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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'contamination' Category


18
Jan

EPA Ignores Risks and Expands Uses of Toxic Herbicide Enlist Duo

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2017) Despite science affirming its hazards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has expanded the registration of the toxic herbicide mixture, Enlist Duo, which contains 2,4-D and glyphosate,¬†for use on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and extended its use on GE corn, soybean, and cotton from 15 to 34 states. This approval late last week comes at a time when widespread chemical use is threatening public health and the environment and weed resistance continues to grow, threatening farmers’ productivity and profitability. Over 600 public comments were submitted to EPA on this issue, with many comments vehemently opposing the current uses and the proposed expansion of uses. In its decision, EPA stated that Enlist Duo ‚Äúmeets the safety standard for the public, agricultural workers, and non-target plants and animal species.‚ÄĚ However, as Beyond Pesticides stated in comments to the agency, EPA has not fully considered all the environmental costs, including the cost of tackling increased 2,4-D resistant weeds, crop and non-target damages from uncontrolled drift, as well as unanswered questions regarding synergistic chemical effects in non-plant species. Advocates predict weed resistance to Enlist Duo and have urged EPA to reject its continued use and incentive¬†sustainable organic practices. Additionally, […]

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17
Jan

EPA Finds Risks to Bees from Neonicotinoid Insecticides, Fails to Act Accordingly

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2017) On January 12, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released major risk assessment documents on ¬†pollinator exposure to bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides finding no significant risks, despite the large and growing body of science identifying the pesticides’ hazards. In the documents, EPA identifies risks posed to bees by several neonicotinoid insecticides, but suggests¬†that no restriction on uses are imminent. In another decision meant to protect bees from acutely toxic pesticides, the agency is scaling back its original proposal in deference chemical-intensive agricultural interests. EPA’s¬†long awaited pollinator assessments for the neonicotinoids: clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, much like the 2016¬†pollinator assessment release for imidacloprid, identifies risks to bees from the agricultural applications (foliar, soil and seed) of these chemicals, including from pesticide drift. Observed effects include decline in worker bees, and subsequent declines in brood and pollen stores in the colony. EPA‚Äės assessments continue to focus on honey bees, with cursory mention of wild, native bees. Once again, the assessments did not consider risks from exposures to contaminated water, guttation droplets, or soil, with EPA stating that, ‚ÄúThe Agency lacks information to understand the relative importance of these other routes of exposures and/or to quantify potential risks […]

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12
Jan

Rusty Patch Bumblebee Officially Listed as an Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2017) Yesterday marked a monumental event¬†in the fight against pollinator declines, as the rusty patched bumblebee became the first bee species to officially be declared endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). According to FWS, endangered species designations are made when a species is ‚Äúin danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a portion of their range.‚ÄĚ Tom Melius, Service Midwest Regional Director for FWS, stated in a press release that, when it comes to this determination, ‚Äú[FWS‚Äôs] top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumble bee. Listing the bee as endangered will help [the agency] mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.‚ÄĚ Listed yesterday in the Federal Register, the ruling will go into effect February 10, 2017. This is a victory for environmental groups¬†who have fought¬†to protect the rusty patched bumble bee from widespread threats, such as habitat loss and pesticide use. According to FWS, the rusty patched bumble bee was once widespread across the United States and parts of Canada, but declined dramatically in the 1990s. ¬†Since then, their populations have dwindled and their overall decline is estimated at¬†91 […]

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11
Jan

Glyphosate Implicated in Fatty Liver Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2017) Ultra-low doses of glyphosate¬†formulations fed to rats is linked to an increased likelihood of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to a recently published study in the journal¬†Nature. A¬†lead author of the study, Michael Antoniou, PhD, stated that the findings are ‚Äúvery worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease.‚ÄĚ The findings point to the growing need to eliminate the widespread use of this herbicide, as it has already been implicated in endocrine disruption, reproductive effects, and kidney and liver damage. The researchers analyzed female rat livers obtained¬†from a previous 2-year study on Roundup toxicity using molecular profiling techniques. These rats were administered Roundup via drinking water at a concentration of 0.1 ppb, which is an allowable level within both the U.S. and the European Union. The molecular analyses conducted by researchers on the internal organs of the rats fed Roundup included testing of liver cell disturbances. Overall, ultra-low dose glyphosate-formulation exposure led to observations of biomarkers also seen in fatty liver disease. These findings have human health implications ‚Äúsince NAFLD is predicted to be the […]

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09
Jan

Neurotoxic Flea Collar Pesticide Upheld, EPA Issues Warning on Children’s Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides,¬†January 9, 2017) After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its recent human health risk assessment for the organophosphate insecticide (OP) tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) on December 21, 2016, the agency announced it was allowing the continued use of the neurotoxic chemical to which children are widely exposed through pets’ flea collars and other flea treatments. According to EPA, ”¬†TCVP is used as a direct animal treatment to livestock (i.e., cattle, horses, poultry and swine) and their premises, in kennels, outdoors as a perimeter treatment, and as a flea treatment [including flea collars] on cats and dogs.” In its announcement on January 4, 2017, EPA states, “We advise consumers to take certain precautions when handling TCVP products in residential areas. These precautions are listed on TCVP product labels, including: not allowing children to play with TCVP pet collar products, keeping TCVP spray and powder products out of reach of children, and washing hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling.” Advocates have raised concerns related to similar decisions on flea collars in the past in which EPA has issued warnings to mitigate risks, despite its inability to ensure children’s safety. Children typically come into close contact with pets and their […]

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05
Jan

Texas Winemakers Concerned about Crop Damage from New Herbicides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2017) Winegrowers in the Texas High Plains region are concerned that approval of new herbicides by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will devastate their profitable industry due to chemical damage from pesticide drift. Wine producers in this region of Texas have witnessed chemical damage to their vineyards that they blame on the toxic herbicides, dicamba and 2,4-D, used on cereal crops and pastures on surrounding agricultural land. A new herbicide formulation containing dicamba, XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, was approved by EPA, and the agency has recently proposed to register and expand the use of Enlist Duo, a herbicide that contains 2,4-D. EPA‚Äôs final decision on registration of Enlist Duo is expected in early 2017. According to Paul Bonarrigo, owner of Messina Hof Winery in Texas, the ‚Äúapproval of these formulations will wind up affecting every vineyard up there.‚ÄĚ This will have ramifications across Texas, as the wine industry contributed $1.88 billion to the state‚Äôs economy in 2013. Advocates say that the new herbicide formulations present unreasonable adverse risks to humans and the environment in addition to harming the livelihood of farmers. Following on these concerns, Garrett Irwin, owner of Cerro Santo vineyard, stated,‚ÄúIf we get […]

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23
Dec

72 Toxic Inert Ingredients No Longer Used in Pesticide Products Cancelled, 300 Others Still Not Listed on Labels

(Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2016) The Environmental Agency (EPA) has finalized a proposal to ban 72 inert (or secret hazardous) ingredients from use in pesticide formulations¬†following a long fight with environmentalists who, in 2006, asked that pesticide product labels disclose any of 371 inert ingredients that could be in products. While this finalization is a step in the right direction, ultimately the move is viewed by advocates as inadequate. The original petition, submitted by Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, along with Beyond Pesticides, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and nearly 20 other organizations, called on the agency to require disclosure of inerts. To put the announcement in perspective, EPA is acting on 72 inert ingredients that are no longer being used, such as¬†turpentine oil, and nitrous oxide. An inert ingredient is defined as any ingredient that is ‚Äúnot active,‚ÄĚ or specifically targeted to kill a pest. According to a 2000 report produced by the New York State Attorney General, The Secret Ingredients in Pesticides: Reducing the Risk, 72 percent of pesticide products available to consumers contain over 95 percent inert ingredients and fewer than 10 percent of pesticide products list any inert ingredients on their labels. The report also found […]

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22
Dec

Washington DC Limits Toxic Pesticide Use on Public and Private Land

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2016) Legislation passed Monday in the District of Columbia stops the use of toxic pesticides near schools, child-occupied facilities, waterbody-contingent property, and public property. The Pesticide Education and Control Amendment Act (PECCA) of 2016 (Bill B21-0580), passed unanimously by the District Council, strengthens previous law to protect children and residents living in Washington DC from unnecessary pesticide exposure. The law places the District at the forefront with other communities around the country that are phasing out the use of toxic pesticides in building and land management. The legislation, sponsored by Councilmember Mary Cheh, clarifies certain provisions of the original PECCA passed in 2012, which had not been implemented by the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) in accordance with the original spirit and intent of the law. The new law clarifies the department responsibility to prohibit all pesticide use near schools and waterbody-contingent properties, except a defined list of material allowed in organic land management. The law is intended to effect a transition to sustainable and cost-effective insect and weed management practices in the District. Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides, said: ‚ÄúThis law protects vulnerable populations, like children, from the dangers of unnecessary toxic […]

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21
Dec

Cases of Pesticide Poisoning Up in California, Including Agricultural and Residential Areas

(Beyond Pesticides,¬†December 21, 2016) A California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR)¬†report¬†of all pesticide related illnesses in the state in 2014 identifies¬†1,685 cases ‚Äúpotentially involving health effects from pesticide exposure,‚ÄĚ combining exposures from agricultural and¬†non-agricultural use. Of the 798 cases associated with non-agricultural use, 18% of them (146 cases) involved exposure in children under 18 years old. The exposure rates are alarming, and only strengthen efforts by local activists in counties like Tulare to protect children from pesticide exposure. According to the report, Tulare County has the highest number of reported illnesses related to pesticide exposure at 78, followed by Santa Cruz County with 67. The report, Summary of Results from the California Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program 2014, provides a summary of illnesses identified by the Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program (PISP), a program under DPR. Of the 1,685 cases potentially involving health effects from pesticide exposure reported, DPR epidemiologists determined that 1,073 of those cases were ‚Äúat least possibly associated‚ÄĚ with pesticide exposure, representing a 5% decrease from 2013. However, even though the number of associated cases decreased in 2014, PISP did see a 14% rise in the number of associated episodes, defined as ‚Äúan event in which a single source […]

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20
Dec

EPA Glyphosate Cancer Panel Considers Data, Public Input with Mixed Response; Recommendation to Follow

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2016) A long-awaited and contentious scientific meeting convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the carcinogenic properties of glyphosate wrapped up its review last week, with the 15-member scientific advisory panel split on their determination,¬† and some considering a ‚Äúsuggestive evidence‚ÄĚ classification. The panel‚Äôs charge was to evaluate EPA‚Äôs recent proposal that the widely used herbicide should be considered ‚Äúnot likely to be carcinogenic to humans,‚ÄĚ despite a 2015 determination from the International Agency for Research on Cancer than glyphosate is ‚Äúprobably carcinogenic‚ÄĚ with ‚Äúsufficient evidence of carcinogenicity‚ÄĚ based on laboratory studies. ¬†The panel now has roughly three months to provide a final¬†recommendation to the agency, which is likely to influence EPA‚Äôs final classification of the herbicide. The meeting was split into four days, with one and a half days committed to the panel receiving public comments. As veteran reporter Cary Gillam notes in The Huffington Post, representatives from Monsanto were allotted over three hours to provide evidence against a cancer determination, while public health advocates including Beyond Pesticides and allies were only allotted between 5-15 minutes to make their case. [Read Beyond Pesticides‚Äô comments to the Glyphosate Review Panel here.] Monsanto, for its […]

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19
Dec

Syngenta Research Farm Fined $4.8 Million for Illegal Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week filed a complaint against a Syngenta research farm in Kauai, Hawaii for exposing a dozen agricultural workers to an unregistered insecticide on the farm in early 2016. Syngenta Seeds, LLC is facing over $4.8 million in fines from EPA for allegedly violating multiple federal pesticide regulations meant to protect agricultural workers. At the time of the incident, 19 agricultural workers went to work on fields freshly sprayed with the insecticide chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide.¬†The incident with this highly neurotoxic chemical sent 10 workers to the hospital for medical treatment. EPA‚Äôs complaint states that Syngenta Hawaii LLC misused the pesticide ‚ÄúLorsban Advanced‚ÄĚ and that violated EPA’s¬†worker protection standard.¬†Due to its neurotoxicity, EPA banned chlorpyrifos for residential uses in 2000, but retained most¬†agricultural use.¬†EPA maintains that Syngenta failed to provide a waiting period for the workers to re-enter the fields. Additionally, Syngenta did not provide workers with personal protective equipment, as well as proper decontamination supplies once the exposure had occurred. At the time of the incident, an inspector from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) was present on the Syngenta farm, which triggered an immediate investigation from the […]

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13
Dec

Report Finds EPA ‚ÄúSugarcoating‚ÄĚ Effects of Hazardous Neonic Seed Coatings

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2016) Net Loss, a new report released by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), indicates the use of neonicotinoid-coated seeds is exactly that, an economic drain for farmers that only results in the indiscriminate poisoning for non-target wildlife, such as pollinators. The report is a follow up to a 2014 report, Heavy Costs: Weighing the Value of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Agriculture, which concluded ¬†that neonic seeds bring greater costs than benefits to farmers. Later that year, a study published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which ¬†looks specifically at the economic value of neonic coated soybeans, made similar determinations ‚ÄĒinsecticide seed coating provide little or no overall benefit in controlling insects or improving yield or quality. CFS‚Äôs new report cites ¬†numerous new studies published over the past several years that reinforce the group‚Äôs original determination on the realized benefits pesticide-coated seeds provide to farmers. Front and center in the report are preliminary results from the European Union‚Äôs suspension on the use of neonics on certain agricultural crops. The report finds that after the 2013 EU moratorium, despite cries from the agrichemical industry of rampant crop failures, yields actually increased. For maize, the EU saw a […]

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12
Dec

Bader Farms v. Monsanto, An Epic Duel Over Illegal Spraying of Herbicide Dicamba

(Beyond Pesticides, ¬†December 12, 2016) ¬† On November 23, Bill Bader of ¬†Bader farms, Missouri‚Äôs largest peach farm with over 1,000 acres and 110,000 peach trees, filed a suit against the multinational, agrichemical giant Monsanto. Mr. Bader seeks compensation for extensive damags to his peach trees, which he blames on the illegal, or non-labeled, use of the toxic herbicide dicamba, brought on by sales of Monsanto’s new, genetically engineered (GE), dicamba-tolerant crops. Mr. Bader is projected to lose $1.5 million in revenue from the crop damage. The case was filed in the Circuit Court of Dunklin County, an area that has been hit especially hard by alleged illegal dicamba spraying. The farm’s insurance company refuses to cover damages from any illegal herbicide use. Without compensation for the damages, the farm risks going out of business. The illegal use of dicamba in this case is not an isolated incident. There have been many disputes in the Midwest over the ¬†illegal spraying of dicamba and subsequent crop damage due to pesticide drift. ¬†Numerous news reports over the past two ¬†months in southern soybean growing regions have found that many farmers are, in response to weeds on their farms that have become resistant […]

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07
Dec

Local Pesticide Policy Reform Mapping Tool Launched; Sign Petition and Join the Campaign

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2016) ¬†Two national non-profit advocacy groups, Beyond Pesticides and Organic Consumers Association (OCA), today launched the Map of Local Pesticide Reform Policies, a resource for communities and activists that documents pesticide policies adopted by local communities to protect people, pollinators and the environment. The map spotlights over 115 communities in 21 states that have taken local action to protect their communities from the adverse effects of pesticides by substituting a range of alternative tactics, from eliminating highly toxic chemicals to the adoption of organic practices. Beyond Pesticides are inviting people across the country to sign a national petition in support of the transition to organic land management. ‚ÄúThe Map of Local Pesticide Reform Policies, a continuously updated resource, reflects the wave of change occurring nationwide as local and state policymakers take steps to provide protections to people and the environment that are not provided by federal policy,‚ÄĚ said Drew Toher, public education associate for Beyond Pesticides. ‚ÄúThe policies adopted so far reveal a strong desire by local governments to advance practices that promote nontoxic alternatives to the toxic weed- and pest-management practices increasingly seen as destructive to the health of humans and their environment.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúMeaningful change […]

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06
Dec

Pesticide Exposure Alters Bacterial Diversity in the Mouth

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2016) A new study released by researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle finds that exposure to organophosphate insecticides is associated with changes in oral bacterial diversity, particularly for exposed farmworkers. The study provides insight into the far-reaching changes pesticide exposure can cause to the human body, which are not captured by current risk assessment models used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although past research has investigated the impact of pesticide exposure on the gut microbiome, this is one of the first studies to look at oral bacterial diversity. For the study, scientists took oral swabs from 65 adult farmworkers and 52 non-farmworker adults in the Yakima Valley of Washington State. Swabs were taken both during the spring/summer, when exposure to pesticides is high, as well as winter, when lower exposure is expected. At the same time the swabs were taken, researchers also took blood samples of individuals in the study. Scientists focused on exposure to the organophosphate insecticide Azinphos-methyl (AZM), which at the time of the study (2005-2006) had not begun its cancellation proceedings. Results show that farmworkers have greater concentrations of AZM in their blood than non-farmworking adults in the area. It […]

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05
Dec

Help Protect California School Children from Pesticides in Communities Where Most U.S. Food is Grown: Send Comments by Dec. 9

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2016) People across the country can support farmworker children and rural communities by speaking up in support of better protection of California school children from pesticide exposure by December 9, 2016. Send a ¬†short email to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) ([email protected]) to tell the Department it ¬†must expand proposed buffers around schools to one-mile to protect school children during and after school hours, and expand the rule to cover all schools and daycare centers. Given that, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s latest statistics, “Over a third of the country‚Äôs vegetables and two-thirds of the country‚Äôs fruits and nuts [and a large share of dairy and livestock] are grown in California,” everyone who eats food in the U.S. has a stake in protecting children who live in the communities where the food is grown. Food purchasing decisions have a direct impact on the people who work on farms, their children, and the communities where they live. Support the more than 75 parents, teachers and advocates for social and environmental justice who marched in Tulare County to DPR’s draft rules for pesticides use near schools last week. Led by members of […]

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30
Nov

Industry Challenges Local Maryland Restrictions of Lawn Pesticides as Preempted by State

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2016) A landmark Montgomery County, Maryland ordinance, which protects children, pets, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards of unnecessary lawn and landscape pesticide use, is facing a legal challenge filed last week by the industry group Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE). The plaintiffs, which include local chemical lawn care companies and a few individuals, allege that the local ordinance is preempted by state law, despite the fact that Maryland is one of ¬†seven states ¬†that has not explicitly taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state. This challenge comes on the heels of a recent decision by the 9th ¬†U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down local laws in Hawaii aimed at protecting the environment from toxic pesticide use. An industry victory in Maryland state court would significantly impact the ability of local communities in Maryland to exercise their democratic right to adopt local public health and environmental protections that go above and beyond state and federal regulations that are deemed inadequate. The bill at issue, 52-14, which bans the cosmetic lawn care use of toxic pesticides on public and private land, protects over one […]

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03
Nov

Lawsuit Challenges “Pure” and “Natural” Label on Honey Contaminated with Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, ¬†November 3, 2016) Beyond Pesticides and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), represented by Richman Law Group, filed a lawsuit yesterday in Superior Court in the District of Columbia against Sioux Honey Association, for the deceptive and misleading labeling of its Sue Bee and Aunt Sue‚Äôs honey brands. The suit follows news that Sue Bee honey products labeled ‚Äú100% Pure‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúNatural‚ÄĚ tested positive for glyphosate residue. Glyphosate, a known endocrine disrupter and, according to the World Health Organization, a probable human carcinogen, is the active ingredient in Monsanto‚Äôs Roundup ¬ģ herbicide. ‚ÄúA consumer seeing the words ‚ÄĚňúPure,‚Äô ‚ÄĚňú100% Pure‚Äô or ‚ÄĚňúNatural‚Äô on a honey product would reasonably expect that product to contain nothing other than honey,‚ÄĚ said OCA International Director, Ronnie Cummins. ‚ÄúRegardless of how these products came to be contaminated, Sioux Honey has an obligation to either prevent the contamination, disclose the contamination, or at the very least, remove these deceptive labels.‚ÄĚ Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides, said: ‚ÄúWe join and support those beekeepers who are working to stop hazardous pesticides uses that cause widespread contamination of crops, including honey. Until U.S. regulatory agencies prohibit Monsanto and other manufacturers of glyphosate from selling pesticides that […]

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01
Nov

Genetically Engineered Crops Fail to Increase Yields and Reduce Pesticide Use, Exposé Reveals

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2016) A report published this weekend in The New York Times finds that the shift to genetically engineered (GE) crops in the United States and Canada over the past two decades has increased the use of pesticides in North America, and failed to produce any significant yield increases. When the technology was first introduced, multinational agrichemical companies claimed just the opposite would occur- yields would spike and pesticide use would be minimized. As far back as 1998, Beyond Pesticides asked, ‚ÄúIs the failed pesticide paradigm being genetically engineered?” As the Times and numerous other publications before it have found, the answer was and still is yes. The far-ranging expose by the Times on the state of the GE industry used publicly available data from the United Nations to compare yields between that of Europe and North America. Their data show ‚Äúno discernible advantage in yields ‚ÄĒ food per acre‚ÄĚ for the United States and Canada over Western Europe during the time of GE crop adoption. A comparison between rapeseed yields in Canada and Western Europe shows increases in both regions, with Europe‚Äôs yields consistently higher, independent of the use of GE crops. For corn, gains in […]

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