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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Federal Agencies' Category


16
Feb

Disproportionate Pesticide Hazards to Farmworkers and People of Color Documented. . .Again

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2024) A report released in January, US pesticide regulation is failing the hardest-hit communities. It’s time to fix it, finds “people of color and low-income communities in the United States and around the world continue to shoulder the societal burden of harmful pollution.” More specifically, the authors state that “ongoing environmental injustice is the disproportionate impact these communities suffer from pesticides, among the most widespread environmental pollutants.” The report follows an earlier article by the same lead authors and others (see earlier coverage) on the long history of documented hazards and government failure to protect farmworkers from pesticide use in agriculture. In a piece posted by Beyond Pesticides earlier this week, the serious weaknesses in the worker protection standard for farmworkers are documented.   The latest report was led by Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center for Biological Diversity and Robert Bullard, known as the “Father of Environmental Justice” and executive director of the Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University in Houston. In addition to these authors, the 2022 review was coauthored by Jeannie Economos of the Farmworker Association of Florida, Iris Figueroa of Farmworker Justice, Jovita […]

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15
Feb

USDA Pesticide Data Program Continues to Mislead the Public on Pesticide Residue Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2024) The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pesticide residue report, the 32nd Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary report, released in January, finds that over 72 percent of tested commodities contain pesticide residues (27.6 percent have no detectable residues), mostly below the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set for tolerances (allowable residues) whose safety standards have been called into question by advocates. USDA spins its report findings as a positive safety finding because, as the Department says, “[m]ore than 99 percent of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the established EPA tolerances.” USDA continues, “Ultimately, if EPA determines a pesticide use is not safe for human consumption, EPA will mitigate exposure to the pesticide through actions such as amending the pesticide label instructions, changing or revoking a pesticide residue tolerance, or not registering a new use.” As Beyond Pesticides reminds the public annually when USDA uses the report to extol the safety of pesticide-laden food, the tolerance setting process has been criticized as highly deficient because of a lack of adequate risk assessments for vulnerable subpopulations, such as farmworkers, people with compromised health or preexisting health conditions, children, and perhaps, […]

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22
Jan

Comment Period Ends Today: Advocates Say USDA Needs Organic Certifier Information on Soil Fertility

(Beyond Pesticides, January 22, 2024) Today, Monday, January 22, is the last day for public comment on a three-year extension of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (through its Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP)) authority to collect information from certifiers entrusted with ensuring compliance with organic standards. Beyond Pesticides, along with allied organizations and organic advocates, is urging USDA to use this process to clarify the need for USDA to collect key information needed to verify compliance with key language in OFPA (Section 6513(b))—a provision that requires farming practices that “foster soil fertility.” Advocates maintain that information on organic farmers’ practices to foster soil fertility, required in the law, is critical to organic integrity, public trust in the organic label, and certifier responsibility. As USDA states, “The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), as amended (7 U.S.C. 6501–6524), authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the National Organic Program (NOP) and accredit certifying agents to certify that farms and businesses meet national organic standards. Under OFPA, the purpose of the NOP is to: (1) establish national standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced products; (2) assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard; […]

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11
Jan

FDA Cites Resistance to Medically Important Antimicrobials as Critical Health Issue

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2024) In a move to safeguard public and animal health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned nine manufacturers and distributors in December last year to stop selling unapproved and misbranded antimicrobial animal drugs, with the director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, Tracey Forfa, explaining to the public that “inappropriate use of medically important antimicrobials contributes to the development of antimicrobial resistance, which affects both human and animal health.”  This action and announcement exhibit a higher degree of concern about antimicrobial resistance—understood as a growing worldwide pandemic—than the history and ongoing inaction by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—resulting in the allowance of widespread nonmedical uses of antibiotics in agriculture and on synthetic (or artificial) turf. Contrary to broad scientific understanding, EPA told a federal appeals court last year that, “There is no data that antibiotic use in agriculture leads to the presence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria of human health concern,” and that “[a]t the present time, there is little evidence for or against the presence of microbes of human health concern in the plant agricultural environment.” The issue of resistance discussed in the scientific literature concerns reduced susceptibility to clinically important antimicrobials, […]

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11
Dec

USDA Supports Expansion of “Organic” Hydroponically-Grown Food, Threatening Real Organic

Update: This Daily News is updated to address the organic status of the company cited in the piece, Merchant’s Garden. The article now indicates that the company is certified as organic under a different name (Merchant’s Garden Agrotech) than the name used in the USDA press release.  As a result, their name did not appear in USDA’s Organic Integrity Database (OID) at the time of the original Daily News and Action of the Week posting. USDA updated OID on December 8, 2023, the same day that it received a complaint on this matter from former National Organic Standard Board chair Jim Riddle. The critical focus of the piece remains the same: It is not disclosed to consumers on food products labeled “organic” when that food or ingredients are grown hydroponically. Beyond Pesticides, as indicated in the article, views hydroponic as a conventional growing practice that does not meet the spirit and intent of the organic system, as defined in the Organic Foods Production Act.  (Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2023) U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on November 27, 2023 funding that appears to be supporting the expansion of “organic” hydroponic, an approach to food production that has […]

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09
Nov

Protection of Children from Pesticides under Threat in Farm Bill Negotiations, Data Shows

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2023) Two-hundred-foot pesticide spray “buffer zones” around 4,028 U.S. elementary schools contiguous to crop fields—according to data evaluated by Environmental Working Group—are threatened by potential Farm Bill amendments now under consideration. Legislative language, if adopted, would take away (preempt) the authority of states and local jurisdictions to protect children and restrict agricultural pesticides used near schools. Pesticide drift is a widespread problem throughout the U.S. that has attracted national attention in recent years because of crop damage caused by the weed killer dicamba in numerous midwestern states. In the face of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to mitigate drift hazards, states enact limits on when and how pesticides can be used, establish buffer zones around application sites, and in some cases, ban uses. In 2018, Arkansas banned dicamba use from mid-April through the end of October (and survived a Monsanto challenge to the ban. For a historical perspective on the drift issue, see Getting the Drift on Pesticide Trespass. Children, in particular, face unique risks from pesticide and toxic chemical exposures. Due to their smaller body size, they absorb a higher relative amount of pesticides through the food they consume and the air they breathe. Additionally, children’s developing […]

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23
Oct

Don’t Get Comfortable: Government Shutdown Exacerbates Food Safety Threats

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2023) As the immediate threat of a government shutdown has temporarily subsided, concerns are mounting over the potential threats to food safety in the United States if the government shuts down in mid-November. Experts are warning that a shutdown could jeopardize critical food safety inspections and oversight. A partial government shutdown in 2019 disrupted federal oversight of food monitoring for various pathogens and pesticides, as labs were shuttered, with agency employees furloughed. See Beyond Pesticide’s reporting about food safety risks during the last government shutdown. However, it should be noted that residues of pesticides in food continue to raise concerns about safety of food grown in chemical-intensive (conventional) farming operations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) contingency plans dictate that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continue its regulatory inspection of meat, poultry, and egg products, as mandated by law. However, it is important to note that the FSIS will operate with a reduced workforce, with a portion of employees deemed “essential personnel” for food safety operations. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is also preparing for a potential shutdown. According to HHS’s contingency […]

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25
Sep

Take Action: Organic Integrity on the Agenda of Upcoming USDA Meeting

(Beyond Pesticides, September 25, 2023) It happens twice a year. The transparent process of a stakeholder board of farmers, consumers, environmentalists, a scientist, retailer, and certifier get together as members of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and vote on allowable materials and standards in organic agriculture. This Congressionally mandated board has authorities not often given to people outside of government—authorities to determine what should be allowed in organic food production, under assessments of synthetic and natural substances. And the underlying law that makes this happen, the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), stipulates that the Secretary of Agriculture may not allow synthetic and prohibited natural materials unless they are recommended by the NOSB. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public, which must be submitted by September 28, 2023. The values and principles embedded in OFPA far exceed the standards of health and environmental protection of any other health and environmental laws, which establish risk mitigation measures to determine allowable harm, under a set of guiding standards that require the board to (i) protect health (from production of inputs to their disposal), (ii) ensure compatibility with organic systems (with determinations that inputs do not hurt […]

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18
Sep

Standards Now Open to Public Comments To Protect the Integrity of the USDA Organic Label—Due by Sept 28!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2023) Advocates for organic have consistently maintained that public engagement with the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is critical to protecting the values and principles embedded in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). While the NOSB is a stakeholder board that reflects the sectors of the organic community—from consumers, farmers, processors, certifiers, retailers, and scientists—public interaction with the board offers critical input to the NOSB’s decision-making process. Ultimately, Board authority over the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances and its advisor relationship to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture have a direct effect on the underlying decisions that determine the credibility of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic label that is now widely found on products in virtually all grocery stores. A major issue that continues to plague label integrity is the Board’s review of so-called “inert” ingredients in materials allowed in organic. These are potentially toxic ingredients that should be reviewed by the Board, substances not disclosed on labels of products that may be used in organic production or processing. The NOSB has access to the complete list of “inerts” used in organic materials, and advocates are urging the Board to begin immediately its […]

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11
Sep

Take Action: Officials Implored To Protect Ecosystems of National Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2023) As environmental groups pursue a legal strategy to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for its failure to protect a wildlife refuge from industrial aquaculture, they are also urging the public to hold Refuge officials accountable to the Refuge Improvement Act with a write-in campaign. (See Take Action campaign below.) Earlier this year, USFWS allowed the establishment of a commercial aquaculture operation that cultivates 34 acres of non-native Pacific oysters within a 50-acre tideland parcel leased  from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. The failure to fully evaluate the compatibility of this use with the purposes of the refuge raises concerns of compliance with the law governing National Wildlife Refuges throughout the country. Beyond Pesticides has said, “USFWS is willing to allow, for private profit, the industrialization of refuge lands for shellfish operations.”  Refuges are critical habitat throughout the U.S. that protect critical ecosystems. According to the lawsuit, the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge shelters a bay rich in marine life. Eelgrass beds attract brant, shorebirds feed on the tideflats, and ducks find sanctuary in the calm waters. The Refuge is a preserve and breeding ground for more than […]

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06
Sep

EPA’s Failure to Assess Multiple Chemical Exposure Threat Creates Environmental Injustice, Says Inspector General

(Beyond Pesticides, September 6, 2023) In late August, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report concluding that EPA “took a siloed approach” to the cumulative impacts of chemical exposures and the disproportionate nature of those exposures. This approach keeps different parts of the EPA from coordinating their efforts and hinders understanding of the breadth and depth of chemical exposures. OIG reached this disturbing finding despite the issuance of several executive orders by President Biden requiring EPA to develop policies and actions to assess cumulative impacts of chemical exposures across departments, laws, and environmental media (air, water, bodies, food etc.) and to pay more attention to environmental justice. Beyond Pesticides has stressed that the whole constellation of chemical exposures and effects should be considered when governments set public policies and regulations. Just last March, Daily News covered another OIG report castigating EPA for betraying its mission by failing to address the fact that very high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds known as “forever chemicals” have been found in some common pesticides. OIG also berated EPA for succumbing to Donald Trump’s interference with setting toxicity values for the “forever chemical” perfluorobutane […]

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25
Aug

Harmful Pollutants in Minnesota Waterways Highlights the Continuing Issue of Water Source Contamination

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2023) A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and National Park Service collaborative survey report finds a harmful mixture of pollutants, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, caffeine, methylparaben, algal toxins, and fecal and parasitic bacteria, in Pipestone Creek at Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota, U.S.— adding to evidence of widespread pesticide contamination in waterways across the U.S. Pesticide contamination in waterways is historically commonplace. A 1998 USGS analysis revealed pesticides are commonly found in all U.S. waterways, with at least one pesticide detectable. Thousands of tons of pesticides enter rivers and streams around the US from agricultural and nonagricultural sources, which contaminate essential drinking water sources, such as surface water and groundwater. As the number of pesticides in waterways increases, it has detrimental impacts on aquatic ecosystem health, especially as some pesticides work synergistically with others to increase the severity of the effect. Reports like these are significant tools for determining appropriate regulatory action to protect human, animal, and environmental health.  The survey collected water samples from Pipestone Creek, the pipestone quarries, and Winnewissa Falls, all of which are on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of impaired waters for turbidity (reduced water clarity) and fecal coliform bacteria (E. coli). Turbidity and fecal coliform […]

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18
Aug

Groups Sue U.S. Interior Department to Protect the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge from Industrial Aquaculture

(Beyond Pesticides, August 18, 2023) Yesterday, three environmental organizations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior for failing to protect the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge from industrial aquaculture. The groups, including Protect the Peninsula’s Future, Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, and Beyond Pesticides, filed their complaint in the U.S. Western District Court of Washington State. The complaint states that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Department of Interior, must “take action that is required by the Refuge Improvement Act and conduct a compatibility determination and require a special use permit for a proposed industrial aquaculture use” that will abut and impact the Refuge. The plaintiffs are represented by the Seattle, WA law firm of Bricklin and Newman LLP. The shellfish operation leases 50 acres of Washington State bottomlands; 34 acres to be covered with up to 80,000 plastic bags of non-native shellfish and staked into the bottomlands, potentially killing all benthic life underneath and snaring wildlife in the netting. This operation would shift the natural year-round-sediment movement, directing the sediment into the eelgrass beds – beds protected for rearing salmon for whales and nourishing particular migratory ducks. Additionally, the plastic bags will cover primary feeding […]

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15
Aug

The Ultimate Buzz Kill – Officials Find Pesticides in Marijuana… Again

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2023) Marijuana regulators in the state of Washington issued administrative holds on 18 licenses due to pesticide-contaminated marijuana, forcing producers and processors to cease operations until now. This shutdown of legal marijuana businesses serves as a window into a broader historical backdrop of pesticide issues within the marijuana industry. Within Washington, pesticide concerns have been growing since a study in 2018 of legal marijuana farms in the state had 84.6% (of 26 samples) with significant quantities of pesticides including insecticides, fungicides, miticides, and herbicides. Last year, a national study identified a list of contaminants in 36 states and the District of Columbia and found 551 pesticides within cannabis products. For over a decade, Beyond Pesticides has sounded the alarm about the highly-concentrated levels of pesticides in marijuana products, calling on state officials to require organic marijuana, especially in the context of medical marijuana. The absence of federal regulations for pesticides in cannabis production has raised significant concerns about exposure risks for recreational and medicinal use, exposure risks to workers, and potential environmental contamination impacting wildlife. Since marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act, the EPA does not regulate pesticides in […]

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01
Aug

EPA Releases Ten Years of Data on How Pesticides Impact Humans, Pets, Wildlife, and More

(Beyond Pesticides, August 1, 2023) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it is publishing a decade’s worth of pesticide incident data in a searchable database that will be updated on a monthly basis. The Incident Data System (IDS), with poisoning reports generated mostly from chemical manufacturers, states, a national hotline, and poison control centers, offers information on reported pesticide exposures from accidental poisoning of pets, wildlife, and humans, to pesticide drift, noncompliance, and other pesticide incidents that may be associated with product uses in compliance with label instructions. Tracking this incident data is essential to understanding the risks and damages associated with pesticide use.   The bulk of the data on incidents is from consumer reports to chemical manufacturers. Chemical companies are required under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Section 6(a)(2) to report incidents: “If at any time after the registration of a pesticide the registrant has additional factual information regarding unreasonable adverse effects on the environment of the pesticide, the registrant shall submit such information to the Administrator.” The determine of threshold number of incidents required to be reported as a pattern of “unreasonable adverse effects” is left to the manufacturers to determine. Through […]

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25
Jul

Advocates and Scientists Urge that USGS Pesticide Data Program Be Elevated, Not Eliminated as Proposed 

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2023) How can scientists fight the elimination of national pesticide data? More data! A new report surveys 58 academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations, government officials, and businesses to measure the scientific, educational, and policy use of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Pesticide National Synthesis Project (PNSP), a database that is getting phased out by the current administration.   According to the report authors, Maggie Douglas, PhD, Bill Freese, Joseph G. Grzywacz, PhD, and Nathan Donley, PhD, the PNSP is the “most comprehensive public description of pesticide use in U.S. agriculture.” Despite its widespread use across the government and 348 citations since 2010, the database has been degraded in recent years, including a shift from monitoring 400 pesticides to 72 pesticides in 2019. Moreover, starting in 2024, estimates of agricultural pesticide use will be released every five years (instead of annually). Advocates believe the loss of PNSP data could further hinder the ability to manage pesticide impacts on humans, agriculture, and the environment. These concerns are outlined in a letter to USGS and the Department of Interior, signed by more than 250 scientists.  Beyond Pesticides extensively tracks USGS data and resulting findings to inform local and state […]

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19
Jul

45% of U.S. Tap Water Is Contaminated with PFAS, According to USGS Survey

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2023) A study in Environment International (August issue) by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) finds that almost half of U.S. tap water is contaminated with PFAS chemicals, with measured concentrations in both private wells and public water sources. Authors of the study “estimate that at least one PFAS could be detected in about 45% of U.S. drinking-water samples.” Although there are more than 12,000 different types of PFAS, only 32 are detectable by USGS lab tests, so 45% is likely a low estimate.  Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals found in a variety of common household products such as nonstick pans and stain resistant carpeting, as well as pesticides and biosolids used as fertilizer. Long-chain PFAS, such as PFOA and PFOS, are more widely known because of their high toxicity and controversial use in the past. Today, long-chain PFAS are often replaced with short-chain PFAS, as the latter are not as bioaccumulative; however, short-chained PFAS also pose a significant threat because they remain highly persistent in the environment. Past Beyond Pesticides’ articles have described the prevalence of PFAS in products as well as their negative health consequences, including cancer, decreased fertility, […]

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03
Jul

Take Action: The Protection of Birds Linked to Mosquito Management

(Beyond Pesticides, July 3, 2023) Mosquito season is upon us, and to many that means spraying pesticides to kill them. But not only is spraying flying mosquitoes the most ineffective way to prevent mosquito problems, it is also counterproductive because it eliminates some of our most attractive and helpful allies—birds. Tell EPA to eliminate pesticides that threaten birds or their insect food supply. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior to protect birds by eliminating the use of pesticides that threaten them. Tell Congress that EPA and other agencies need to do their job and protect birds and other mosquito predators. While the appetite of purple martins for mosquitoes is well known, most songbirds eat insects at some stage of their life. Many birds who eat seeds or nectar feed insects to their young, including flying insects that may be bothersome–like mosquitoes or flies. Altogether, birds consume as many as 20 quadrillion individual insects, totaling 400-500 million metric tons, per year. Mosquito-eating birds include many well-known residents of our communities. They include, for example, wood ducks, phoebes and other flycatchers, bluebirds, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, swallows, swifts, robins, orioles, wrens, great tits, warblers, nuthatches, hummingbirds, red-winged blackbirds, […]

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15
Jun

Recent Supreme Court Ruling on Clean Water Act “will take our country backwards”

(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2023) The Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction dramatically limits the EPA’s ability to protect critical wetland ecosystems. On May 25, in a 5-4 majority decision, the Supreme Court ruled that EPA has authority to protect only “wetlands with a continuous surface connection to bodies that are ‘waters of the United States’ in their own right.” Wetlands must appear “indistinguishable” from larger waterways at a surface-level perspective. Wetlands next to a large waterway are no longer protected if they are separated by a manmade or terrestrial barrier. Water flows underground from upstream to downstream sources and exits the confines of its customary boundaries during periods of flooding, so to declare waterways distinct based merely on a surface-level perspective defies scientific understanding of ecosystem health.  Critical Nature of Wetland Ecology  The conservation of wetland ecology is critical to the health of our environment. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) states, “Wetlands are among the most productive habitats on earth” given their role in flood resilience, improvement in water quality, and coastal erosion control. Wetlands are essential nursery grounds for many species of fish and oases for […]

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12
Jun

Take Action: Help Boost Transition to Organic Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2023) In view of the urgent need to enact a transformation to organic agriculture in order to address existential threats to human health, climate, and biodiversity, U.S. Senator Peter Welch (VT) and U.S. Representatives Jimmy Panetta (CA-19) and Alma Adams (NC-12) have introduced Senate and House versions of the Opportunities in Organic Act to reduce cost-barriers, expand access to new markets and resources, and provide support and training. >>Tell your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators to cosponsor H.R. 3650 and S. 1582, the Opportunities in Organic Act. Thank those who are current cosponsors. Although some existing programs support organic agriculture, transition, and research, they do not level the playing field for organic producers and do not adequately or holistically meet their needs. Organic certification costs and processes remain a barrier for many, and most producers have limited access to organic-specific technical assistance or mentorship – especially in regions with smaller organic sectors. The Opportunities in Organic Act will expand the existing National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program to reduce these barriers and better serve organic producers. The Opportunities in Organic Act has three major components: Organic Certification Cost-Share. The Opportunities in Organic Act will modernize reimbursements for organic certification, […]

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05
Jun

Take Action: With Butterfly Decline Mounting, EPA Allows Continued Pesticide Use that Causes Threat

(Beyond Pesticides, June 5, 2023) Butterflies—the most attractive of our insect fauna—are disappearing at an appalling rate, largely due to pesticide use. Recent studies have documented declines of almost 50% from 1990 to 2011 in Europe (with trends continuing), of 58 percent between 2000 and 2009 in the U.K., and of 33% from 1996–2016 in the state of Ohio in the U.S. Even steeper declines have been documented for Monarch butterflies, with an 80 percent decline of Eastern monarchs and 99 percent decline of Western monarchs. Tell EPA to eliminate pesticides that threaten butterflies. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior to help bring back butterflies by eliminating the use of pesticides that threaten them. Tell Congress that EPA and other agencies need to do their job and protect our most charismatic insects. Last year, EPA admitted that three neonicotinoid pesticides are “likely to adversely affect from two-thirds to over three-fourths of America’s endangered species—1,225 to 1,445 species in all,” including many butterfly species. On May 5 of this year, EPA released new analyses of these neonics’ effects on endangered species. EPA’s analyses focus on the species most at risk of extinction, and the results represent […]

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17
May

Efficacy and Health Issues Stop Release of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes in California; Florida Continues

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2023) British biotechnology company Oxitec is withdrawing its application to release billions of genetically engineered mosquitoes in California, according to a recent update from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The withdrawal is a victory for environmental and health campaigners concerned about the release of a novel mosquito that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had previously authorized under an “experimental use” permit. “Genetically engineered mosquitoes are an environmental justice issue for Tulare County residents who should not be human experiments,” said Angel Garcia, codirector of the statewide coalition Californians for Pesticide Reform and Tulare County resident in a press release. “We are already impacted by some of the worst pollution problems in the state and deserve prior informed consent to being part of an open-air biopesticide experiment. Ahead of any future proposal for genetically engineered insects, DPR needs to have robust regulations in place that protect community members, and meaningful, inclusive public participation in any decision making.”     Oxitec began releasing its GE mosquitoes over a decade ago, first introducing the insects in the Brazilian town of Itaberaba. The company has made efforts to launch its mosquitoes in the United States, likely as a way […]

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16
May

Groups Announce Intent to Sue Fish and Wildlife Service Over Failure to Protect Manatees

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2023) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is set to be sued for its failure to implement strong protections for imperiled manatee populations. Earlier this month, the Harvard Animal Law and Policy Clinic, Center for Biological Diversity, Miami Waterkeeper, and engineer Frank GonzĂĄlez Garcia sent USFWS a notice of intent to sue after USFWS failed to respond to a petition sent by the groups last fall. “It has been months of agony and unjustified time lost for manatees in Puerto Rico,” said Mr. Garcia, an engineer who is concerned with the loss of natural resources. “Recent fatal accidents and unprecedented toxic water discharges aggravate the already precarious living and survival conditions of this beloved species,” Mr. Garcia said. Recent reporting has captured a dismal situation for manatee populations. The species is under threat from a range of anthropogenic impacts, from boat strikes to harmful herbicide contamination, pollution-driven red tides, and algae blooms that have destroyed seagrass beds the species rely upon. Starvation resulting from the loss of seagrass beds was the cause of death for more than 1,000 manatees in 2021, prompting wildlife officials to feed them cabbage and lettuce as a last resort to keep […]

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