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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Dow Chemical' Category


31
May

Government Report Pushes Genetically Engineered Crops, Despite Failure and Effective Alternatives

(Beyond Pesticides, May 31, 2024) Among the many promises that have been made by agribusiness to farmers and consumers, the glories of crops genetically engineered (GE) to resist pests stand out. GE tools—genes—were touted as “natural,” and promised to reduce the use of toxic pesticides. The first such plants incorporating DNA or RNA from other organisms hit the market in the 1990s. Today more than 70% of all GE organisms are engineered to tolerate herbicides, and the overwhelming majority of corn, soybean and cotton varieties are engineered to to be toxic to insects. See Beyond Pesticides’ backgrounder on GE here. Despite a dramatic increase in the use of herbicides and the fast development of weed and insect resistance to plant incorporated pesticides, this month the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly released a document entitled “The Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology – Plan for Regulatory Reform under the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.” It responds to a 2022 executive order by President Biden to “accelerate biotechnology innovation” and “support the safe use of biotechnology products” by using a “science- and risk-based, predictable, efficient, […]

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14
Mar

Petrochemical Pesticides, Fertilizers, and Plastics Linked to Dire Health Effects while Alternatives Are Available

 (Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2024)  A recent review in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) highlights the urgent need to address the widespread chemical pollution stemming from the petrochemical industry, underscoring the dire implications for public health. Tracey Woodruff, PhD, author and professor at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), emphatically states in an email comment to Beyond Pesticides, “We need to recognize the very real harm that petrochemicals are having on people’s health. Many of these fossil-fuel-based chemicals are endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with hormonal systems, and they are part of the disturbing rise in disease.” Beyond Pesticides echoes this concern, noting that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) include many pesticides and are linked to a plethora of health issues such as infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, early puberty, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and childhood and adult cancers.  (See Beyond Pesticides’ Disease database here and news coverage here). The review further calls on the clinical community to advocate for policy changes aimed at mitigating the health threats posed by petrochemical-derived EDCs and climate change. Beyond Pesticides urgently calls for the elimination of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers and advocates for a systemic […]

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29
Feb

Oregon Is the Latest State to Step In and Ban Widely Used Neurotoxic Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos, as EPA Stalls

(Beyond Pesticides, February 29, 2024)  In the face of federal inaction, an Oregon regulation banning the agricultural uses of the highly toxic chlorpyrifos took effect on January 1, 2024. Chlorpyrifos was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2000 for most residential uses by its manufacturer, Dow Chemical, and has been the subject of extensive litigation. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed most agricultural uses to continue. Oregon joins four other states that have acted to ban chlorpyrifos, including Hawai’i, New York, California, and Maryland.   Central to state action are nervous system and brain effects in children, especially farmworker children. Chlorpyrifos is banned in 39 countries, including the European Union (see here for more Beyond Pesticides coverage). State action has become important since the November 2023 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which overturned the EPA rule revoking all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos, an effective ban on chlorpyrifos use. The final EPA rule, issued in August 2021, came in response to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found the agency’s inaction on chlorpyrifos unlawful. The case was filed by Earthjustice, on behalf of public health, labor, and disability organizations.  The […]

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13
Nov

Commentary and Action: Court Decision and History Calls into Question Value of Pesticide Law

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2023) The news of a federal Appeals Court’s reversal of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision in early November calls into question the value of the basic structures, processes, and authorities of pesticide law that the public has been told are protective of health and the environment. After decades of review and litigation, this reversal, especially on a highly neurotoxic insecticide like chlorpyrifos, identifies a fundamentally flawed system that does not protect the health of people, in this case, children’s brains. >>Tell your governor and mayor to adopt policies that support organic land management.  It was EPA’s finding that chlorpyrifos was destructive of the nervous system, particularly in children, and the functioning of the brain that led to an EPA-negotiated chemical company (Corteva/Dow Chemical) settlement in 1999 (took effect in 2000) that removed residential uses of chlorpyrifos from the market. The 2020 EPA decision, 21 years later, to stop agricultural uses followed another Appeals Court decision, departing from the agency’s usually long drawn-out negotiations that ultimately compromise health and the environment. EPA banned agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos in 2016 in the Obama Administration, but the decision was reversed by the Trump Administration in 2017. Because […]

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26
Jul

Inspector General Finds Secret EPA Meetings with Industry and Use of Untested Science to Lower Cancer Risk for Dangerous Fumigant

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2022) Secret meetings with industry, the elevation of unqualified individuals to decision-making roles, using an untested scientific approach, failing to conduct a simple literature review, and an overall absence of public transparency. This is how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) conducted its cancer review for the potent fumigant pesticide 1,3-Dichloropropane (1,3-D; brand name: Telone), according to a report from EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). EPA’s actions allowed a product once considered to pose a 1 in 10,000 risk of cancer to Americans to increase exposure by 9,000% (from 7.7 ÎĽg/m3 to 690 ÎĽg/m3). “These departures from established standards during the cancer assessment for 1,3-D undermine the EPA’s credibility, as well as public confidence in and the transparency of the Agency’s scientific approaches, in its efforts to prevent unreasonable impacts on human health,” the OIG report states. Yet, even with the agency’s failings laid out in clear view, EPA’s lackluster response to OIG’s corrective actions in this case add insult to its injurious actions against public health. OIG initiated a review of EPA’s cancer assessment for 1,3-D after the submission of multiple complaints. 1,3-D is a highly toxic fumigant used on a variety of crops, […]

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11
Mar

Despite Past Findings of Insecticide’s Threat to 1,284 Species, EPA Reverses and Allows Continued Use

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2022) With a history of unenforceable and impractical pesticide label restrictions resulting in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) findings of ludicrously small or no risk, the agency is at it again with its latest announcement that allows the continued use of the deadly organophosphate insecticide malathion. This just the latest example of what advocates see as an irresponsible federal agency falling far short, as the nation and world sit on the brink of biodiversity collapse and deadly pesticide-induced diseases.   In a head-spinning development, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on March 8 its final Biological Opinion (BiOp) on malathion, which opinion claims that the commonly used insecticide poses no extinction risk to any protected animal or plant. The FWS review and BiOp are part of EPA’s evaluation of whether malathion — an organophosphate insecticide that causes serious damage to many organisms — should retain its registration. The Executive Summary of the BiOp concludes: “Our findings suggest that no proposed species or candidate species would experience species-level effects from the action [i.e., registration and thus, permitted use of malathion], and, therefore, are not likely to be jeopardized. We also conclude the proposed action is not […]

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30
Aug

Tell EPA to Ban ALL Uses of Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2021) As with other actions on pesticides, EPA’s chlorpyrifos decision is filled with exceptions that respond to vested interests seeking to ignore or deflect the science. EPA, since announcing its decision in 1999 to ban “residential” uses of chlorpyrifos, continues to allow the following uses: (i) Residential use of containerized baits; (ii) Indoor areas where children will not be exposed, including only ship holds, railroad boxcars, industrial plants, manufacturing plants, or food processing plants; (iii) Outdoor areas where children will not be exposed, including only: golf courses, road medians, Industrial plant sites; (iv) Non-structural wood treatments including: fenceposts, utility poles, railroad ties, landscape timers, logs, pallets, wooden containers, poles, posts, and processed wood products; (v) Public health uses: Fire ant mounds (drench and granular treatment); (vi) nurseries and greenhouses; and (vii) Mosquito control. These uses are unaffected by EPA’s announcement. We need to finish the chlorpyrifos job. Tell EPA to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. The collective effort to remove this one chemical is a tremendous feat in eliminating one exposure to a hazardous material for children. Achieving the ban on food uses required an enormously resource-intensive effort at a time in history when we are […]

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19
Aug

Commentary: Are Children, Agricultural Workers, and the Food Supply Safe with EPA’s Chlorpyrifos Decision?

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2021) Does a science-based, public health-oriented, occupational safety focused, children-concerned, ecologically protective society allow the use of toxic pesticides that are unnecessary to achieve land management, quality of life, and food productivity goals? Should victims of poisoning have to plead with regulators to protect them? Should organizations have to fight chemical-by-chemical to achieve basic levels of protection from individual neurotoxic, cancer causing, endocrine disrupting pesticides? Of course not. But, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that it is stopping food uses of the insecticide chlorpyrifos after being registered 65 years ago provides us with an important opportunity for reflection, not just celebration. The collective effort to remove this one chemical is a tremendous feat in eliminating one exposure to a hazardous material for children. That is the point. The action we’re celebrating required an amazingly resource-intensive effort at a time in history when we are running against the clock in an urgent race to transition our society and global community away from the use of petroleum-based, toxic pesticides—to move to meaningful practices that sustain, nurture, and regenerate life. In this context, let’s put chlorpyrifos in perspective. EPA was forced into its decision by a court […]

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30
Jul

Commentary: Will Playing Fields, Parks, and Lawns Be Safe After Glyphosate in Roundup Residential Use Ends in 2023?

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2021) Bayer (Monsanto), the maker of the deadly herbicide glyphosate/Roundup, after hinting in May that it would end the weed killer’s residential uses in the U.S., made it official yesterday. With its announcement to shareholders, Bayer puts an end to residential uses beginning in 2023 and allocates $4.5 billion to cover “the company’s potential long-term exposure” from lawsuits by those harmed by the chemical. At the same time, the company announced it is seeking a U.S. Supreme Court hearing to reverse significant jury verdicts (from $289 million to $2 billion) for individuals who have suffered health damage they tie to glyphosate exposure. Bayer claims that it will argue that federal pesticide law preempts litigation against products that it has registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA). Similar arguments have been tried before, most notably in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences (2005), and the Supreme Court has found that federal pesticide law does not protect “manufacturers of poisonous substances.” (See more below.) Despite the extensive scientific review (see Pesticide Gateway) of glyphosate/Roundup and a “probable” cancer causing ranking by the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015, Bayer says, “This move is being made exclusively […]

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14
Jul

Parents of Harmed Children Sue Manufacturer of Brain-Damaging Insecticide Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2021) Corteva (formerly DowDupont) is facing a potential class-action lawsuit after several California families filed suit claiming that the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos around their homes resulted in birth defects, brain damage, and developmental problems in their children. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that has been linked to a range of health ailments, posing significant hazards particularly for pregnant mothers and their children. The lawsuits come as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approaches a court-imposed 60-day deadline to decide the fate of the pesticide’s registration. Attorneys for the court cases, filed on behalf of individuals located in four California communities (Fresno, Kings, Medera, and Tulare counties), indicate they intend to pursue class-action status, which would allow additional injured parties to join the lawsuit. The plaintiffs argue that the effects of chlorpyrifos exposure lingers in the agricultural communities where they reside. “We have found it in the houses, we have found it in carpet, in upholstered furniture, we found it in a teddy bear, and we found it on the walls and surfaces,” said Stuart Calwell, lead attorney for the plantiffs. “Then a little child picks up a teddy bear and holds on to it.” […]

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04
May

Federal Court Gives EPA 60-Day Deadline to Decide the Fate of Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has less than two months to determine whether cancel or modify its registration of the brain-damaging, organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, following a decision from a federal appeals court last week. The ruling comes after more than a decade of delay from the federal agency tasked with protecting public health and the environment from the hazards of chemicals like chlorpyrifos. The decision now falls to the Biden Administration’s EPA Administrator Michael Regan, after the previous administration reversed a proposal to ban agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos in 2017. Most residential uses of the chemical were banned in 2000.   “The EPA has had nearly 14 years to publish a legally sufficient response to the 2007 Petition,” reads a 2-1 opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. “During that time, the  EPA’s  egregious  delay  exposed  a  generation  of  American  children  to  unsafe  levels  of  chlorpyrifos.” Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that is currently registered for use on a range of food crops, golf courses, and for public health mosquito control (in cases of mosquito-borne diseases). It is highly acutely toxic, causing numbness, tingling sensation, in-coordination, dizziness, vomiting, […]

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11
Jan

TAKE ACTION: Tell President-Elect Biden and Congress to Clean Up at EPA— End the Era of Corporate Deception

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2021) Treatment of chemical companies as clients rather than regulated entities is not new at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but corruption reached new highs during the Trump administration. With a new administration, it is time to end the rule of corporate deception at EPA. This goes beyond the use of the Congressional Review Act to reverse individual rules (adopted in the last six months) that defy scientific findings and compliance with environmental and public health standards. We can no longer rely on bad science and unscrupulous chemical manufacturers that put profits above concerns for the health of people and the environment. EPA must audit pesticide registrants for integrity to scientific process and set a moratorium on future pesticide registration until the agency can assure the public that their science is not corrupt, as it has been in the past. Tell President-elect Biden and Congress to clean up the corruption of science at EPA and set a moratorium on future pesticide registrations—until the agency can assure the public that the chemical manufacturers’ science supporting pesticide registrations is not corrupt. The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published a story in early December on yet another example of the […]

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02
Oct

EPA Dismisses Disproportionate Harm to Farmworker Children from Neurotoxic Insecticide Chlorpyrifos, Leaves in Food Supply, Rejects Scientific Method

(Beyond Pesticides, October 2, 2020) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) September 22 announcement asserts that, “despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects [of the insecticide chlorpyrifos] remains unresolved,” as reported in The New York Times. This conclusion contradicts both ample scientific evidence and the agency’s own findings. Beyond Pesticides has repeatedly advocated for a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos because of the grave risks it poses. This organophosphate pesticide is used on approximately 60 different crops, including almonds, cotton, citrus fruits, grapes, corn, broccoli, sugar beets, peaches, and nectarines. It is also commonly employed for mosquito-borne disease control, and on some kinds of managed turf, including golf courses. Exposure to the pesticide has been identified repeatedly as problematic. Most residential uses were taken off the market in 2000, after the manufacturer, DowDupont (now Corteva) was faced with EPA action. Chlorpyrifos is a cholinesterase inhibitor that binds irreversibly to the receptor sites of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme that is critical to normal nerve impulse transmission. In so doing, chlorpyrifos inactivates the enzyme, damages the central and peripheral nervous systems, and disrupts neurological activity. The compound is associated with harmful reproductive, renal, hepatic, and endocrine disrupting effects, and most […]

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11
Aug

Court Decision Highlights Systemic Failure of Federal Pesticide Law to Protect Health and the Environment, Despite a Silver Lining and a Must-Read, Powerful Dissenting Opinion

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2020) Petitioners who mounted a legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) registration of Enlist Duo, a relatively new and highly toxic pesticide product, recently learned of a mixed decision from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case. The good news is that Judge Ryan D. Nelson, writing the opinion for the court, found that EPA, in registering the herbicide Enlist Duo, had failed to protect monarch butterflies, which are under consideration as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On the other and disturbing hand, the court concluded that EPA registration of the product was otherwise lawful — which means that this toxic compound will for now remain on the market. As one of the plaintiffs in the case, Beyond Pesticides is adamant that this product should not be registered for use by EPA. George Kimbrell, Legal Director of Center for Food Safety and Lead Counsel for the plaintiffs, commented on the decision in the organization’s July 22 press release on the decision: “The panel majority’s unprecedented decision is contrary to controlling law and established science, and Center for Food Safety is analyzing all legal options, including seeking a full […]

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01
Jul

U.S. and Brazil Trying to Force Thailand to Accept Food Coated in Hazardous Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2020) As the U.S. is subject to searing criticism for inadequately regulated hazardous pesticides domestically, administration officials are standing in the way as other countries’ work toward modest reforms. According to a report published in Reuters, the U.S. is standing alongside the corrupt Bolsonaro administration in Brazil to oppose Thailand’s efforts to protect its citizens from highly toxic pesticides used in food production. Both countries launched separate complaints to the World Trade Organization after Thailand announced it would ban imports of the brain-damaging insecticide chlorpyrifos and weedkiller paraquat, which has been strongly linked to Parkinson’s disease. On June 1, Thailand added paraquat and chlorpyrifos to its list of most hazardous substances. This listing initiated a follow-on regulation that banned the import of these substances on food, set to take effect in mid-July. Thailand has been feeling the brunt of U.S. diplomatic pressure since it first proposed restrictions on toxic chemicals late last year. By December, the U.S. was able to get Bangkok to remove glyphosate from its proposal, and delay the listing of paraquat and chlorpyrifos until June. But as the current situation shows, the U.S. had no plans to stop pressuring the Bangkok government after […]

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24
Mar

Maryland Legislature Passes Limited Ban on Chlorpyrifos Insecticide

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2020) Last week, Maryland became the latest state to prohibit use of the brain-damaging insecticide chlorpyrifos, after a measure cleared both the state Senate and House. Although the legislation implements a limited ban that sunsets after four years, advocates consider this action a step in the right direction that will protect the health and safety of Maryland residents. “Even amidst our current public health crisis, the Maryland legislature acted to protect all Marylanders’ health for years to come by banning this toxic pesticide, and we are so grateful,” said Ruth Berlin, Executive Director of the Maryland Pesticide Education Network to WBOC. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide known to inhibit the proper nerve functioning by affecting the enzyme acetylcholine esterase. The impacts of this pesticide are particularly concerning for young children, as research finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos had mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorder problems at three years of age. While Maryland is the fourth state to restrict the use of chlorpyrifos, it is the second to implement these restrictions through legislation. In California, the state Department of Pesticide Regulation is implementing a phase out of […]

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12
Feb

Major Manufacturer of Chlorpyrifos Drops Out of Market, But EPA Continues to Allow Use

(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2020) Corteva, a company spun-off from DowDupont, will stop producing chlorpyrifos by the end of this year as a result of declining sales. Despite the move being in the interest of public health, the company is earning little praise from health advocates for what amounts to simply a shrewd financial decision. As news articles on the announcement have noted, Corteva will continue to support Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration of chlorpyrifos, which allows generic manufacturers to continue to sell this brain-damaging chemical. “Other people are going to continue to profit from harming children,” said Marisa Ordonia, an attorney with the group EarthJustice to Canada’s National Observer. “It is big that such a major player is saying no, we’re not going to do this any more. It’s a great signal that people don’t want brain-damaging pesticides on their food. But we’re going to continue to keep fighting to make sure children and farmworkers are protected.” At odds is the difference between halting production of chlorpyrifos and cancelling its EPA registration. While Corteva has the ability to voluntarily stop producing its own product, EPA registration permits other generic manufacturers to continue to producing the product. And, over the […]

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07
Oct

Banana Workers Made Sterile from Pesticide Sue Dow in France

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2019) Central American agricultural workers, exposed in the 1970s and early 1980s to a highly toxic pesticide, subsequently began suing manufacturers in the mid-1980s, with mixed success. Now, some of those workers have stepped up their game: they have brought suit against three big agrochemical industries in France to try to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages awarded to them by Nicaraguan courts, but never paid. As reported by The New York Times, “the case could set a legal precedent and lead to more lawsuits in France for harm done in other countries by the pesticide Nemagon.” Farmworkers in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, the Philippines, West Africa, and the U.S. were exposed to the highly toxic, brominated organochlorine pesticide ingredient, DBCP (dibromochloropropane), from the 1960s until cessation of its use, which has varied from country to country. DBCP was sold in the pesticide products Nemagon and Fumazone as a soil fumigant and nematocide on banana plantations and other crops across Central America (especially), in western Africa, and in Hawaii. As acknowledged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DBCP has multiple adverse health impacts: decreased sperm production and mobility, disturbed estrous cycles, reduced phagocytosis […]

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22
Jul

EPA Allows Continued Use of Neurotoxic Insecticide Chlorpyrifos on American Food

(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will permit the continued use of a known neurotoxic insecticide on the food the Americans eat, the agency announced yesterday in response to a lawsuit filed by public health groups. Health advocates say the move to continue chlorpyrifos use is the latest example of the agency working to protect the profits of industry over the health of Americans. “By allowing chlorpyrifos to stay in our fruits and vegetables, Trump’s EPA is breaking the law and neglecting the overwhelming scientific evidence that this pesticide harms children’s brains,” said Patti Goldman, an attorney for Earthjustice. “It is a tragedy that this administration sides with corporations instead of children’s health.” Under a lawsuit filed in the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals, EPA had 90 days to provide a justification for why the pesticide should remain on the market. EPA denied the petition yesterday, and rather than providing positive justification for continued use of the chemical, attacked the sound science claimants urged the agency to consider as “not…valid, complete, and reliable.” In the absence of EPA action, several states are leading in the protection of their residents by rejecting the agency’s determination regarding […]

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20
May

Take Action: As EPA Fails to Act, States Take Up the Responsibility to Protect Health and the Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2019) The bans of chlorpyrifos in three important agricultural states show the support for a ban of the chemical nationwide. Hawai’i banned chlorpyrifos a year ago with a unanimous vote of the legislature. New York and California banned it this month. States have been pursuing bans since the Environmental Protection Agency rescinded its proposed ban in 2017. Tell Your Governor to Ban Neurotoxic Pesticides and Support Organic; Send Thanks to Your Governor in Hawai’i, New York, and California Like other organophosphate pesticides, chlorpyrifos has been linked to damaging and often irreversible health outcomes in workers, pregnant women, and children. A widely used pesticide, agriculture companies annually spray six million pounds on crops like citrus, apples, and cherries.  In the same family as Sarin gas, the substance was initially developed prior to World War II as a chemical weapon. It can overstimulate the nervous system to cause nausea, dizziness, and confusion. With very high exposures (accidents or spills), it can cause respiratory paralysis and even death. When applying the chemical to fields, workers must wear protective garments such as respirators. Workers are then blocked from entering the fields from 24 hours up to 5 days after application due to the chemical exposure risk. A group of leading toxics […]

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13
May

Trump Officials Propose to Rollback Endangered Species Protection, Break Agreements to Act, and Block Public Review of Decisions

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2019) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed four lawsuits last week challenging the Trump administration’s failure to release a trove of documents detailing how the administration is regulating dangerous pesticides, especially as they relate to endangered species. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a set of proposed changes last week that would dramatically reduce protections for the nation’s most endangered plants and animals from pesticides known to harm them. The proposals ignore the real-world, science-based assessments of pesticides’ harms, instead relying on arbitrary industry-created models. The EPA proposals would, for example, gut protections for endangered plants that are pollinated by butterflies and other insects by ignoring the fact that animals routinely move back and forth between agricultural areas and places where endangered species live. The proposals follow intensive efforts by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to halt federal work on protecting wildlife from pesticides. They were released over a year after a draft biological opinion that was scuttled by the Trump administration found that the loss of pollinators from the insecticide chlorpyrifos would put hundreds of endangered species on a path to extinction. The so-called “refinements” will make it easier for the EPA to claim that pesticides […]

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28
Mar

Documents Reveal that Interior Nominee Censored Endangered Species Assessment of Organophosphates

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2019) A set of documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity reveals that the Trump administration has known for over a year – and actively concealed – that the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos jeopardizes the existence of 1,399 endangered species. Top officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior, including Acting Secretary David Bernhardt, were privy to and prevented the release of a “biological opinion,” completed by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 2017, which contains a full analysis of the extensive environmental impacts wrought by three organophosphate insecticides. While chlorpyrifos is the worst of the three, the censored biological opinion includes similarly concerning findings for two other organophosphate pesticides, malathion and diazinon, which are currently jeopardizing 1,284 and 175 species, respectively. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that that all organophosphates have a common mechanisms of effect and therefore the multiple exposures to these pesticides lead to a cumulative risk. “It’s outrageous that Trump, Bernhardt and the industry hacks inhabiting this administration are speeding the extinction of nearly 1,400 endangered species by refusing to take any action on chlorpyrifos,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity […]

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08
Mar

Study Raises Ecological Concerns about EPA-Approved RNAi Pesticides that Turn Off Genes

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2019) Researchers from the U.S. and Switzerland have published their findings, a beginning assessment of how use of a new category of pesticides — dsRNA (double stranded RNA), which is less a traditional pesticide than a genetically based pesticide “technology” — might impact soils and non-target microorganisms in the soil. The co-authors (Kimberly M. Parker, PhD, et al.) note that, “The ecological risk assessment of these emerging pesticides necessitates an understanding of the fate of dsRNA molecules in receiving environments, among which agricultural soils are most important.” Their research appeared in late January 2019 in Environmental Science & Technology. Previously, technical hurdles in measuring dsRNA had stymied scientists’ ability to quantify the genetic material and its degradation products in soil, but these investigators were able to attach a radioactive atom to the molecule, “tagging” it so it could be followed through a series of simulated soil systems representative of those in the “real” world. Researchers were able to measure the presence of the material at concentrations as low as a few nanograms of dsRNA per gram of soil. The work of these researchers represents the beginning of understanding the ecological risks of these emerging dsRNA pesticides. They demonstrated […]

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