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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Federal Agencies' Category


21
Jun

Group Urges Endangered Species Protection for 23 Species

(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2018) In a letter sent by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is being urged to complete status reviews and listing proposals for 23 wildlife species in the Southeast that are at risk of extinction. Citing deep concerns about unprecedented assaults on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the letter reiterates the critical need for FWS to provide timely protection to the most critically imperiled species. Highlighting the plight of 23 freshwater animals and plants, like the southern snaketail and the sunfacing coneflower, and the consideration by the Trump Administration to withdraw ESA findings for dozens of species, CBD submitted the letter, dated June 8, 2018, urging FWS to follow the law, and review and publish species protection proposals. CBD initiated a review of 61 species for which the group had already filed a petition seeking ESA protections. This came after the Trump administration’s unprecedented move to reverse an Obama-era decision to review the status of the species because available information indicates they may warrant listing. CBD first petitioned FWS for their protection in 2010. Hundreds of other highly imperiled species are similarly awaiting decisions, but, according to CBD, a […]

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04
Jun

Take Action: Tell USDA We Need Honest, Transparent, Informative GE/GMO Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2018) As the deadline approaches for regulations on labeling genetically engineered (GE or GMO —genetically modified organism) food, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a rule that fails in every important respect: It allows information to be conveyed by QR codes, whose use requires a cell phone (with camera function) and a reliable broadband connection. It allows GE food to be identified as “bioengineered” OR by a smiley-faced symbol containing the letters “be.” It does not cover highly processed GE foods, like vegetable oils or sugar, and does not include newer genetic engineering techniques, such as CRISPR (a gene editing tool). Implementation is delayed. USDA is accepting comments through Regulations.gov. For quick copy and paste, use the text below to comment at regulations.gov. Add a personal message at the beginning about why this is important to you, if possible. Tell USDA We Need Honest, Transparent, Informative GE/GMO Labeling Suggested Comments: As a consumer, I have a right to know whether my food is produced using genetic engineering. As USDA finalizes labeling regulations, please ensure that labels are honest, transparent, and informative by adopting the following policies: Reject package labeling with unreliable “QR codes” and other […]

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30
May

Lawsuit Seeks to Restore Protections for Migratory Birds

(Beyond Pesticides, May 30, 2018) Six environmental groups have sued the Trump Administration for reversing a long standing interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treat Act (MBTA) that provides migratory bird protections from incidental killing or “taking” caused by industrial activities. The lawsuit, National Audubon Society v. Department of the Interior, was filed May 24, 2018 in the Southern District of New York, challenging as “unlawful and arbitrary and capricious the December 22, 2017 Solicitor’s Memorandum M-37050, which was issued by the office of the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior (“DOI”) and reverses Defendants DOI’s and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (“FWS” or “Service”) longstanding interpretation and implementation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.” The Act’s prohibition on the killing or “taking” of migratory birds has long been understood to extend to incidental take from industrial activities — meaning unintentional but predictable and avoidable killing. Last year, the Trump Administration issued a Memorandum gutting federal protections for migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The plaintiffs, including American Bird Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, are seeking to protect waterfowl, […]

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29
May

Take Action: Help Defeat the Farm Bill –Unless Dramatic Changes Are Made

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2018) The Farm Bill is beginning to move in the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and your voice is critically needed to help stop provisions that are harmful to health and the environment. Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative that they should vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed. In addition to sending this urgent action on the Farm Bill, consider reaching out to your U.S. Senators and Representative when they return to your state for the Memorial Day holiday. If you’re part of a group, ask for a meeting. If you see them at an event or in town, let them know how important it is to keep the dangerous provisions listed below out of the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2, reported favorably out of the House Agriculture Committee, is stalled, after being defeated on the floor over unrelated immigration legislation. The House bill is a direct attack on organic standard setting, the authority of local governments to restrict toxic pesticides, and the protection of farmworkers, endangered species, and the environment. Without public outcry, it is likely […]

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22
May

Two Hundred Million Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Used in California, According to 2016 Annual Data

(Beyond Pesticides, May 22, 2018)  A staggering 209 million pounds of pesticides were used in California in 2016, according to the latest data released by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). This figure refers only to applied “active” pesticide ingredients and not “inerts,” which often account for 80 to 99 percent of pesticide products and can be equally hazardous to human health and the environment. Even though pesticide use in the state has dropped by 1.4 percent from the previous year, pesticide use in 2016 was still the third highest in recorded history, since the inception of DPR’s comprehensive data collection program in 1990. In fact, the total pesticide use was only six million pounds shy of the highest amount ever recorded – 215 million pounds in 1998. The land area treated with carcinogens is as large as the size of New Jersey and Connecticut combined. Nearly 102 million cumulative acres of land were treated with pesticides in the state, ranging in toxicity from low to high risk. Each time an acre is pesticide-treated in a given year, DPR adds the acre to its cumulative list, even if the treatment is repeated on the same land. The 2016 figure represents an […]

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21
May

Tell U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Eliminate Pesticide Use on Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2018)  490,000 Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Sprayed on National Wildlife Refuges in 2016 The nation’s 562 national wildlife refuges play a critical role in protecting fish, plants, and other wildlife. They include forests, wetlands, and waterways vital to thousands of species of plants and animals, including 280 that are protected under the Endangered Species Act. However, private chemical-intensive commercial farming of crops like corn, soybeans, and sorghum has become common on refuge lands, with the increasing use of highly toxic pesticides that threaten the long-term health of sensitive habitats and the creatures who depend on them. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) estimates that 490,000 pounds of pesticides were applied to commodity crops like corn, soybeans, and sorghum grown in national wildlife refuges in 2016, the most recent year for which data are available. Tell FWS to take toxic pesticides out of wildlife refuges. The nearly half million pounds of pesticides used on wildlife refuges in 2016 include 2,4-D, dicamba, and paraquat, all of which are toxic to fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and other animals. Also included are 116,200 pounds of glyphosate, the herbicide that has caused widespread decreases in milkweed plants, helping to trigger the 80 percent […]

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15
May

National Wildlife Refuges Contaminated with Thousands of Pounds of Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2018) According to a new report from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), hundreds of thousands of pounds of pesticides are sprayed on lands that are designated as refuges for wildlife and protected under U.S. law. Approximately 490,000 pounds of pesticides have been sprayed on crops grown in national wildlife refuges in 2016 alone. Pesticide use in these sensitive areas poses risks to pollinators, aquatic organisms, migratory birds, and other wildlife on refuges that were created to protect them. The report, No Refuge, released last week, analyzes pesticide use on national wildlife refuges using records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The report finds that in 2016 more than 270,000 acres of refuge lands were sprayed with pesticides for agricultural purposes. Five national wildlife refuge systems are identified as most reliant on pesticides for agriculture: Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex in California and Oregon, with 236,966 pounds of pesticides; Central Arkansas Refuges Complex in Arkansas, with 48,725 pounds of pesticides; West Tennessee Refuge Complex in Tennessee, with 22,044 pounds of pesticides; Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Tennessee, with 16,615 pounds of pesticides; and, Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, with […]

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16
Mar

USDA Continues Attack on Integrity of Organic Food Label, Sparks Alternative Add-On Labels

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2018) In a pattern of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) actions that hurt the integrity of the organic label on food products, the agency has decided to withdraw final organic animal welfare regulations that would have provided standardized and measurable criteria for managing the health and welfare of organic livestock and poultry. USDA’s latest decision is another in a series of actions aimed at lowering the bar of organic integrity in order to serve the needs of large organic producers. In November of 2017, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), backed by the National Organic Program (NOP), rolled back decades of agreement that organic agriculture is soil-dependent, by allowing soil-less hydroponic operations to be certified organic. This has sparked stakeholders to collaborate on the development of an add-on label to certified organic food, with standards that meet the intent and letter of organic law. Despite widespread stakeholder disagreement and evidence to the contrary, USDA has concluded that the organic animal husbandry practice standards do not need to be improved  because existing regulations are “robust” and “effective,” despite widespread stakeholder disagreement. USDA justified withdrawing the regulations, by stating that they could “have a negative effect on participation […]

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14
Mar

Monarch Butterfly Numbers Keep Declining

(Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2018) The annual count of Monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico shows declines from last year’s numbers—a 15 percent decrease –according to figures from an official Mexican government count in the winter of 2017. These numbers underscore how at risk the iconic animal is, with a possible collapse of migration if populations are critically low. Monarch butterflies (also known as Eastern Monarchs) embark on an impressive migration every year. Roughly 99 percent of all North American monarchs migrate each winter to oyamel fir forests on 12 mountaintops in central Mexico. Scientists estimate the population size by measuring the area of trees turned orange by the clustering butterflies. But for the second year in a row, its numbers are declining — 2.48 hectares of occupied winter habitat is down from 2.91 hectares last winter. Apart from partial rebounds in the winters of 2001 and 2003, numbers have gone down steadily since 1996. Overall monarchs have declined by more than 80 percent over the past two decades. Earlier this year, Western Monarchs – those found west of the Rocky Mountains – overwinter in coastal California forests, were also found to be declining at an alarming rate, with scientists and conservation groups […]

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09
Mar

Study Finds Grass-Fed and Organic Milk to Be Healthier than Conventional

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2018) Milk from 100% grass-fed cows has higher levels of beneficial fatty acids than conventional and even organic milk, according to a study published by an international team of scientists in the journal Food Science and Nutrition. The research follows up on data published in 2013, which compared only conventional and organic milk, finding organic milk contained 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids and 25 percent fewer omega-6s. “Grassmilk farmers have long been telling us that they believed the nutrition of this milk was higher than that of the milk they were producing when they were still feeding grain,” said Logan Peterman, agricultural research and analytics manager at Organic Valley to Wisconsin Public Radio. “We kind of set about to test that question and really make sure that the signal was there, that we could be certain of it, that we were following the correct methods and also that it was sort of refereed by an outside party.” The study compared the composition of several fatty acids within the three types of milk tested (conventional, organic, and grass-fed). Of primary concern was the ratio of omega-6 to omega 3 fatty acids. Although omega-6s are not necessarily […]

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13
Feb

Court Ruling Stops Trump Administration from Withholding Documents in GE Salmon Case

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2018) Arguments by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to withhold from public and court review key documents revealing how it approved the first genetically engineered (GE) salmon were rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, documents detailing how the agency reviewed and approved the GE animal will have to be produced for court review in the ongoing case challenging its controversial approval. Thousands of pages of government documents pertaining to the 2015 approval of GE salmon for human consumption were being withheld even after plaintiffs challenging the approval demanded that FDA provide all the information the agency considered in its decision. The case, Institute for Fisheries Resources v. Burwell, Case No. 3:16-cv-01574-VC, brought by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice on behalf the Institute for Fisheries Resources, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Kennebec Reborn, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, Cascadia Wildlands, Ecology Action Center, Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity, Food and Water Watch, and the Quinault Indian Nation, was filed in 2016 after FDA approved its first-ever GE food animal, an Atlantic salmon engineered to grow quickly. The lawsuit challenges FDA’s claim that […]

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17
Jan

Controversial Pesticides Jeopardize Endangered Species Like Salmon

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2018) The organophosphate insecticides chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered species and adversely modify their critical habitats, according to the newly released report from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The insecticide cholorpyrifos, whose ban was rescinded by the Trump Administration last year, despite overwhelming evidence of neurological and brain damage to children, is once again being shown to be too toxic for continued use. Under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), any agency action requires a finding that it “is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat.” The December 31, 2017 Biological Opinion from NMFS followed an ecological assessment that relied upon multiple lines of evidence to determine effects to species and their designated habitats. These include “the direct and indirect toxicity of each chemical to aquatic taxa groups (e.g. fish, mammals, invertebrates); specific chemical characteristics of each pesticide (e.g. degradation rates, bioaccumulation rates, sorption affinities, etc.); expected environmental concentrations calculated for generic aquatic habitats; authorized pesticide product labels; maps showing the spatial overlap of listed species’ habitats with pesticide use areas; […]

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03
Jan

Canada To Impose Fines Up to $1 Million for Cannabis Growers Using Banned Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2018) Companies licensed to grow cannabis in Canada will be required to submit to mandatory testing and will receive fines of up to $1 million if their product contains banned pesticides. The new measures announced by Health Canada come as the country prepares to launch its recreational market in July 2018, and reports from national news outlets are sounding the alarm over widespread contamination of the ongoing medical cannabis market. Canada’s move is being closely watched by growers and regulators in the United States, where 29 states currently allow some form of medical or recreational cannabis to be sold, each with different pesticide rules. Health Canada, the primary pesticide enforcement agency in the country, had previously indicated that fines were unlikely because, as regulators told The Globe and Mail, companies were aware that banned pesticides were illegal and disallowed. However, after the country began regular testing, and news outlets began reporting on multiple instances of banned and highly toxic pesticides making their way onto the market, the agency decided to change its approach. Both growers and patients are encouraged by the new rules. Chairman of the Cannabis Canada Association, Neil Closner, told The Globe and Mail, […]

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11
Dec

Take Action: Tell the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to Support Monarch Habitat

(Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2017) Tell the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to substantially increase the amount of funding spent on the conservation of monarch butterflies and the restoration of their habitat, and to ensure that restored habitat is not poisoned with hazardous pesticides. Although the agency has taken some steps to protect monarchs –including the implementation of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project and support for the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund— last year’s NRCS expenditure of $4 million was insufficient to prevent the monarchs’ decline, and could not even begin stemming the loss of milkweed habitat. Restoring the monarch butterfly and its habitat will require a substantial contribution from the agricultural sector and strong leadership from the NRCS. Agricultural lands encompass 77% of all prospective monarch habitat, and thus are indispensable to reaching these goals. Monarch populations have fallen more than 80 percent over the last 20 years, and it is estimated that there is a 60 percent chance the multigenerational migration of these butterflies would completely collapse in the next 20 years. Milkweed, the only forage for monarch caterpillars, has decreased by 21 percent, especially in the Midwest, where agricultural fields and pesticide use have expanded. Scientists estimate […]

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06
Dec

Groups Urge Trump Administration to Protect Monarch Butterflies

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2017) Last week over 100 conservation and environmental groups urged the federal government to increase funding to protect and conserve monarch butterflies. These iconic butterflies, native to North America, have seen drastic declines in their populations. Surveys report over 80 percent reductions in populations over the last 20 years. Pesticide use, habitat loss, and climate change have all been identified as stressors to these butterflies. The groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Humane Society, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to do more to help the imperiled butterfly. The letter requests the agency increase the allotment of conservation funds from $4 million- spent last year- to $100 million. The increase in funds is needed for efforts to increase milkweed habitat. In contrast, the government spent over $500 million on sage grouse initiatives to prevent that animal’s listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), even though the Trump Administration is seeking to overturn these initiatives. Currently, the agency has taken some steps to protect monarchs. These include the implementation of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project and support of the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund. But, according […]

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27
Nov

Take Action: Ask Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act!

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2017) Congress is working on the 2018 Farm Bill, which will determine how $956 billion of our tax money will be spent over the coming years in shaping our food system. This year, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced a bill that, if passed, will implement many of the food policy reforms that sustainable agriculture policy advocates have long supported. Ask Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act! The bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Don Beyer (D-VA), is a result of a two-year conversation, “Sing Your Own Farm Bill,” in which the U.S. Representative engaged a diverse group of farmers, ranchers, fiscal hawks, food and agriculture policy experts, environmentalists, animal welfare advocates, and others to brainstorm ideas for shaping future farm and food policy. According to Farm Forward, factory farms receive approximately $4 billion in annual benefits under the current Farm Bill –which result in many negative impacts, such as: •    Diet-Related Disease – A diet high in food commodities subsidized by the Farm Bill is linked to a greater probability of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. •    Climate Change –The top five factory-farm mega-corporations […]

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06
Nov

Take Action: Tell Your U.S. Representative to Support Organic in the Next Farm Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2017) The next Farm Bill will be up for negotiation soon. Bi-partisan legislation to address two issues that are important for organic agriculture –increasing funding for organic research and strengthening enforcement of the organic standards: The Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) will provide $50 million in funding annually for the USDA’s flagship organic research program, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).  The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act of 2017 will improve oversight of organic imports. This action will allow you to send messages to your U.S. Representative requesting that they co-sponsor the bills or thanking the member if she/he is already a co-sponsor. Ask your U.S. Representative to support organic in the next Farm Bill by co-sponsoring these two bills. If your Representative is already a co-sponsor, send a thank you. Organic is one of the fastest growing sectors in U.S. agriculture. The bi-partisan Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) introduced by U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will help more farmers transition to organic production in response to growing demand in the marketplace. Organic research helps farmers become more productive, efficient, and profitable and leads to the development of new agricultural practices that can […]

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10
Oct

Action Needed: Last Chance to Comment on National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Fall Issues

(Beyond Pesticides, October 10, 2017) The comment period closes Wednesday, October 11 at 11:59 pm EDT for the Fall 2017 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. In addition to the other priorities in our previous alert (hydroponics, marine materials, and “inerts”), we focus attention here on eliminating the incentive to convert native ecosystems into organic crop production, strengthening and clarifying the requirements for the use of organic seed, exempt/uncertified handler and brokers, and the need for a comprehensive review of sanitizers used in organic. New to Regulations.gov? See our two-minute tutorial. Comment now! Beyond Pesticides provides you with our positions, which you can use as the basis for your comments. If you have limited time, you can use the sample comments on priority issues below. If you have more time, please use the information on our website to develop your own comments. If you paste our comments into regulations.gov, please first put a personal note of concern in order to reflect the importance of these issues to you as an organic consumer, farmer, or other concerned party. Some major issues being considered at the Fall meeting are: Eliminating the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems into Organic Crop Production The proposal must […]

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31
Jul

Take Action: Stop Fraudulent Organic Food Imports

(Beyond Pesticides, July 31, 2017)  At a time when the U.S. market demands more organic corn and soybeans than are supplied by domestic organic growers, those same growers are threatened by the flooding of the market with cheaper fraudulent grains. The resulting impacts of eliminating market opportunities while at the same time threatening the value of the organic label hurt organic farmers in this country. The National Organic Program (NOP) must take action to protect the organic label. According to the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), the U.S. currently produces only about 60% of the organic corn and 10-30% of the organic soybeans the market demands, while demand is increasing by about 14% per year. Meanwhile, the U.S. market is being flooded with fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans. In May, the Washington Post documented three large shipments –totaling 7 percent of annual organic corn imports and 4 percent of organic soybean imports— originating from questionable overseas certification and fraud. >>>Act now to tell NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and your Congressional delegation to protect the organic label for the sake of farmers and consumers! OFARM says, “For over two years, organic grain producers […]

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26
Jul

Campbell’s Soup Parts with Grocery Manufacturers Association over GE Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2017) Campbell Soup Co. announced that it will leave the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) by the end of the year over concerns that the trade association no longer represents its views concerning labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food. Campbell’s President and CEO Denise Morrison said that while the company does not question the safety of GE food, it recognizes that most consumers want to see GE ingredients on the label. Meanwhile, Campbell’s has supported the GMA digital disclosure and lists ingredients that “may be derived from crops grown from genetically engineered seeds” on its website. The move by Campbell Soup comes as USDA is pondering possible disclosure options under the “compromise” bill on labeling genetically engineered food passed last year by the U.S. Congress. The company says, “While this legislation offers a range of disclosure options for manufacturers, we will introduce an on-pack statement as we know that’s what the overwhelming majority of Americans support. We’re working on language that provides specific ingredient information and supports the science that GMOs are safe.” A number of other companies have also announced their intention to label GE ingredients, while similarly maintaining their safety. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has extended to August […]

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18
Jul

Take Action: Comment to Stop U.S. Senate from Undermining Value of USDA Organic Food Label

(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2018) The value of the organic label is under attack in the U.S. Congress. If proposed changes are adopted, the public will not be able to rely on the label to identify the stark differences between current organic and chemical-intensive food production practices. Beyond Pesticides has long advanced organic agriculture as a means of protecting  farmers, farmworkers, consumers, biodiversity, and the environment. The U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee is accepting comments now on Farm Bill proposals that will erode the meaning of organic. Although there are about 400 days to go before 2012 Farm Bill funding ends, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R, KS) is taking the opportunity of Senate hearings to attack those institutions that make organic agriculture standards clear, transparent, and subject to Congressionally mandated public oversight. In particular, Sen. Roberts and others are attacking the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which is an impediment to organic factory farms. Organic production is subject to rigorous oversight through a certification and inspection process, not found in conventional agriculture, but needing continual improvement to keep pace with the tremendous growth of the organic sector. We want to protect and strengthen these standards, not reduce and weaken them. Part One […]

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14
Jul

What Should Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Look Like? USDA Seeks Your Input

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2017) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking input into draft regulations that will determine whether genetically engineered (GE) ingredients [or genetically modified organisms (GMO)] are identified on products labels, or hidden behind high tech codes. Let USDA know by Monday, July 17 what you think and how important clear and meaningful labeling is. A “compromise” bill on labeling genetically engineered food was passed last year by the U.S. Congress, leaving it to USDA to decide which foods would be labeled, and how they would be labeled. In preparation for drafting regulations, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posed 30 questions regarding the implementation of the law. AMS is accepting input until Monday, July 17. Commenting provides a chance to help shape USDA’s proposal. The law includes labeling options other than on-package labeling, such as QR codes and websites, which would only serve to hide the information this law was passed to provide. It also allows USDA to decide which GE ingredients must be disclosed. Beyond Pesticides is telling USDA the following: The definition of “bioengineering” must include all forms of genetic engineering including newer forms like CRISPR and RNA interference (RNAi). Definitions should be compatible […]

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26
May

U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Rollback Waterway Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2017) On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would reverse an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirement to obtain a permit before spraying pesticides on or near waterways. The passage of HR 953, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (known by environmentalists as the “Poison Our Waters Act”), is the latest update in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback commonsense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. It will now move forward to be considered by the Republican-majority Senate, where it will most likely pass and be signed into law. HR 953, if signed into law, would reverse a 2009 decision issued by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case of National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA, which held that pesticides applied to waterways should be considered pollutants under federal law and regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA), through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Prior to the decision, the EPA, under the Bush Administration, had allowed the weaker and more generalized standards under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to be followed. This allowed pesticides to be discharged […]

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