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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Federal Agencies' Category


10
Jun

Take Action: Support Legislation to Protect Pollinators and Ecosystems of National Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, June 10, 2019) On May 20, U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez, with 18 co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 2854, “To amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to prohibit the use of neonicotinoids in a National Wildlife Refuge, and for other purposes.” The bill follows an August 2018 Trump administration announcement that reversed a 2014 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decision to ban neonicotinoid insecticides on National Wildlife Refuges. Tell members of Congress to protect biodiversity by co-sponsoring HR 2854, which reinstates the 2014 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ban on neonicotinoid pesticide use in wildlife refuges that was reversed by the Trump administration in 2018. The administration’s action threatens not only pollinators, but contributes to the attack on biodiversity worldwide. “These pollutants upset the delicate ecosystems of our Wildlife Refuges and they have no place in our public lands,” said Rep.Velázquez. “The ban’s revocation comes as mounting evidence suggests the chemical has damaging environmental effects on bees and other pollinators, undermining the national wildlife system,” she continued. In 2014, FWS announced that all National Wildlife Refuges would join in the phase-out of neonics (while also phasing out genetically engineered crops) by January 2016. FWS “determined that prophylactic use, such as […]

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05
Jun

Responding to Pressure from Advocates, USDA’s National Organic Program Announces Stricter Enforcement for Organic Container Systems

(Beyond Pesticides, June 5, 2019) Earlier this week, the National Organic Program (NOP) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a memo that will put a stop to the practice of allowing organic certification for container systems produced on land managed with substances, such as the herbicide glyphosate, which are not permitted in organic production. The decision comes after broad opposition to this NOP allowance was vociferously expressed by a cross section of commenters at the April meeting of the National Organic Standards Board. The head of NOP, Jenny Tucker, in response to questions, attempted to clarify her previous comment to farmers indicating that the practice met organic standards, but instead incited outrage at the NOSB meeting by refusing to reject the use glyphosate in container growing operations. The NOP decision is not retroactive for operations earlier allowed to use the chemicals. The NOP memo clarifies and establishes stricter adherence to a pre-existing rule written into the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990. While this clarification represents a victory for those fighting to keep organic strong, the certification of hydroponic and other container systems as organic continues to present a major challenge for the integrity of a system whose […]

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28
May

Take Action: Protect Funding for Children’s Environmental Health

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2019) In yet another attack by the Trump administration on science, public health, and children and families, as well as another wink and nod to industries whose products harm, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) are planning to end their support for research centers that do important scientific investigation related to children’s health. Tell Your Congressional Representatives to Insist on Funding for Children’s Environmental Health Centers. EPA has announced that it will no longer renew its grants to these centers. As of July, they will lose a huge portion of the funding that has allowed them to deploy hundreds of scientists — in genetics, toxicology, and neurodevelopment — on unusually comprehensive and longitudinal studies of what factors in children’s experiences and communities impact their health. The work of these centers has been critical in uncovering the relationships between children’s exposures to toxic chemicals, including pesticides, and diseases and health anomalies later on in their developing years. According to Tracey Woodruff, PhD, who runs the University of California, San Francisco Pregnancy Exposures to Environmental Chemicals Children’s Center: When EPA weighs the harms of a chemical against its benefits, ignorance “works out perfectly for industry. . . If EPA doesn’t […]

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23
May

Fulfilling Legal Settlement with Limited Scope, EPA Cancels Twelve Neonicotinoid Products

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2019) On Monday in the conclusion of a lawsuit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final notices of cancellation on the registration of twelve neonicotinoid pesticide products in the Federal Register, each of which contains chlothianidin or thiamathoxam as an active ingredient. The decision to pull these products from the market was required as part of a legal settlement under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in December 2018 of a successful case, Ellis v. EPA, brought by beekeeper Steve Ellis and a coalition of other beekeepers and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides. The case establishes a legal precedent in which the court required action to address the bee-toxic effects of pesticides; however, the effect of the settlement and its impact on overall neonicotinoid and other systemic insecticide use is limited. For all but two of the twelve canceled products, a nearly identical surrogate remains actively registered. Furthermore, the fact remains that there are hundreds more products containing the active ingredients targeted by the lawsuit that have not been removed in any capacity – 106 products containing clothianidin and 95 containing thiamethoxam remain untouched on the market. Breaking down the impacts of the EPA ruling even […]

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17
May

Children’s Environmental Health Centers to Lose All EPA Funding Under Administration Proposal

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2019) After two decades of co-sponsoring and co-funding research centers that do important scientific investigation related to children’s health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) are planning to end their support. EPA has announced that it will no longer renew its grants to these centers. As of July, they will lose a huge portion of the funding that has allowed them to deploy hundreds of scientists — in genetics, toxicology, and neurodevelopment — on unusually comprehensive and longitudinal studies of what factors in children’s experiences and communities impact their health. The work of these centers has been critical in uncovering the relationships between children’s exposures to toxic chemicals, including pesticides, and diseases and health anomalies later on in their developing years. This announcement represents yet another attack by the Trump administration on science, public health, and children and families, as well as another wink and nod to industries whose products harm. Says Tracey Woodruff, who runs the University of California, San Francisco Pregnancy Exposures to Environmental Chemicals Children’s Center: When EPA weights the harms of a chemical against its benefits, this “works out perfectly for industry. . . […]

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13
May

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

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

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02
May

Neonicotinoid Insecticide Residues in Food and Water on the Rise, According to USDA Data

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2019) Researchers have documented an increase in food and drinking water residues of neonicotinoids, insecticides linked to breast cancer. Using the Pesticide Data Program (PDP), 1999-2015, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the researchers identified near-peak detection frequencies in 2015, after a decline from 2008-2013. Imidacloprid remains the most common neonicotinoid detected across imported commodities, while the neonicotinoids clothianidin, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid, and flonicamid are replacing imidacloprid in domestic production. Authors note that these newer neonicotinoids are potentially more toxic than imidacloprid, raising concerns for understudied human health and environmental impacts. The study, Trends in neonicotinoid pesticide residues in food and water in the United States, 1999–2015, published in the journal Environmental Health, finds the highest detection frequencies for neonicotinoids in drinking water, with 30% of treated drinking water turning out positive for imidacloprid in 2011. Certain fruits and vegetables are also frequently contaminated by neonicotinoids, with detection frequencies ranging from 20% to as high as 57% in the case of imidacloprid on cauliflower. While the study points to specific fruits and vegetables as posing higher risk, the main message reaches beyond individual commodity or individual neonicotinoid results. Authors uncover a systematic increase in detection of neonicotinoid […]

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29
Apr

Protect Organic Family Farmers Who Safeguard the Earth and Our Health

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2019) It Is Time to Stop the Attack on Organic and Protect the Family Farmers Who Safeguard the Earth and Our Health. Listening to and talking with dairy farmers at the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Seattle last week, it is clear that organic consumers and farmers everywhere need to rise up to protect the standards of organic. This is the only way we can ensure a livable future—clean air, water, air, and a reversal of the climate crisis and the insect apocalypse. While there are numerous problems with the current administration’s attack on organic across the board—and we are focused on the range of problems, dairy is a good place where we must join together before more organic family farmers literally go out of business. Organic dairy is the first place families look to protect their children. Tell USDA and your members of Congress to protect organic family farmers who safeguard the environment and animal welfare. As a result of abuses in government management of organic, we are seeing an attack on organic that can be corrected with the adoption of proposed rules that have been waiting to be adopted—the Origin of Livestock and the Access to […]

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25
Apr

Deadly Fungal Infection Raises Concerns about Fungicides Used in Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2019) As reported by Mother Jones, the New York Times (NYT) published, on April 6, a distressing report about a deadly fungus that has been advancing steadily across the world during the past five years. Candida auris is an emerging fungal pathogen that threatens those with compromised or immature immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, people taking steroids for autoimmune disorders, diabetics, those undergoing chemotherapy, and even smokers. Nearly half of those who contract a C. auris infection die within 90 days. One of the factors making this fungus so deadly is that it has developed resistance to existing antifungal medicines, with 90% of infections resistant to one drug, and 30% to two or more. As is true for resistant bacteria, culprits in C. auris’s development of resistance may be the overuse of antifungal medications in health care and overreliance on fungicides in agriculture. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added C. auris to its list of pathogens considered “urgent threats.” It is an “emerging fungal pathogen,” meaning that the incidence of infection has been increasing across multiple countries since it was first recognized in 2009 in Japan (although a different strain had […]

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12
Apr

Fish and Wildlife Service Sued for Failure to Disclose Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides and GMO Crops in Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2019) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced on April 3 that it is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for its failure to release public records, despite multiple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, that would reveal on-the-ground impacts of FWS allowing use of neonicotinoids and genetically engineered (GE) crops in wildlife refuges. Last August, in yet another rollback of protections for wildlife, the environment, and public health, the Trump administration reversed a 2014 FWS decision to ban the use of neonicotinoids and GE crops in National Wildlife Refuges. If successful, the CBE lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, would compel the agency to provide the requested documents. This would allow the public, largely through the work of NGO (non-governmental organization) watchdogs, such as CBD and Beyond Pesticides, to understand what harms are being caused on the nation’s protected public lands by the administration’s reversal of the 2014 ban. Hannah Connor, a CBD senior attorney, said, “The goal of the lawsuit is to get them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and produce the records that have been requested. . . . We aren’t asking them to […]

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28
Mar

Documents Reveal that Interior Nominee Censored Endangered Species Assessment of Organophosphates

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

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27
Feb

Glyphosate Residue Found in 95% of Tested Beers and Wines

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2019) U.S. PIRG tested 20 common beers and wines and found glyphosate residues in all but one. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is the most commonly used agrichemical in the world. Though it is linked to many health and environmental issues, there is no current EPA limit for glyphosate residues in beer or wine. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not regularly test for glyphosate on either food or beverages. Researchers used an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect glyphosate levels. Sutter Home Merlot had the highest level of glyphosate residues at 51 ppb (parts per billion). Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon and Beringer Estates Moscato had slightly lower levels: 36.3 ppb and 42.6 ppb, respectively. Organic wines results were ~5 ppb. The beer samples had just slightly lower average levels of residues, the highest being Tsingtao beer with 49 ppb. Miller Lite, Corona, and Budweiser ranged from 25-30 ppb. Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager had a 5.7 ppb glyphosate concentration, and Peak Beer Organic IPA was the only sample with no detectable level of glyphosate. By U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates, nearly 300 million pounds of glyphosate are annually applied to U.S. crops. Vineyards spray […]

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04
Feb

Take Action: Help Protect Endangered Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2019)  Although the rusty patched bumblebee was placed on the endangered species list in 2017, the Trump Administration has failed to put in place legally required safeguards for the species. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) must designate locations where additional protections could help restore the endangered bumblebee’s population. Tell Your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators to Urge U.S. Department of Interior Acting Secretary David Bernhardt to protect the endangered rusty patched bumblebee as required by law. DOI’s failure to comply with requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is consistent with the Trump Administration’s continued disregard for ongoing pollinator declines and environmental protections in general. Under ESA, DOI is required to determine “critical habitat” that contains physical and biological requirements a listed species needs in order to recover. That area must be designated within one year of placing a species on the endangered list, using best available scientific data. The Trump Administration’s DOI has failed to do so under either former Director Ryan Zinke or Acting Director David Bernhardt. Without determining critical habitat, the administration is in violation of the ESA, and the survival of a critical endangered species is threatened. The rusty patched bumblebee has a […]

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31
Jan

USDA Challenged for Flood of “Organic” Hydroponics

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2019) On January 16, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a new rulemaking petition demanding that USDA explicitly prohibit hydroponics from the organic label and revoke all existing organic certifications on hydroponic operations. CFS and more than a dozen co-signing organizations grounded their demands in the failure of hydroponic production to increase soil fertility, conserve biodiversity, and build soil organic matter, all legally required to achieve certification under the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA). Hydroponic plants are grown without soil and fed entirely through manufactured nutrient solutions. Hydroponic operations rely on nutrient inputs that do not return to the system. Whether or not these inputs are organic products, the hydroponic practices themselves, CFS notes, fulfill zero out of the three core requirements that define “organic production” in OFPA: to “foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” The central principle of the legal argument is that soil is integral to organic production. Citing OFPA, to be called organic, producers must engage in practices that actively support the rich, living biodiversity of the soil that sustains future production. The prohibition of hydroponics from organic certification has been the position of organic regulators and the […]

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25
Jan

Government Shutdown Puts Food Safety at Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2019) The partial government shutdown–now in its second month–is disrupting federal oversight of food safety for various pathogens and pesticides. Labs are shuttered, many government agency employees are furloughed, and those still working are doing so without pay. The ongoing obstruction to government assessment of the food supply puts U.S. consumers at risk. Workers from the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) have expressed concerns about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) AMS Pesticide Data Program. This program samples, tests, and reports about pesticide residues in U.S. agricultural commodities, with a focus on chemicals that could cause problems for infants and children. Peter Kyriacopoulos, senior director of public policy at APHL, stated that only one of the ten public health laboratories is planning on continuing testing samples during the shutdown without compensation. Additionally, APHA has reported issues regarding DNA analysis of food samples involved in foodborne outbreaks. DNA samples from sick patients are used to trace back the source of outbreaks and lead to assessment of food production facilities. While outbreak investigations are headed by the currently fully-operational Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), interdepartmental research involving the USDA and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is […]

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17
Jan

Interior Department Sued Over Failure to Protect Endangered Bumblebee

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2019) Although the rusty patched bumblebee was placed on the endangered species list in 2017, the Trump Administration has failed to put in place legally required safeguards for the species. As a result, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is suing the Administration’s Department of the Interior (DOI) for failing to designate locations where additional protections could help restore the endangered bumblebee’s population. Advocates say DOI’s failure to comply with requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is consistent with the Trump Administration’s continued disregard for ongoing pollinator declines and environmental protections in general. Under ESA, DOI is required to determine “critical habitat” that contains physical and biological requirements a listed species needs in order to recover. That area must be designated within one year of placing a species on the endangered list, using best available scientific data. But the Trump Administration’s DOI, under both former Director Ryan Zinke and Acting Director David Bernhardt, has failed to do so, in violation of ESA. NRDC’s legal director Rebecca Riley notes that this lack of follow-through “leaves this highly endangered bee’s habitat at risk of destruction and decreases the species’ chance for survival.” The rusty patched bumblebee has […]

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15
Jan

Petition Challenges Lack of Protection for Endangered Species from Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2019)  A petition submitted on January 7 by the Center for Biological Diversity calls on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to initiate rulemaking to proscribe nearly all pesticide use in areas that are deemed critical habitat for endangered species. It asks these federal agencies to use the authority they have under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect wildlife from the threats represented by pesticides — which threats both agencies have long recognized. The language of the ESA says its purpose is “to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved.” In its press release on the petition, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) notes that it comes “after decades of intransigence by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has refused to comply with the legal mandates of the Endangered Species Act to protect the nation’s most imperiled species from highly toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos and atrazine that are known to harm wildlife.” CBD environmental health director Lori Ann Burd said, “Pesticides pose a devastating danger to endangered wildlife, from coast to coast. If the EPA isn’t going to […]

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10
Jan

Take Action: Stop Antibiotic Use in Citrus Production, Leading to Life-Threatening Illness

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2019) The Trump administration is opening the floodgates to allow widespread use of antibiotics in citrus (grapefruits, oranges and tangerines) production, expanding on an emergency use decision it made in 2017. The public has an opportunity to comment on the widespread use of streptomycin by January 19, 2019. You can comment on the federal government’s public comment page (regulations.gov) by leaving a comment opposing any additional use of antibiotics in food production during a national and international crisis of deadly disease resistance to antibiotics. You can copy Beyond Pesticides’ prepared comment below and add your own concerns. Strikingly, the decision allows for up to 480,000 acres of citrus trees in Florida to be treated with more than 650,000 pounds of streptomycin per year, and 23,000 citrus acres in California will likely be treated annually. The two approved antibacterial chemicals to be used as a pesticide in citrus production are streptomycin and oxytetracycline. These uses were permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under an emergency exemption in May, 2017, allowing residues of antibiotics in Florida orange juice, for the antibiotics streptomycin and oxytetracycline –allowing their use for a bacterial disease, citrus greening (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) bacterium that causes Huanglongbing), […]

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08
Jan

USDA Capitulates to the Agrichemical Industry with Final GE Labeling Rule

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2019) At the end of December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized its rule regarding the disclosure of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in consumer foods. After years of local, state and federal pressure to implement a clear, concise labeling requirement for GE foods, advocates say USDA’s rule is a failure, and a capitulation to agrichemical corporations that promote GE farming systems. According to U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), speaking with the Portland Press Herald, the new rule is “an insult to consumers.” She said, “These labels should give people the facts of whether ingredients in their food have been genetically altered, plain and simple.” Rather than the plain and simple language urged by Rep Pingree and other GE labeling advocates, USDA determined to move forward with muddled verbiage that is certain to confuse consumers. GE products will not defined by a term Americans are familiar with, such as GE or GMO. Instead, the term USDA will require on product labels is “bioengineered.” USDA is allowing companies to choose one of the following methods to alert consumers to the presence of GE ingredients in their foods: Inclusion of a “bioengineered” or “derived from bioengineering” symbol alongside […]

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02
Jan

Is Your Yoga Mat or Gym Breeding Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria?

(Beyond Pesticides, January 2, 2019) The “indoor microbiome” of yoga studios and other athletic facilities often contain significant levels of antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, which show up in dust and breed antibiotic resistance, according to research published last month in the journal mSystems. Triclosan may be banned from hand soaps, but its continued use in a myriad of other products, from disinfectant sprays to impregnated clothing, yoga mats, and other work-out equipment makes it difficult to avoid this now-ubiquitous chemical. This is a public health concern because these antibacterial or antimicrobial chemicals are link to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance kills over 23,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition to the CDC, the World Health Organization has cited this escalating problem as become one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Many people may suspect their gym or yoga study is not a germ-free location, but attempts to address these germs through antibacterial sprays or impregnated yoga mats and other surfaces, may be exacerbating the issue—doing much more harm than good. The continued detection of triclosan and its impacts at new and unexpected locations are feeding renewed calls for a complete ban on […]

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18
Dec

Tell USDA All Ingredients Used in Organic Must Be Reviewed

(Beyond Pesticides, December 18, 2018) The ingredients not listed on a pesticide product are not fully reviewed for their adverse effects may be the most toxic chemicals in the formulation. Recent research, Toxicity of formulants and heavy metals in glyphosate-based herbicides and other pesticides (Toxicology Reports 5, 2018), by Defarge, de VendĂ´mois, and SĂ©ralini demonstrates the need to disclose and test all ingredients in pesticide products, as well as the full formulation that includes “inert” or nondisclosed ingredients. While glyphosate/Roundup is obviously not allowed to be used in organic production, this research reaffirms the need to evaluate full formulations of substances allowed for use in organic. The research on glyphosate tested the toxicity of the herbicide glyphosate, “inerts” in glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH), and the pesticide formulations–looking at toxicity to target organisms, toxicity to human cells, and endocrine-disrupting activity. In addition to the GBH products, the researchers studied a number of other pesticides. Tell NOP and USDA that “inerts” used in organic production must receive full review by the NOSB. “Inert” ingredients are allowed in pesticides used in organic production as well as those used in chemical-intensive production. The National Organic Program (NOP) allows “inerts,” permitted in conventional production and formerly listed […]

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10
Dec

Take Action: Tell Your U.S. Senators to Reject Dow’s Hutchins as USDA Chief Scientist

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2018) The Senate Agriculture Committee has cleared the way for the whole U.S. Senate to vote on the confirmation of Scott Hutchins, PhD, recently retired from research and management at what is now the agricultural division of DowDuPont, as chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If confirmed, he will become the third member of Dow’s pesticide and seed division to hold a high-level position in the Trump administration’s USDA.  Tell your U.S. Senators to Reject Dow’s Hutchins as USDA Chief Scientist. Dr. Hutchins has a history of defending toxic pesticides like Dow’s chlorpyrifos, which makes him unsuitable for leading USDA’s research on the future of the U.S. food system. The chief scientist at USDA can determine the direction of USDA research–which should be shaped by an organic, rather than a chemical-intensive, vision. USDA needs a chief scientist who will help farmers get off the pesticide treadmill and adopt organic practices that address critical issues of protecting farmer and farmworker health, water resources, biodiversity, and soil health, while reducing the escalating crisis in global climate change. USDA’s research mission must be focused on sustainability and protect farmers, families, and the environment. Since 1987, Dr. Hutchins […]

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03
Dec

Take Action: Protect Biodiversity – Reinstate the Ban of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides on Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, December 3, 2018) In August 2018, the Trump administration announced a reversal of a 2014 U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) decision to ban neonicotinoid insecticides on National Wildlife Refuges. The administration’s action threatens not only pollinators, but contributes to the attack on biodiversity worldwide.  Tell Congress to protect biodiversity by insisting that the ban on neonicotinoid pesticides in wildlife refuges be reinstated. In 2014, FWS announced that all National Wildlife Refuges would join in the phase-out of neonics (while also phasing out genetically engineered crops) by January 2016. FWS “determined that prophylactic use, such as a seed treatment, of the neonicotinoid pesticides that can distribute systemically in a plant and can potentially affect a broad spectrum of non-target species is not consistent with Service policy. We make this decision based on a precautionary approach to our wildlife management practices and not on agricultural practices.” This move was not only intended to protect honey bees that have suffered average losses above 30% since 2006, but also the federally threatened and endangered pollinators that live in National Wildlife Refuges. However, it is not just pollinators who are affected. Recent research has found dramatic drops in overall insect abundance, leading entomologists to speak of an “insect apocalypse.” Various studies have found reductions of up to […]

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