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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Antimicrobial' Category


29
May

Antibiotic-Resistance Genes Rise with Pesticide Application, as Study Adds to a Plethora of Findings

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2024) A study from the Academy of Biology and Biotechnologies and the Federal Rostov Agricultural Research Centre adds to the body of science linking pesticide use with negative impacts on soil health and bacterial communities. Antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs), considered a class of pollutants, are found in certain types of bacteria and can spread through the environment and subsequently to humans and animals. This study, performed by researchers and soil experts, found an increase in specific bacterial families that host ARGs with exposure to pesticides.  The study aims to identify the role of agricultural soils in ARG transfer and to assess the presence and prevalence of bacterial families with and without exposure to fertilizers and pesticides. Since soil serves as a habitat for a wide range of bacteria, including many that are resistant to antibiotics, analyzing the organisms within soil samples is an indicator of overall environmental health. Agricultural soils are essential in food production, and as this study states, “[I]ntensive exploitation of such soils implies the widespread use of various chemical plant protection products (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides) and mineral fertilizers, which contribute to pollution and a decrease in soil quality.”   Within this field study, there is […]

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11
Jan

FDA Cites Resistance to Medically Important Antimicrobials as Critical Health Issue

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2024) In a move to safeguard public and animal health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned nine manufacturers and distributors in December last year to stop selling unapproved and misbranded antimicrobial animal drugs, with the director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, Tracey Forfa, explaining to the public that “inappropriate use of medically important antimicrobials contributes to the development of antimicrobial resistance, which affects both human and animal health.”  This action and announcement exhibit a higher degree of concern about antimicrobial resistance—understood as a growing worldwide pandemic—than the history and ongoing inaction by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—resulting in the allowance of widespread nonmedical uses of antibiotics in agriculture and on synthetic (or artificial) turf. Contrary to broad scientific understanding, EPA told a federal appeals court last year that, “There is no data that antibiotic use in agriculture leads to the presence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria of human health concern,” and that “[a]t the present time, there is little evidence for or against the presence of microbes of human health concern in the plant agricultural environment.” The issue of resistance discussed in the scientific literature concerns reduced susceptibility to clinically important antimicrobials, […]

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08
Jan

Commentary: We Can and Must Stop Antibiotic Pesticide Use in the Interest of Public Health Worldwide

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2024) Despite successful litigation that stopped the unnecessary use of an antibiotic (streptomycin) in citrus production in December 2023, the court’s reasoning fails to grasp the science behind the biggest emerging threat to U.S. and global health—antibiotic resistance. What is most disturbing and challenging is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), responsible for applying science in the protection of the public’s health, misled the court on the overwhelming worldwide scientific consensus on the contribution of agricultural antibiotic use to the human death and disability rate linked to antibiotic resistance. On this subject, Beyond Pesticides has written extensively about horizontal gene transfer, which explains the movement of antibiotic resistant bacteria throughout the environment, ultimately making their way to people, as medically necessary drugs become ineffective. As we’ve written, “The human pathogenic organisms themselves do not need to be sprayed by the antibiotic because movement of genes in bacteria is not solely “vertical,” that is from parent to progeny—but can be “horizontal”— from one bacterial species to another.” [Regarding the reliance of the court on EPA’s misrepresentation of the science, the court found, ”EPA emphasized that ‘there is no data that antibiotic use in agriculture leads to […]

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19
Dec

Groups Petition EPA to Remove from the Market the Weed Killer Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2023) Last week, farmworker organizations and Beyond Pesticides, represented by the Center for Food Safety, filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging that the weed killer glyphosate be removed from the market. The petition cites 200 studies, which represent a fraction of the independent scientific literature on the hazards of glyphosate and formulation ingredients of glyphosate products. This action follows previous litigation in 2022 in which a federal court of appeals struck down EPA’s human health assessment, finding that the agency wrongfully dismissed glyphosate’s cancer risk. The farmworker groups petitioning include Farmworker Association of Florida, OrganizaciĂłn en California de Lideres Campesinas, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, and the Rural Coalition.   Meanwhile, verdicts against glyphosate’s manufacturer, Bayer, continue to pile up with a December jury verdict in Pennsylvania awarding $3.5 million and a November jury in Missouri ordering $1.56 billion to be paid to four plaintiffs. All link their cancer to use of the Roundup. Bayer has lost almost all of the cases filed against it for compensation and punitive damages associated with plaintiffs’ charge that its product (previously manufactured by Monsanto) caused them harm.  The petition summarizes its purpose and justification as […]

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01
Nov

NFL Players Association Calls for Stadiums to End Synthetic Turf Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2023) As communities consider maintenance and renovation of their playing fields, it is not uncommon for synthetic (or artificial) turf to come up as an alternative to natural grass. Promoters of synthetic turf argue that it provides a solution to climate change, reduces water use and maintenance costs, and allows for year-round play. But is this true? Is synthetic turf an environmentally responsible alternative to its organic grass counterpart? An established and growing body of scientific evidence is demonstrating environmental and health risks with synthetic turf. In addition, there is growing concern for the safety of those playing on artificial grass, which has led to a call from the National Football League’s (NFL) Players Association to utilize natural grass on all 30 NFL stadiums after New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles tear in September and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s mid-game ankle injury. Synthetic turf playing fields are reliant on polluting plastic (can contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances-PFAS) and toxic pesticides for managing bacteria, mold and fungus, create contaminated water runoff, and cover over the natural environment, which is critical to preserving health and biodiversity, and averting climate disasters. Artificial […]

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30
Jan

As Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics Grows, There Are Continued Calls for Immediate Action

(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2023) Because antibiotics and fungicides are widely used in agriculture (except organic), they contribute significantly to the increasing efficacy problems with antimicrobial (antibiotic and antifungal medicines) use in health care, contributing to a growing crisis. According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, World Health Organization Director-General, “Antimicrobial resistance undermines modern medicine and puts millions of lives at risk.”  Microorganisms—including bacteria, fungi, and viruses—are notoriously quick to evolve resistance to antimicrobial medicines. We know that selection for resistance is directly related to the frequency and intensity of antimicrobial use, so medical practitioners try to avoid using those medicines unless they are necessary. Tell EPA to cancel all uses of a pesticide when resistance is discovered or predicted to occur. Tell Congress to ensure that EPA protects public health from deadly antifungal and antibiotic resistance. Unfortunately, the medical profession lacks complete control over the use of antimicrobials. Many of the same chemicals used in human medicine are also used in agriculture. These may show up in or on treated food, but can also spread antimicrobial resistance through horizontal gene transfer. So, in addition to ingesting antibiotics in our food, the movement of resistant bacteria and fungi in the environment […]

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28
Feb

Deadly Public Health Threat from Antifungal and Antibiotic Resistance Ignored by EPA

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2022) When bacteria and fungi become resistant to pesticides, it is a signal that the toxic chemical approach to controlling pathogens does not work. But resistance also poses a direct threat to human health when the pesticide (or a related chemical) is used in human medicine. Tell EPA to cancel all uses of a pesticide when resistance is discovered or predicted to occur. Tell Congress to ensure that EPA protects public health from deadly antifungal and antibiotic resistance. The threat of resistance in bacterial human pathogens has long been widely recognized. Although research sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the spread of resistance to antibiotics important in human medicine through horizontal gene transfer in the environment, EPA inaction both on antibiotic and antifungal resistance has become a growing crisis. EPA does recognize the existence of resistance to fungicides. It uses codes produced by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee in decisions regarding fungicide registration. Although EPA says resistance “may be considered in the risk-benefit decision-making process,” there is no evidence that the agency actually considers the failure of EPA-registered pesticides to control the target organisms in registering pesticides. That failure has a serious impact on […]

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23
Feb

Deadly Fungus Resistant to Fungicide Jumps from Farms to People, as Human Pathogen Spreads

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2022) Fungicide use in agriculture is driving the spread of multi-fungicide resistant human pathogens, finds a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Georgia. While this occurrence has long been an assumption based on the rampant overuse of fungicides in chemical-dependent farming, scientists have now found clear evidence linking the development of widespread fungal resistance to farming practices, rather than health care use. Despite strong evidence that commonly used synthetic pesticides in chemical-intensive farming are driving resistance that threatens human health on a global scale, the U.S. government has not only failed to take action, it has fought against international efforts to slow the crisis, at the behest of the agrichemical industry.   Scientists focused their research on Aspergillus fumigatus, a common mold that can infect humans and cause aspergillosis. Although some have problems with mild sensitivity to the fungus, virulent infections called invasive aspergillosis can occur in immunocompromised individuals and are on the rise. Cases of invasive aspergillosis increased 3% per annum between 2000 and 2013, and roughly 300,000 worldwide are diagnosed each year. On both farms and in human medical settings, antifungal compounds called azole fungicides are used in attempts to kill […]

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25
Jan

Common Antimicrobial Pesticides Linked to Altered Gut Microbe Function

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2022) Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill identifies how triclosan (TCS), an antimicrobial agent used in many household products, impacts the microbial communities in the gut, causing inflammation. According to the study published in Nature Communications, triclosan worsens the effects of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), through the retention of harmful bacteria. Ample evidence demonstrates environmental contaminants, including pesticides like triclosan, negatively affect microbes in the human mouth and gut. Although studies show how triclosan exposure affects human health, more research is now questioning how exposure to these toxic chemical influences gut health. Therefore, studies like these highlight the importance of evaluating how chemical contaminant deregulates normal bodily function through microbiome changes. Furthermore, 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). The researchers note, “Together, our results define a mechanism by which intestinal microbes contribute to the metabolic activation and gut toxicity of TCS, and highlight the importance of considering the contributions of the gut microbiota in evaluating the toxic potential of environmental chemicals.” Instances of intestinal bowel disease (IBD)—involving the chronic inflammation […]

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23
Nov

Fungal Resistance to Antimicrobial Pesticides Leads to Deadly Infection

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced, in mid-October, a revision of its guidance on the evaluation of antimicrobial pesticides used against Candida auris (C. auris). This pathogen is a type of fungus (a yeast) that can cause serious infection, and can spread readily among patients and staff in hospitals and other congregate healthcare settings (such as nursing homes). C. auris has developed resistance to what used to be the therapeutic impacts of major antifungal medications. (Resistance is a major and growing problem in healthcare and in agriculture, with the latter exacerbating the former.) Another moving part in this unholy development of “chemical compounds no longer working” is EPA’s failure to assess the efficacy of any pesticides that are not used for public health purposes; for example, EPA evaluates the efficacy of only those antimicrobial compounds whose use patterns classify them as human-health-related. This failure to evaluate efficacy of all other pesticide products leaves many people in the dark about whether what they may be using actually works — never mind the potential risks associated with that use. The antifungal medications that have been used for many years to treat Candida infections often no longer work for C. auris; […]

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03
May

Tell EPA to Remove Risky Disinfectants from Its Recommended List; They’re Not Necessary to Protect from COVID-19

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2021) Hazardous disinfectants are not necessary for protection against COVID-19, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is agreeing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems to now agree, but has not changed it recommendations and listing for the public. Since last March, EPA has recommended disinfectants on List N for protecting against exposure to surfaces that would spread the virus causing COVID-19. Beyond Pesticides has evaluated the disinfectants, categorizing them as materials to seek out or to avoid. More recently, we evaluated the available evidence and recommended that schools and other institutions concentrate on providing adequate ventilation and protection from airborne virus. Tell EPA to remove risky disinfectants from its recommended list. EPA’s List N contains products containing toxic chemicals such as chlorine bleach, peroxyacetic acid, alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides, didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride, and other “quats,” sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione, and hydrochloric acid. In addition to their outright toxicity, some of these can also trigger asthma attacks. Now, EPA has recognized this evidence and offered revised recommendations, stressing the need to avoid airborne transmission and stating in an infographic that the risk of contracting disease by touching contaminated surfaces is low and that disinfectants […]

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29
Apr

Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Sustainable Agriculture Do Not Mix!

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2021) Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are incompatible with sustainable agriculture goals, according to a recent scientific literature analysis by scientists at Tufts University, Massachusetts. Glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, including Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) RoundupTM. The use of this chemical has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate. However, studies demonstrate glyphosate is the main contributor to human, biotic, and ecosystem harms as toxicities from herbicides are now double what it was in 2004.  The National Academy of Sciences identifies four goals of sustainable agriculture—productivity, economics, environment, and social well-being for future generations. However, pesticides like glyphosate are ubiquitous in the environment, putting the health, economy, and food/resources for future generations at risk. Therefore, research like this is vital for understanding how chemical use can undermine sustainable agriculture goals to protect humans, animals, and environmental health. Researchers note, “[W]hether or not GBHs are viewed as essential or unessential to contemporary agriculture, and notwithstanding their role in non-tillage agriculture, this study shows that glyphosate-based herbicides do not reach the bar of agricultural sustainability, with respect to humans and the environment, making the system they are part of unsustainable.” Researchers thoroughly examined […]

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09
Nov

Urgent Action Needed to Prevent Another Pandemic—This Time Due to Bacterial Resistance 

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2020) Now that we have learned what a pandemic looks and feels like, with the astounding levels of infection, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, we must take serious steps to prevent another pandemic on the horizon—this one tied to bacterial resistance to antibiotics. An important article in The Lancet points to a “looming potential pandemic” resulting from a “rise in multidrug-resistant bacterial infections that are undetected, underdiagnosed, and increasingly untreatable, [which] threatens the health of people in the USA and globally.” Tell your Congressional Representative and Senators it is urgent that the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria be initiated. Two contributors to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) that are being highlighted are in agriculture and use of antibiotics in medicine when not warranted. The misuse of antibiotics in agriculture includes antibiotics used to control certain bacterial diseases in plant agriculture (especially oxytetracycline and streptomycin). While crop uses are important contributors to breeding bacterial resistance, they are small compared to their uses in livestock production. Antibiotics are used largely as additives to animal feed to ward off any potential infections and to promote unnaturally rapid growth (the latter of which translates to higher profits), rather than being used […]

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10
Aug

Coronavirus Safety Measures Required for School Reopening

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2020) As parents, educators, and administrators decide whether to open schools with in-person teaching, there are escalating concerns about the ability of schools to put in place the programs necessary to protect the health of students, staff, and their families from coronavirus (COVID-19). A key part of most school reopening plans is the fogging or misting of classrooms with toxic disinfectants, raising questions about safe and effective disinfection and sanitizing practices, in addition to social practices that public health officials have advised, to prevent transmission of the virus. For those who want to advocate for protective measures prior to school reopening: Tell Congress and Governors that schools must reopen only when safe. Schools must have adequate resources to ensure safety. “While people are eager to reopen schools, it is critical that they adopt basic cleaning and safe and effective disinfection procedures, ventilation and infrastructure changes, and adequate maintenance support,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “However, these basic practices must follow the recommendations of public health officials, including a less than one percent community transmission rate, social distancing and masks, adequate disease detection testing, contact tracing, and quarantining procedures,” he said. In spite of […]

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08
Aug

Tell Congress and Governors that Schools Must Reopen Only When Safe; Toxic Disinfectants Are Not a Shortcut to Safety

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2020) Despite pressure to reopen schools, concerns persist about the threat to the health of children, teachers, school staff, and families. There are many complex social, scientific, and logistical issues involved in a decision to reopen schools for in-person teaching.  >>Tell Congress and Governors that schools must reopen only when safe. Schools must have adequate resources to ensure safety. Beyond Pesticides joins the National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Parent and Teacher Association (PTA), and others in calling for a well-thought-out approach to reopening schools only when it is shown that: The pandemic is under control in the community—as evidenced, for example, by an average daily community infection rate among those tested for COVID-19 below 5% and a transmission rate below 1%. Protections have been put in place to keep the virus under control and protect students and staff. These include accommodations for students and staff at high risk; measures and building retrofits to protect against all forms of transmission; procedures for detecting disease, quarantining, and notification; involvement of families and educators in decisions; monitoring; and enforcement. Plans are in place that ensure continuous learning equitably for all students, with training for educators, […]

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03
Jun

Face Masks that Contain Toxic Pesticide Distributed in Tennessee for Coronavirus then Recalled

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2020) While wearing a mask is an important practice to help reduce the chance of Covid-19 infection, a mask produced with pesticide-laden material for Tennessee residents has been identified as elevating the virus’ health risks. The state of Tennessee began last week and then stopped this week providing residents with free face masks made from sock fabric incorporated with antimicrobial silver pesticide. The investigative unit of NewsChannel 5 Nashville uncovered that the masks contain a toxic antimicrobial pesticide. Because of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) interpretation of federal pesticide law, textiles and other materials, typically plastics, infused with toxic antimicrobial substances are not evaluated by the agency for the wide range of exposure patterns associated with the use of these toxic products. In addition, the silver product in the sock material, Silvadur 930 Flex, states on its label that over 99% of product ingredients are “other ingredients” and provides no disclosure on their potential hazards. Beyond Pesticides’ board member Warren Porter, PhD, environmental toxicology professor at University of Wisconsin at Madison, in an interview with NewsChannel 5, assessed the situation bluntly. Dr. Porter told reporters over a Zoom interview, “I wouldn’t wear one,” after explaining […]

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24
Apr

CDC Finds Sharp Rise in Home Poisonings Tied to Disinfectant and Sanitizer Use during Covid-19 Pandemic; Safer Products Available

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2020) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) has released a study showing a sharp increase—62% in some cases—in calls to poison hotlines about exposures to toxic household cleaners and disinfectants. This poisoning comes with the advent of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, as public health and government officials, and many media outlets have sensibly recommended that people regularly disinfect “high touch” surfaces and objects in their homes and other surroundings, but have not issued warnings on toxic effects nor the availability of lower toxicity or least-toxic products. Compliance with cleaning (sanitizers) and disinfection recommendations is an important public and personal health undertaking, but in this Covid-19 rigor lies a poison problem: the toxicity, as Beyond Pesticides has explained, of some cleaning and disinfecting products that are permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for sale and use. There are safer ways to disinfect those light switches, TV remotes, doorknobs, faucets, etc. First, a basic distinction between cleaning (also called sanitizing)and disinfecting: EPA offers definitions of the differences. “Cleaning is done with water, a cleaning product, and scrubbing. Cleaning does not kill bacteria, viruses, or fungi, which are generally referred to as ‘germs.’ Cleaning products are used […]

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27
Mar

Safer Practices and Disinfectants for Coronavirus Identified by CDC, As EPA Advances Toxic Products, Suspends Public Health and Environmental Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2020) Faced with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) threat, there is tremendous pressure to use toxic disinfectants, despite the availability of safer products. In fact, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending 70% alcohol for surface disinfection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs is advising the use of unnecessarily toxic substances, and reducing standards that govern their allowance on the market. EPA’s pesticide program allowed 70 new disinfectants yesterday, at the same time that the agency overall announced that it is waiving enforcement of environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak—a devastating blow to public health and environmental protection. Beyond Pesticides, in its factsheet, Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 (coronavirus) without Toxic Sanitizers and Disinfectants, says, “Fight the coronavirus with common sense prevention and safer disinfection products. Avoid products that increase vulnerability to respiratory problems.” (See the factsheet below.) To some extent, the expanded allowance of disinfection products on top of the 281 disinfectants previously permitted has been made possible by relaxing oversight on so-called “inert” or other ingredients that are not disclosed on product labels and often highly toxic. The agency says it is allowing the use of these “inerts” with “no […]

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