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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Food and Drug Administration (FDA)' Category


25
Mar

Data Supports Need to Transition Away from Plastics and Pesticides with Holistic Strategy

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2024) Because of their widespread infiltration into the environment and the bodies of all organisms, including humans, plastics contamination requires a holistic strategy to protect life— with consideration given to practices and chemical use that reduce or eliminate harm. Pesticides and other toxic chemicals are adsorbed (adhered) to microplastics, resulting in bioaccumulation and widespread contamination. This adds to the complexity of the problem, which is largely ignored by federal regulatory agencies. While most environmental policies attempt to clean up or mitigate health threats, new data reinforces the need to stop the pipeline of hazardous chemicals, wherever possible. With new data on the harm associated with plastics and related contamination, it becomes urgently necessary for all government agencies to participate in a comprehensive strategy to eliminate plastics and pesticides. Beyond Pesticides points to the evolving science on plastics contamination and their interaction with pesticides as yet another reason to transition to holistic land management systems that take on the challenge of eliminating hazardous chemical use. Organic land management policy creates the holistic systems framework through which plastics can be eliminated. >> Tell USDA, EPA, and FDA to create strong restrictions on plastics in farming, water, and food. […]

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06
Mar

Inspector General Finds Widely Used Flea Collars Still Not Fully Evaluated by EPA 

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2024) With over 2,500 pet deaths and 900 reports of adverse effects to people, an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report, published on February 29, 2024, reveals multiple systemic failures by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), citing inadequate safety reviews of Seresto pet collars. The report, The EPA Needs to Determine Whether Seresto Pet Collars Pose an Unreasonable Risk to Pet Health, concludes, “The EPA’s response to reported pesticide incidents involving Seresto pet collars has not provided assurance that they can be used without posing unreasonable adverse effects to the environment, including pets.” At the time the animal effects made headlines in 2021, the agency defended the product’s registration, telling the media that, despite these incidents, EPA deemed Seresto collars “‘eligible for continued registration’ based on best available science, including incident data… No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk.” Despite the scathing criticism, EPA maintains the position that it conducted an adequate review of the two active insecticide ingredients in the pet collars—the neurotoxic insecticide flumethrin, and the notorious neonicotinoid imidacloprid—proven to have adverse effects on the endocrine system as […]

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11
Jan

FDA Cites Resistance to Medically Important Antimicrobials as Critical Health Issue

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

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23
Oct

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

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

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17
May

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

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

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16
Aug

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

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

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18
May

Conventional Meats Contaminated with Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria, at Significantly Higher Rates than Organic Meats

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2021) Organic meat is far less likely to be adulterated with multi-drug resistant bacteria (MDRB) than conventional meat, according a study published earlier this month in Environmental Health Perspectives. The research by experts at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is the latest news on the health and safety benefits of choosing organic, which prohibits the regular use of risky antibiotics, for one’s food purchases. Scientists indicate that contaminated foods pose serious dangers for consumers, public health, and the economy at large. “The presence of pathogenic bacteria is worrisome in and of itself, considering the possible increased risk of contracting foodborne illness,” senior author Meghan Davis, PhD, associate professor at the Bloomberg School said. “If infections turn out to be multidrug resistant, they can be more deadly and more costly to treat.” To determine the level of contamination in various packaged meats, scientists turned to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), a collaborative program between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For a five year period spanning 2012-2017, NARMS collected meat products (chicken breast, ground beef, ground turkey, and […]

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05
Feb

Biden Executive Orders Set the Stage for Systemic Change, If Words Turn to Action

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2021) The American public has witnessed, in the barely launched tenure of President Joe Biden, a surge of Executive Orders (EOs). Based on the first flurry of orders, much of the Biden “reset” appears gauged to beat back Trump policies that worsened an already inadequate regulatory system, and to reconfigure federal operations and regulations so as to address and solve the biggest threats (beyond COVID) the country faces. Among the high-profile EOs already issued are three that stand out. One recalibrates the operations of the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) to forward health, racial equity, and environmental stewardship. A second and third seek, respectively, to restore scientific integrity and elevate the role of science across the federal government, and to tackle comprehensively the climate crisis with a “whole of government” approach. Beyond Pesticides welcomes these early efforts, and maintains that vigilance and robust advocacy will be necessary to achieve needed paradigmatic change across federal agencies, which exist to protect and support the American people. EOs are tools the President can wield to manage directly some operations of the federal government. They are seen as muscular and immediate means through which to change course, particularly in […]

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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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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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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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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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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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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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