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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Chemicals' Category


19
Oct

EPA Considers 300,000-Acre Expansion of Bee-Toxic Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2018) Pollinator advocates and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) are imploring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deny Bayer CropScience’s application for use of “Sivanto,”a pesticide product with the active ingredient flupyradifurone, a chemical the company claims is safer for bees, but poses the same risks at the notorious bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides. If approved, Sivanto would be sprayed in tobacco-growing states along 300,000 acres in the southeast U.S., areas home to more than three dozen species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Bayer’s proposal for expanded uses comes after EPA’s own assessment indicated risks to endangered species, and despite the fact that the agency has not undergone an ESA mandated consultation with federal wildlife agencies. For the countless flying insects, birds, and bats already under significant threat from neonicotinoids, adding another systemic insecticide to the mix will only make the situation worse. Bayer AG is characterizing flupyradifurone as being harmless to honeybees. However, flupyradifurone, being a systemic pesticide, can negatively impact many non-target species.  In fact, flupyradifurone impacts honey bee brains in a similar way to neonicotinoids, as it impairs learning, memory and the honey bees’ affinity for nectar rewards. Advocates worry that growing […]

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18
Oct

Study of Rural New York State Homes Finds Pesticides in Every Sample Tested

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2018) Pesticide residue doesn’t announce itself –it isn’t colored, it doesn’t glow or reflect light, and after an initial application doesn’t put out a discernible odor – but it is likely ubiquitous in rural U.S. homes, according to a study published by Cornell University researchers late last month. The study is a warning specifically to households with young children, who are at increased risk of health effects from even minute levels of pesticide exposure. “Numerous health problems occur from exposure to pesticides, such as cancer, birth defects, leukemia and ocular [vision-related] toxicity, among a number of other health issues,” said Joseph Laquatra, PhD, coauthor of the research. “Households with crawling toddlers should be concerned, as toddlers will accumulate pesticide residues on their hands and then ingest them due to hand-to-mouth behaviors.” Researchers focused in on 132 households in rural counties of New York State that agreed to test for pesticide residue inside their home. Wipe samples were collected from both carpeted and non-carpeted areas, and tested for pesticides used commonly as part of agricultural production in the region. The pesticides analyzed included 15 compounds ranging from organophosphates like chlorpyrifos and malathion, to synthetic pyrethroids like resmethrin, […]

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17
Oct

Management of Pesticide Waste a Global Problem

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2018) The unsustainable life cycle management of pesticides during the past seven decades has created huge stockpiles of these (and other toxic) chemicals across much of the globe, including Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. The journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research has published a special series of articles and reports from the International HCH & Pesticides Association (IHPA), titled “The legacy of pesticides and POPs stockpiles — a threat to health and the environment.” Stockpiles have accumulated because some products have been banned for health or environmental reasons, leaving stocks (aka waste) that are often stored inadequately, and which deteriorate and migrate to contaminate the environment and put people at risk. Those affected are very often in poor, rural communities that may be unaware of the threat in their midst. Beyond Pesticides covered this “chemical time bomb” problem in 2004 and again nearly a decade ago. The special issue of Environmental Science and Pollution Research responds to multiple fronts on this problem of accumulation and storage of toxic compounds, identifying the two largest issues as: (1) the stockpile of some 4–7 million tons of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) waste from lindane production; and the 240,000 […]

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16
Oct

Roundup, Other Herbicides Advance Antibiotic Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2018) Bacteria exposed to widely used herbicides like Roundup develop antibiotic resistance 100,000 times faster than average, according to new research published by New Zealand scientists in PeerJ. The results have ominous implications for the modern world’s ability to avert a post-antibiotic era. Even if new antibiotics are discovered, or existing compounds used more judiciously, scientists say that will not be enough to prevent the ongoing crisis – the world is also confronting bacterial exposure to herbicides and other non-antibiotic agents that have the ability to rapidly induce resistance. “Herbicides are among the most widely used and dispersed manufactured products on Earth. Some form of exposure for people, pets and livestock can be routinely expected,” study author Jack Heinemann, PhD, told Newsweek. “Meanwhile, antibiotics are used at high rates particularly on people, pets and livestock. Therefore, the combination of exposures for bacteria that live on us is all but guaranteed.” This current round of research by Dr. Heinemann and his team is the outgrowth of previous studies (1, 2) that established the ability of common herbicides to induce antibiotic resistance in strains of pathogenic bacteria Salmonella eterica and Escherichia coli. Now, the scientists are drilling into […]

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15
Oct

Take Action: Tell Kroger to Stop Selling Food Grown with Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2018) As a leader in organic sales, it is critical that Kroger take additional expedited steps to increase the market share of organic food and eliminate the use of toxic pesticides harmful to public health and the environment. Kroger is among the major food retailers that sells food that has been grown with toxic pesticides, such as the extremely hazardous insecticide chlorpyrifos which causes neurological and brain damage in children. Kroger should immediately end its misleading and fraudulent advertising and labeling of food products as “natural” and replace these with certified organic products. In fact, by misleading consumers with “natural” labeling and advertising of food, Kroger supports chemical-intensive agriculture that poisons children, causes cancer, and threatens biodiversity through the use of toxic chemicals like chlorpyrifos, glyphosate, and neonicotinoids. This is unnecessary and unacceptable. Tell Kroger to stop selling food grown with toxic pesticides. Chlorpyrifos  is a highly neurotoxic organophosphate pesticide that is linked to neurologic developmental disorders in children. Exposure to even low levels of organophosphates like chlorpyrifos during pregnancy impairs learning, changes brain function, and alters thyroid levels of offspring into adulthood. EPA’s own assessment finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have developmental delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder […]

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12
Oct

Vermont Watershed Protected from Hazardous Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2018) For the first time in its history, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied a permit to apply toxic pesticides to a local waterbody, according to reports from the regional nonprofit organization Toxics Action Center. The DEC decision responded to an application from the Town of Williston, VT to use the herbicide SePRO Sonar AS® on Lake Iroquois, a 237 acre spring-fed body of water used for public recreation, in order to control Eurasian watermilfoil. DEC ruled that use of the herbicide posed risks to the holistic integrity of the lake waters, the Champlain watershed, and surrounding ecology. Sonar contains the active ingredient fluridone, which studies have linked to endocrine disruption, kidney/liver damage and toxicity to fish/aquatic organisms. It has also been identified as a potent groundwater contaminant. With this background, fluridone use has been the subject of public opposition. The permit application submitted by Williston city officials identified $350,000 in costs to apply the pesticide over the next five years, with 3-4 applications scheduled each summer. Milfoil typically takes over shallow coastal waters, out competes native aquatic plants for space and sunlight, reduces oxygen levels and harms fish habitat. Milfoil, like other invasive plants, […]

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05
Oct

Oregon Temporarily Bans Herbicide Known to Kill Trees… after the Herbicide Is Found to Kill Trees

(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2018) The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is temporarily banning the use of any products containing the herbicide aminocyclopyrachlor to rights-of-way after finding widespread tree deaths along a scenic highway that cuts across the center of the state. While Oregon is the first state to ban the chemical, it is not the first instance of the pesticide killing stands of established, otherwise healthy trees. In 2014, chemical company DuPont settled a class action lawsuit totaling over $1.8 million in civil penalties after its aminocyclopyrachlor product Imprelis was cited for misbranding and failure to report adverse incidents of trees dying after applications. Oregon first encountered evidence of abnormal growths, curling, and die-backs of coniferous trees along roadsides back in 2012. A report on tree damage produced by ODA in 2015 narrowed the cause down to the use of aminocyclopyrachlor-based herbicides, including DuPont’s Imprelis, as well as Bayer’s Perspective. At the time, ODA indicated the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) had sent letters to the agency requesting the cessation of aminocyclopyrachlor use along roadsides. Oregon officials indicate that the contractor did stop spraying the chemical in areas cited in the report. An update to the first report, published in […]

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04
Oct

Glyphosate Linked to Bee Deaths in University of Texas Study

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2018) According to new research from the University of Texas at Austin, glyphosate, the world’s most widely used agrichemical weed killer, may also be killing bees by impairing their gut microbiota, and subsequently, their immune systems.  The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled Glyphosate perturbs the gut microbiota of honey bees, notes these findings as evidence glyphosate could very well be contributing to the sharp decline of pollinators seen throughout the world over the past decade. Researchers began with a single hive and collected several hundred worker bees. One group of bees was fed a sterile sugar syrup, while others were exposed to levels of glyphosate equal to what is found in conventional crop fields, lawns and highway medians. To aid tracking and recapture, bees were marked with colored dots based on their grouping. Researchers sampled 15 individuals from each group of worker bees right before and three days after reintroduction back to the hive. At both times, DNA from the insects’ guts was extracted to observe whether glyphosate had significantly altered microbial diversity within their organ system. Results found relatively minimal impacts to bees tested prior to their […]

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28
Sep

French President Calls for Glyphosate/Roundup Ban, MPs Balk

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2018) Despite French President, Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to see glyphosate banned in his country, French ministers of parliament (MPs) have once again refused to enter the banning of glyphosate into legislation. Glyphosate’s use in Europe has come under scrutiny and heated debate. But despite evidence of harms, and interference by Monsanto, the European Union (EU) extended its license last year. However, France has pledged to ban the chemical within a few years. French MPs –who were voting at second reading on a comprehensive reform measure aimed at reforming the trade relations in the agricultural sector and promoting healthier food – have once again refused to approve the banning of glyphosate. A promise by Emmanuel Macron, the banning of glyphosate within the next three years was not initially included in the government’s bill. Following the intensification of the debate about the herbicide’s renewal at European level, the question of including the president’s promise in the legislative text was posed in the parliamentary debate. In May, MPs followed recommendations of the government to consider a ban. But they were opposed to a ban within the framework of the French law, and rejected the amendments mentioning a ban of the […]

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26
Sep

Nonprofits Sue Pret A Manger for Deceptive Marketing of Foods as ‘Natural’

(Beyond Pesticides, September 26, 2018) Beyond Pesticides, GMO Free USA, and Organic Consumers Association filed a lawsuit against Pret A Manger restaurant chain for the deceptive marketing and sale of certain bread and other baked goods as “natural food,” after the products tested positive for glyphosate, a component of Roundup weedkiller. The lawsuit charges that Pret exploits consumers’ preferences and willingness to pay more for products marketed as ‘natural.’ “Consumers expect Pret’s food to be free of synthetic pesticides, including glyphosate. Glyphosate, patented as a chelator and an antibiotic, is linked to adverse health effects including cancer, infertility and non-alcoholic fatty liver and kidney diseases. Glyphosate shouldn’t be present in the food system at all, but a company that willfully misrepresents its products needs to be held accountable,” said Diana Reeves, executive director of GMO Free USA. Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides said: “Consumers want truthful information on product ingredients, with labeling and advertising that is transparent about production practices and residues of toxic materials. Given the widespread use of pesticide-intensive practices, this lawsuit establishes the responsibility of purveyors of food products to know the origins of their product ingredients before making a ‘natural’ claim.” Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers […]

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21
Sep

Bayer’s Monsanto Asks Judge to Reverse $289 Million Glyphosate Decision

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2018) Monsanto, now an integrated unit of Bayer AG, is asking Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos to reverse the verdict, reduce the award, or grant a new trial for the company after a jury determined that a California groundskeeper contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from spraying glyphosate for years. Dewayne Johnson, who maintained the grounds of a California Bay-area school district, was awarded $289 million by a jury, which found that Monsanto acted with “malice or oppression.” Mr. Johnson’s case was the first of its kind to go to trial – fast tracked based on the severity of his illness – but over 8,000 similar lawsuits are pending in U.S. courts. Bayer’s Monsanto claims that the verdict does not reflect the scientific data. “While we are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family, glyphosate is not responsible for his illness, and the verdict in this case should be reversed or set aside,” Bayer said in a September 18 statement. While Bayer contends that glyphosate does not result in individual applicators contracting cancer, this view is at odds with a 2015 designation from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which determined the chemical is a probable carcinogen, […]

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20
Sep

Organochlorine Pesticide Exposures in the Womb Linked to Poorer Lung Function in Childhood

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2018) Babies exposed to higher levels of organochlorine compounds in the womb go on to have worse lung function in childhood, according to new research presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress. Previous studies have found a link between low lung function in early adulthood and respiratory, cardiovascular, and metabolic issues in later life. Beyond Pesticides has covered in its Daily News studies on a range of adverse effects, including autism in children, caused by organochlorine pesticide exposure, which bioaccumulates in the environment and the human body. Organochlorine compounds, which include the pesticide DDT, as well as electrical insulators and other industrial products, are now banned in most parts of the world. However, because they degrade very slowly, they are still present in the environment and in foods. Previous research has suggests links between exposure to these chemicals in the womb and parents reporting childhood respiratory diseases such as wheezing, asthma, and chest infections. The new study is the first to show a link with objective measures of lung strength and capacity in relation to low-level exposure to these chemicals. Organochlorine compounds can disrupt the hormone system and have been linked to a wide range of […]

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19
Sep

Military Base Has Legacy of Pesticide and Other Toxic Chemical Exposure and Harm

(Beyond Pesticides, September 19, 2018) “‘Don’t get pregnant at George Air Force Base’” was the advice imparted from one female Air Force member to another in 1975 at that base, located 100+ miles north of San Diego and used as an active military site from 1941–1992. From the start of their service at George AFB, both parties to this conversation came to be familiar with the shared horror stories of repeated infections, vaginal bleeding, ovarian cysts, uterine tumors, birth defects, and miscarriages among female Air Force members at the site. Many women who served at George AFB in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s suffered, but did not know what was causing, such health issues, which were frequent enough that even base doctors would sometimes privately warn women off of getting pregnant while serving there. Among the many contaminants found at George AFB and other military sites are organochlorine-based pesticides (OCPs), such as DDT, dieldrin/aldrin, heptachlor, lindane, endrin, chlordane, mirex, toxaphene, hexachlorobenzene, chlordane, and others. (A comprehensive list of OCPs is available here.) Most of these compounds were used on military bases for decades for vegetation control, as building pesticides or fumigants, or for personal pesticide treatments for lice and scabies, and […]

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14
Sep

Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Over Dioxin Contamination from Poison Poles in Central California

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2018) A lawsuit first filed nearly a decade ago over dioxin contamination released from the storage of chemical treated utility poles was settled this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Judge Richard Seeborg signed the agreement between California utility company Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Ecological Rights Foundation (ERF), which commits PG&E to identifying storage yards holding treated poles, and implementing technologies that reduce dioxin levels through the year 2026. The utility poles of concern were treated with the chemical pentachlorophenol, which is regulated as a pesticide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is known to produce dioxin as a byproduct of its manufacture. “Dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science,” noted ERF attorney Fredric Evenson to KPIX 5.  “This has been a hard-fought legal battle, but in the end PG&E now appears to understand that dioxin has no business in our bay, and will now take meaningful action to benefit San Francisco Bay’s wildlife and residents who eat locally caught seafood.” As part of the settlement, PG&E is not required to admit any wrongdoing. “Because environmental stewardship is a guiding principle at PG&E, we are pleased […]

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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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10
Sep

Take Action: Tell Your Public Officials to Stop Spraying Pesticides and Adopt a Safe, Effective Mosquito Management Plan

(Beyond Pesticides, September 10 2019) Does your community spray toxic pesticides for mosquitoes? In a well-intentioned but ill-informed attempt to prevent mosquito-borne illness such as West Nile virus, many communities spray insecticides (adulticides) designed to kill flying mosquitoes. If your community is one of these, then your public officials need to know that there is a better, more-effective, way to prevent mosquito breeding. Tell your public officials to stop spraying pesticides and adopt a mosquito management plan that protects public health and the environment. The problem with mosquito pesticides. Two classes of insecticides are favored by mosquito spray programs –organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids. In order to better target flying mosquitoes, adulticides are generally applied as ultra-low-volume (ULV) formulations that will float in the air longer than usual. Organophosphates, which include malathion (Fyfanon), naled (Dibrom), and chlorpyrifos (Mosquitomist), are highly toxic pesticides that affect the central nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. Symptoms of poisoning in humans include: numbness, tingling sensations, headache, dizziness, tremors, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating, incoordination, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, slow heartbeat, loss of consciousness, incontinence, convulsions, and death. Some organophosphates have been linked to birth defects and cancer. Breakdown times range from a few days to several months, depending […]

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05
Sep

House GOP Seeks to Scuttle Playground Bans on Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2018) Local Limits on Spraying Monsanto’s Toxic Weed Killer in Parks, Playgrounds, and Schoolyards. More than 50 city and county ordinances banning the use of the toxic weed killer glyphosate on local playgrounds, parks and schoolyards could be overturned by a provision championed by House Republicans in their version of the farm bill, a Beyond Pesticides and EWG analysis found. A four-page provision tucked away in the 748-page farm bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June would likely preempt local governments from adopting their own pesticide regulations, including ordinances that prohibit the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, in parks and playgrounds. Beyond Pesticides found that 58 local ordinances ban the use of glyphosate. Overall, 155 local ordinances that regulate the use of toxic chemicals in parks and playgrounds could be preempted by Sec. 9101 of the House’s farm bill. Glyphosate is classified by the state of California as a chemical known to cause cancer, and as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Earlier this month, a San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to a school groundskeeper who said years of working with Roundup caused his terminal cancer. […]

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04
Sep

Vietnam Demands Compensation from Monsanto for Devastating Harm Caused by Agent Orange During War

(Beyond Pesticides, September 4, 2018) Close on the heels of the recent landmark California decision against Monsanto, maker of the glyphosate-based pesticide Roundup, Vietnam has demanded that the company pay damages to the many victims of its Agent Orange herbicide and defoliant, which Monsanto supplied to the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. (Monsanto was not the only U.S. manufacturer of the compound; there were nine in total.) U.S. forces, in a program dubbed Operation Ranch Hand, used more than 13 million gallons of the compound in Vietnam — nearly one-third of the 20 million gallons of all herbicides used during the war in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In Vietnam alone, 4.5 million acres were impacted by Agent Orange. Nguyen Phuong Tra, a spokesperson for Vietnam’s foreign ministry, said, “The [U.S.] verdict serves as a legal precedent which refutes previous claims that the herbicides made by Monsanto and other chemical corporations in the U.S. and provided for the U.S. army in the war are harmless. . . . Vietnam has suffered tremendous consequences from the war, especially with regard to the lasting and devastating effects of toxic chemicals, including Agent Orange.” Around the world, the U.S. case may be sparking […]

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31
Aug

Study Finds Bumblebees Increasingly Attracted to the Pesticides that Kill Them

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2018) Given the choice to forage on untreated or pesticide-contaminated food sources, bees will increasingly choose the pesticide, according to research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B in late August. The data indicate that risks to pollinators grow, rather than wane, over time, making improved regulation over bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides even more climacteric. In essence, the study indicates that bees may be undertaking the human equivalent of chain-smoking themselves to death. Authors of the study note that numerous studies have been performed that subject bees to neonicotinoid-treated food, however this research generally allows pollinators to only forage on contaminated sources. While this provides important information on hazard criteria, it does not indicate risk of exposure. Positing the idea that pollinators may eventually seek to avoid neonicotinoid-contaminated nectar, researchers provided bumblebee colonies with a choice over the course of 10 days. At the start, the bees exhibited no discernable preference between toxic and nontoxic food. However, as time went on more and more bees fed from nectar laced with thiamethoxam, a widely used neonicotinoid. By the end of the experiment, food containing 2 parts per billion of the pesticide was eaten 10% more than in […]

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29
Aug

Ocean Mammals Genetically Vulnerable to Certain Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2018) As pesticides drain from agricultural fields, they can poison waterways and coastal areas and harm wildlife. Now, a study finds that a gene that helps terrestrial mammals break down certain toxic chemicals appears to be faulty in marine mammals — potentially leaving manatees, dolphins and other warm-blooded aquatic life more sensitive to toxic pesticides, especially organophosphates. As marine mammals evolved to make water their primary habitat, they lost the ability to make a protein that has the effect of defending humans and other land-dwelling mammals from the neurotoxic effects of certain pesticides. The gene, PON1, carries instructions for making a protein that interacts with fatty acids ingested with food. But that protein has taken on another role in recent decades: breaking down toxic chemicals found in a popular class of pesticides – organophosphates. An inspection of the genetic instructions of 53 land mammal species in the study, “Ancient convergent losses of Paraoxonase 1 yield potential risks for modern marine mammals,” found the gene intact. But in six marine mammal species, Paraoxonase 1 (PON1) was riddled with mutations that made it useless. The gene became defunct about 64 million to 21 million years ago, possibly due to dietary or behavioral changes related to […]

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28
Aug

Residue Tests Find More Glyphosate in Popular Cereals

(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2018) Reinforcing findings of glyphosate residues in numerous food products, high levels of the herbicide is found in Cheerios and other popular oat-based food products, according to a study conducted by Environmental Working Group (EWG). The news comes at a time of increased public attention to the weed killer, following a landmark court case that resulted in a $289 million verdict for a school groundskeeper who presented evidence that regular glyphosate use caused him to develop cancer. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been found in popular foods, as the prior research has found similar results, and the chemical has also been detected in “100% pure” honey, Doritos, Oreos, Goldfish, Ritz Crackers, German beers, California wines, and UK bread. Glyphosate has been ranked as potentially cancer causing in humans and adversely affects the human gut microbiome. EWG tested 45 different conventionally grown oat products, and 16 organic items. Results found glyphosate in nearly every conventional product, 43 out of 45, and 5 of the 16 organic products. However, conventional products generally contained much higher levels of glyphosate than those which were organic certified (typically caused by chemical drift from neighboring chemical-intensive farms and environmental contamination). […]

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27
Aug

Pesticides Contribute to Bird Declines, Threatening Forests, Crops, and Ecological Balance

(Beyond Pesticides, August 27, 2018) Beyond the visual and audial charms of some bird species, insect-eating birds play a significant role in controlling pests that can ruin crops or ravage forests. A meta-study by Martin Nyffeler, Ph.D. of the University of Basel in Switzerland finds that globally, birds annually consume 400-plus million metric tons of various insects, including moths, aphids, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and other arthropods (invertebrate organisms with exoskeletons, paired and jointed appendages, and segmented bodies, such as insects, crustaceans, and spiders). This research reviews 103 studies that examine the volume of insects consumed by various birds in seven of the world’s major biomes. In consuming such volumes of insects that can inflict damage on crops, trees, and other plants on which organisms may feed or otherwise depend, birds provide significant services to ecosystems, to denizens of habitats, and to human food system and economic interests; they also keep local ecosystems in balance. Threats to birds — and thus, to those ecosystem services — include those from pesticide use. Of the 10,700 known bird species distributed across the planet, more than 6,000 are primarily insectivorous. The study indicates that forest-dwelling birds consume the majority of insects (approximately 300 million metric […]

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22
Aug

Mothers with High Exposure to DDT More Likely to Have Children with Autism, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2018) Mothers with high levels of DDT’s major metabolite, DDE, are more likely to have their children diagnosed with autism, according to a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry this month. Though this study links autism to long-banned DDT, it raises significant concerns about legacy contamination from this chemical, which remains ubiquitous in the environment and in human bodies. With an increasing number of studies linking autism and other developmental disabilities to pesticides, the need to transition to safer, organic methods of farming is now more important than ever before. The study, Association of Maternal Insecticide Levels With Autism in Offspring From a National Birth Cohort, measured maternal serum levels of Finish women during early pregnancy whose children were born between 1987 and 2005. Specimens were analyzed for DDE as well as PCB contamination. Mothers with DDE at the highest 75% threshold reportedly had a 132% (1.32x odds ratio) increased risk of having a children diagnosed with autism after adjusting for confounders such as age and history of psychiatric disorders. Moms above the 75th percentile had their chances of a child’s autism diagnosis increase by 221% (2.21x odds ratio). The study found no connection […]

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