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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Genetic Engineering' Category


04
Nov

After Court Rules Herbicide “Would Tear the Social Fabric of Farming Communities,” Dicamba in Genetically Engineered Crops Given Go-Ahead by EPA

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2020) Despite a recent court ruling voiding the registration of drift-prone dicamba herbicides on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and soybeans, EPA has renewed  the registration of these chemicals. The court’s ruling stated that EPA, “substantially understated risks that it acknowledged and failed entirely to acknowledge other risks,” in regards to the herbicides XtendiMax and Eugenia (dicamba), produced by agrichemical corporations Bayer and BASF for their genetically engineered (GE) crops. In announcing the decision, Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the agency made its decision “[a]fter reviewing substantial amounts of new information, conducting scientific assessments based on the best available science, and carefully considering input from stakeholders.” Yet, it is evident that the most important stakeholders for EPA continues to be chemical corporations. The history of dicamba’s use in GE agriculture reveal this to be the case. In the mid-2010s, Bayer’s Monsanto developed new dicamba-tolerant seeds and received approval to sell them from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. EPA had not yet approved its corresponding herbicide, but nonetheless, Bayer’s Monsanto urged farmers to plant its seed, claiming they would increase yields. The results of this were predictable: farmers began to use older, unapproved dicamba formulations on their new GE […]

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05
Oct

Again: Trump Administration Needs to Listen to Science to Protect Farmers and the Environment (Instead of Special Interests)

(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2020)  Another example of trading health and environmental protection for the support of special interests, EPA announces the misleading and fraudulently named, “EPA Supports Technology to Benefit America’s Farmers.” This time, EPA announces plans to “streamline the regulation of certain plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs).” Named to sow confusion, PIPs are plants engineered with pesticides in them. PIPs are known in general for two problems arising from incorporating pesticidal ingredients into crops: residues that cannot be washed off and production of crop-eating insects that are resistant to the incorporated pesticide that blankets the agricultural landscape.  Tell Congress that EPA needs to listen to science, not pesticide manufacturers and biotech companies that are causing problems for farmers and the environment. This time, EPA is proposing to exempt from regulation certain PIPs created by biotechnological techniques that are cisgenic (using genes derived from sexually compatible species), such as CRISPR. The distinction that EPA seeks to make between cisgenic plants and transgenic plants (in which the gene of interest may come from any species) is not supported by science. In fact, cisgenic techniques make use of genetic material other than the targeted genes, and that may come from species that are not […]

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01
Oct

Court Rejects Case to Reinstate Environmental Protections on U.S. Wildlife Refuges, as Report Shows Increasing Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2020) A federal judge on September 24, 2020 dismissed an  environmental lawsuit seeking to reinstate a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule, killed by the Trump Administration, which banned the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, genetically engineered (GE) crops, and adopted a precautionary approach to pest management. The decision comes on the heels of a Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) analysis that reports a 34% increase in the pesticide use on U.S. national wildlife refuge acres over a two year period from 2016-2018. This analysis is an update to CBD’s 2018 report, No Refuge, which is the first of its kind to offer comprehensive details of agricultural pesticide spraying in national wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges act as a sanctuary, providing habitat and protection essential for the survival and recovery of species nationwide. However, pesticide spraying in or around wildlife refuges threatens the survivability and recovery of species that reside there as many of these pesticides are highly toxic to human and animal health. Analyses like these are significant, especially since the globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk of extinction. In 2012, […]

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14
Aug

Study Shows Organic Food Diet Reduces Residues of Glyphosate in Body

(Beyond Pesticides, August 13, 2020) Levels of the notorious herbicide compound glyphosate in the human body are reduced by 70% through a one-week switch to an organic diet, finds a new, peer-reviewed study published in August 2020 in the journal Environmental Research. This result emphasizes both the ubiquity of this compound in the human body, and diet as the primary source of exposure for most people. It also adds to the evidence for Beyond Pesticides’ assertions that: (1) chemical-intensive agriculture must be abandoned, for a variety of reasons that include human health, and (2) in the lead-up to a transition to organic and regenerative agriculture, consuming organic foods as much as is practicable is powerful protection from glyphosate, and from the assault of multiple chemical pesticides to which most people are exposed. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the popular weed killer RoundupTM, which has been used intensively in the U.S. and around the world, especially during the last couple of decades. It is very commonly used on crops grown from genetically engineered (GE) companion seeds for a variety of staple crops (e.g., soybeans, cotton, and corn). These GE seeds are glyphosate-tolerant, whose attribute has allowed growers to apply the herbicide and […]

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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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26
Jun

Bayer-Monsanto Chalks Up Court Victory that Takes Cancer Warning Off Roundup™-Glyphosate in California, Makes Case for Fundamental Overhaul of Pesticide Law

(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2020) A court decision in California, challenging a cancer warning on products containing the weed killer glyphosate, highlights the distinct  ways in which scientific findings are applied under regulatory standards, in toxic tort cases evaluated by juries, and by consumers in the marketplace. These differences came into focus as a U.S. court quashed California’s decision to require cancer warning labels on glyphosate products on June 22. The ruling, by Judge William Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, bars the state from requiring labeling that warns of potential carcinogenicity on such herbicides. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015 classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. At this point, Monsanto began a worldwide campaign to challenge glyphosate’s cancer classification. The IARC finding spurred the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, in the same year, to announce that glyphosate would be listed as a probable cancer-causing chemical under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). With that announcement came another: the state would mandate that cancer warning labels be applied to glyphosate-based products in the state when any of four […]

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25
Jun

Bayer-Monsanto, Committed to Continued Sales of Roundup™-Glyphosate, Announces $10.9 Billion Settlement with Cancer Victims, Protects Company from Future Trials by Jury

(Beyond Pesticides, June 25, 2020) Facing approximately 125,000 lawsuits on cancer caused by the weed killer Roundup™ (glyphosate), Bayer/Monsanto announced yesterday that it will pay up to $10.9 billion to resolve current and potential future litigation. According to Bayer, the settlement will “bring closure” to approximately 75% of current Roundup™ litigation. “The company will make a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve the current Roundup™ litigation, including an allowance expected to cover unresolved claims, and $1.25 billion to support a separate class agreement to address potential future litigation,” according to Bayer’s press release. At the same time the company announced a $400 million settlement with farmers whose crops have been damaged by the weed killer dicamba and $820 million for PCB water litigation. Bayer is a German multinational pharmaceutical and chemical company that purchased Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018. Bayer’s stock price increased by 2.5% after the news of the settlements. Bayer Settles, but Defends the Safety of Roundup™As expected, Bayer is not acknowledging any harm caused by glyphosate. According to chief executive officer of Bayer, Werner Baumann, “The decision to resolve the Roundup™ litigation enables us to focus fully on the critical supply of healthcare […]

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17
Jun

Court Victory on Three Dicamba Weed Killers Underscores the Need to Reform Pesticide Law

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2020) The June 3 decision in a high-profile “dicamba case” — against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and for the plaintiffs, a coalition of conservation groups — was huge news in environmental advocacy, agriculture, and agrochemical circles. The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated EPA’s 2018 conditional registration of three dicamba weed killer products for use on an estimated 60 million acres of DT (dicamba-tolerant through genetic modification/engineering) soybeans and cotton. There is, however, a related issue that accompanies this and many other pesticide cases. When EPA decides to cancel or otherwise proscribe use of a pesticide (usually as a result of its demonstrated toxicity and/or damage during litigation), the agency will often allow pesticide manufacturers to continue to sell off “existing stocks” of a pesticide, or growers and applicators to continue to use whatever stock they have or can procure. Beyond Pesticides has opposed, covered, and litigated against this practice. To greenlight predictable harm is a violation of any recognized moral code, never mind of the agency’s mission — “to protect human health and the environment.” According to Beyond Pesticides, EPA should never permit continued use of a dangerous pesticide once that compound’s […]

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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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21
May

Study Finds an Association between Dicamba Use and Increased Risk of Developing Various Cancers

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2020) Use of the herbicide dicamba increases humans’ risk of various acute and chronic cancers, according to research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Many pesticides are “known or probable” carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), and their widespread use only amplifies chemical hazards, adversely affecting human health. However, past research lacks comprehensive information regarding human health effects associated with long-term pesticide use. This study highlights the significant role that long-term research plays in identifying potential health concerns surrounding registered pesticides, especially as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to reaffirm its decision to allow dicamba use on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a scientist with the environmental health program at the Center for Biological Diversity, comments: “This sweeping study exposes the terrible human cost of the EPA’s reckless decision to expand the use of dicamba. […]For the EPA to approve widespread use of this poison across much of the country without assuring its safety to people and the environment is an absolute indictment of the agency’s persistent practice of rubber-stamping dangerous pesticides.” Dicamba—a benzoic acid chemical that controls broadleaf weeds—is one of the most widely applied herbicides in corn production. As a result of weed resistant to […]

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30
Apr

Animal Fodder – A Driver of the Global Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) Industry

(Beyond Pesticides, April 30, 2020) Chemical-intensive farming of crops for animal fodder powers the global market for highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs), according to data analyzed by Unearthed, and the Swiss NGO Public Eye. Animal fodder production not only intensifies global pollution, but it also increases pesticide exposure and degrades human, animal, and environmental health. This data analysis supports advocates advancing pesticide policies to eliminate HHPs by identifying which toxic chemicals lead global pesticide sales. However, it will take more than eliminating the worst chemicals to address the impending biodiversity collapse and the climate crisis, according to experts who point to the need for an urgent shift to organic land and agricultural management practices. United Nations’ (UN) special rapporteur on toxic substances and human rights, Baskut Tuncak, says, “There is nothing sustainable about the widespread use of highly hazardous pesticides for agriculture. Whether they poison workers, extinguish biodiversity, persist in the environment, or accumulate in a mother’s breast milk, these are unsustainable, cannot be used safely, and should have been phased out of use long ago.”  Unearthed and Public Eye investigated over $23 billion in global pesticide market sales to determine the proportion of pesticides considered highly hazardous by the Pesticide Action Network’s […]

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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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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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20
Feb

Bader Farms Wins $265 Million in Lawsuit Against Bayer’s Monsanto, BASF

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2020) Missouri’s largest peach farm, Bader Farms, is set to receive $265 million in compensation from two multinational agrichemical companies after the companies’ dicamba-based weed killers caused widespread damage to the farm’s fruit trees. Bayer’s Monsanto and BASF were found to be responsible for negligence in the design of their dicamba herbicides, and failure to warn farmers about the dangers of their products. The jury determined that the joint venture between the two companies amounted to a conspiracy to create an “ecological disaster” in the name of profit. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Bayer Monsanto’s release of a new line of genetically engineered (GE) seeds designed to tolerate repeated spraying of dicamba. With glyphosate resistant ‘super-weeds’ widespread and threatening GE farmer’s yields, the company aimed to redeploy dicamba, one of the oldest herbicides in the market, on cotton and soybeans throughout the U.S. Knowing the propensity of dicamba to drift for miles off site, Bayer’s Monsanto promised a new product line with much lower volatility.  But as the company was waiting on approval for this product by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it nonetheless began selling its dicamba-tolerant seeds. This led to […]

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15
Oct

Take Action: EPA Must Evaluate the Effects of Multiple Pesticide Ingredient Use and Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2019) EPA is requesting comment on its proposal to require data that will help it determine synergistic effects of some pesticides. EPA has received on a pressure on a number of fronts, including a report by the Center for Biological Diversity, a report by its own Inspector General, a letter from 35 Congressional Representatives, and research pointing to the unavoidability of synergistic effects—the chemical combinations that cause greater effects when mixed together than the sum of the individual chemical effects. Despite all of the evidence that synergism is the rule rather than the exception, EPA’s consideration focuses on a narrow range of cases in which pesticide product patents make claims of synergy. Tell EPA to always investigate synergy and to determine need for pesticides. One such product is Dow’s Enlist Duo, which combines glyphosate and 2,4-D in an attempt to overcome weed resistance. The focus on products and tank mixes where synergism is a selling point brings to light the fact that as a rule, EPA does not request efficacy data in registering pesticides not intended to protect public health. Thus, although required by law to weigh pesticide risks and benefits, EPA rarely has data to make […]

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13
Sep

Herbicide Drift from Agricultural Use Found to Harm Bird Habitat

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2019) A study on the use of the herbicide dicamba’s off-target effects finds broad impacts, in both geographic spread and the variety of affected species, with use of the weed killer on Arkansas cropland putting birds at risk in agricultural landscapes. Audubon of Arkansas is reporting results of its community science dicamba monitoring project, conducted under the direction of Bird Conservation Director Dan Scheiman, PhD, and launched in late spring 2019. The project monitored dicamba symptomology in species on municipal, state, and federal lands, where dicamba was not applied, but where its impacts were nonetheless detected. Arkansas Audubon “predicts that in a landscape full of GMO crops [genetically modified organisms] (on which dicamba is typically used), the atmospheric loading of volatile dicamba could be enough to cause landscape scale damage to our state natural areas, wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges, family farms, and the wildlife they harbor.” Dicamba herbicides are volatile compounds used to control broadleaf weeds — especially on fields of GMO soybean and cotton crops that have been genetically engineered for resistance to dicamba. These herbicides damage non-GMO crops and native plants well beyond intended application areas. (In 2017, more than 3 million acres of […]

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29
Aug

USDA “People’s Garden” Turned Over to Agrichemical Corporations to Promote Pesticides and GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2019) The Peoples Garden, located on the grounds on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the national mall, has been renamed and remodeled to highlight genetically engineered (GE) crops and farming techniques that directly counter the organic movement. The new exhibit, entitled “Voice of the Farmer,” is part of the “Trust in Food” initiative of Farm Journal magazine. This marks a continuation of trends in the Trump administration: pushing for GE/GMOs and pesticides. Since 2009, the USDA Peoples Garden has highlighted organic agriculture. It was originally envisioned by the Obama administration as a place where visitors could learn about what differentiates organic from conventional chemical-intensive food production, and the practices used in organic land management. The garden had several different exhibits: the Three Sisters Garden, the People’s Garden Apiary, three green roofs, a certified organic vegetable garden, a tool shed with a rain barrel and green roof, wildlife and pollinator friendly landscaping, and a bat house. With an emphasis on sustainable gardening practices such as cover cropping, storm water collection, and composting, the garden served as a headquarters for numerous Peoples Gardens founded between 2009 and 2016. The People’s Garden and other projects of the […]

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05
Aug

Remind USDA that Genetic Engineering Is NOT Acceptable in Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2019) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) appears to have forgotten the lesson learned 20 years ago when it was forced to ban genetic engineering (GE) in organic regulations. At a July 17 hearing called by the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research on “Assessing the Effectiveness of the National Organic Program,” Greg Ibach, the USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, stated, “There is the opportunity to open the discussion to consider whether it is appropriate for some of these new technologies, including gene editing, to be eligible to be used to enhance organic production.” In 1997, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a draft rule that would have allowed GE, irradiation, and sewage sludge (the “Big Three”) in organic production, which was met by the second largest number of comments the agency had ever received—well before the days of internet advocacy—overwhelmingly opposing the inclusion of the “Big Three.”  The prohibition of gene editing falls under the “excluded methods” provision of the organic regulations. The law prohibits “a variety of methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions […]

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25
Jul

Public Soybean Field Research Damaged by Pesticide Drift

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2019) Professors are experiencing damage to their soybean field research as a result of dicamba drift from neighboring agricultural fields. Experts worry that continued drift will make it impossible to carry out public research integral to non-genetically engineered soybean production. These reports, recent studies of dicamba drift potential, and numerous lawsuits counter Monsanto/Bayer’s claims that dicamba poses no drift threat when used properly. Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, manufactures both dicamba and genetically engineered, herbicide-tolerant crops. Dicamba mimics natural plant hormones, auxins, to cause uncontrolled and abnormal growth in non-tolerant plants; soybeans are especially vulnerable. Pengyn Chen, PhD, a professor of soybean breeding and genetics at the University of Missouri’s Fisher Delta Research Center, reports that his soybeans leaves curled up into cups and grew fragile unusual side branches due to dicamba drift. Dr. Chen has seen damage for the past three years as dicamba use has increased around his research station. The nature of Dr. Chen’s work bars him from switching to dicamba resistant crops, a switch many farmers make to avoid the impacts of drift. Dr. Chen studies many varieties of soybeans, including obscure types that private companies ignore. His research aims to find […]

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16
Jul

Take Action: USDA Must Offer Basic Protection from Genetically Engineered Organisms

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2019) USDA’s proposed new rules on genetically engineered (GE) crops exempt almost all GE crops from regulation and allow the company that makes them to decide whether they are safe. The rules proposed by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) benefit companies like Monsanto/Bayer and Dow, but fail to protect farmers, consumers, and the environment. Please tell APHIS to abandon its proposal and support a regulatory system that is consistent with modern science. Tell USDA not to allow companies to approve their own GE crops. The rules would govern USDA’s role in the outdated and fatally flawed “Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.” The Framework fails to account for the unique risks of genetic engineering, using existing laws like the Plant Protection Act to address issues for which they were not designed. This proposal weakens the APHIS regulations even more. All genetically engineered (GE) organisms—plants, animals, or microorganisms—should be subjected to systematic assessments of human and environmental effects and indirect economic effects (such as contamination of organic or non-GE crops leading to rejection in foreign markets, spread of resistant pests, etc.) before being allowed on the market. These assessments must be made available to the public […]

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11
Jun

Unapproved, Roundup-Ready Wheat Found in Washington Farm Field

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2019) Genetically engineered (GE) wheat developed to tolerate repeated applications of Bayer Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has been discovered in a farm field in Washington State. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has never approved a GE wheat variety for commercial production, making the incident a potential economic export risk. In the past, Asian and European countries have temporarily blocked purchases of U.S. wheat as a result of GE contamination. Organic and non-GE farmers are also at risk as any contamination with non-GE varieties can result in loss of certifications and price premiums. According to USDA, the discovery was made on an unplanted wheat field, though officials have refused to disclose where in the state the GE plants were found. In 2013, a similar situation played out in Oregon after a farmer noticed wheat plants persisting after an application of Roundup. The discovery led to a number of lawsuits against agrichemical company Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer Cropscience. At the time, Monsanto indicated that the incident was isolated, or potentially even the result of “sabotage.” An investigation by USDA was inconclusive, indicating the case “appears to be an isolated occurrence and that there is no […]

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12
Apr

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

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

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11
Mar

Take Action: Call for Moratorium on the Release of RNAi Pesticides that Manipulate Genes

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2019)  We must stop the expanded commercialization of genetically engineered pesticides. The failure of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fully evaluate environmental impacts of gene-manipulating pesticides raises serious concerns in light of the agency’s ongoing failure to predict ecological effects of pesticides, such as the dramatic decline of pollinators. With the release of a 2019 peer-reviewed scientific article, Environmental Fate of RNA Interference Pesticides: Adsorption and Degradation of Double-Stranded RNA Molecules in Agricultural Soils, on the potential impact on soil and non-target microorganisms in soil, the study’s co-author, Kimberly Parker, PhD, remarked, “The ecological risk assessment of these emerging pesticides necessitates an understanding of the fate of dsRNA [double stranded RNA] molecules in receiving environments, among which agricultural soils are most important.” This technology, given that it is systemic to the plant and leaves traces in the soil, can cause widespread indiscriminate poisoning—as has been seen with bees, butterflies, birds, and the larger catastrophic decline of insect populations. Tell your members of Congress that the ecological effects of RNAi gene-manipulating pesticides raise serious questions—they have not been fully studied by EPA and, until they are, the agency should issue a moratorium on their release. Previously, […]

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