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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Climate Change' Category


19
May

Agricultural Pesticide Use the Primary Driver of Bird Declines in Europe

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2023) Agricultural intensification is the leading factor driving declines in bird populations across Europe, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week. Among all potential anthropogenic impacts, agricultural intensification, in particular pesticide and fertilizer use, was found to be more dramatic than forest alterations, urbanization, and climate change. “I don’t think a study has looked at all these factors in one go, in such a sophisticated fashion, correcting for one variable alongside another; and it comes out with a very clear message,” lead author Richard Gregory, PhD, of UK nonprofit The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, told The Guardian. Researchers utilized data dating back to the early-1980s, including annual bird surveys and national and supranational analyses, as well as information on land use cover, farm inputs, and temperature changes within the time frame. Bird habitat and ecological traits were also considered in the context of declines, and a statistical analysis aided researchers in capturing trends over time. Results confirmed that birds are overall experiencing significant declines in Europe, with data recording 25% losses in bird abundance since 1980. However, certain groups of birds are faring worse […]

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06
Apr

Pesticides and the Climate Crisis: Bumble Bee Behavior Thwarted by Temperature and Chemical Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2023) A study published in Global Change Biology adds to research demonstrating that climate change can exacerbate the adverse impacts of pesticide exposure on managed and wild bees. Temperature can alter the sublethal effect pesticides, particularly the neonicotinoid (neonic) imidacloprid and the sulfoximine sulfoxaflor, have on bumble bee behavior tied to fitness and pollination services. Both an increase and decrease in temperature can cause diverging thermal responses in bumble bee behavior. However, increasing temperature bares more severe behavior abnormalities than cooler temperatures. The pervasiveness of pesticide exposure combined with climate change threatens global species biodiversity. As has been widely reported, pollinators (such as bees, monarch butterflies, and bats) are a bellwether for environmental stress as individuals and as colonies. Pesticides intensify pollinators’ vulnerability to health risks (such as pathogens and parasites), with pesticide-contaminated conditions limiting colony productivity, growth, and survival. Now more than ever, people are changing their sentiment toward sustainability, with two-thirds of consumers stating the importance of limiting climate change impacts and 88 percent supporting greater pollution reduction. The globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for […]

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24
Mar

As Global Warming Accelerates to Catastrophic Levels, President Biden Vetoes Bill that Would Exacerbate Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides. March 24, 2023) The news on March 20 yielded a telling juxtaposition as the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report asserting that the world is on the “brink of catastrophic warming” — even while Congressional Republicans passed a measure to allow corporate profiteers to make that warming worse. Fortunately, President Biden vetoed that “ESG” bill, which sought to overturn a Labor Department rule that eased the ability of pension and 401(k) fund managers to consider environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) impacts of investments and shareholder rights decisions. (On March 23, House Republicans tried, but failed, to override the veto.) The IPCC‘s definitive report finds that humanity is very close to a dangerous climate threshold, but that “it does not mean we are doomed” if humans rapidly transition off of burning fossil fuels. Beyond Pesticides endorses both investment rules that advance protection of the climate, people, and the environment, and dramatic action on climate — including the cessation of use of fossil-fuel-derived synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and the transition to organic agriculture and land management. The IPCC report, says The Washington Post (WaPo), asserts that the world is very likely to blow by the […]

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27
Feb

Take Action: Sustainable “Roadmap” Falls Short of What Is Needed To Solve Existential Crises

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2023) California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is asking for comments on its “Sustainable Pest Management (SPM) Roadmap” by 5 pm (PST) March 13, 2023. While recognizing problems inherent in traditional integrated pest management (IPM), DPR’s roadmap is directing us to a destination that includes another generation of exposure to the worst of the worst pesticides—while failing to embrace the elimination of farm inputs harmful to ecosystems and the capacity of soil biology to cycle nutrients and draw down the maximum amount of atmospheric carbon. The Roadmap’s off-handed rejection of organic practices, rather than building on organic systems, creates a lost opportunity for adopting a holistic and serious solution to the current crises of health threats from pesticides, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency. Tell DPR to revise its destination to immediately eliminate the worst pesticides and implement wide scale transition to organic practices. DPR’s Roadmap states these goals: By 2050, eliminate the use of Priority Pesticides by transitioning to SPM. By 2050, SPM will be adopted as the de facto pest management system in California. DPR says “The criteria for classifying pesticides as “Priority Pesticides” include, but are not limited to, hazard and risk classifications, […]

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15
Feb

Glyphosate Weed Killers Reduce Crop Yields and Hamper Climate Mitigation Efforts

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2023) Glyphosate use in grassland pastures reduces crop yield and impedes climate change mitigation, finds two studies (1,2) published this month from the University of Turku, Finland. While massive public relations campaigns by the agrichemical industry have poured in millions of dollars to convince politicians and the public that pesticides are necessary to ‘feed the world’ and address the climate crisis, the data does not support these claims. “Only in recent years, we have started to realise that intensive agriculture and agrochemical pollution in fact contribute to a reversal of the intended purpose. Soils are polluted with pesticides and at the same time, extreme weather events erode soil nutrients,” says study coauthor Benjamin Fuchs, PhD. Researchers approached their investigation through two separate experiments on the grass Festuca pratensis, an important forage crop grown for grazing animals throughout the world. The first experiment was conducted in an enclosed greenhouse, while the second took place in a field setting. For both experiments, plots were separated between glyphosate-sprayed and unsprayed controls. All plots received three different approaches to cutting the grass: one group that was intensely cut to two inches (5cm), the second group cut to six inches (15cm), […]

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25
Jan

Western Bumblebee Declines a Result of Pesticides and Climate Change, No End in Sight

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2023) Populations of the western bumblebee are in free fall, with 57% declines across the species’ historical range, finds new research led by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey. These data are in line with trends for other once common bumblebees in the United States, like the rusty patched and American, of which the former is now listed as endangered and the latter is under consideration. Most critically, the study authors did not simply generalize the most likely and common reasons, but instead establish the contribution that pesticide use, climate change, and land use changes have on western bumblebee declines. As the study shows, both the drivers and solutions to pollinators declines are in human hands, necessitating a broad rethinking of the nation’s approach to energy use and food production. The western bumblebee has been under considerable stress for decades. In the 1990s, there were attempts to commercialize the species as a greenhouse pollinator. This industrial approach resulted in the spread of a fungal disease called Vairimorpha bombi, and captive rearing of the western bumblebee was eventually halted and deemed untenable. These dislocations resulted in local declines of the species in certain regions of U.S. Northwest […]

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27
Nov

Tackling Climate Crisis with Elimination of Toxic Pesticides and Fertilizers, Webinar Nov. 29—What Is Practical Now

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2022) On Tuesday, November 29 (at 1:00-2:30pmEST), two preeminent researchers will present their research and worldwide collaborative work to fully characterize the effects of the climate crisis and the viable solutions associated with land management. The Forum headliners are (i) Rachel Bezner Kerr, PhD, Cornell University professor just back from COP 27 [27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] and co-author of the definitive United Nations (UN) report on climate and food production and (ii) Andrew Smith, PhD, chief operating officer of the Rodale Institute and coauthor of several landmark reports on soil biology and carbon sequestration, including the just released Farming Systems Trial—40-Year Report. With livability of the planet on the brink, the speakers at the upcoming Forum make the case to immediately reverse the increase of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane to stop the changes on the horizon that destroy life—from floods, fires, and associated climate-induced hazards to food production. The good news, according to the scientists, is that there are solutions available now in the agricultural and land management sectors that can reverse the threat if dramatic changes are made. Dr. Bezner Kerr, […]

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03
Nov

California Petition Seeks Removal of Hazardous Fumigant Linked to Climate Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2022) In a fight against global warming, environmental groups Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) filed a formal legal petition in October 2022 urging the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to phase out the use of sulfuryl fluoride insecticides. Sulfuryl fluoride is a fluoride compound with various adverse health effects, including cancer, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity (reduced IQ), and reproductive damage. CARB added sulfuryl fluoride to its list of “short-lived climate pollutants,” being the only state to do so since 1990. However, California does not include sulfuryl fluoride in the list of GHG emissions to reduce by 2020 as researchers were unaware the chemical was a greenhouse gas (GHG) until 2008. These termite and food use insecticides are 4,800 times more potent GHG than carbon dioxide at trapping carbon in the atmosphere. Furthermore, sulfuryl fluoride has high global warming potential and can remain in the atmosphere for more than 36 years. The case of sulfuryl fluoride presents an all too familiar pattern of widespread chemical use without proper knowledge of health and environmental effects before implementation and a failure to take regulatory action on known hazards after allowed in commerce. Therefore, CBD’s […]

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08
Jul

Supreme Court Politicizes Fed Agency Response to Climate Crisis, Limiting Broad Regulatory Action without Congressional Mandate

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2022) Among the multiple, wrenching decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in a week-long tranche (June 24–30) was one that limits the ability of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants. The decision may also, and with much broader implication, call into question the established authority of federal agencies to promulgate regulations not specifically authorized by Congress, but related to their overall mission to protect health and the environment. In this respect, the current court majority of six, arguably very conservative, justices has thus dealt a serious-though-not-fatal blow to EPA’s ability to carry out efforts to thwart the existential climate crisis and other crises on the short horizon, such as biodiversity collapse. The court has left these science-based decisions and strategies to a body locked in political logjam—the U.S. Congress. As Chief Justice John Roberts opined for the majority, “A decision [on carbon emissions] of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.” Beyond Pesticides and other health, environmental, and environmental and climate justice advocates, as well as Democrats across […]

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07
Jul

Pesticides Exacerbate the Threats of Biodiversity Collapse and the Climate Emergency

(Beyond Pesticides, July 7, 2022) A review article published in the International Journal on Environmental Sciences highlights how pervasive pesticide exposure and climate change threaten global species biodiversity. Now more than ever, people are changing their sentiment toward sustainability, with two-thirds of consumers stating the importance of limiting climate change impacts and 88 percent supporting greater pollution reduction. The relationship between climate change and biodiversity—a “distinct but related issue”— is often overlooked in the regulation of the pesticide industry. Climate change and biodiversity loss are interdependent, and an adverse impact on one can bolster adverse effects on the other. Biodiversity is intricate and affects all environmental ecosystems—from oceans and freshwater to forests and soils; it encompasses all life forms on earth. Without biodiversity, food production, energy production, clean water, fertile soil, sustained air quality, and climate will suffer. The globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to hold the pesticide industry accountable for the direct (i.e., excessive agrochemical use) and indirect (i.e., water pollution from run-off) impacts on ecosystems. The review notes, “The enormous use […]

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05
May

First Report of Environmental Pollutant Risk Among Tropical Mammals Across the Globe

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2022) A report published in Biological Conservation finds environmental pollutants, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and particulate matter, adversely affect tropical terrestrial wildlife. Specifically, these contaminants can interact with one another, altering the chemical landscape of the ecosystem, and causing changes in the endocrine and microbiome systems of mammals. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), global attention to the danger of pesticides has increased, with environmental agencies banning the use of legacy pesticides like organochlorines for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects. However, these chemicals can remain in the environment for decades and interact with various current-use pesticides, including organophosphates, neonicotinoids, and pyrethroids. Although many studies demonstrate that environmental pollution plays a significant role in premature deaths among humans, there is a lack of research on how environmental pollution directly affects tropical species mortality. Considering human and wildlife habitats tend to overlap, and chemical pollutants can drift from chemically treated areas, wildlife populations are more likely to experience similar health effects. With the number of chemicals in the ecosystem growing, studies like these highlight the need for pesticide policies that protect human health in addition to the integrity of the chemical landscapes accommodating wildlife. The researchers note, “Using […]

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04
May

Climate Change and Industrial Agriculture Are Supercharging the Insect Apocalypse

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2022) Agricultural intensification and climate change are driving unprecedented losses in insect abundance and biodiversity, placing key ecosystem functions like food production in peril. The findings of this research, published in Nature by scientists at University College London, UK, are the first to elucidate the interactions between major drivers of the ongoing insect apocalypse. As civilization moves deeper into a time in which the impacts of a rapidly warming planet meet the devastating effects of habitat loss and rampant chemical use, it becomes ever more critical that action be taken now to avert the worst outcomes for the future of life on the planet. While the solutions are in reach, tremendous public action is needed to stop the fossil fuel and agrichemical industries from their short-sighted pursuit of profit at any cost, climate advocates say. To conduct their analysis, scientists utilized both short-term studies and the Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity in Changing Terrestrial Systems (PREDICTS) database, which contains insect biodiversity sampling comprising twenty years of information (1992 to 2012). Species richness and total abundance were reviewed for nearly 20,000 insect species, including dragonflies/damselflies, moths and butterflies, flies, true bugs, beetles, bees and wasps, and grasshoppers/crickets […]

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08
Apr

Broken Promises, Empty Pledges Leading to Irreversible Climate Disaster: UN Says It’s Now or Never

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2022) “The jury has reached a verdict. And it is damning. This report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world. We are on a fast track to climate disaster.” These words came from United Nations Secretary-General AntĂłnio Guterres in a statement responding to the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report released on April 4. As a Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog headline virtually shouted in October 2021, “Climate Crisis, Soil, Pesticides, Fertilizers: Red alert! This is Not a Drill!” This IPCC report — Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change — is the third and final part of the panel’s latest review of climate science. It is informed by the work of thousands of scientists, and follows on the first two of the trio of reports that comprise the comprehensive Sixth Assessment Report. The first, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, from the IPCC Working Group I, was released on August 9, 2021. The second, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II, […]

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23
Mar

Climate-Induced Melting of Arctic Ice Threatens the Reemergence of Toxic Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2022) A study published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment warns that thawing of permafrost (a ground that remains completely frozen for two or more years) in the Arctic region can prompt the reemergence of greenhouse gases (e.g., methane and carbon dioxide), microbes, and chemicals (e.g., banned pesticides like DDT). Past research finds gases, microbes, and chemicals drift near the poles, becoming entrapped in ice under the accumulating snowfall. As the global climate continues to rise and the climate crisis worsens, studies like this show significant effects, as ice encapsulating these toxic chemicals is melting. Upon melting, some chemicals can volatilize back into the atmosphere, releasing toxicants into the air and aquatic systems, with the ensuing consequences. Microbes frozen for thousands to millions of years can also emerge from thawing permafrost, with unknown implications on human, animal, and ecosystem health. The melting permafrost is already beginning to impact infrastructure, creating sinkholes that damage roads, trees, and utility poles. Moreover, mixtures of chemicals, microbes, and greenhouse gases (GHGs) in permafrost are difficult to assess. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need to evaluate the health and ecological effects of melting arctic permafrost (and glaciers) from anthropogenic (human)-induced climate change. […]

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25
Feb

Trillions in Subsidies Worldwide Are Driving Environmental Collapse Instead of Advancing Solutions

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2022) Together, governments of the world over are spending at least $1.8 trillion annually — 2% of global gross domestic product — on subsidies that drive the destruction of ecosystems and species extinction, and exacerbate the climate crisis. This news comes from a study commissioned by The B Team and Business for Nature, and released in a joint brief, Financing Our Survival: Building a Nature Positive Economy through Subsidy Reform. The Business for Nature website offers a remedy to this entropy: “With political determination and radical public–private sector collaboration, we can reform these harmful subsidies and create opportunities for an equitable, nature-positive and net-zero economy.” To that end, the two organizations have issued, in their brief, calls to action to multiple sectors, including one to the governments participating in the coming UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15): “Adopt a clear and ambitious target within the Global Biodiversity Framework . . . that commits governments to redirect, repurpose, or eliminate all environmentally harmful subsidies by 2030 and increase positive incentives to enable an equitable, net-zero, nature-positive world.” A press release from The B Team reports that the fossil fuel, agriculture, and water sectors are the recipients of more than […]

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11
Jan

Common Home Fumigation Pesticide Associated with Increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2022) A study finds that the pesticide sulfuryl fluoride, used for insect (i.e., termites, bedbugs, cockroaches, etc.) fumigation treatments, increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the report, “Termite Fumigation in California Is Fueling the Rise of a Rare Greenhouse Gas.” Not only do most sulfuryl fluoride emissions in the U.S. occur in California, but a majority of global emissions also occur in California. When the use of methyl bromide for agricultural and structural fumigation was phased-out under the Montreal Protocol, sulfuryl fluoride became a replacement for fumigation treatments. However, researchers have identified concentrations of sulfuryl fluoride in the atmosphere due to the chemical’s long half-life and greenhouse warming potential (GWP). The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 does not list sulfuryl fluoride emissions as a GHG risk. Therefore, the researchers note, “This work emphasizes the importance of considering [sulfuryl fluoride] SO2F2 in state and national greenhouse gas inventories and emissions reduction strategies.” Researchers employed geostatistical inverse model (GIM)—commonly used to estimate GHG fluxes—alongside atmospheric measurements of sulfuryl fluoride to estimate emissions throughout the United States. Using programmable flask packages (PFPs), researchers examined atmospheric observational data from towers, observatories, and aircraft, measuring concentrations of sulfuryl fluoride via gas chromatography-mass […]

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05
Nov

California Releases Strategy for Land Management Practices that Confronts Climate Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2021) Once again earning its environmental leadership reputation, California has released a draft strategy document designed to catalyze near- and long-term climate action through focused attention on the state’s natural and working lands, and on nature-based solutions. The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) announced the draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy in mid-October. In the announcement, CNRA asserts that the state’s 105 million acres can “sequester and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future climate risks.” The agency also notes that the plan would secure food and water supplies, improve public health and safety, and forward equity. It has invited public comment, and a coalition of California (and national) nonprofit advocates is delivering a letter that calls on the agency to include, in the plan, ambitious targets to move the state’s agricultural sector away from the use of harmful synthetic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides will sign on to the letter. This “natural and working lands” document will inform California’s 2021 State Adaptation Strategy and the 2022 Scoping Plan — master documents guiding the state’s climate action during […]

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01
Nov

EPA and Congress Must Act to Correct a Failed Pesticide Program

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2021) Join with 37 environmental and health groups, farm organizations, and beekeeper councils, who have delivered a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leaders seeking major reforms in the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). They provided a comprehensive list of OPP’s major failures as the lead federal office for pesticide regulation and management, including: Allowing chlorpyrifos to stay registered for more than 14 years after health experts and affected farmworkers petitioned for its removal based on its known neurological danger, Allowing unlimited use of Roundup (glyphosate) long after it was shown to contribute to deadly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in heavy users and it devastated the treasured monarch butterfly, now driven to near extinction in North America, Approving hundreds of neonicotinoid systemic insecticides, now the most widespread insecticide in the country where they are decimating honey and native bees and other key pollinators and beneficial species; and Registering dicamba in a highly volatile herbicide, a shocking blunder later overruled by a federal court ruling that stated OPP “not only substantially understated the risks …. It also entirely failed to acknowledge other risks, including those it was statutorily required to consider.” Take action: Tell EPA and Congress that the […]

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12
Oct

Stop Ag Secretary Vilsack from Undermining Climate Initiative to Transition Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2021) Tell President Biden and Congress that there is no room for agriculture policies that are not in line with the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review. USDA must remove all barriers to a national transition to organic agriculture. One of President Biden’s first actions, on the day of his inauguration, was the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review, requiring the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This mandate should reverse the trend of regulatory review, which has so far protected the status quo, rather than advancing urgently needed change. Why, then, do we see Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack opposing moves in the direction laid out by the Presidential directive? A recent Mother Jones article by Tom Philpott focuses on Mr. Vilsack’s opposition to the “Farm to Fork” initiative in the European Union, which aims to “push the continent’s agriculture in a healthier, more resilient direction, to reduce the use of toxic chemicals […]

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23
Jul

Report Finds True Cost of Food in 2019 Was $2.1 Trillion in Adverse Health, Environmental, and Other Effects

(Beyond Pesticides, July 23, 2021) The Rockefeller Foundation has just published a report, True Cost of Food: Measuring What Matters to Transform the U.S. Food System, which identifies the real-but-under-recognized downsides of the U.S. food system. The report notes that, for all its reputed bounty, the food system “comes with hidden costs — to our health, to our climate,” and to the many people who make sure that food reaches the population. The report calls for a true accounting of the costs of food in the U.S. Beyond Pesticides welcomes the broad framework of the report, but notes that a true accounting would necessarily include the costs of the externalities of conventional agriculture, including those related to pesticides: the costs of pollution and its cleanup (when that even happens), of lost pollination and biodiversity, of lost productivity from illness, and of health care costs related to pesticide use. Remarkably, for all its repetition of deleterious impacts on climate, biodiversity, and health, the report barely mentions either pesticides’ roles in causing such impacts, or the clear solution to so many of the negatives in the food system — organic, regenerative agriculture. The report’s economic analysis applies a true cost accounting (TCA) […]

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16
Feb

Shift to Organic Farming, Not Carbon Trading, Is Critical to Thwart the Climate Crisis and Biodiversity Collapse

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2021) The climate crisis, with unprecedented temperature shifts, storms, and wildfires, and the devastating decline in biodiversity are escalating as a result of uncontrolled and unnecessary reliance on toxic chemicals. These existential crises that threaten life, to be successfully thwarted, require a meaningful holistic strategy that commits our nation to ending our fossil fuel-based economy and use of petroleum-based materials that release harmful levels of carbon and noxious gases (including greenhouse gases/GHG) into the environment. The proposals now in Congress and the administration require close attention and scrutiny if we are to meet the urgency of the moment. The carbon market approach embodied in the Growing Climate Solutions Act and President Biden’s Climate 21 Project does not adequately and comprehensively respond to the current and looming interconnected threats to public health and the environment. The focus on carbon to the exclusion of a holistic approach that addresses complex life-supporting biological communities allows the continuation of disproportionate hazards to people of color and communities living adjacent to toxic sites. The mechanisms of carbon trading or the purchasing of carbon offsets under consideration do not establish an end date for admittedly unacceptable materials and practices, nor do they ensure a […]

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08
Feb

Tell Agencies—New Executive Order Requires Bold Regulatory Action to Confront Environmental Crises

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2021) Immediately following his inauguration, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) directing the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This Executive Order, if effective, will  reverse the historical trend of status-quo regulatory reviews required by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that typically support vested economic interests of polluters (e.g., petroleum-based pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers). Instead, the President’s EO, Modernizing Regulatory Review, sets the stage for the adoption of agency policy across government to seriously and with urgency confront the climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, and disproportionate harm to people of color communities (environmental racism). Key agencies that can have a systemic effect in meeting these existential challenges are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Interior (DOI), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Labor/Occupational Safety and Health Administration (DOL/OSHA). But the EO will remain words on a page unless we all across the country exercise our voice and advocate for the changes necessary to end […]

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05
Feb

Biden Executive Orders Set the Stage for Systemic Change, If Words Turn to Action

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2021) The American public has witnessed, in the barely launched tenure of President Joe Biden, a surge of Executive Orders (EOs). Based on the first flurry of orders, much of the Biden “reset” appears gauged to beat back Trump policies that worsened an already inadequate regulatory system, and to reconfigure federal operations and regulations so as to address and solve the biggest threats (beyond COVID) the country faces. Among the high-profile EOs already issued are three that stand out. One recalibrates the operations of the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) to forward health, racial equity, and environmental stewardship. A second and third seek, respectively, to restore scientific integrity and elevate the role of science across the federal government, and to tackle comprehensively the climate crisis with a “whole of government” approach. Beyond Pesticides welcomes these early efforts, and maintains that vigilance and robust advocacy will be necessary to achieve needed paradigmatic change across federal agencies, which exist to protect and support the American people. EOs are tools the President can wield to manage directly some operations of the federal government. They are seen as muscular and immediate means through which to change course, particularly in […]

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