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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Federal Agencies' Category


05
Dec

Time Running Out To Save the Manatees, Effort Launched to Classify Them as Endangered

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2022) A petition filed last week with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) urges increased protections for the West Indian manatee after dramatic declines in its population over recent years. In 2017, USFWS downgraded the classification of the manatee from endangered—a category that broadly protects against “take,” defined as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct”—to threatened, for which an “acceptable” level of “take” is allowed. Following the downlisting of the species, manatee populations have declined dramatically. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to upgrade the Florida manatee to endangered and require protection from chemical pollution. Tell your Congressional Representative to cosponsor H.R. 4946 and your Senators to introduce identical legislation. Tell Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to protect manatees. Florida manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), can live as long as 60 years, weigh up to 1,200 lbs, and have no natural predators. The biggest threat to these peaceful marine mammals is human activity. Humans harm manatees directly through boat strikes and encounters with fishing equipment, canal locks, and other flood control structures, but the largest threat […]

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30
Nov

Petition Urges U.S. Fish and Wildlife to List Manatees as Endangered After Massive Declines

(Beyond Pesticides, November, 30, 2022) A petition filed last week with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) urges increased protections for the West Indian manatee after dramatic declines in its population over the last several years. In 2017, the USFWS downgraded protections for the manatee, a move that was widely criticized by conservation groups as premature. That sentiment has become a reality, with nearly 2,000 manatees dying over the last two years from a range of preventable factors. West Indian manatees, a species of manatee that includes the Florida and Antillean Manatee subspecies, were first listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, at a time when there were less than 1,000 individual animals in the United States. By 2017, the number of manatees had increased to over 6,000, leading then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to downlist (downgrade) the animals from endangered to threatened under ESA. ESA works to protect species by listing them as either threatened or endangered. A species classified as endangered is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant a portion of its range and a threatened classification means the species is likely to be endangered within the foreseeable future.  Endangered species are given […]

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28
Oct

Bill in Congress Will Pay for Treating Illness and Financial Impact Caused by PFAS

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2022) The Maine Congressional delegation — Senators Collins (R) and Angus King (I), and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D) and Jared Golden (D) — along with New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D), have introduced a bipartisan and bicameral bill — the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act — to help farmers who have been impacted by the scourge of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals. (The Senate version of the bill is available; the House version should be soon.) PFAS contamination has, as Beyond Pesticides documented in two Daily News Blog articles (here and here), become a huge, life-altering problem for agricultural producers in Maine and many other states. An early 2022 Safer States analysis of state-level legislation on PFAS demonstrated the extent of the problem via the response: more than 32 states have begun to act on the issue. Beyond Pesticides has covered the presence of PFAS in pesticides and pesticide containers, and in so-called “biosludge” or “biosolids”— realities that only reinforce the call for a rapid transition off of chemical-dependent agriculture and to regenerative organic agricultural practices that do not carry the enormous health and environmental risks of pesticide products and contaminated fertilizers. There […]

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11
Oct

Organic Integrity Challenged by Proposed USDA Livestock and Poultry Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2022) Without continuously improving organic standards and certification, advocates maintain that there is no holistic way to combat the existential crises associated with petroleum-based pesticides and fertilizers—the multiple and growing health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency. Have you been confused at the egg case in your grocery store where egg carton labels proclaim “cage-free,” “free-range,” and “pasture raised” organic eggs? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting comments on proposed regulations to protect the welfare of livestock and poultry on organic farms. The Organic Livestock and Poultry Standard (OLPS) is a slightly revised version of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule, which was promulgated after many delays in January 2017, then withdrew the rule before it became effective. USDA acknowledges that a failure to act on OLPS undermines the organic market, saying “a market failure exists in the organic label,” and the intent of new standard is to “clarify and ensure consistent application of the USDA organic standards.” The inconsistent application of organic standards by certifiers has resulted in a plethora of add-on labels that ensure that organic livestock and poultry production meet the expectations of organic consumers. However, the proposed OLPS […]

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06
Oct

Despite EPA Safety Assurances, Alarming Levels of PFAS Found in Commonly Used Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2022) A new study finds alarmingly high levels of PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) “forever chemicals” in commonly used pesticides, calling into question assurances from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that contamination is limited to storage containers. For some pesticides, PFAS levels are nearly one billion times higher than the EPA’s recently updated Health Advisory for the PFAS chemical PFOS. “If the intent was to spread PFAS contamination across the globe there would be few more effective methods than lacing pesticides with PFAS,” said Kyla Bennett, PhD, of the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “These findings point to an appalling regulatory breakdown by EPA.” A team of researchers based in Texas, including scientists from Texas Tech and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Cropping Systems Research Laboratory, participated in the study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials Letters. Ten different formulated pesticide products were tested for 24 different PFAS substances. The pesticide products selected were determined based on unexpected PFAS contamination at USDA’s research facility. During the course of conducting a separate study on plant uptake of PFAS, detectable levels of PFAS were found in plants intended to be used as unexposed controls. […]

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20
Sep

Not Accessible to All, Court Finds QR Codes Unlawful as Means of Disclosing Genetically Engineered Food Ingredients

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2022) A federal court this month declared that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) acted unlawfully in allowing food retailers to label genetically engineered (GE, or GMO) foods with only a “QR” code. The decision, made by U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, comes as a result of a lawsuit against USDA by a coalition of nonprofits led by Center for Food Safety, along with organic retailers Natural Grocers and Puget Consumers Co-op. “This is a win for the American family. They can now make fully informed shopping decisions instead of being forced to use detective work to understand what food labels are hiding,” said Alan Lewis, Vice President for Advocacy and Governmental Affairs at Natural Grocers. “The public’s rejection of hidden GMOs has been weighed by the Court to be greater than the agrochemical industry’s desire to hide GMOs behind incomprehensible bureaucratic rules.” In 2016, Congress passed the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standards Act, which established federal standards around labeling GE foods. That bill, dubbed by GE transparency advocates as the DARK (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, was the result of a deal between U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MO) and […]

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14
Sep

EPA Confirms PFAS “Forever Chemicals” Leach into Pesticides from Storage Containers

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2022) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is confirming that PFAS (per and polyfluorinated alykyl substances) forever chemicals leach into pesticides from their storage containers, and is taking steps to remove 12 “inert” PFAS ingredients that are currently allowed to be added to pesticide products. The agency’s move is a step toward some measure of health protections from chemicals that may have been widely sprayed throughout many American communities, and have been linked to cancer, liver damage, birth and developmental problems, reduced fertility, and asthma. However, many advocates indicate EPA’s actions on PFAS inerts do not go far enough, and the agency’s findings regarding leaching storage containers are accompanied by no meaningful restrictions on their use. Following reports and preliminary testing conducted in 2020 showing that PFAS chemicals are present in a widely used mosquito adulticide, EPA began investigating the source of this contamination. Testing on the product Anvil 10+10, produced by the company Clarke, resulted in detection of nine different PFAS chemicals. Early indications indicate that the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers used to store pesticides contained PFAS substances on their walls, and that those chemicals are leaching into the liquid pesticides stored in contaminated barrels. These […]

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13
Sep

Multiple Pesticides Detected in All Store-Bought Milkweed, Threatening Further Monarch Declines

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2022) Every store-bought milkweed sample tested in a recent study contains multiple toxic pesticides, placing monarchs reliant on these plants in harm’s way at a time the species can ill afford any further loss to its population. Pollinator declines have influenced many residents throughout the U.S. to take action into their own hands and transform their home yards or businesses into an oasis for bees, birds, and butterflies. Yet the recent study published in Biological Conservation finds that many retailers are dousing their ‘wildlife-friendly’ plants with pesticides that put this vulnerable species in further danger. “That was the most shocking part,” said lead author Christopher Halsch, a doctoral study at University of Nevada, Reno. “The fact that plants labeled as potentially beneficial or at least friendly to wildlife are not better and in some cases might be worse than other plants available for purchase. This research sheds light on how pesticides may impact western monarchs, but many other butterflies are facing even steeper population declines, and pesticides are likely one driver.” Testing was conducted by purchasing milkweed plants at 33 different stores spanning 15 different states. A sample of each plant was cut after purchase, and […]

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12
Sep

Organic Integrity Before the Public, Comments Due By September 29

(Beyond Pesticides, September 12, 2021) Comments are due by 11:59 pm EDT September 29. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through September. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on October 18 and 20 and deliberative hearing October 25-27—concerning how organic food is produced. Sign up to speak at the webinar by September 29. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. by 11:59 pm EDT September 29. Links to the virtual comment webinars and the public meeting will be posted on this webpage in early October. The NOSB is responsible for guiding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its administration of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), including the materials allowed to be used in organic production and handling. The role of the NOSB is especially important as we depend on organic production to protect our ecosystem, mitigate climate change, and enhance our health The NOSB plays an important role in bringing the views of organic producers and consumers to bear on USDA, which is not always in sync with organic principles. There are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Spring. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong and […]

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09
Sep

Seeing the Value of Nature through Beavers, as Cattle Ranchers Benefit from These “Ecosystem Engineers”

(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2022) One kind of solution to the biodiversity crisis that is likely not on most folk’s bingo cards comes from a Nevada cattle rancher, who has shifted his relationship with . . . wait for it . . . beavers. As climate change impacts ramp up their toll in the U.S. via intensified droughts, floods, and wildfires, solutions are widely and eagerly sought, if deployed at insufficient pace. In this Nevada case, Agee Smith — unlike his rancher father, who reportedly “waged war against the animals, frequently with dynamite” — welcomes beavers and their industry on his ranch land. Doing so has yielded multiple benefits for his operation, the environment, and biodiversity. As reported by The New York Times, “Mr. Smith has become one of a growing number of ranchers, scientists and other “beaver believers” who see the creatures not only as helpers, but as furry weapons of climate resilience.” Many landowners, of all stripes, consider beavers to be destructive “nuisance” animals that wantonly fell trees, and in so doing sometimes flood farm fields, back yards, roads, forests, or grazing acreage. Public complaints about such behaviors resulted in the federal government’s killing of more than 25,000 beavers […]

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22
Aug

Groups Call for Organic Action to Implement Climate Solutions under Historic Federal Law

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2022) The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is, as President Biden claims, “The single most aggressive action the U.S. is taking to tackle the climate crisis and create clean energy solutions in American history.” However, that is a low bar to clear. There is much more required to meet the President’s climate goals and much is needed to ensure that the IRA is implemented in a way that helps farmers, fenceline communities, and biodiversity. As stated by Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, “President Biden and his administration should take this moment not only to celebrate, but also to recommit and refocus on addressing the environmental injustice and wildlife crises.” For more in-depth coverage, see Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News. Tell President Biden that funds in the Inflation Reduction Act must meet the need for a transformative moment to address the existential health (including environmental justice), biodiversity, and climate crises and shift society to organic practices by eliminating fossil fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers; and that further steps are needed to reach critical and urgent goals.  We cannot meet climate goals while maintaining a dependence on fossil fuels. Eliminating that dependence requires more than a shift from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, shifting from […]

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19
Aug

Historic Federal Support Could Effectively Take on Climate, Health, and Biodiversity Crises—with Grassroots Advocacy

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2022) On August 16, President Biden signed a bill — the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” — that will provide unprecedented sums to address the existential threats we face related to climate, biodiversity, and health. The $750 billion total appropriation is far less than the original $1.75 trillion hoped for early in the legislative process, but nevertheless is an historic level of federal investment. Beyond Pesticides sees in the bill, now law, opportunities to make significant headway on our call for the elimination of toxic pesticides over the next decade, which launches during our 2022 National Forum Series. The new law could (and should) also provide investment in the critical transition to organic production methods in agriculture. Should the federal government advance organic systems as a climate, health, and environmental justice solution, those two priorities would go far to improve health, reduce dependence on synthetic, fossil-fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers, and allow natural systems to begin to heal from 70+ years of chemical assault. Component sections of the Inflation Reduction Act include those on Clean Energy and Transmission, Clean Transportation, Buildings and Energy Efficiency, Manufacturing, Environmental Justice, Conservation and Agriculture, Fossil Fuels, and Permitting Reform. Within those categories, […]

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16
Aug

Toxic Pesticide Residues on Over Half of U.S. Food, 1 in 10 Samples Violate Legal Limits, Says FDA

(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2022) Over half of all food samples tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contain the residues of at least one pesticide, and one in ten samples have levels that violate legal limits established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These findings, published by FDA this month in its 2020 Pesticide Residue Monitoring Report, are simply par for the course for government regulators, as FDA indicates the 2020 results “were consistent with recent years.” However, while reporting on the dangerous pesticides present in U.S. food has become routine for FDA, more and more Americans are rejecting regular exposure to unnecessary toxics in their food by going organic with their food choices, planting their own pesticide-free gardens, and encouraging their elected officials to embrace safer, sustainable land care policies.   FDA has conducted a review of pesticide residues on food on an annual basis since 1987, evaluating both domestic and imported foodstuffs into the US market. While EPA sets “pesticide tolerances,” also known as “maximum residue levels,” of allowed pesticide residues on certain foods, FDA (and USDA, for some specific items like meat, poultry, and eggs) is tasked with enforcing these provisions. Pesticide tolerances, […]

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15
Aug

Prohibit Ag Pesticide Use on Wildlife Refuges to Protect Biodiversity

(Beyond Pesticides, August 15, 2022) Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and seven other members of the United States Senate are calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to phase out the use of toxic pesticides in National Wildlife Refuges in order to protect declining wildlife species and the country’s unique natural resources. The senators sent a letter to FWS Director Martha Williams urging FWS to “expeditiously begin a rulemaking process to phase out the use of agricultural pesticides on National Wildlife Refuges.” The move comes at a time when native wildlife and the ecosystems humans rely upon are under greater threats than ever before from climate change, habitat destruction, and the indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides. Join eight U.S. Senators in calling for a phase out of the use of toxic pesticides in National Wildlife Refuges. “The Refuge System was established to provide sanctuary for listed threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, and other wildlife,” wrote the senators in their letter. “The Refuges’ migratory sanctuary and breeding grounds are especially critical for North American birds, as they have faced precipitous population declines; there are 3 billion fewer breeding birds in North America than there were in 1970. Unfortunately these birds […]

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03
Aug

Scientific Literature Review Again Connects Pesticides and Male Fertility Problems

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2022) A systematic review of scientific studies on pesticides and fertility finds exposure associated with lower semen quality, DNA fragmentation, and chromosomal abnormalities. Published in the journal Andrology, the review is yet another warning from a long string of researchers sounding the alarm over the connection between global fertility and toxic chemical exposure. With data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  indicating roughly 1 in 5 couples are unable to conceive after a year of trying, and trends continuing to slope downwards, it is critical that contributing factors be identified so that protective changes can be made.   After screening over 1,300 studies, researchers narrowed their review down to 64 papers assessing semen parameters and DNA integrity after pesticide exposure. Each study is analyzed for its design, the pesticide investigated,  the population studied, controls, and reproductive effects determined. Pesticides are evaluated for their impacts to sperm quality and DNA integrity based on their chemical class. Organochlorine insecticides, which are all banned but still persistent in soil, air, water, and food in the United States, include a range of impacts to sperm quality. Higher levels of DDT or its breakdown metabolite DDE are […]

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02
Aug

U.S. Senators Urge Fish and Wildlife Service to Phase Out Pesticide Use in America’s Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2022) Members of the United States Senate are calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to phase out the use of toxic pesticides in National Wildlife Refuges in order to protect declining wildlife species and the country’s unique natural resources. Led by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), the senators sent a letter to FWS Director Martha Williams urging FWS to “expeditiously begin a rulemaking process to phase out the use of agricultural pesticides on National Wildlife Refuges.” The move comes at a time when native wildlife and the ecosystems humans rely upon are under greater threats than ever before from climate change, habitat destruction, and the indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides. “The Refuge System was established to provide sanctuary for listed threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, and other wildlife,” wrote the senators in a letter to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Director Martha Williams. “The Refuges’ migratory sanctuary and breeding grounds are especially critical for North American birds, as they have faced precipitous population declines; there are 3 billion fewer breeding birds in North America than there were in 1970. Unfortunately these birds and other threatened species are being put at risk by pesticide use […]

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01
Aug

Take Action: USDA Action Limits Environmental and Scientific Authority on National Organic Board

(Beyond Pesticides, August 1, 2022) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has just renewed the charter of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), with changes that threaten the balance on the board created by law. Organic production is successful, with sales topping $63 billion, and still growing. Organic production not only brings healthful food to it consumers, but also reduces the amount of toxic chemicals released to the air, soil, and water. And it helps to reduce climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil. To ensure rigorous oversight of USDA and robust advice and management of the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, the NOSB was created to ensure balanced representation from organic stakeholders, including consumers, conservationists, farmers, a scientist, retailer, and certifier. The growth of the organic brand is attributable in great part to public trust in the standards and processes that govern oversight over the USDA organic label. Tell USDA to classify all NOSB members as “Representatives” to protect the integrity of organic production. Tell Congress to ensure that USDA follows the letter and spirit of the organic law. The success of organic derives from consumer trust in the organic label, and that trust depends on […]

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27
Jul

Monarchs Listed as Endangered by International Safety Group, while U.S. Fails to Take Meaningful Action

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2022) As monarch butterfly numbers continue to drop throughout the United States, an international conservation group is listing the migratory monarch butterfly as endangered. The move by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) places pressure on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to prioritize protections for this rapidly dwindling iconic species. “Today’s Red List update highlights the fragility of nature’s wonders, such as the unique spectacle of monarch butterflies migrating across thousands of kilometres,” said Bruno Oberle, PhD, IUCN Director General. “To preserve the rich diversity of nature we need effective, fairly governed protected and conserved areas, alongside decisive action to tackle climate change and restore ecosystems. In turn, conserving biodiversity supports communities by providing essential services such as food, water and sustainable jobs.” Migratory monarch butterflies are under threat from a range of factors harming both their western and eastern populations. Logging and deforestation have destroyed much of their overwintering grounds in Mexico and California. Climate change has subjected the butterflies to temperature anomalies and extremes, severe weather, and wildfires. Herbicide use has eliminated millions of acres of breeding habitat by killing off milkweed plants that monarchs require to rear their […]

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14
Jun

U.S. Attorneys Bust Pesticide Smuggling Operation, but Online Purchasing Continues

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2022) The ringleader of a pesticide smuggling operation conducted across the United States border with Mexico has been sentenced to eight months in prison by a U.S. District Court Judge. According to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, Sofia Mancera Morales used individuals recruited over social media Bovitraz and Taktic, pesticide products banned in the US that pose hazards to pollinators and cancer risks to humans. “In exchange for ill-begotten profits, this cavalier smuggling operation was more than willing to risk the public’s health and the honeybee industry, which is critical to pollinating our food supply,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. While the Department of Justice deserves praise for this enforcement action, health and environmental advocates say that more must be done to stop illegal pesticide sales. A quick search for the two pesticide products in question brings up webpages, including well-known sites like Etsy.com, where the same illegal pesticides cited in this case are currently being sold to U.S. consumers. Over Facebook, Ms. Morales offered to pay individuals between $40-150 per package of pesticide products they delivered across the border. Those recruited were instructed to open a […]

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13
Jun

Bird Conservation Needs Help from Policy Makers

(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2022) Birds are beautiful. They fill our world with color, song, and acrobatics. Most songbirds eat insects during the nesting season, thus contributing to management of insects in crops and gardens. It is no wonder that Rachel Carson chose their absence as an indicator of ecosystem collapse in Silent Spring. Tell your U.S. Senators to cosponsor S. 4187, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Enhancements Act. Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to ensure that EPA does not allow pesticides that threaten birds or their insect food supply.  It’s not always easy to be a bird. About half of the world’s bird species migrate up to tens of thousands of miles each year. Whether at home or on the way to warmer climates for the winter, birds face harsh weather conditions, barriers like windows and radio towers, and the problem of storing enough energy for the flight in a tiny body. About 72 million birds are killed by pesticides and other toxic chemicals every year. In addition, pesticide use has contributed to the collapse of insect populations—the source of protein and fat that birds need to raise their young. Congress has passed laws to help prevent a […]

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10
Jun

USDA Announces Dramatic Increases in Support for Organic Agriculture Without Call for Total Transition

(Beyond Pesticides, June 10, 2022) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on June 1 that it will provide a potential 15-fold increase in funding aimed at organic food production — up to $300 million. The subject Organic Transition Initiative provision is embedded in a new USDA Food System Transformation framework (FSTF), whose raison d’être is captured in the press release: “to transform the food system to benefit consumers, producers and rural communities by providing more options, increasing access, and creating new, more, and better markets for small and mid-size producers.” That funding for organic transition, the invocation of climate as a significant driver of multiple features of the initiative, and a focus on equity concerns are all welcome news. Beyond Pesticides maintains that it will be critical that this FSTF result in concrete goals that set out specific metrics and timelines — particularly around the magnitude of acres shifted to organic production and the pace of the phaseout of non-organic substances and protocols. The headline of the press release bespeaks the rationale: “Shoring Up the Food Supply Chain and Transforming the Food System to Be Fairer, More Competitive, More Resilient.” Broadly, the initiative addresses four sectors of agricultural activity: production, […]

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08
Jun

USDA Approves Parasitoid as Biological Control to Manage Destructive Fruit Fly Pest

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2022) A new biological agent to manage the destructive pest spotted wing drosophila (SWD) (Drosophila suzukii) is set to be released this month after approval was granted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Ganaspis brasiliensis, a parasitic wasp with a specific affinity for SWD, has the ability to significantly curtail the use of toxic pesticides otherwise employed to manage the pest. The move is an important step forward for biological pest management in the United States, an approach that has already added billions of benefits to agricultural economies, and has the potential to help farmers eliminate the regular use of hazardous pesticides. SWD is a small fruit fly originally from southeast Asia. In 2009, it was discovered on the U.S. West Coast and rapidly became a major pest, leading to significant crop loss estimated at over $700 million each year. The insect attacks nearly all soft bodied fruits, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, grapes, and others. It has an apparent preference for blueberries, costing that industry alone $100 million per year. It lays its eggs inside of ripe fruit, which hatch into larvae and ruin the entire fruit as it feeds. Female […]

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24
May

Breakthrough Study Shows Organophosphate Nerve Gas Caused Gulf War Illness

(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2022) New research is providing strong causal evidence that Gulf War Illness (GWI) is the result of exposure to sarin gas, an organophosphate nerve agent used by Saddam Hussein as a chemical weapon during the Gulf War. The findings, published earlier this month in Environmental Health Perspectives, have important implications for the hundreds of thousands of American service members suffering from a constellation of chronic symptoms without a true understanding of how they became sick. “Quite simply, our findings prove that Gulf War illness was caused by sarin, which was released when we bombed Iraqi chemical weapons storage and production facilities,” said Robert Haley, MD, lead author of the study and epidemiologist at University of Texas Southwestern. “There are still more than 100,000 Gulf War veterans who are not getting help for this illness and our hope is that these findings will accelerate the search for better treatment.” Sarin was first synthesized in the late 1930s by Nazi chemists working for IG Farben (a consortium that included Bayer) in an attempt to create stronger and more powerful insecticides. Sarin is a G-series organophosphate (named after the scientists that created them), characterized by high acute toxicity and […]

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