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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Federal Agencies' Category


29
Jun

Tell USDA to Reject Bayer-Monsanto’s Multi-Herbicide Tolerant Corn—Please sign the petition by Monday, July 6, 4pm EDT

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2020) Bayer’s Monsanto is requesting non-regulated status for corn that will increase the use of drift-prone and toxic herbicides. This means that the planting of a new genetically engineered (GE) variety of corn, which requires substantial weed killer use, will not be restricted in any way. The syndrome of ‘more-corn, more-pesticides, more-poisoning, more-contamination’ must stop—as we effect an urgent systemic transformation to productive and profitable organic production practices. Because USDA is proposing to allow a new herbicide-dependent crop under the Plant Protection Act, the agency must, but does not, consider the adverse impacts associated with the production practices on other plants and the effects on the soil in which they are grown. Business as usual is not an option for a livable future. Sign the petition. Tell USDA we don’t need more use of 2,4-D, Dicamba, and other toxic herbicides associated with the planting of new GE corn. Bayer-Monsanto has developed multi-herbicide tolerant MON 87429 maize, which is tolerant to the herbicides 2,4-D, dicamba, glyphosate, glufosinate, and aryloxyphenoxypropionate (AOPP) acetyl coenzyme A carboxylase (ACCase) inhibitors (so-called “FOP” herbicides, such as quizalofop). Now the company wants this corn to be deregulated—allowing it to be planted and the herbicides […]

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15
Jun

Take Action: Tell Congress to Save Our Oceans from Trump’s Executive Order

(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2020)  On May 7, President Trump issued an executive order (EO) purporting to “promote American seafood competitiveness and economic growth,” while, in fact, permitting offshore aquaculture in federal waters with reduced environmental safeguards. Instead, we need stronger federal regulation in order to protect the environment and public health. This EO adds to the Trump Administration’s shameful record of dismantling environmental protections, failing to enforce those that do exist, undermining science, and weighing agrochemical and other industry interests over those of the public and the environment. The EO will further erode regulations that have governed the operation of so-called “fish farms” and open enormous marine areas to exploitation by this industry. Tell Congress to save our oceans. U.S. aquaculture is a $1.5 billion industry, with almost 3,000 operations. Regulation of aquaculture is shared by a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Much of the regulation is at the state and local level because each state and locality may regulate permitting based on zoning, water use, waste discharge, wildlife management, processing, and other aspects of aquaculture operations.  Trump’s EO reduces federal regulation by designating the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as the lead agency in the […]

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12
Jun

Milkweed in Western Monarch Habitat Found to be Completely Contaminated with Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2020) New research finds that western monarch milkweed habitat contains a “ubiquity of pesticides” that are likely contributing to the decline of the iconic species. The research, published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, provides a grim snapshot of a world awash in pesticides, and raises new questions about the U.S. regulatory process that continues to allow these toxic chemicals on to the market without adequate review and oversight. “We expected to find some pesticides in these plants, but we were rather surprised by the depth and extent of the contamination,” said Matt Forister, PhD, a butterfly expert, biology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and co-author of the paper in a press release. “From roadsides, from yards, from wildlife refuges, even from plants bought at stores—doesn’t matter from where—it’s all loaded with chemicals. We have previously suggested that pesticides are involved in the decline of low elevation butterflies in California, but the ubiquity and diversity of pesticides we found in these milkweeds was a surprise,” Dr. Forister said. The researchers collected over 200 milkweed samples from nearly 20 different sites across the Central Valley of California, as well as from retailers that sell milkweed […]

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10
Jun

Federal Court Halts Use of Drift-Prone Dicamba on Millions of Acres of GE Soy and Cotton

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2020) Use of the weed killer dicamba on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and soybeans is now prohibited after a federal court ruling against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week. A coalition of conservation groups filed suit in 2018 after EPA renewed a conditional registration for dicamba’s ‘over the top’ (OTT) use on GE cotton and soy developed to tolerate repeated sprayings of the herbicide. “For the thousands of farmers whose fields were damaged or destroyed by dicamba drift despite our warnings, the National Family Farm Coalition is pleased with today’s ruling,” said National Family Farm Coalition president Jim Goodman in a press release. First registered in the late 1960s, dicamba has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, birth defects, and kidney and liver damage. It is also toxic to birds, fish and other aquatic organisms, and known to leach into waterways after an application. It is a notoriously drift-prone herbicide. Studies and court filings show dicamba able to drift well over a mile off-site after an application. Bayer’s Monsanto thought they could solve this problem. The “Roundup Ready” GE agricultural model the company developed, with crops engineered to tolerate recurrent applications of their […]

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02
Jun

Take Action: Tell the National Organic Program that Inaction on “Inert” Ingredients Is Unacceptable

(Beyond Pesticides, June 2, 2020) During the April meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), there was near-unanimous sentiment expressed by NOSB members and stakeholders that the failure of the National Organic Program at USDA to act on NOSB recommendations regarding so-called “inert” ingredients hurts organic producers and consumers and the environment. The NOSB has only one alternative left to force USDA action—denying relisting at the Fall meeting. Tell the National Organic Program and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to initiate action to begin NOSB review of “inerts” now. Dr. Asa Bradman, who summarized the issue for the NOSB at the Spring 2020 meeting, is an expert in environmental health, and as part of his day job, leads studies focusing on pesticides, flame retardants, metals, emerging pollutants, VOCs, indoor air quality and other contaminants. As he said at the meeting, “These are often active ingredients.” In fact, the ingredients not listed on a label of a pesticide product—which 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 SĂŠralini demonstrates the need to […]

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01
Jun

Presidential Executive Order Loosens Environmental Restrictions on Fish Farms, Adds to Degradation of Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2020) The President issued another executive order, on May 7, that continues his administration’s dissembling on matters that affect the well-being of everyday Americans. This EO (executive order) purports to “promote American seafood competitiveness and economic growth.” The reality, as the Center for American Progress reports, is that the “bulk of the Trump administration’s new executive order sets up a structure for permitting of offshore aquaculture in federal waters with short timelines and few environmental safeguards.” This EO will further erode regulations that have governed the operation of so-called “fish farms,” and open enormous marine areas to exploitation by this industry. Beyond Pesticides has argued for more-protective regulation of the aquaculture industry, considering the variety of pesticides and chemical inputs it uses, and the impacts on local ecosystems. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines aquaculture as any “farming of aquatic organisms, including baitfish, crustaceans, food fish, mollusks, ornamental fish, sport or game fish, and other aquaculture products. Farming involves some form of intervention in the rearing process, such as seeding, stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic products caught or harvested by the public from non-controlled waters or beds are considered […]

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22
May

Take Action: Tell USDA to Crack Down on “Organic” Livestock Factories

(Beyond Pesticides, May 22, 2020) For years, USDA has been looking the other way as giant corporate agribusinesses, primarily producing conventional eggs and poultry, have squeezed family-scale farmers out of the market and misled and defrauded consumers. Due to a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration on the scuttling of new rules that would make it harder for factory farms to qualify for organic status, USDA is seeking input on what was previously an error-filled and biased economic assessment of the rulemaking. Please sign the letter by noon on Tuesday, May 26, to include your voice in our response to the official proceedings. If you would prefer to write your own custom comment you can submit it on Regulations.gov. Letter to National Organic Program (Jenny Tucker, Ph.D. To the National Organic Program: Please include my comment below in evaluating the economic analysis report pursuant to the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rulemaking. Docket number: AMS-NOP-20-0037 Both the current and previous OLPP analyses include the following misstatements and omissions: It is a misconception to refer to, and judge, the economic impacts of the OLPP as if the requirement for outdoor access was a new and onerous regulation. In fact, from the beginning of the USDA organic […]

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06
May

Trump EPA Waives Requirement to Monitor Waterways for Hazardous Weedkiller

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2020) The Trump Administration announced late last month that it is waiving a requirement that multinational chemical company Syngenta-Chemchina continue to monitor Midwest waterways for the presence of the weedkiller atrazine throughout 2020. While rationalized by the Administration as “due to the unanticipated impact of Covid-19,” the move will instead put residents health at increased risk. Atrazine is one of 78 pesticides that has been linked to the development of respiratory ailments like wheeze. “The public will now have no idea whether dangerous levels of atrazine are reaching rivers and streams throughout the Midwest. That’s absurd and reckless,” said Nathan Donley, PhD a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Syngenta should suspend the sale and use of this extremely toxic pesticide until it can safely ensure it’s not polluting Corn Belt waterways.” Syngenta, which merged with state-owned China Nation Chemical Corporation (Chemchina) in 2016, has been bound by EPA to monitor Midwestern waterways since a 2004 review by the agency. This is because atrazine is a potent groundwater contaminant. Just two years ago, an analysis by the Environmental Working Group found atrazine to be exceeding legal limits in drinking water for many Midwestern states. […]

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24
Apr

CDC Finds Sharp Rise in Home Poisonings Tied to Disinfectant and Sanitizer Use during Covid-19 Pandemic; Safer Products Available

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2020) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) has released a study showing a sharp increase—62% in some cases—in calls to poison hotlines about exposures to toxic household cleaners and disinfectants. This poisoning comes with the advent of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, as public health and government officials, and many media outlets have sensibly recommended that people regularly disinfect “high touch” surfaces and objects in their homes and other surroundings, but have not issued warnings on toxic effects nor the availability of lower toxicity or least-toxic products. Compliance with cleaning (sanitizers) and disinfection recommendations is an important public and personal health undertaking, but in this Covid-19 rigor lies a poison problem: the toxicity, as Beyond Pesticides has explained, of some cleaning and disinfecting products that are permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for sale and use. There are safer ways to disinfect those light switches, TV remotes, doorknobs, faucets, etc. First, a basic distinction between cleaning (also called sanitizing)and disinfecting: EPA offers definitions of the differences. “Cleaning is done with water, a cleaning product, and scrubbing. Cleaning does not kill bacteria, viruses, or fungi, which are generally referred to as ‘germs.’ Cleaning products are used […]

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20
Apr

Tell USDA that Organic Production Matters to Nutrition Guidelines

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2020) As USDA takes public comments on its updated dietary guidelines, it important that sustainable, regenerative organic food production practices are an integral part. Since 1990, Congress has required an every-five-years review of its Dietary Guidelines — recommendations intended to promote public health and prevent chronic diseases. The next review and a draft updated version, the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is currently underway. USDA says that the dietary guidelines provide “information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families.” In order to make healthy food choices, the guidelines must go beyond the traditional parameters to include how the food is produced. How food is produced affects the health of Americans not only as a result of the nutritional quality of the food, but also due to environmental contamination. Sign the petition to USDA and send a letter to Congress. Tell them that organic food must be emphasized in new dietary guidelines. Although research on the nutritional density of organic produce is equivocal, showing some higher levels of antioxidants, results are decidedly clear for animal products. Pastured organic animal products—including beef, lamb, pork, dairy, poultry, and eggs—have been shown to be superior to that of products of […]

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12
Apr

Federal Dietary Guidelines Needed to Promote Sustainably Grown Food for a Healthy Public and Environment, According to Report

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2020) Since 1990, Congress has required an every-five-years review of its Dietary Guidelines — recommendations that are supposed, minimally, to promote public health and prevent chronic diseases. The next review and a draft updated iteration, the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are currently underway. The Union of Concerned Scientists (and several colleagues) have examined recent studies on dietary patterns and sustainability; their analysis reveals that the current federal guidelines on diet are unlikely to support sustainability of the food system in the long-term. Beyond Pesticides concurs, and maintains that a transition to sustainable, organic, regenerative agriculture is the path to both improved human health and long-term sustainability of the natural world essential to life. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS’s) report — In Support of Sustainable Eating: Why U.S. Dietary Guidelines Should Prioritize Healthy People and a Healthy Planet — identifies this next version of the federal guidelines as a critical opportunity to shift the direction of the U.S. food and agricultural system toward far greater sustainability. UCS asserts that such a shift is beyond due: the food system in the U.S. has huge environmental impacts on pollution, use of chemical pesticides, biodiversity, and emissions that significantly […]

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08
Apr

Tell USDA to Support Organic During the Coronavirus Pandemic

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2020) We are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on organic farmers, farmworkers, businesses, certifiers and inspectors, and consumers. We are mindful of the need to protect the health and safety of all who are involved in organic agriculture, certification, and compliance. We also seek to advocate for responsible actions that will protect the integrity of the USDA organic seal during this difficult time. Send a message to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for support to organic farmers, farmworkers, businesses, certifiers and inspectors, and consumers. The recently enacted CARES Act includes a $9.5 billion emergency fund: “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by providing support for agricultural producers impacted by coronavirus, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools, and livestock producers, including dairy producers.” It is critical that organic farmers and others in the organic community are included in the emergency response actions taken by USDA. Beyond Pesticides, as a member of the National Organic Coalition (NOC), is asking USDA Secretary Perdue to take action to support USDA organic through the coronavirus pandemic.  Please note, our form letter to Secretary Perdue is close to the […]

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06
Apr

Stop Dangerous Proposal to Allow Genetically Engineered Crops on National Wildlife Refuges in Southeast U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2020) The Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with a proposal to grow genetically engineered crops (GECs) on National Wildlife Refuges in the Southeast United States, including 131 refuges in 10 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ask Congress to help stop the dangerous proposal to allow genetically engineered crops on National Wildlife Refuges in the southeast United States. The proposal is the subject of a draft environmental assessment and opens the door to escalating uses of GE crops and harmful pesticides in wildlife refuges. In 2014, public pressure and lawsuits by environmental groups led to the Obama administration’s decision to phase out GE crops and ban neonicotinoid insecticide use on national wildlife refuges. On August 2, 2018, the Trump administration’s USFWS issued a memorandum that reversed the prohibition. The reversal allows the refuge system to make decisions on the use of GECs and neonics on a case-by-case basis in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is also under attack by the Trump administration. The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and others quickly challenged the 2018 reversal memorandum with a lawsuit. National Wildlife Refuges are federal public lands specifically designated to […]

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01
Apr

Help Ensure that Organic Production Meets the Standard You Expect to Protect Health and the Environment; Comments due April 3

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2020) Your comments are due by Friday, April 3, end of day. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets April 29-30 online to debate issues concerning what goes into your organic food. Lend your voice to continuous improvement by learning about issues and submitting comments. From the very beginning, with the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, “organic” has meant “continuous improvement.” The primary mechanism for continuous improvement in organic production is the high level of public involvement that comes from twice-annual meetings of the stakeholder board. The second mechanism is the sunset process, which helps move synthetic substances out of organic production as the market invests in growing organic inputs and ingredients. Despite USDA’s efforts to weaken the sunset process, the 5-year cycle of review of every synthetic substance currently used in organic production and processing, offers us an opportunity to keep organic strong and strengthen any weaknesses. Items on the NOSB agenda in April include materials allowed in organic production, as well as discussion of policies and sunset materials on which the NOSB will vote in the Fall. We have identified some priority issues of both kinds. The only voting issue on […]

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27
Mar

Safer Practices and Disinfectants for Coronavirus Identified by CDC, As EPA Advances Toxic Products, Suspends Public Health and Environmental Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2020) Faced with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) threat, there is tremendous pressure to use toxic disinfectants, despite the availability of safer products. In fact, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending 70% alcohol for surface disinfection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs is advising the use of unnecessarily toxic substances, and reducing standards that govern their allowance on the market. EPA’s pesticide program allowed 70 new disinfectants yesterday, at the same time that the agency overall announced that it is waiving enforcement of environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak—a devastating blow to public health and environmental protection. Beyond Pesticides, in its factsheet, Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 (coronavirus) without Toxic Sanitizers and Disinfectants, says, “Fight the coronavirus with common sense prevention and safer disinfection products. Avoid products that increase vulnerability to respiratory problems.” (See the factsheet below.) To some extent, the expanded allowance of disinfection products on top of the 281 disinfectants previously permitted has been made possible by relaxing oversight on so-called “inert” or other ingredients that are not disclosed on product labels and often highly toxic. The agency says it is allowing the use of these “inerts” with “no […]

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25
Mar

Trump Administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Planting of Genetically Engineered Crops in Southeast National Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2020) The Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with a proposal to grow genetically engineered crops (GECs) on national wildlife refuges in the Southeast United States. The draft environmental assessment allows wildlife to consume pesticide-laden produce, considers chemical-intensive genetically engineered crops no less damaging to the environment than “non-use of GECs,” and permits and escalation of climate change with toxic pesticide use increases. USFW’s proposal fails to mention the success of organic agriculture and consider it as one of the alternative management strategies. The proposal is up for public comment until April 10, 2020. In 2014, public pressure and lawsuits by environmental groups led to the Obama administration’s decision to phase out GE crops and ban neonicotinoid insecticide use on national wildlife refuges. On August 2, 2018, the Trump administration’s USFWS issued a memorandum that reversed the prohibition. The reversal allows the refuge system to make decisions on the use of GECs and neonics on a case-by-case basis in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is also under attack by the Trump administration. The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and others quickly challenged the 2018 […]

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17
Mar

Monarch Population, Under Threat from Pesticide Use and Habitat Loss, Declines by Half in One Year

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2020) The number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico is down 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. While WWF indicates the decline was expected due to unfavorable weather conditions during the species southward migration, other environmental groups are raising red flags. “Scientists were expecting the count to be down slightly, but this level of decrease is heartbreaking,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monarchs unite us, and more protections are clearly needed for these migratory wonders and their habitat.” WWF’s count found that monarchs occupied seven acres this winter, down from 15 acres last year. Reports indicate that 15 acres is a minimum threshold needed to prevent a collapse of the butterfly’s migration and possible extinction. This was the goal stated by the 2015 White House Pollinator Task Force, which the current administration is failing to see through. While weather conditions play an important role in monarch migration from the U.S. and Canada south to Mexico, the species is under threat from a range of environmental factors. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants to lay eggs, and monarch caterpillars feed solely on […]

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16
Mar

Take Action: Toxic Chemicals Unnecessary To Protect Against the Coronavirus; CDC Advises Preventive Measures

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2020) As the number of people infected with Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) increases, many people are looking for sound advice about how to protect themselves and their families. There is much uncertainty. “It’s fair to say that as the trajectory of the outbreak continues, many people in the United States will at some point in time either this year or next be exposed to this virus, and there’s a good chance many will become sick,” said Nancy Messonnier, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “But … based on what we know about this virus, we do not expect most people to develop serious illness.” Tell EPA not to recommend toxic chemicals for disease prevention. While people are seeking answers, EPA’s published list, Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the Cause of COVID-19, does not offer helpful advice. The list contains products containing toxic chemicals such as chlorine bleach, peroxyacetic acid, alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides, didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride, and other “quats,” sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione, and hydrochloric acid. In addition to their outright toxicity, some of these can also trigger asthmatic attacks. On the other hand, CDC’s website makes it […]

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04
Mar

Soil-Based Organic Agriculture Takes on the Climate Crisis, Economic Insecurity, and Health Inequity

  (Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2020) California produces the most food of any state in the U.S. – more than half of all domestic fruits and vegetables – but only 4% of its agriculture is organic. After releasing a report on the benefits of organic agriculture last year, the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) Foundation is continuing to offer a “Roadmap to an Organic California” with an extensive policy report. The document proposes a wealth of concrete strategies for California lawmakers to employ. Organic agriculture, the authors skillfully reason, can respond to three pressing issues in California: climate resilience, economic security, and health equity. Additionally, the report highlights the need for focus on organic integrity in order to sustain positive change away from toxic practices. Climate Resilience The climate crisis is already impacting California; heat waves, droughts, and devastating wildfires are occurring more frequently and severely. Organic agriculture is often forgotten as politicians consider solutions. CCOF proposes that policy makers help combat the climate crisis through supporting healthy, carbon-sequestering soil practices that are federally mandated in organic agriculture. In addition to building farm resilience, healthy soil secures some of the state’s water supply. Because it is porous and sponge-like, well-maintained […]

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10
Feb

Take Action: Save the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

(Beyond Pesticides, February 10, 2020) Through the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, pesticide dangers became a major driver for the environmental movement. Perhaps the most effective piece of environmental legislation is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Because NEPA requires a wide-ranging evaluation of the potential environmental impacts of federal actions, as well as alternatives, it serves as a model for environmental decision making. Now key elements of NEPA are under attack by the Trump Administration. Ask your Congressional Representatives to pressure the White House to retract the proposed changes. At the same time, add your signature to the Beyond Pesticides public comment to Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). NEPA established the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) as the agency within the White House that is responsible for carrying out the purposes of the act. The regulations established by the CEQ have persisted through changes in administrations for more than 30 years without major modification. Changes proposed by the Trump Administration’s CEQ threaten this model decision-making process. NEPA is a procedural law. It sets no environmental standards, but sets a standard for evaluating environmental impacts of proposed federal actions. It requires that federal agencies consider the short-term, long-term, and […]

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27
Jan

Insist that the Veterans Administration Cover Conditions Caused by Agent Orange

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2019) United States military veterans suffering from bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension, and Parkinson’s-like symptoms after their exposure to Agent Orange will remain unprotected and uncompensated until at least late 2020, according to a letter sent by Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). Send a letter to Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie insisting that bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension, and Parkinson’s-like symptoms be added to the VA’s list of eligible conditions. Congress included a provision in the must-pass December federal spending bill requiring VA to provide legislators “a detailed explanation” for the now multi-year delay in determining whether to list the diseases. The provision is intended to cut through the ongoing delays, but there is no indication VA is going to meet the 30-day deadline. “The longer VA continues to drag its feet on expanding the list of conditions associated with Agent Orange, the longer our veterans continue to suffer—and die—as a result of their exposure,” Senator Tester said in a statement to the news site Connecting Vets. He continued, “It’s time for VA to stop ignoring the overwhelming evidence put forth by scientists, medical experts and veterans and do right by those who served. Any prolonging of […]

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09
Jan

At a Time of Precarious Military Actions, Trump Administration Delays Benefits to Agent Orange Veterans

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2020) United States military veterans suffering from bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension and Parkinson’s-like symptoms after their exposure to Agent Orange will remain unprotected and uncompensated until at least late 2020, a letter sent by Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) indicates. Congress included a provision in the must-pass December federal spending bill requiring VA to provide legislators “a detailed explanation” for the now multi-year delay in determining whether to list the diseases. This is seen by advocates for veterans as a serious lack of support and compensation just at a time when the current administration mobilizes the military. According to Military Times, 83,000 veterans suffer from bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like symptoms or hypothyroidism, and an untold number have high blood pressure. The paper interviewed Army Sgt. Maj. John Mennitto, who explained, “Since we first spoke in 2016, I have been diagnosed with bladder cancer. . . I also have hypothyroidism. My greatest concern for me and my fellow veterans who have debilitating diseases caused by exposure to Agent Orange is that our family members will be left with nothing.” A robust 2014 review by the National Academy of Medicine recommended including […]

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01
Nov

U.S. Consumers Eating Pesticide Residues in Fruits and Vegetables, according to Government Report

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2019) The recently published report Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program Fiscal Year 2017 Pesticide Report, from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), provides data on the levels of pesticide residues that show up on the foods U.S. consumers eat. The report adds fuel to public concern about contamination of the food supply, and to discussion in the scientific and advocacy communities about what is and is not safe for human health. It is also a sobering reminder of just how much chemical-intensive agriculture depends on pesticides, whether insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides. This FDA report has been prepared annually since 1987 and is based on the agency’s Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program, which evaluates both domestically produced and imported human food samples, including fruit, vegetable, and animal products. As the report notes, “Three federal government agencies share responsibility for the regulation and oversight of pesticide chemical residues in or on food. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers (i.e., approves) the use of pesticides and establishes tolerances for pesticide chemical residues in or on food resulting from the use of the pesticides. Tolerances are the EPA-established maximum residue levels (MRLs) of a specific pesticide chemical that is permitted in […]

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