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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Farmworkers' Category


14
Apr

Herbicide Ban Put on Hold In Sri Lanka

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2014) Bowing to political pressure and agrochemical industry opposition Sri Lanka’s government has taken a step back from its original decision to place a ban on one of the most widely used herbicides worldwide ””glyphosate. Scientific evidence has tied glyphosate to the incurable, deadly kidney disease that has afflicted thousands of Sri Lankans. The delay marks a setback in efforts by scientists and activists to remove from the shelves  a chemical widely used on tea and rice paddy plantations in Sri Lanka.   The decision to ban the chemical was initiated following the publication of a scientific report demonstrating that kidney disease was primarily caused by glyphosate. The report provides a summary of existing scientific information demonstrating kidney failure among farmers who were exposed to the popular herbicide. Indeed lead author Channa Jayasumana, PhD. explains that glyphosate bonds with toxic heavy metals in the environment such as cadmium and arsenic, forming stable compounds that are consumed in food and water and do not break down until they reach the kidneys. “Glyphosate acts as a carrier or a vector of these heavy metals to the kidney,” said Dr. Jayasumana. The chemical was initially created as a chelating […]

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08
Apr

See You at “Advancing Sustainable Communities,” National Pesticide Forum, April 11-12, Portland, OR!

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2014) With less than a week until the 2014 National Pesticide Forum, please take a moment to consider three reasons why you should attend this exciting and important event: 1. Learn from Leading Scientists and Experts: Many of the conference speakers are top leading experts in their fields, and you just aren’t exposed to these kinds of people every day. While you’re at the Forum you’ll have the opportunity to listen to them speak and interact with them during panel sessions: Longtime leader and visionary in sustainable organic agriculture, Fred Kirschenmann. Center for Food Safety’s leading environmental attorney George Kimbrell on genetic engineering and pollinators; Pierre Mineau, PhD, world-renowned environmental toxicologist; Cutting edge scientist on transgenerational effects of pesticide exposure, Michael Skinner, PhD; Mace Vaughan, Pollinator Program Director for The Xerces Society; and so much more. These highlighted speakers do not diminish the importance of all the incredible speakers on the program, from lawyers, scientists, town officials, and activists, to the Beyond Pesticides’ board of directors. Check out the full program for more information. 2. Engage with Organic Land Management Practitioners: The Forum presents a unique opportunity to learn and discuss ways to tackle turf, landscape, […]

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03
Mar

Register Today! Advancing Sustainable Communities: People, pollinators and practices

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2014) Advancing Sustainable Communities: People, pollinators and practices, the 32nd National Pesticide Forum, will be held April 11-12, 2014 at Portland State University, in Portland, OR. This years’ forum will focus on solutions to the decline of pollinators and other beneficials; strengthening the organic food production system; regulating and right-to-know genetically engineered food; improving farmworker protection and agricultural justice; and creating healthy buildings, schools and homes. Join top scientists, local and national activists and grassroots organizers to strategize on solutions that protect health and the environment. For more information and to register, go to www.beyondpesticides.org/forum. In addition to the program, people,  science, sharing and strategizing, you won’t want to miss the  food! Organic food and beverages will be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturday, and we will have organic hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine for receptions on Friday and Saturday night. Speaker highlights include: Longtime leader in sustainable and organic agriculture, Fred Kirschenmann; “Maverick” Scientist Michael Skinner, Ph.D., author of the landmark study that links exposure to DDT with multi-generational effects, ultimately contributing to obesity three generations down the line; Goat herder Lani Malmberg, who uses her heard of over 2,000 goats to manage invasive […]

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24
Feb

EPA Proposes Updated Farmworker Protection Standards to Mixed Reviews

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week released its long-awaited proposal to update Farm Worker Protection Standards (WPS),  which are designed to provide protections from pesticide exposure for more than two million farmworkers and their families across the nation.   Historically, farmworker advocates have criticized these protections as woefully inadequate in protecting the health of agricultural workers, but these new revisions attempt to strengthen the standards through increased training for workers handling pesticides, improved notification of pesticide applications, and a higher  minimum age requirement for children to work around pesticides. Farmworkers face disproportionate risks to pesticide exposures, with EPA stating that pesticide exposure incidents are vastly under-reported —in some case by as much as 90 percent. Although these proposed changes are a step in the right direction, there are still ongoing concerns about whether the changes will be adequate to protect workers. Revisions to the 20 year old standard have been under discussion for many years. In 2010, EPA released a document proposing WPS that would determine ways to increase training, improve safety requirements, provide clear emergency information, and create strong protection for applicators. However, EPA documents distributed during a November 2012 Pesticide Program […]

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21
Feb

Honey Bee Diseases Threaten Bumblebees; Late Breaking: EPA Announces New Protections for Farmworkers

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2014) A new study published in the journal Nature investigating two infectious diseases ””deformed wing virus (DWV) and the fungal parasite Nosema ceranea”” finds that they could be spreading from honey bees to bumblebees, dramatically shortening the lifespan of the wild bumblebees. The study gives credence to recent research demonstrating that pesticide use compromises immune system functioning, dramatically raising their susceptibility to diseases. The study, Disease associations between honeybees and bumblebees as a threat to wild pollinators,  suggests that managed, highly-dense populations of honey bees, are breeding grounds for pathogens which may then be transmitted to bumblebee populations. But unlike honey bees, infected bumblebees are much more affected by the disease, with their lives shortened by  six full days. “To put it into context, in the field a bumblebee worker lives 21 days,” said co-author Mark Brown, PhD., of Royal Holloway, University of London. “For every bee that has this virus, you’re losing about a third or a quarter of all the food it would bring back to the nest to help the nest grow.” Additionally, while honey bee hives have tens of thousands of worker, bumblebee hives have only hundred at most. The study, underlines […]

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22
Oct

Investigative Report Finds Soaring Pesticide Use and Poisoning Linked to GE Crop Production

(Beyond Pesticides, October 22, 2013) Nearly a week after plant geneticists from the world’s largest agrichemical companies accepted the World Food Prize, an Associated Press (AP) investigation links the effect of their work to soaring pesticide use and resulting health problems.  According to the  AP, the advent of “no-till” farming methods in Argentina with the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops and companion pesticides has caused significant health impacts in farming towns abutting GE fields. Since the introduction of these practices in Argentina by agrichemical companies such as Monsanto, cancer rates have skyrocketed and the number of birth defects has quadrupled. Argentina was an early adopter of GE technology in 1996, when it was billed as the silver bullet to solve world hunger with increased crop  productivity, and improved human and environmental health resulting from decreased pesticide use. The most widely used GE crops, such as Monsanto’s Roundup Ready line of corn and soybeans, allow farmers to apply the herbicide glyphosate during and after seed plantings in order to kill weeds without risk of the main crop dying off. Today, almost all the corn, soy, and cotton produced in the country are GE. As the  AP reports, and researchers in […]

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20
Sep

Study Finds Women Near Pesticide-Treated Fields Have Lower Weight Babies

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2013) A study of women in Northern California farm towns finds that those living within three miles of strawberries fields treated with methyl bromide gave birth to smaller, lighter babies. Methyl bromides, a fumigant pesticide injected into soils to eliminate soil-borne pests, can volatize into the air exposing nearby neighborhoods. The U.S. and other developed countries have banned the use of methyl bromide under an international treaty that recognized the role of chemicals like methyl bromide to deplete the ozone layer. However, some farmers continue to use the fumigant on strawberries and other crops due to the “critical use exemption” (CUE) stipulation of the laws, which allows the chemical to continue to be used when there are no feasible alternatives. The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, examined the health of babies born to 442 pregnant women living in Salinas Valley, CA in 1999 and 2000, when methyl bromide was widely used.   Utilizing data from California’s Pesticide Use Reporting System, the study was able to identify residences that were within 5 kilometers of methyl bromide application. Researchers find that women exposed to the chemical during their second trimester have babies that are  four ounces lighter […]

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02
Aug

Herbicides Linked to Depression Among Farmers

(Beyond Pesticides, August, 2, 2013) A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology concludes that farmers using herbicides are nearly two and a half times as likely to be treated for depression as those who did not use herbicides. Furthermore, farmers who are exposed for greater periods of time are also afflicted with greater risk of developing depression, raising concerns of the harm chemicals can cause to mental health. Building on substantial research supporting the link between pesticide exposure and neurological damage, this study examines the role that pesticides play in the overall health of farmers, and gives further weight to the importance of choosing organic food. Researchers surveyed 567 farmers from France, questioning them on the frequency of their use of fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides, to determine how pesticide exposures were linked to the risk of developing clinical depression. Lead researchers and associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, Marc Weisskopf, PhD, said while the results are unclear, they “suggest we should not be ignoring herbicides just because they’re targeting plants.” Previous research has already suggested that pesticides, particularly organophosphates, cause a variety of serious neurological health problems, including Parkinson’s disease. This is not surprising, […]

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24
Jul

New EPA Administrator Urged to Protect Farmworkers and Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, July 24, 2013) Gina McCarthy, a veteran environmental regulator and President Obama’s pick to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),  finally had her appointment confirmed by the U.S. Senate after an almost five month delay imposed by Senate Republicans. Ms. McCarthy’s appointment got caught up with other cabinet appointments that Republicans were blocking. News of her confirmation was applauded by environmental groups who urge her to focus of several key environmental issues before the agency including climate change, farmworker justice, and pollinator protection. Last Friday the Senate confirmed Gina McCarthy to lead EPA, ending the agency’s longest period without a permanent administrator and closing the door on a contentious dispute over votes on executive nominees. Ms. McCarthy, who currently heads the agency’s Air and Radiation Office, was confirmed on a 59-40 vote. Ms. McCarthy will succeed Lisa Jackson, who stepped down in February, and replaces acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee cleared Ms. McCarthy’s nomination in May. Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said ahead of the vote that the Senate could “not have a more qualified, more bipartisan nominee,” noting that Ms. McCarthy had worked for Republican governors in […]

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16
Jul

Farmworkers Push for Long Overdue Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2013) Farmworkers from across the nation are meeting with their members of Congress today to call for stronger protections for farmworkers from hazardous pesticides. These simple, straightforward and commonsense protections have not been updated for more than 20 years. In February 2013, Beyond Pesticides joined with a coalition of environmental and farmworker organizations to submit a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging the agency implement these long overdue revisions to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). An estimated 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops annually in the United States, and farmworkers face the greatest threat from these chemicals than any other sector of society, with thousands of farmworkers each year experiencing pesticide poisoning. The nation’s 1-2 million farmworkers form the backbone of the U.S. agricultural economy  and many are regularly exposed to pesticides.  An average of 57.6 out of every 100,000 agricultural workers experience acute pesticide poisoning, illness or injury each year, the same order of magnitude as the annual incidence rate of breast cancer in the United States. The federal government estimates that there are 10,000-20,000 acute pesticide poisonings among workers in […]

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30
May

Study Shows Pesticides Dramatically Increase Risk of Developing Parkinson’s Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, May 30, 2013) New research published in the journal Neurology further supports the causative link between pesticide exposure and Parkinson’s disease. Emanuel Cereda, M.D., Ph.D., of the IRCCS university Hospital San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, Italy, and coauthor Gianni Pezzoli, M.D., analyzed 104 studies published between 1975 and 2011 to determine the link between pesticides and solvents to Parkinson’s disease. The researchers analyzed exposure using information on proximity to large farms likely to use pesticides, likelihood of well water consumption, and occupations that cause greater exposure to pesticides and solvents used to kill weeds, insects, fungus, and rodents. Overall, researchers found exposure to pesticides increased the risk of developing the disease by 33%  to 80%.   Some pesticides were considered to be of higher risk than others, with weed killers like paraquat and fungicides maneb and mancozeb causing twice the risk for development of Parkinson’s disease. While risk increased the longer people were exposed to pesticides, researchers indicate there is still a need for further research on the chemical threshold for harm to the brain. The study builds on recent research that has linked Parkinson’s disease to pesticide exposure. In a 2011 article published in the journal Molecular […]

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17
May

California Regulators Propose Restrictions of Soil Fumigant

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2013) California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) have proposed restrictions on the use of chloropicrin, a fumigant commonly applied to strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, raspberries, and blackberries. The proposed rule would not only increase buffer zones around application sites, but also restrict application acreage, impose notification requirements, enhance emergency preparedness requirements, and prolong the time that chloropicrin-applied fields must remain covered. Public comments will be accepted until July 31. The move is in response to recent data released by the California DPR, which indicates pesticide use in California has risen, causing 1,015 cases of illness between 1992 and 2007 for chloropicrin exposure alone. In total, more than 173 million pounds of pesticides were reported applied statewide, an increase of nearly 15 million pounds —or 9.5 percent— from 2009. For chloropicrin, injuries ranged from eye or respiratory problems to skin irritation, rashes, and burns. Additional evidence from a 2010 report released by the Pesticide Action Network of North American and local community members of Sisquoc, California, reveals that chloropicrin contaminated half of the 57 air samples collected, with average levels of exposure over the 19-day period at 23 to 151 times higher than acceptable cancer risks. Fumigant pesticides, […]

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26
Apr

Report Describes Dangers Female Farmworkers Face in the U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2013) Female agricultural workers experience the same hardships as their male counterparts, but have additional responsibilities and danger at home and in the field, according to a report released by the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP). While women make up only 22 percent of agricultural labor in the U.S., AFOP makes a strong argument that women face disproportionate burdens, while at the same time earning less for their labor: On average they earn  just over $11,000 per year compared to male agricultural workers who earn $16,000. Through hundreds of interviews and focus groups of female farmworkers in California and Florida, AFOP revealed some of the most dangerous  conditions associated with farm work, among the worst being pesticide exposure. Carmela, a farmworker from Florida, indicated in the AFOP report that, “More than anything else, we have problems with pesticides. Sometimes they put us to work right after they’ve sprayed the pesticides. And this is bad for us because when we go in the field and start working with the plants, it gets in our eyes. It makes your head hurt too.” According to the EPA’s “Pesticide Industry Sales and Usage: 2000 and 2001 Market Estimates,” female […]

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25
Apr

New Report Calls Into Question the Use of Nanomaterials in Our Food Chain

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2013) A new report by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) finds that nanomaterials added to soil via fertilizers and treated sewage waste used to fertilize fields could threaten soil health necessary to keep land productive. The report, Nanomaterials in Soil: Our Future Food Chain?, draws attention to the delicate soil food chain, including microbes and microfauna, that enable plant growth and produce new soil. Laboratory experiments have indicated that sub-molecular nanoparticles could damage beneficial soil microbes and the digestive systems of earthworms, essential engineers in maintaining soil health. Other recent peer-reviewed scientific research showcasing potentially negative impacts of nano-fertilizers on public health and the food supply has been documented. Last month, Duke University published research which finds that low concentrations of silver nanoparticles in sewage sludge can cause significant disruptions to natural ecosystems. In February, a Dutch study revealed the harmful effects of silver imbued sewage sludge on earthworm health. “In light of published research, the Obama administration should institute an immediate moratorium on fertilizing with biosolids from sewage treatment plants near nanomaterial fabrication facilities. A moratorium would give researchers time to determine whether nanomaterials in soil can be made safe and to […]

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19
Feb

Farmworker and Environmental Groups Urge EPA to Act on Farmworker Protection Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2013) On February 14, Beyond Pesticides joined with Earthjustice, Farmworker Justice, and a number of other environmental and farmworker organizations to submit a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging for long overdue revisions to the Workers Protection Standard (WPS) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The letter states that, “EPA’s inaction is unacceptable given farmworkers’ persistent exposure to harmful pesticides and ineffectual enforcement of the current WPS.” This letter comes after a previous petition in 2011 stressed the need for the agency to implement stronger protections for farmworkers. This letter also comes after fears from environmental and farmworker organizations over a recent EPA handout distributed during a November 2012 Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC) meeting that downplayed the details of a 2010 EPA document released on farmworker safety. EPA has not effectively updated WPS for almost 20 years, leaving farmworkers at risk. Farm work is demanding and dangerous physical labor. A 2008 study by a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researcher finds that the incidence rate of pesticide poisoning is extremely high among U.S. agricultural workers. An average of 57.6 out of every 100,000 agricultural workers […]

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18
Jan

Acclaimed Scientists and Activists to Convene at 31st National Pesticide Forum

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2013) Joining the list  of speakers at Beyond Pesticides’ 31st National Pesticide Forum are Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., the biologist best known for his research on the effects of atrazine on frogs, and Isaac N. Pessah, Ph.D., the  Chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The conference will focus on cutting edge public health science, building resilience in our food system and communities, and bringing ecosystems back to balance, and will incorporate regional issues such as water and food sovereignty in the Southwest. The National Forum provides an opportunity for grassroots advocates, scientists, and policy makers to interact and strategize on solutions that are protective of health and the environment. The 31st National Pesticide Forum, Sustainable Families, Farms and Food: Resilient communities through organic practices, will be held April 5-6, 2013 (Friday afternoon and all day Saturday) at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. Registration information can be found in our online store. The conference is convened by Beyond Pesticides, La Montanita Coop, and the University of New Mexico Sustainability Studies Program, and co-sponsored by local, state and regional public health and environmental organizations, including […]

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16
Jan

Elevated Chlorpyrifos Residues Detected in Indigenous Children

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2013) Children living near chemical-intensive or conventional plantations in Costa Rica are exposed to twice as much of the insecticide chlorpyrifos compared to children living near organic plantations, a study reports. More than half the children, mostly from indigenous tribes- Ngäbe and Bribri – have a  higher daily exposures than allowed under U.S. federal standards. Chlorpyrifos is linked to neurological effects, especially in children, and is still permitted for use on crops. The study,  Indigenous children living nearby plantations with chlorpyrifos-treated bags have elevated 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy) urinary concentrations, was lead by Berna van Wendel de Joode, PhD  (Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances (IRET), Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica). It was conducted in Costa Rica’s banana and plantain plantations in the Talamanca region, and  targeted villages situated nearby to the plantations where blue bags treated with chlorpyrifos are routinely used to protect banana and plantain crops from pests. Two villages under study are near plantations that use chlorpyrifos-treated bags, while the organic village is near several plantations  that use little or no insecticide. For 140 children, aged 6 — 9, mostly indigenous Ngäbe and Bribri, parent-interviews and urine samples were obtained. Chlorpyrifos’ environmental levels […]

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11
Jan

EPA Excludes Details on Worker Protection Rule

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2012) Environmentalists, farmworkers, and farmworker advocates have become increasingly uncomfortable with the new proposal for pesticide safety measures which does not include details on how the proposed rule will protect agricultural workers, farmers, and applicators. These sentiments stem from the concern that this may mean less stringent regulations than those originally proposed. In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a   document proposing Worker Protection Standards (WPS) that would determine ways to increase training, improve safety requirements, provide clear emergency information, and create strong protection for applicators. However, a recent EPA handout distributed  during a November 2012 Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC) meeting downplays the details within those goals, and brings into question the agency’s  previous commitments. Advocacy groups have raised pointed complaints on the new document’s prose: “I have to agree that we are just really in the dark,” said one environmental group lawyer, “It is mysterious that it’s taken them so long to come up with a draft to propose, and the fact that they are being kind of tight-lipped about it and that even the very minimal detail about the proposal that was in the 2010 document disappeared from the 2012 […]

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28
Nov

Methyl Iodide Uses To Formally End in the U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, November 28, 2012) Earlier this year the maker of the fumigant methyl iodide indicated it would stop producing the toxic chemical. Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the registrant, Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to formally terminate all agricultural use of methyl iodide in the U.S. by the end of 2012 and ultimately remove all methyl iodide products from the U.S. market. EPA is opening a 30-day comment period for Arysta’s request for voluntary cancellation of all of the company’s methyl iodide product registrations, as stipulated in the agreement. Methyl iodide, or iodomethane, has been registered since 2007 for use as a pre-plant soil fumigant to control pests in soil where fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants, and turf are to be grown. In March 2012, Arysta, the sole registrant, announced its plans to immediately suspend all sales of its methyl iodide MIDAS ® products in the U.S. Under the recently signed agreement and the voluntary cancellation request, all of Arysta’s existing methyl iodide end-use product registrations will be cancelled and use of existing stocks in the U.S. will be prohibited effective December 31, 2012. Further distribution and sale of methyl […]

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04
Sep

Decision to Ban Hazardous-to-Farmworker Pesticide Stands

(Beyond Pesticides, September 4, 2012) After considering comments from growers and other stakeholders, including over 2,000 emails generated from Beyond Pesticides’ supporters on the recent proposal to reverse a decision to end the use of the organophosphate insecticide azinphos-methyl (AZM), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has once again come to the conclusion that the chemical presents health risks to workers and can cause negative ecological impacts, while effective alternatives to this insecticide are available to growers. The agency has decided to maintain the initial September 30, 2012 date for cancellation of the remaining uses of AZM, on apples, blueberries, sweet and tart cherries, parsley, and pears. Though this represents a victory for farmworkers and health and environmental advocates, EPA has decided to allow growers to use only existing stocks of AZM in their possession for another year, through September 30, 2013, citing unusually bad weather conditions throughout 2012. All the required mitigation measures now reflected on AZM labeling will remain in effect during this use. Distribution or sale of AZM after September 30, 2012 remains prohibited. Due to industry pressure, the agency initially announced that it was conducting a new risk-benefit analysis (analysis of the impacts of cancellation) and […]

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05
Jul

EPA Proposes to Reverse Decision to End Azinphos-Methyl Use

(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2012) After a 2006 cancellation of uses due to unreasonable risks to farmworker health and the environment, and a 6-year phase out scheduled to conclude this September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a risk-benefit analysis to make a determination whether to keep in place or amend the cancellation order for the organophosphate azinphos-methyl (AZM), citing new information on the economic costs of using alternatives. In 2001, EPA found that insecticides azinphos-methyl (AZM) posed unacceptable risks to farmworkers and announced that 28 crop uses were being canceled, seven crop uses were to be phased-out over four years, and eight crop uses were to be allowed to continue under a “time-limited” registration for another four years. Farmworker advocates challenged that decision in federal court citing that EPA failed to take into account the costs of poisoning workers, exposing children, and polluting rivers and streams. A settlement agreement effectively stayed the legal challenge pending EPA’s reconsideration of the “time limited” uses of AZM. In November 2006, EPA decided that AZM poses unreasonable adverse effects and issued a final decision to cancel AZM, but allowed continued use on some fruit crops (apples, cherries, pears) for six more […]

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29
Jun

Pesticide Exposure Associated with Sleep Disorder

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2012) New research from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Montreal suggests that pesticide exposure, as well as smoking, head injury, farming, and less education, may be a risk factor for a rare sleep disorder that causes people to kick or punch during sleep, according to a study entitled “Environmental risk factors for REM sleep behavior disorder: A multicenter case-control study” published in the June 27, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. People with the disorder, called REM sleep behavior disorder, do not have the normal lack of muscle tone that occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, causing them to act out their dreams. The movements can sometimes be violent, causing injury to the person or their bed partner. The disorder is estimated to occur in 0.5 percent of adults. “Until now, we didn’t know much about the risk factors for this disorder, except that it was more common in men and in older people,” said study author Ronald B. Postuma, MD, MSc, with the Research Institute at MUHC and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Because it is a rare disorder, it was […]

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23
Mar

Methyl Iodide Maker Halts Sales in the U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2012) In a victory for environmentalists and farmworkers, manufacturers of the controversial and highly toxic fumigant methyl iodide announced it will cease selling its products containing the chemical in the U.S. market earlier this week. Representatives from the Tokyo-based company, Arysta LifeScience say that the decision was made as a part of an internal review and based on its economic viability in the U.S.; however, the company will still continue to sell methyl iodide products in other countries. “Today I’m really happy. It feels like someone finally listened to us about something really important.” Gabriela Rincon, told the Los Angeles Times. Ms. Rincon is the daughter of farmworkers who pick strawberries in the Salinas area in California. Methyl iodide causes late term miscarriages, contaminates groundwater and is so reliably carcinogenic that it’s used to create cancer cells in laboratories. It is on California’s official list of known carcinogenic chemicals and has been linked to serious risks in reproductive and neurological health. The pesticide poses the most direct risks to farmworkers and those in the surrounding communities because of the volume that would need to be applied to fields and its tendency to drift off site through […]

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