California effective July 15, 2016. See listing notice. http://oehha.ca.gov/media/downloads/crnr/listingnoticetriazines070516.pdf Proposition 65, officially […]

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12
Jul

Canadian Environmental Groups Sue to Stop Bee-Toxic Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2016) Canadian environmental organizations sued the  Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PRMA) last week in a bid to overturn the approval of two neonicotinoid pesticides linked to the decline of honey bees and wild pollinators. The move comes amid growing awareness, action, and scientific evidence linking this widely used class of insecticides to the global decline of pollinator populations. The lawsuit, filed  by Ecojustice on behalf of  The David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth Canada, Ontario Nature, and the Wilderness Committee, argues that pesticide products containing two neonicotinoids, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, are unlawfully registered in Canada. The groups allege that PMRA failed to ensure that it had the data necessary to determine the environmental risks, particularly those concerning pollinators, posed by the chemicals. “The PMRA has taken a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil approach by repeatedly registering these neonicotinoid pesticides without important scientific information on their risks to pollinators,” said Charles Hatt, staff lawyer at Ecojustice. Under Canada’s Pest Control Products Act, PMRA must have “reasonable certainty” that a pesticide will not cause harm to the environment before it is registered. The groups also note that several thiamethoxam-based products have been registered by the agency for years […]

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11
Jul

CDC, EPA Urge Aerial Mosquito Spraying in Puerto Rico Amid Protest

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2016) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last Wednesday, July 6 that Zika is spreading rapidly in Puerto Rico, and recommends aerial spraying of the toxic pesticide Naled for mosquito control, much to the dismay of many area farmers, activists and concerned citizens who feel that the decision was made without consultation or information provided to the local population. Aerial spraying of pesticides have long been used for mosquito control, but many experts believe that these methods fail to sufficiently manage mosquito populations, increase pesticide resistance, and kill other species that would have acted as a natural predator to mosquitoes. Many experts  agree that combating mosquito-borne diseases should include good surveillance and scientific understanding for controlling mosquito populations, including a focus on  eliminating or managing  breeding areas,  utilizing  biological controls, exclusion from indoor environments with screening, and repellents. An efficient mosquito management strategy emphasizes public awareness, prevention, and monitoring methods. However, if these methods are not used properly or in time, communities must determine if they should risk exposing vulnerable populations to potentially harmful diseases caused by mosquitoes or to chronic or deadly illnesses caused by […]

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08
Jul

Government Lacks Data on Widespread Herbicide Use on Public Lands

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2016) Researchers at the University of Montana (UM) recently released a study that found a lack of government data and accountability on  the use of herbicides on public lands to kill invasive and non-native plants. The report raises serious questions about the widespread management practice, which the researchers say may be causing more harm than good. UM researchers, Cara Nelson, Ph.D. and Viktoria Wagner, Ph.D., along with two researchers from Canada, looked at government agencies and agricultural statistics companies in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to find their data. The study found that the government agencies in Canada and Mexico kept no archived database of herbicide usage for invasive plant management. In the U.S., five out of seven agencies that were contacted by the researchers tracked herbicide usage, and only four of those agencies shared their data. These agencies include the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service. The U.S. Forest Service, which oversees 193 million acres in the U.S., declined to share its data on herbicide use. The report found that even the agencies that did share their data did not consistently archive information on the […]

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07
Jul

U.S. Senate Moves to Limit GMO Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, July 7, 2016) Despite an outpouring of letters, calls and protests, in a key procedural vote yesterday, the Senate voted to deny Americans the right to know what is in in their food products, and to preempt states’ rights to create their own genetically engineered food labeling laws. In a cloture vote of 65-32, the highly-flawed genetically engineered (GE or GMO) labeling bill, S.B. 764, offered by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KY), also known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, passed through the Senate. This “compromise” bill allows producers to use QR codes and “smart labels” instead of clear, on-package labeling of food products that contain genetically modified organisms, which means that consumers will need to use a smart phone for the information. The bill also exempts major portions of current and future GE foods from being labeled, and, in an affront against democracy, preempts the genetically engineered food labeling laws in Vermont (which went into effect July 1), Connecticut, Maine and Alaska. “The American people have a right to know what they’re eating,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who vowed to put a hold on the bill if they didn’t […]

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06
Jul

Glyphosate Extended for 18 Months in Europe – With Restrictions

(Beyond Pesticides, July 6, 2016) Unable to come to a formal decision on glyphosate, the European Commission has issued a limited license extension for  glyphosate,  the pesticide in Monsanto’s flagship product Roundup. The decision also comes with some restrictions, including obligations for member states to minimize use on playgrounds, and a ban on formulations with the ingredient POEA. The  18-month interim license will allow glyphosate-containing products to remain on the market until the European Chemicals Agency rules  on glyphosate’s safety, an action  due by the end of 2017. According to the European Commission, “Despite repeated efforts from the Commission to address concerns expressed about the re-approval of glyphosate, Member States were not prepared to take responsibility for a decision  as no qualified majority was reached”¦” Debate has been raging in Europe about the continued use of glyphosate in light of the 2015 classification by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” However, confusion peaked when a few short months later the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its report finding that glyphosate is  “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.” However, EFSA’s report is  limited in that […]

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05
Jul

Malibu, CA City Council Unanimously Votes to Ban Pesticides on Public Property

(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2016) Last week, Malibu City Councilmembers, in a unanimous decision (5-0), voted to make Malibu, California’s (CA) public spaces poison free, which means an immediate ban on all pesticides, rodenticides and herbicides. During a marathon meeting that ran into the early hours past midnight, more than 24 Malibu residents and stakeholders came to give public comments on pesticide use on public parks and city property. You can view the city council meeting here. The entire discussion and vote is included, starting at 3:29:37 (or section 6.A.). Many of the residents were with an community  group called Poison Free Malibu, which is a group that advocates for the elimination of toxic pesticide use in the area. According to the Malibu Times, Kian Schulman, RN, founder of Poison Free Malibu, gave a presentation on the effects of pesticide chemicals and their connection to diseases such as cancer and neurological issues like ADHD and Alzheimer’s. Ms. Schulman’s presentation included a picture of a city worker spraying pesticides on Legacy Park, while wearing a full hazmat suit as a child rode their bicycle close by. Several Poison Free Malibu supporters attended the meeting and gave a presentation on the adverse […]

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30
Jun

Howard County, MD, Plans to Ban Neonics on Parklands

(Beyond Pesticides, June 30, 2016) In a move that goes one step further than the recently passed state-wide bill restricting consumer sales of neonicotinoid (neonics) products, Howard County, Maryland has taken the initiative to restrict the use of neonicotinoids on parklands. The new policy, announced June 16, cites the growing number of studies linking neonicotinoid use to adverse effects on pollinator species. The Department of Recreation and  Parks (DRP) manages approximately 10,000 acres of parkland within Howard County. According to the new policy and procedure, DRP is restricting the use of neonicotinoids, “due to recent research suggesting that there is a link between pesticides that contain neonicotinoids negatively effecting populations of pollinator species, such as; honeybees, native bees, butterflies, moths and other insects.” Neonics were often used on parklands for grubs on turf, Japanese beetles on trees,  and aphids on flowers and are now prohibited on all County parkland, including sports fields, garden plots, golf course and open space. Exemptions exist for agricultural uses and invasive pest infestations. Read the new neonicotinoid policy. Just this past May, Maryland officially became the first state in the nation to pass legislation  against neonicotinoids. The state legislature passed the  Maryland Pollinator Protection Act […]

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27
Jun

Organic Seed Production Is Not Keeping Up With Demand

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2016) A new report released last  week by the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) found that the supply of organic seeds is not keeping up with the rising demand for organic products. The organic sector grew 11 percent between 2014 and 2015, with sales last year totaling $43 billion. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Organic Program (NOP) does require the use of organic seed when commercially available, but because the organic seed sector was almost nonexistent when the program began, it is still working to meet demand. In cases where organic seeds are not commercial available, organic farmers are allowed to turn to conventional seed alternatives. According to OSA’s State of Organic Seed report, funded by the Clif Bar Family Foundation’s Seed Matters Initiative, the UNFI Foundation, and New Belgium Brewing Company, the biggest organic operations actually use a relatively small amount of organic seed. They found that vegetable farmers that grow on less than ten acres use, on average, 75 percent organic seed, while growers that farm over 480 acres use only 20 percent organic seed. The authors of the report surveyed 1,365 organic farms, 16 seed companies, 46 researchers and 22 accredited […]

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24
Jun

USDA Aligns with Chemical Industry for Pollinator Festival, Disinvites Environmentalists

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2016) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), during its Pollinator Week Festival at the “People’s Garden” on Friday, has shut out environmental public interest groups that are advocating pesticide restrictions to protect bees. Instead, the agriculture agency is teaming up with other federal agencies and chemical industry groups that advocates say have been tone deaf to beekeepers’ pleas for federal government action. This new controversy emerges in the midst of an escalating pollinator crisis with 44% bee colony losses in the last year. Advocates, who bring the voice of independent science and point to the dangers of bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides as a major contributor to the decline in pollinator populations, have been disinvited to the event. Meanwhile, the Pollinator Partnership, an organization closely affiliated with the chemical industry (Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, CropLife, have all been previously listed as sponsors) will be in attendance. Groups like Beyond Pesticides, which bridges environmental, consumer and farm interests, have participated for several years in the Festival. “The foundation for a constructive dialogue between federal agencies and the public regarding the decline of our critical pollinator populations rests upon the free exchange of information and viewpoints,” said Jay Feldman, executive director […]

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