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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'US Department of Agriculture (USDA)' Category


20
Mar

Strong Organic Standards Require Continuing Public Involvement; Comments Are Due 11:59pmEDT April 5

(Beyond Pesticides, March 20, 2023) As a means of taking on the challenges of health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency, the review and updating of organic standards requires the public involvement in the current public comment period. This is required to keep organic strong and continually improving. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through April 5, 2023. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on April 18 and 20 and deliberative hearing April 25-27—concerning how organic food is produced. Sign up for a 3-minute comment to let U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) know how important organic is at the webinar by April 5. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. by 11:59 pm EDT April 5. Links to the virtual comment webinars will be provided approximately one week before the webinars. The NOSB is responsible for guiding USDA in its administration of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), including the materials allowed to be used in organic production and handling. The role of the NOSB is especially important as we depend on organic production to protect our ecosystem, mitigate climate change, and enhance our health. The NOSB plays an important role […]

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27
Jan

Enforcement Rules for Organic Standards Far Surpass Those in Chemical-Intensive Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2023) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), announced on January 19 its final rulemaking, the Strengthening Organic Enforcement Rule (SOE). The new requirements aim to strengthen the integrity of the National Organic Program (NOP) through both enhanced oversight and enforcement of existing program regulations, and the introduction of new ones to address occurrences of fraud in organic supply chains. Beyond Pesticides welcomes this important step in increased rigor for the burgeoning organic sector; the organization has long advocated for strong enforcement of the provisions of the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), the statute that gave rise to the NOP. It must also be noted that there is a significant difference between the (appropriate) attention being paid to oversight and enforcement in organic, and the long-standing lack of same in regard to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) pesticide regulations, weak as they are. Beyond Pesticides Executive Director Jay Feldman commented, “It is difficult to have a balanced conversation about any weaknesses in organic enforcement — which must be strengthened — without assessing the entire food system. The NOP provides the structure and the requirements for compliance with the OFPA. […]

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23
Jan

EPA, USDA and Interior Challenged to Incorporate in All Decisions Impact on Climate Crisis, from Soil to Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2023) There is no doubt that the climate crisis is upon us. And the consequences are undeniably grave. So, we must incorporate our understanding of the grave health and environmental effects into the deliberations on all policy decisions regarding petrochemical pesticide registrations and synthetic fertilizer use in agriculture and nonagricultural land management. Of critical importance, in this context, is the effect of policy decisions on soil health—in particular, soil organic carbon, which sequesters atmospheric carbon and reduces its damaging atmospheric effects. Tell USDA, EPA, and Congress to incorporate in ALL its policy decisions an analysis of impact on the climate crisis, with particular attention to the protection of soil health. Although the soil is commonly recognized as a sink for atmospheric carbon, there is a false narrative that says carbon can be sequestered in the soil through chemical-intensive no-till agriculture. Now the Rodale Institute’s 40-Year Report on their “Farming Systems Trial” should end the myth of the toxic, petrochemical-based, GMO-herbicide, no-till systems. Rodale’s scientific trials clearly show that these degenerative no-till systems are inferior to Regenerative Organic Agriculture on every key criterion. The highest yields of corn in the tilled organic manure system and the best increases […]

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18
Jan

Growing Sunflowers Near Honey Bee Colonies Helps Reduce Mite Problems

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2023) Sunflower plantings have the potential to significantly reduce mite infestations in nearby honey bee colonies, according to research recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology by researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). With pollinators under threat from pesticides, climate change, loss of habitat, and the spread of disease and parasites, sustainable methods that address multiple factors at once are needed. This study points to a way to address destructive Varroa mites, while reducing the need for in-hive use of miticides that can likewise harm colony health. “If sunflowers are as big of a factor in mite infestation as indicated by our landscape-level correlations … having a few more acres of sunflower within a mile or two of apiaries could bring colonies below the infestation levels that require treatment of hives with acaracides (i.e., mite-controlling chemicals),” said lead author Evan Palmer-Young, PhD, of USDA’s Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, MD. Prior research has pointed to sunflower pollen as a potential benefit for a number of common bee diseases and infestations, including the Varroa mite, the fungal parasites Nosema spp, and various viruses. Investigations went through four different experiments aimed at characterizing any potential […]

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12
Dec

USDA Urged to Evaluate Undisclosed Inert Ingredients in Organic, as Required by Law

(Beyond Pesticides, December 12, 2022) It is time for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to follow through on its duty to assess individual “inert” ingredients used in organic production. In creating the original regulations for the National Organic Program (NOP), USDA—based on the recommendation of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)—decided to postpone the evaluation of so-called “inert” ingredients until active materials had been reviewed for the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. In this context, “inert” is a misleading legal term since the ingredient may be chemically or biologically active, but not included for purposes of attacking a target organism. The first regulation and all subsequent revisions have allowed the use of “inert” ingredients on EPA’s former Lists 4A (“minimal risk inert ingredients”) and 4B (“other ingredients for which EPA has sufficient information to reasonably conclude that the current use pattern in pesticide products will not adversely affect public health or the environment”). A limited number on List 3 (“inerts of unknown toxicity”) were allowed in pheromone products. [This action requires a submission at Regulations.gov. You can copy and paste from the suggested comment below. Comments are due December 31, 2022.] Tell USDA that the National Organic Program […]

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28
Oct

Bill in Congress Will Pay for Treating Illness and Financial Impact Caused by PFAS

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2022) The Maine Congressional delegation — Senators Collins (R) and Angus King (I), and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D) and Jared Golden (D) — along with New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D), have introduced a bipartisan and bicameral bill — the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act — to help farmers who have been impacted by the scourge of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals. (The Senate version of the bill is available; the House version should be soon.) PFAS contamination has, as Beyond Pesticides documented in two Daily News Blog articles (here and here), become a huge, life-altering problem for agricultural producers in Maine and many other states. An early 2022 Safer States analysis of state-level legislation on PFAS demonstrated the extent of the problem via the response: more than 32 states have begun to act on the issue. Beyond Pesticides has covered the presence of PFAS in pesticides and pesticide containers, and in so-called “biosludge” or “biosolids”— realities that only reinforce the call for a rapid transition off of chemical-dependent agriculture and to regenerative organic agricultural practices that do not carry the enormous health and environmental risks of pesticide products and contaminated fertilizers. There […]

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11
Oct

Organic Integrity Challenged by Proposed USDA Livestock and Poultry Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2022) Without continuously improving organic standards and certification, advocates maintain that there is no holistic way to combat the existential crises associated with petroleum-based pesticides and fertilizers—the multiple and growing health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency. Have you been confused at the egg case in your grocery store where egg carton labels proclaim “cage-free,” “free-range,” and “pasture raised” organic eggs? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting comments on proposed regulations to protect the welfare of livestock and poultry on organic farms. The Organic Livestock and Poultry Standard (OLPS) is a slightly revised version of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule, which was promulgated after many delays in January 2017, then withdrew the rule before it became effective. USDA acknowledges that a failure to act on OLPS undermines the organic market, saying “a market failure exists in the organic label,” and the intent of new standard is to “clarify and ensure consistent application of the USDA organic standards.” The inconsistent application of organic standards by certifiers has resulted in a plethora of add-on labels that ensure that organic livestock and poultry production meet the expectations of organic consumers. However, the proposed OLPS […]

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06
Oct

Despite EPA Safety Assurances, Alarming Levels of PFAS Found in Commonly Used Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2022) A new study finds alarmingly high levels of PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) “forever chemicals” in commonly used pesticides, calling into question assurances from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that contamination is limited to storage containers. For some pesticides, PFAS levels are nearly one billion times higher than the EPA’s recently updated Health Advisory for the PFAS chemical PFOS. “If the intent was to spread PFAS contamination across the globe there would be few more effective methods than lacing pesticides with PFAS,” said Kyla Bennett, PhD, of the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “These findings point to an appalling regulatory breakdown by EPA.” A team of researchers based in Texas, including scientists from Texas Tech and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Cropping Systems Research Laboratory, participated in the study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials Letters. Ten different formulated pesticide products were tested for 24 different PFAS substances. The pesticide products selected were determined based on unexpected PFAS contamination at USDA’s research facility. During the course of conducting a separate study on plant uptake of PFAS, detectable levels of PFAS were found in plants intended to be used as unexposed controls. […]

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20
Sep

Not Accessible to All, Court Finds QR Codes Unlawful as Means of Disclosing Genetically Engineered Food Ingredients

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2022) A federal court this month declared that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) acted unlawfully in allowing food retailers to label genetically engineered (GE, or GMO) foods with only a “QR” code. The decision, made by U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, comes as a result of a lawsuit against USDA by a coalition of nonprofits led by Center for Food Safety, along with organic retailers Natural Grocers and Puget Consumers Co-op. “This is a win for the American family. They can now make fully informed shopping decisions instead of being forced to use detective work to understand what food labels are hiding,” said Alan Lewis, Vice President for Advocacy and Governmental Affairs at Natural Grocers. “The public’s rejection of hidden GMOs has been weighed by the Court to be greater than the agrochemical industry’s desire to hide GMOs behind incomprehensible bureaucratic rules.” In 2016, Congress passed the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standards Act, which established federal standards around labeling GE foods. That bill, dubbed by GE transparency advocates as the DARK (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, was the result of a deal between U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MO) and […]

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12
Sep

Organic Integrity Before the Public, Comments Due By September 29

(Beyond Pesticides, September 12, 2021) Comments are due by 11:59 pm EDT September 29. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through September. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on October 18 and 20 and deliberative hearing October 25-27—concerning how organic food is produced. Sign up to speak at the webinar by September 29. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. by 11:59 pm EDT September 29. Links to the virtual comment webinars and the public meeting will be posted on this webpage in early October. The NOSB is responsible for guiding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its administration of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), including the materials allowed to be used in organic production and handling. The role of the NOSB is especially important as we depend on organic production to protect our ecosystem, mitigate climate change, and enhance our health The NOSB plays an important role in bringing the views of organic producers and consumers to bear on USDA, which is not always in sync with organic principles. There are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Spring. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong and […]

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09
Sep

Seeing the Value of Nature through Beavers, as Cattle Ranchers Benefit from These “Ecosystem Engineers”

(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2022) One kind of solution to the biodiversity crisis that is likely not on most folk’s bingo cards comes from a Nevada cattle rancher, who has shifted his relationship with . . . wait for it . . . beavers. As climate change impacts ramp up their toll in the U.S. via intensified droughts, floods, and wildfires, solutions are widely and eagerly sought, if deployed at insufficient pace. In this Nevada case, Agee Smith — unlike his rancher father, who reportedly “waged war against the animals, frequently with dynamite” — welcomes beavers and their industry on his ranch land. Doing so has yielded multiple benefits for his operation, the environment, and biodiversity. As reported by The New York Times, “Mr. Smith has become one of a growing number of ranchers, scientists and other “beaver believers” who see the creatures not only as helpers, but as furry weapons of climate resilience.” Many landowners, of all stripes, consider beavers to be destructive “nuisance” animals that wantonly fell trees, and in so doing sometimes flood farm fields, back yards, roads, forests, or grazing acreage. Public complaints about such behaviors resulted in the federal government’s killing of more than 25,000 beavers […]

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22
Aug

Groups Call for Organic Action to Implement Climate Solutions under Historic Federal Law

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2022) The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is, as President Biden claims, “The single most aggressive action the U.S. is taking to tackle the climate crisis and create clean energy solutions in American history.” However, that is a low bar to clear. There is much more required to meet the President’s climate goals and much is needed to ensure that the IRA is implemented in a way that helps farmers, fenceline communities, and biodiversity. As stated by Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, “President Biden and his administration should take this moment not only to celebrate, but also to recommit and refocus on addressing the environmental injustice and wildlife crises.” For more in-depth coverage, see Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News. Tell President Biden that funds in the Inflation Reduction Act must meet the need for a transformative moment to address the existential health (including environmental justice), biodiversity, and climate crises and shift society to organic practices by eliminating fossil fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers; and that further steps are needed to reach critical and urgent goals.  We cannot meet climate goals while maintaining a dependence on fossil fuels. Eliminating that dependence requires more than a shift from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, shifting from […]

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19
Aug

Historic Federal Support Could Effectively Take on Climate, Health, and Biodiversity Crises—with Grassroots Advocacy

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2022) On August 16, President Biden signed a bill — the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” — that will provide unprecedented sums to address the existential threats we face related to climate, biodiversity, and health. The $750 billion total appropriation is far less than the original $1.75 trillion hoped for early in the legislative process, but nevertheless is an historic level of federal investment. Beyond Pesticides sees in the bill, now law, opportunities to make significant headway on our call for the elimination of toxic pesticides over the next decade, which launches during our 2022 National Forum Series. The new law could (and should) also provide investment in the critical transition to organic production methods in agriculture. Should the federal government advance organic systems as a climate, health, and environmental justice solution, those two priorities would go far to improve health, reduce dependence on synthetic, fossil-fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers, and allow natural systems to begin to heal from 70+ years of chemical assault. Component sections of the Inflation Reduction Act include those on Clean Energy and Transmission, Clean Transportation, Buildings and Energy Efficiency, Manufacturing, Environmental Justice, Conservation and Agriculture, Fossil Fuels, and Permitting Reform. Within those categories, […]

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01
Aug

Take Action: USDA Action Limits Environmental and Scientific Authority on National Organic Board

(Beyond Pesticides, August 1, 2022) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has just renewed the charter of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), with changes that threaten the balance on the board created by law. Organic production is successful, with sales topping $63 billion, and still growing. Organic production not only brings healthful food to it consumers, but also reduces the amount of toxic chemicals released to the air, soil, and water. And it helps to reduce climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil. To ensure rigorous oversight of USDA and robust advice and management of the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, the NOSB was created to ensure balanced representation from organic stakeholders, including consumers, conservationists, farmers, a scientist, retailer, and certifier. The growth of the organic brand is attributable in great part to public trust in the standards and processes that govern oversight over the USDA organic label. Tell USDA to classify all NOSB members as “Representatives” to protect the integrity of organic production. Tell Congress to ensure that USDA follows the letter and spirit of the organic law. The success of organic derives from consumer trust in the organic label, and that trust depends on […]

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10
Jun

USDA Announces Dramatic Increases in Support for Organic Agriculture Without Call for Total Transition

(Beyond Pesticides, June 10, 2022) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on June 1 that it will provide a potential 15-fold increase in funding aimed at organic food production — up to $300 million. The subject Organic Transition Initiative provision is embedded in a new USDA Food System Transformation framework (FSTF), whose raison d’être is captured in the press release: “to transform the food system to benefit consumers, producers and rural communities by providing more options, increasing access, and creating new, more, and better markets for small and mid-size producers.” That funding for organic transition, the invocation of climate as a significant driver of multiple features of the initiative, and a focus on equity concerns are all welcome news. Beyond Pesticides maintains that it will be critical that this FSTF result in concrete goals that set out specific metrics and timelines — particularly around the magnitude of acres shifted to organic production and the pace of the phaseout of non-organic substances and protocols. The headline of the press release bespeaks the rationale: “Shoring Up the Food Supply Chain and Transforming the Food System to Be Fairer, More Competitive, More Resilient.” Broadly, the initiative addresses four sectors of agricultural activity: production, […]

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08
Jun

USDA Approves Parasitoid as Biological Control to Manage Destructive Fruit Fly Pest

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2022) A new biological agent to manage the destructive pest spotted wing drosophila (SWD) (Drosophila suzukii) is set to be released this month after approval was granted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Ganaspis brasiliensis, a parasitic wasp with a specific affinity for SWD, has the ability to significantly curtail the use of toxic pesticides otherwise employed to manage the pest. The move is an important step forward for biological pest management in the United States, an approach that has already added billions of benefits to agricultural economies, and has the potential to help farmers eliminate the regular use of hazardous pesticides. SWD is a small fruit fly originally from southeast Asia. In 2009, it was discovered on the U.S. West Coast and rapidly became a major pest, leading to significant crop loss estimated at over $700 million each year. The insect attacks nearly all soft bodied fruits, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, grapes, and others. It has an apparent preference for blueberries, costing that industry alone $100 million per year. It lays its eggs inside of ripe fruit, which hatch into larvae and ruin the entire fruit as it feeds. Female […]

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18
Apr

USDA Must Take Steps To Prevent an Avian Flu Pandemic

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2022) Industrial poultry operations—generally indoors and with crowded conditions—provide the perfect incubator for pandemic influenza. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “These involve the congregation of large numbers of genetically identical animals of the same age (young) and sex, with rapid turnover and ‘all-in, all-out’ systems.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is delaying the adoption of organic rules that would require meaningful outdoor access and prevent indoor crowding. Influenza pandemics have killed millions of people—between 20 and 40 million people died in the 1918 pandemic, one million in 1957, and one to three million in 1968. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Influenza type A viruses are of most significance to public health due to their potential to cause an influenza pandemic.” There are several subtypes of type A influenza, which originates in birds. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were 700 human cases of the H5N1 subtype since 2003, and only 40% survived. Tell USDA to promulgate a strong Organic Livestock and Poultry Standard. Tell USDA to protect against flu pandemics by applying the same rules to all poultry. Because avian flu poses a risk to […]

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14
Mar

Proposals Challenge Organic Integrity; Take Action

(Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2022) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through April 1. This precedes the upcoming public hearing on April 19 and 21—concerning how organic food is produced. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. For details on the all the issues of importance to organic integrity, please see Beyond Pesticides’ Keeping Organic Strong webpage. The NOSB is responsible for guiding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its administration of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), including the materials allowed to be used in organic production and handling. The role of the NOSB is especially important as we depend on organic production to protect our ecosystem, mitigate climate change, and enhance our health The NOSB plays an important role in bringing the views of organic producers and consumers to bear on USDA, which is not always in sync with organic principles. There are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Spring. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong and the Spring 2022 issues page. Here are some high priority issues for us: Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) is a quaternary ammonium compound (quat or QAC) that is being petitioned for […]

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08
Mar

Covid Leads to Transformational Moment for Launching of School-Based Feeding Programs with Organic Food

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2022) A silver lining has emerged from the past two devastating Covid years, according to Civil Eats. A large California school district has used pandemic changes — in the regulatory schema of the federal and state governments, in supply chain function, and in available funding — to catalyze the transition to organic food in school-based feeding programs. For the past decade or so, U.S. school districts have, here and there, been moving gradually in this direction. The West Contra Costa Unified School District (WWCUSD) is robustly making the transition to organic, in no small part through its collaboration with Conscious Kitchen, a local nonprofit that seeks to “break the cycle of conventional, packaged, overly processed food, [and] transitioning to meals based on five foundational attributes: fresh, local, organic, seasonal and nutritious.” Beyond Pesticides has long pointed to the importance of shifting school-based meals to organic for multiple reasons, but centrally, because the pesticides with which conventional food is generally contaminated have outsized health and developmental impacts on children. The WWCUSD, which is northeast of San Francisco, boasts 30,000 students — 75% of whom come from low-income households. The district’s food service director, Barbara Jellison, and other food […]

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07
Mar

USDA Allowing a Synthetic Hormone in Organic Milk Production, Despite a Mandate Against It

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2022) Contrary to the demands of consumers for hormone-free organic dairy products and the requirements of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow continued use of the synthetic hormone oxytocin in organic dairy production. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted unanimously in 2017 to reject the use of the synthetic hormone oxytocin in livestock production. Since administration of oxytocin has been linked to a range of serious health problems and early onset puberty, autism, and psychiatric disorders, it is important to avoid residues in food that may cause a hormone imbalance in food consumers. Tell USDA Secretary Vilsack to reverse the decision to allow oxytocin in organic dairy. Tell Congress that greater oversight is needed to ensure that USDA upholds the Organic Foods Production Act.  Substances on the National List are reconsidered every five years to determine whether they still meet criteria in OFPA—that is, that their use is (1) not harmful to human health or the environment, (2) necessary for organic production, and (3) consistent with organic practices. In the case of oxytocin, a hormone involved in the milk “let-down” reflex, there is longstanding concern that misuse […]

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15
Feb

One-Third of Americans Have Hazardous Weed Killer in Their Bodies

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2022) A synthetic weed killer linked to cancer, endocrine (hormone) disruption, reproductive harm and birth defects can be found in the bodies of 1 in 3 Americans, according to research published in Environmental Health by scientists at George Washington University. The chemical in question is not glyphosate (though current data indicate similar results are likely) but 2,4-D, an herbicide that is increasingly used when weeds growing near genetically engineered  (GE) crops have developed resistance to the repeated use of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers. “Our study suggests human exposures to 2,4-D have gone up significantly and they are predicted to rise even more in the future,” Marlaina Freisthler, a PhD student and researcher at the George Washington University, said. “These findings raise concerns with regard to whether this heavily used weed-killer might cause health problems, especially for young children who are very sensitive to chemical exposures.” Researchers conducted their analysis based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which includes urinary concentrations of 2,4-D from 14,395 participants spanning 2001 to 2014. Between those years, the use of 2,4-D increased rapidly from its relative low point at the beginning of the century. “Roundup […]

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04
Feb

USDA Food Pesticide Residue Survey Raises Alarm, while Pesticide Industry and EPA Mislead Public

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2022) In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its 30th Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary report (which evaluates each year the presence of pesticide residues on produce) and misleads the public on the safety of food and agricultural practices. This 2020 report concludes that more than 99% of the produce samples tested showed residues below established U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) benchmark levels. At first blush, this sounds very reassuring, but Beyond Pesticides maintains that there is (always) more to the “safety” story, not least of which are serious deficiencies in EPA’s establishment of those “tolerances.” Those flaws include a lack of risk assessment for vulnerable sub-populations, such as farmworkers, people with compromised health, children, and perhaps, cultural/ethnic and regional sub-groups of the general population, and a failure to fully assess serious health outcomes such as disruption of the endocrine system (which contributes to numerous serious diseases). For everyone, Beyond Pesticides recommends choosing organic produce whenever possible — the vast majority of which does not contain synthetic pesticide residues. The PDP report asserts that “the data . . . illustrate that residues found in agricultural products sampled are at levels that do not pose […]

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10
Jan

Consumers Misled by USDA Genetically Engineered Food Ingredient Label; Will Congress Act

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2022) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now undermining full public disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients in our food, both through misrepresentation in labeling and through a definition that allows a large percentage of ingredients to go undisclosed. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act by food safety advocates, establishes a national GMO (genetically modified organisms or genetically engineered GE) food labeling requirement that has led to deceptive messaging, preempts states from adopting stronger label language and standards, and excludes a large portion of the population without special cell phone technology (because information is accessed the QR codes on products). However, USDA regulations go further—creating loopholes and barriers to transparency that prohibit the use of the widely-known terms “GMO” and “GE” and prohibit retailers from providing more information to consumers. Tell USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to require USDA agencies to honestly disclose genetically engineered ingredients and carry out the goals of the Executive Memorandum, Modernizing Regulatory Review. Urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to ask Agriculture Committees to hold oversight hearings to ensure that USDA holds to those goals.    USDA is huge—encompassing 29 agencies and offices, with […]

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