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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Federal Agencies' Category


27
Jan

Manatees in Florida Seriously Threatened from Pollution, Pesticides, and Other Human-Induced Stressors

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2022) Wildlife officials in Florida have resorted to supplementing starving manatees with cabbage and lettuce in an attempt to keep their rapidly dwindling populations alive. Massive Red Tides exacerbated by runoff from urban and agricultural pollution have directly killed off dozens of manatees over the last several years, but the indirect effects of these harmful algae blooms have been most catastrophic, resulting in significant loss of the seagrass beds upon which manatees rely. While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced plans to spend $481 million on water quality improvement projects, conservationists note that the funds are primarily directed toward point source wastewater treatment, and more is needed to address nonpoint source herbicide and fertilizer runoff from agricultural, and urban and suburban yards. Florida manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, can live as long as 60 years old, weigh up to 1,200 lbs, and have no natural predators within their range. The biggest threat to these peaceful marine mammals is human activity and environmental stressors. Unfortunately, the former is well-known to exacerbate the latter. Humans harm manatees primarily through boat strikes, but the animals can also die from eating or becoming entangled in fishing equipment, […]

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10
Jan

Consumers Misled by USDA Genetically Engineered Food Ingredient Label; Will Congress Act

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2022) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now undermining full public disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients in our food, both through misrepresentation in labeling and through a definition that allows a large percentage of ingredients to go undisclosed. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act by food safety advocates, establishes a national GMO (genetically modified organisms or genetically engineered GE) food labeling requirement that has led to deceptive messaging, preempts states from adopting stronger label language and standards, and excludes a large portion of the population without special cell phone technology (because information is accessed the QR codes on products). However, USDA regulations go further—creating loopholes and barriers to transparency that prohibit the use of the widely-known terms “GMO” and “GE” and prohibit retailers from providing more information to consumers. Tell USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to require USDA agencies to honestly disclose genetically engineered ingredients and carry out the goals of the Executive Memorandum, Modernizing Regulatory Review. Urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to ask Agriculture Committees to hold oversight hearings to ensure that USDA holds to those goals.    USDA is huge—encompassing 29 agencies and offices, with […]

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07
Jan

USDA Genetic Engineered Food Label Misleads Consumers, Took Effect January 1

(Beyond Pesticides. January 7, 2022) Unbeknownst to most Americans when they woke up on New Year’s Day 2022, a new labeling system for genetically modified-engineered foods— promulgated in 2019 — which does not mention genetically engineered or GMO ingredients, went into effect. Consumer, food, and environmental advocates say that the new label is misleading, insufficiently transparent, discriminatory, rife with loopholes, and confusing for consumers. The new labeling requirement mandates that genetically engineered foods bear labels that indicate that they have been “bioengineered” or that provide a text-messaging phone number or a QR code as avenues for further information. (“Additional options such as a phone number or web address are available to small food manufacturers or for small and very small packages.”) The new labeling rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aims, according to the agency, to eliminate the crazy quilt of labels affixed to foods and ingredients that have been scientifically altered. According to an agency spokesperson, the rule is designed to “balance the need to provide information to consumers with the interest in minimizing costs to companies.” Genetically altered food items and ingredients have heretofore been called, and labeled as, “genetically engineered” (GE) or “genetically modified” (GM), […]

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29
Nov

Aerial Drop of Rodenticides on Farallon Islands in California Threatens Ecosystem, Comments Due

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2021) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is reviving its proposal to aerially apply (by helicopter) the toxic rodenticide brodifacoum to kill house mice on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge off the Northern California coast. Globally significant wildlife populations inhabit the Farallones, including hundreds of thousands of seabirds and thousands of seals and sea lions. According to FWS, these include: thirteen species seabird species that nest on the islands including Leach’s Storm-petrel, Ashy Storm-petrel, Fork-tailed Storm-petrel, Double-crested Cormorant, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Black Oystercatcher, Western Gull, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Cassin’s Auklet, Rhinocerous Auklet, and Tufted Puffin; pinnipeds including Northern fur seals, Steller sea lions, California sea lions, harbor seals, and northern elephant seals that breed or haul-out onto Farallon Refuge; and endemic species including white sharks, hoary bats, and arboreal salamanders. Tell the California Coastal Commission to deny the proposed aerial dispersal of the highly toxic rodenticide brodifacoum on the Farallon Islands. Brodifacoum is a “second generation anticoagulant rodenticide” (SGAR) that is highly toxic to birds, mammals, and fish. It also poses a secondary poisoning risk to predators. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation quotes the FWS: “Secondary exposure to SGARs is particularly […]

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15
Nov

Call on USDA to Provide Organic School Lunches to Fight Childhood Obesity

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2021) A recent hearing in the U.S. Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research, subcommittee chair Senator Cory Booker stressed the failures of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food and nutrition programs, saying, “Our food system is not a “free market,” we are picking winners and losers, and it’s consumers, family farmers, and food workers who are losing.” Tell USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to require organic school lunches. Experts at the hearing pointed out impacts of poor nutrition choices that are driven by USDA’s policies. Associate professor Angela Odoms-Young, PhD of Cornell University said, “People of color overall, and Black populations specifically, face higher rates of diet-related chronic conditions and have poorer dietary intakes as compared to whites. We did not get here by chance but through policy.” Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the U.S., leading to a host of health problems in childhood and later in life. Juvenile obesity is highest in Hispanic, African American, and lower income groups, which provides an opportunity for USDA’s school lunch program to have a positive impact. At the hearing, Donald Warne, MD, MPH of the University of North Dakota medical […]

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12
Nov

Organic Takes on Existential Health and Environmental Crises, While Some Critics Lack Context (Response to New Yorker piece)

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2021) Omnivorous readers may have encountered an article, in the November 15 issue of The New Yorker magazine, titled — at best misleadingly, and certainly sensationally — “The Great Organic-Food Fraud.” The subhead comports with the tone of the headline: “There’s no way to confirm that a crop was grown organically. Randy Constant exploited our trust in the labels — and made a fortune.” The piece, by Ian Parker, tells a complex tale of the machinations of dishonest and greedy people who saw, in the commerce in organic grains, an opportunity to misrepresent nonorganic crops as organic and make a boatload of money in doing so. What the article fails to do is render any comprehensive picture of how National Organic Program certification and inspection work, and the underlying principles, values, and standards in federal law (the Organic Foods Production Act), nor does it review either the benefits of organic agriculture broadly or the massive harmful impacts of conventional, chemical-intensive agriculture in the U.S. Beyond Pesticides provides ballast, in this Daily News Blog article, to the failings of the New Yorker article and the damage it might do to the organic movement. It is worth noting […]

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25
Oct

Protect Endangered Species: Comment by End of Today—Monday, October 25

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2021) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requesting public comments on its draft Biological Evaluations (BEs) for neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam by 11:59 pm (EDT) on Monday, October 25, 2021. The BEs will factor into EPA’s registration review decisions on the three bee-toxic insecticides. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. Please feel free to cut and paste parts of  Beyond Pesticides’ comments (linked here) or cut and paste into Regulations.gov the suggested comment language at the very bottom of this alert.  Tell EPA to protect endangered species from pesticides. EPA’s Biological Evaluations for these highly toxic chemicals make no agency conclusion or recommendation that would trigger a request to initiate formal Endangered Species Act (ESA) §7(a)(2) consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to determine a possible jeopardy finding for the listed species and requisite mandatory use restrictions of the relevant pesticide. This, despite the fact that for imidacloprid the agency’s draft Biological Evaluation made a May Affect determination for 89% of the 1821 species considered and 90% of the 791 critical habitats considered. Strikingly, a May Affect determination was made for 100% of amphibian and avian listed species and their […]

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12
Oct

Stop Ag Secretary Vilsack from Undermining Climate Initiative to Transition Agriculture

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

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11
Oct

Understanding U.S. History on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2021) The National Museum of the American Indian, a part of the Smithsonian Institution, sits on the National Mall in Washington, DC and as a part of its history program is commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 11. This year, President Biden, while commemorating Columbus Day, issued a Presidential Proclamation commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the first President to do so. The National Museum of the American Indian marks the day with an effort to teach the true history of the United States. This history is introduced on the Museum’s website with the following: Unlearning Columbus Day Myths: Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day “Many students learn the phrase, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”. But Columbus was not the first foreign explorer to land in the Americas. Neither he nor those that came before him discovered America—because Indigenous Peoples have populated the Western Hemisphere for tens of thousands of years. European contact resulted in devastating loss of life, disruption of tradition, and enormous loss of lands for Indigenous Peoples in the Americas. It is estimated that in the 130 years following first contact, Native America lost 95 percent of its population.” “Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere immediately […]

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08
Oct

Ag Secretary Vilsack Pushes Petroleum Farming Inputs, Fights EU’s Climate-Friendly Organic “Farm to Fork’ Initiative

(Beyond Pesticides, October 8, 2021) Taking a page from the playbook of Trump Administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the current secretary, Tom Vilsack, used a September G20 summit in Italy to target the European Union’s “Farm to Fork” (F2F) strategy, a part of its European Green Deal. Mr. Perdue had said that F2F is “more . . . ‘political science’ than demonstrated agricultural science”; Secretary Vilsack called it “a path very different from the one the U.S. is pursuing.” The F2F initiative aims to transition the EU to a sustainable food system such that it also achieves significant mitigation of climate change. But Mr. Vilsack chose to counter the F2F efforts by promoting an “alternative strategy” — under the moniker “Coalition for Productivity Growth” — through which “other nations pledge not to follow the European path on farm policy.” He has described this alternative, U.S.-led strategy as “a market-oriented, incentive-based, voluntary system [that] is effective” at slashing agricultural carbon emissions. Climate, pesticide, organics, and other environmental and health advocates, including Beyond Pesticides, are troubled by these actions. Mother Jones poses the central question in the headline of its September 30 article: Why is Secretary Vilsack So Afraid of a Plan to Cut […]

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05
Oct

American Bumblebee Considered for Endangered Status, But Will “Critical Habitat” Be Defined?

(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2021) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will consider listing the American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) under the Endangered Species Act, according to a notice published in the Federal Register late last month. Earlier this year, the Bombus Pollinator Association of Law Students at Albany Law School and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the agency to list the species. USFWS review of the petition indicates that it found “substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted,” and will determine over the next year whether final listing and further protective actions are warranted.  With the American bumblebee experiencing an 89% decline in its population over the last 20 years, scientists and advocates  believe it is critical for USFWS to take steps to protect what remains of this iconic species. At one time, the American bumblebee’s range extended from eastern Canada south through the United States into Florida, and as far west as California. Oregon is the only state in the continental US where the species has never been spotted. Declines are particularly pronounced in the northern part of its range, where recent sightings are nil, and assessments for states like New […]

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27
Sep

Last Chance to Protect Organic this Fall—Submit Comments by September 30!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2021) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through September 30. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on October 13-14 and online meeting October 19-21—in which the NOSB deliberates on issues concerning how organic food is produced. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. As always, there are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Fall. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong (KOS) and the Fall 2021 issues page. In the spirit of “continuous improvement,” we urge you to submit comments (please feel free to use our comments on the KOS page) that contribute to an increasingly improved organic production system. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requires that all synthetic materials used in organic production be approved by the NOSB, included on the National List, and reassessed every five years. Among the issues up for consideration at this meeting is a material that the National Organic Program (NOP) has taken off the NOSB’s sunset agenda for several years—sodium nitrate. There are also issues affecting organic integrity that need to be addressed—systemic fraud and plastic—as well as decisions about other materials that are described on the […]

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21
Sep

Study Finds Packaged Organic Foods Are Healthier than Conventional Products

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2021) Processed organic foods are healthier than their conventional, chemical-intensive counterparts in important ways, according to a new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Nutrients led by scientists at the Environmental Working Group. While a steady diet of whole, unprocessed foods is ideal, packaged foods are ubiquitous in U.S. supermarkets and often unavoidable. In addition to eliminating concerns over highly toxic pesticide use, according to this new research, choosing packaged organic is an effective means of evading highly processed ingredients associated with adverse health outcomes. Researchers began with a food product dataset including over 72,000 conventional and 8,000 organic packaged foods, representing 85% of all food products sold to U.S. consumers. These products and their ingredients were then classified into four groups corresponding with the amount of processing, with one being unprocessed or minimally processed and four being ultra-processed. A statistical analysis was then conducted on a range of product variables to differentiate various health concerns between organic and conventional products.   Results show that organic packaged foods present far fewer health concerns than conventional products. Processed organic products were likely to have lower amounts of salt, saturated fat, sugar and added sugar. According to the […]

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13
Sep

Organic Must Lead the Way in Environmental and Health Protection

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2021) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through September 30. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on October 13-14 and online meeting October 19-21—in which the NOSB deliberates on issues concerning how organic food is produced. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. As always, there are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Fall. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong (KOS) and the Fall 2021 issues page. In the spirit of “continuous improvement,” we urge you to submit comments (please feel free to use our comments on the KOS page) that contribute to an increasingly improved organic production system. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requires that all synthetic materials used in organic production be approved by the NOSB, included on the National List, and reassessed every five years. Among those up for sunset review this Fall are some controversial materials—copper sulfate, carrageenan, and list 3 “inerts.” In addition, the NOSB is once more considering a petition to allow the antibiotic kasugamycin in fruit production. Copper sulfate is used in organic rice production to control algae and an invertebrate known as tadpole shrimp. It […]

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07
Sep

Save Organic Dairy, Family Farms and Consumer Support for Organic!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 7, 2021) If regulations concerning “origin of organic livestock” and “access to pasture” seem beyond your comprehension as an organic consumer, think again. Lacking enforcement of strong regulations on these topics, organic dairy is in imminent danger. Multinational food conglomerate Danone, owner of Horizon Organic, has just sent notice to 89 organic milk producers in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and at least three counties (Clinton, Franklin and Saint Lawrence) in New York that it is cancelling their contracts. While this action is devastating to the affected farms and the economies of those states, it has much broader implications. Why is Danone cancelling contracts as organic milk production in the Northeast is increasing? In Danone’s words, the company “will be supporting new partners that better align with our manufacturing footprint.” Ed Maltby, executive director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers, explains this “footprint,” with reference to low cost, ultra-pasteurized milk that is easily transported and warehoused, which has become a staple on the organic shelf. More importantly for the future of organic dairy is the expectation that USDA will promulgate a weak regulation on origin of livestock—that “will allow the massive loophole of being able to sell or […]

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23
Aug

Tell EPA Misleading Biopesticide Classification Must Be Redefined

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2021) “Biopesticides”—widely regarded as an alternative to chemical pesticides and hence given a special status in regulation—need a better definition. “Biopesticide” is generally poorly understood, and defined differently by various entities and stakeholders. The term can be misleading and mixes contradictory approaches. It is troublesome when we continue to look for product replacements or substitutions for agricultural practices that are clearly ineffective, and in the process avoid the changes necessary to transition to organic practices, which represent the real, long-term solution to concerns among chemical-intensive farmers that they are losing pesticides in their arsenal, either to organism resistance or regulatory restrictions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses the following definition for “biopesticides”: Substances that interfere with mating, such as insect sex pheromones, as well as various scented plant extracts that attract insect pests to traps (and synthetic analogs of such biochemicals); Microbial pesticides consisting of a microorganism (e.g., a bacterium, fungus, virus or protozoan) as the active ingredient; Plant-Incorporated-Protectants (PIPs), pesticidal substances that plants are genetically engineered to produce. Tell EPA it’s time to redefine “biopesticide.” It is deceptive and misleading. The definition should not include genetically modified organisms or synthetic analogs of naturally occurring […]

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21
Jul

Millions of Acres in West To Be Sprayed with Toxic Insecticides for Grasshoppers

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2021) Western states are in the midst of one of the largest spray campaigns in recent history, targeting native grasshopper species on more than two million acres of rangeland with highly toxic insecticides. Grasshopper populations have exploded this year due to the West’s ongoing drought, and government officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are hoping that hazardous pesticide use will stop the voracious winged insects from consuming forage used by cattle operations. Environmental groups are urging changes to the program, which has conducted insecticide campaigns against the native grasshoppers since the 1930s. “Aerial application of insecticides on this scale will eliminate millions of insects that pollinate, recycle plant nutrients and perform natural pest control,” said Sharon Selvaggio, Pesticide Program Specialist with the Xerces Society. “Insecticide sprays on this scale across native ecosystems are short-sighted and unsustainable.” According to a June 2020 press release, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is spending $5.3 million dollars of taxpayer money in order to conduct what it calls “suppression treatments.” APHIS claims the $5.3 million will protect $8.7 million worth of agricultural resources, but advocates argue that the agency has failed to meet the “level of economic […]

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06
Jul

Are Big Dairies Undercutting Organic Milk Producers and Organic Integrity—and What Can We Do About It?

(Beyond Pesticides, July 6, 2021) ACT NOW: Public Comment Period Ends July 12, 11:59pm (eastern). A new proposed rule on the “origin of livestock” is intended to undo nearly two decades of regulatory failure by the USDA. Organic dairy producers have suffered economic harm and many organic milk consumers have been drinking substandard milk, while the National Organic Program (NOP) failed to promulgate a Final Rule on the issue of transitioning non-organically certified dairy bovine animals to organic production. The public comment period on this rule closes on July 12, 2021 at 11:59pm (eastern). We all have a stake in growing the organic marketplace by supporting the transition from conventional chemical-intensive practices to clearly defined sustainable and regenerative practices that support family farmers and a production system that confronts the climate crisis, biodiversity decline, and rising public health threats. We do this by supporting transition and then continually improving standards to ensure a robust and healthful organic sector. The issues challenging organic dairy production are a part of the continuous efforts of Beyond Pesticides to ensure organic integrity, while growing the organic market. Tell NOP to adopt an origin of livestock rule that protects dairy farmers and consumers.  When the […]

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08
Jun

Sewage Sludge Fertilizers Sold at Hardware Stores Found to be Contaminated with PFAS Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2021) Biosolid-based fertilizer products like Milorganite, often sold to consumers as “organic,” are contaminated with dangerous PFAS chemicals, according to a study published by Sierra Club and Ecology Center. Biosolids, also known as sewage sludge, have been found in the past to contain residues of hazardous pesticides, heavy metals, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and a range of other toxicants. While the latest news may not be surprising for careful shoppers who have long avoided biosolid fertilizers, none of these risks are relayed to consumers on fertilizer packages. With fertilizer regulations failing the American consumer, it becomes more important than ever to seek out certified organic fertilizer products. Sierra Club and Ecology Center looked at nine fertilizer products, each produced from the sewage sludge of a particular American city. For instance, Milorganite, perhaps the most well-known biosolid sludge fertilizer, is derived from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin sewage treatment system. Other products were derived from locations including Sacramento, CA (Synagro); Tacoma, WA (TAGRO); Madison, GA (Pro Care); Las Vegas, NV (Ecoscraps); Eau Claire, WI (Menards Premium Natural Fertilizer); Jacksonville, FL (Greenedge); North Andover, MA (Earthlife); and Washington, DC (Cured Bloom). As the report notes, many of […]

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04
Jun

Pesticide Pollution Continues Unabated, According to New Data

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2021) The release of the most recent U.S. Geological Services (USGS) study of pesticide contamination of rivers on the U.S. mainland finds that degradation of those rivers from pesticide pollution continues unabated. USGS scientists looked at data from 2013 to 2017 (inclusive) from rivers across the country and offered these top-level conclusions: “(1) pesticides persist in environments beyond the site of application and expected period of use, and (2) the potential toxicity of pesticides to aquatic life is pervasive in surface waters.” Beyond Pesticides maintains that ultimately, water quality and aquatic organisms and their ecosystems will be fully protected from pesticides through a wholesale movement to organic land management practices. USGS undertakes periodic assessments of the presence and toxicity of pesticides in the country’s surface waters under the agency’s National Water-Quality Assessment Program. Recent news from these studies has not been good. In September 2020, Beyond Pesticides reported on another, related USGS survey, which found that nearly 90% of U.S. rivers and streams are contaminated with mixtures of at least five or more different pesticides. A March 2021 Beyond Pesticides Daily News article noted that USGS research demonstrated that, of 422 water samples taken from streams across […]

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18
May

Conventional Meats Contaminated with Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria, at Significantly Higher Rates than Organic Meats

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2021) Organic meat is far less likely to be adulterated with multi-drug resistant bacteria (MDRB) than conventional meat, according a study published earlier this month in Environmental Health Perspectives. The research by experts at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is the latest news on the health and safety benefits of choosing organic, which prohibits the regular use of risky antibiotics, for one’s food purchases. Scientists indicate that contaminated foods pose serious dangers for consumers, public health, and the economy at large. “The presence of pathogenic bacteria is worrisome in and of itself, considering the possible increased risk of contracting foodborne illness,” senior author Meghan Davis, PhD, associate professor at the Bloomberg School said. “If infections turn out to be multidrug resistant, they can be more deadly and more costly to treat.” To determine the level of contamination in various packaged meats, scientists turned to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), a collaborative program between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For a five year period spanning 2012-2017, NARMS collected meat products (chicken breast, ground beef, ground turkey, and […]

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11
May

Bayer Loses Bid to Overturn Neonicotinoid Ban in Europe

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2021) Last week, multinational agrichemical company Bayer Cropscience lost its bid to overturn a 2018 ban on bee-toxic neonicotinoids throughout the European Union. The ruling from the European Court of Justice rejected all grounds on which the company filed its appeal, noting, “It must be held that the arguments put forward by Bayer CropScience cannot, in any event, succeed.” In denying the appeal, the court ruled Bayer responsible for paying its own legal fees, as well as the fees of environmental organizations that intervened to defend the ban. Environmental groups are applauding the ruling, as it reinforces several important aspects of the EU’s pesticide policy that favor greater public health and environmental protections. In an interview with EURACTIV, policy officer Martin Dermine at Pesticide Action Network Europe notes that the decision provides more leeway for pesticide regulators to consider new scientific evidence on pesticide hazards. “More than that,” he told EURACTIV, “the Court confirms the definition of the precautionary principle:  in case of doubts on the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission is entitled to ban it.” Pesticide regulators in Europe began restricting neonicotinoids in 2013, when a continent-wide moratorium was put in place based […]

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10
May

TAKE ACTION: USDA Must Complete Rulemaking Initiated by the National Organic Standards Board

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2021) USDA is dragging its heels in completing rulemaking recommended by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)—including recommendations passed as early as 2001 and including those concerning both materials and organic practices. This threatens organic integrity and public trust in the process governing the USDA organic label. When the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) was passed in 1990, supporters had grave mistrust of the commitment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—a department that had embraced chemical-intensive agriculture and promoted the dependence on pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Therefore, Congress built into the law protections by assigning a major role for the NOSB—an advisory board comprised of representatives of all the stakeholders including producers, processors, retailers, certifiers, consumers, scientists, and environmentalists. Not only must the NOSB vote on allowed synthetic materials used in organic production, but USDA must also consult with the NOSB on all aspects of the National Organic Program (NOP).  Tell USDA that NOSB recommendations must be proposed as regulations. Crucial to organic practices, and written into OFPA, is the concept of continuous improvement. The importance of this concept is most apparent in materials review, which includes a sunset provision that requires all synthetic materials […]

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