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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Genetic Engineering' Category


20
May

House Republican Farm Bill Draft Would Cripple Pesticide Restrictions, Advocates Say

(Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2024)  (Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2024) The Republican Farm Bill draft in the U.S. House of Representatives, released on Friday, May 17, is a broad attack on pesticide restrictions and the right to sue chemical manufacturers and allied users of pesticides when harmed. “This legislation is a complete nonstarter for the millions of people who want stronger pesticide restrictions, democratic decision making on toxic chemicals in communities, and the right to sue manufacturers and pesticide users when harmed and misled on the hazards of pesticides,” said Jay Feldman, executive director. “We vehemently oppose this Republican legislation with the understanding and experience—bridging farmers, medical practitioners, land managers, local policy makers, and families—that we can and must transition to safe practices and products that protect our health, biodiversity, and climate,” Mr. Feldman continued. The Farm Bill attack takes place on many critical fronts. The draft legislation: 1. Takes away the right to sue for failure to warn when harmed by pesticides. The language says: “prohibit. . .a court from directly or indirectly imposing or continuing in effect any requirements for, or penalize or hold liable any entity for failing to comply with requirements with respect to, labeling or […]

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08
Apr

U.S. Acts To Block Mexico’s Protection of Traditional Varieties against Contamination from Engineered Corn, Challenges Food Sovereignty

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2024) When Mexico in 2020 decided to protect its traditional varieties of corn for reasons of health, safety, environmental protection, and food sovereignty with the banning of the importation of genetically engineered (GE or GM-genetically modified) corn by 2024, the powerful biotech industry and the U.S. government began a concerted campaign to stop the country’s efforts. With the opposition spearheaded by BIO, “the world’s largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations” (as described in its March 15 press release), including companies like Bayer/Monsanto, the U.S government is calling Mexico’s action a trade barrier. The U.S. is invoking the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the trade agreement that replaced the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 2020. This is just one of the latest examples of corporate power reigning over U.S. environmental and economic policies. Mexico has already announced a delay in the planned April 1 ban on the importation, production, distribution, and use of glyphosate. Interestingly, this is all happening despite reports that the Biden administration is seeking to “tackle corporate abuses,” which is apparently limited  to tax reform and […]

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20
Mar

Mexico Ban on Genetically Engineered Corn Imports Spurs Challenge from U.S. and Canada under Trade Agreement

(Beyond Pesticides, March 20, 2024) A report by CBAN unpacks the ecosystem and wildlife health impacts of genetically engineered (GE) corn in the context of Mexico’s 2023 decision to stop its importation into the country. The phase out of genetically modified (GM) corn imports into Mexico was immediately challenged by the U.S. and Canadian governments as a trade violation under the 2020 U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the primary vehicle for North American trade policy. In August 2023, the U.S. Trade Representative set up a dispute settlement panel under USMCA to stop Mexico from going forward with its ban. There has been no public update from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as of this writing. The CBAN report highlights the scientific rationale underpinning Mexico’s decision to “safeguard the integrity of native corn from GM contamination and to protect human health” with this ban. In 2020, Mexico announced a four-year phase-out of the weed killer glyphosate, which along with other petrochemical herbicides is integral to GM corn production. When Mexico’s Minister of the Environment announced the phase-out, he said it is part of an effort to transform the country’s food system […]

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05
Mar

EPA and Court Allow Violations and Hazards of Weed Killer Dicamba Under Existing Stock Order

(Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2024) Buried in a court decision in February that determined that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the law in allowing harm associated with the herbicide dicamba’s registration is language that permits the damages to continue through this year’s growing season. The judge’s ruling, deferring to EPA’s interpretation of the existing stock provision in the federal pesticide law, continues a pattern of “existing stock” allowances that permit hazards to continue well after a finding of harm or noncompliance. This process contrasts with the issuance of a product recall, which is typically done when pharmaceuticals are found to violate safety standards. Despite the finding of dicamba’s harm and EPA’s failure to comply with standards, the continued use of the weed killer through the 2024 growing season is effectively authorized in a decision of the U.S. District Court of Arizona, which vacates the EPA’s 2021 authorization of the use of three over-the-top (OTT) uses of dicamba-based herbicide products. In response, EPA issued an existing stocks order. EPA’s pattern of allowing the use of existing stocks has long been a concern for public health and environmental advocates, who have called for the discontinuance of use upon findings of […]

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13
Feb

Court Strikes Down EPA’s Allowance of Weedkiller Dicamba after Scathing Inspector General Report

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2024) Last week, the United States District Court for the District of Arizona struck down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2021 approval of three dicamba-based herbicides. This is the second lawsuit since 2020 to call out EPA’s violation to both the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to authorize the use of over-the-top (OTT) dicamba-based herbicide products from Bayer and other petrochemical pesticide companies. This rejection of dicamba-based herbicides fuels advocates’ push for stronger regulatory actions by EPA for all petrochemical pesticides and their push for the more widespread adoption of organic practices that do not use these chemicals. The case was filed by Center for Food Safety (CFS), Center for Biological Diversity, National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America. Beyond Pesticides has covered the dicamba tragedy for years, including the EPA Office of the Inspector General’s critical 2021 report, EPA Deviated from its Typical Procedures in Its 2018 Dicamba Pesticide Registration Decision. The report identifies EPA’s abandonment of science and assault on agency integrity. In addition to citing adverse impact on nontarget crops and the environment, the Court zeroes in on EPA’s failure to adequately manage […]

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19
Dec

Groups Petition EPA to Remove from the Market the Weed Killer Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2023) Last week, farmworker organizations and Beyond Pesticides, represented by the Center for Food Safety, filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging that the weed killer glyphosate be removed from the market. The petition cites 200 studies, which represent a fraction of the independent scientific literature on the hazards of glyphosate and formulation ingredients of glyphosate products. This action follows previous litigation in 2022 in which a federal court of appeals struck down EPA’s human health assessment, finding that the agency wrongfully dismissed glyphosate’s cancer risk. The farmworker groups petitioning include Farmworker Association of Florida, Organización en California de Lideres Campesinas, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, and the Rural Coalition.   Meanwhile, verdicts against glyphosate’s manufacturer, Bayer, continue to pile up with a December jury verdict in Pennsylvania awarding $3.5 million and a November jury in Missouri ordering $1.56 billion to be paid to four plaintiffs. All link their cancer to use of the Roundup. Bayer has lost almost all of the cases filed against it for compensation and punitive damages associated with plaintiffs’ charge that its product (previously manufactured by Monsanto) caused them harm.  The petition summarizes its purpose and justification as […]

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27
Oct

EPA To Allow Genetically-Based Pesticides, Incomplete Testing, and Documented Adverse Effects

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2023) In a typical move, EPA proposes to greenlight a type of genetic engineering to solve a problem created by the industrial paradigm for pest control, i.e. vast acreages of monoculture treated with millions of tons of toxic pesticides leading to rapid resistance among crop pests. In this case EPA wants to approve using a nucleic acid—double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)–called “interfering RNA,” or RNAi—to silence a gene crucial to the survival of the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB), the scourge of potato farmers around the world. But EPA has skipped over important steps in its decision-making process and rushed to judgment. Like chemical pesticides, genetically-based pesticides are regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In 2020, Massachusetts-based GreenLight Biosciences applied for registration of its RNAi active ingredient, Ledprona, and its end-use product, Calantha. The company executive heading the effort is an alumnus of Monsanto and several other major chemical companies. Last May EPA granted GreenLight an Experimental Use Permit (EUP) authorizing field studies in states that produce tons of potatoes. A mere five months later, EPA announced its decision to approve the registration based almost entirely on incomplete EUP data and giving the public very […]

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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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21
Apr

More Data Shows Failure of Crops Genetically Engineered to Incorporate Insecticide

(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2023) Into the annals of “entropic methods of agricultural pest control” arrives recent research showing that pests are, unsurprisingly, developing resistance to a genetically engineered (GE) biopesticide used for more than 90% of U.S. corn, cotton, and soybeans. Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a naturally occurring bacterium; the versions deployed in conventional agriculture are engineered into Plant Incorporated Protectants (PIPs) — GE ingredients “inserted” into seeds for multiple kinds of crop plants. These PIPs target multiple crop-destructive insect species, including (in larval form) the corn rootworm and cotton bollworm, in particular. Beyond Pesticides continues to warn that “controls,” whether synthetic chemical pesticides or GE “biological” agents (such as GE Bt) that target living things (e.g., pests and weeds) are not sustainable over time because — in addition to the harms they cause — the issue of resistance will ultimately thwart their efficacy. There are two basic categories of genetic engineering employed in conventional agriculture. One technology transfers genetic material into seed to make plants tolerant of specific herbicide compounds that will be applied after planting (for example, the infamous “Roundup Ready,” glyphosate-tolerant seeds and plants). The other comprises plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs), in which the genetic material introduced […]

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28
Sep

“Weedy Rice” Develops Herbicide Resistance: Agrichemical Industry Repeating Mistakes?

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2022) ‘Weedy rice,’ a close relative of cultivated rice that invades rice fields and reduces yields, is rapidly developing herbicide resistance in critical rice growing areas throughout the United States. According to research published this month in Communications Biology, the widespread planting of herbicide-resistant rice, developed through traditional, transitional (non-genetically engineered) breeding techniques, is driving this concerning phenomenon. The findings highlight the risk to agricultural production that relies on crops developed to tolerate repeated applications of synthetic chemicals, regardless of their method of development. Weedy rice is a form of rice that was “re-wilded,” or “de-domesticated” from cultivated rice, independently evolving multiple times throughout the world. It is highly adapted to grow in areas where cultivated rice is produced, and can result in significant yield loses, as well as a reduction in quality that reduces marketability. In the early 2000s, the agrichemical industry believed they had found a solution to the weedy rice. Multinational chemical corporation BASF developed a line of rice cultivars, produced through traditional breeding, that conferred resistance to imidazolinone class herbicides. This includes chemicals like imazapyr, imazaquin, imazethapyr, and imazamox, which poses cancer, reproductive, and neurotoxic risks to human health, and is toxic […]

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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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07
Sep

Trouble for Bambi: Neonic Levels in Wild Deer Spiking in Minnesota Raise Contamination Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, September 7, 2022) Neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides are causing widespread contamination within deer populations in Minnesota, with recent data showing significant increases over sampling that took place just two years earlier. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) began sampling the spleens of deer in the state after research conducted in South Dakota found widespread contamination, but also links to harmful effects as a result of the exposure. The latest findings will result in further testing, yet the sum of research on the dangers of neonicotinoids – not only to deer, but pollinators, birds, aquatic wildlife, and even human health – demands, according to advocates, a precautionary approach and meaningful restrictions on these potent systemic pesticides. Officials at MDNR have no explanation for the increase in contamination over the last sample period. “We’re not exactly sure why we saw that increase,” said Department of Natural Resources Ungulate Research Scientist Eric Michel, PhD, to mprnews.org. “But regardless, the two years of data are showing us that neonics are being detected pretty much across the state. When we look for them we find them in deer spleens. So that’s kind of the big takeaway from what we’re seeing right now.” Results […]

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10
May

Chemical No-Till Failure Due to Herbicide Resistance Increases Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2022) Widespread weed resistance on chemical corn and soybean farms is leading farmers to till their fields more often, significantly increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These findings were published late last month in the journal Nature Food by a team of Iowa State University researchers. With agricultural practices accounting for roughly 10% of U.S. GHG emissions, and 25% of worldwide releases, farming practices that preserve soil health and sequester GHGs are essential for the future of food production. Tillage is a farming practice that can provide a range of benefits for crop production, but only in the right conditions. A range of tillage practices exist, ranging from yearly conventional tillage, where most crop residue is plowed into the soil, to conservation tillage where some residue remains, and no-till systems where the soil remains covered. Repeated tillage causes significant harm to soil structure and biology, and result in erosion and the release of GHGs like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide from soil into the atmosphere. The harms of tillage have led both chemical and organic farmers toward no-till or reduced tillage systems. Organic no-till farming, as practiced by farming groups like the Rodale Institute, employs the […]

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16
Mar

EPA Permits Experimental Release of 2.5 Billion Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes in California and Florida

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2022) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has authorized the “experimental use” and release of 2.5 billion genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes in Florida and California by the British-based firm Oxitec. While the goal of eliminating disease carrying mosquitoes is an important public health challenge, public opinion has been consistently against the use of these animals, with nearly 240,000 individuals opposing a pilot program in the Florida Keys. Health and environmental advocates have a range of concerns with Oxitec’s approach, including the size of its latest experiment, lack of publicly verifiable efficacy data, and availability of alternative management practices not requiring GE mosquitoes. Oxitec began public releases of its GE mosquitoes at least a decade ago, when mosquito larvae were introduced in the Brazilian town of Itaberaba. The company has consistently angled to launch its mosquitoes in the United States under the claim that the animals will reduce numbers of Aedes aegypti, a highly problematic mosquito known to vector a range of diseases, including dengue, yellow fever chikungunya, and Zika. Research analyzing Oxitec’s proposals note that the risk of dengue and other disease from Aedes aegypti is low in the United States. In a recent study in Globalization […]

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11
Feb

Biotech Fixes for Pesticide Failures Continue Treadmill of Increased Toxic Chemical Use

(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2022) A team of researchers has proffered a potential, biotechnical, way forward in the quest to reduce the scourge of malaria, which affects many people across the world. Their work uses the relatively new “Crispr” technique to address, and reverse, the growing problem of mosquito resistance to the pesticides that currently dominate control strategies for the insects that spread the disease. This innovation nevertheless raises concern about both the introduction of new, genetically altered organisms into the environment without sufficient information on the implications, and continued, intensive pesticide use. Beyond Pesticides recognizes, as do the researchers, that malaria-borne mosquitoes pose a serious public health problem; however, it advocates for alternatives to chemical approaches to managing the spread of the disease, and asserts that successful management strategies will contend with the underlying conditions that exacerbate that spread. In 2020, Executive Director Jay Feldman said, “We should focus on the deplorable living conditions, and inequitable distribution of wealth and resources worldwide that give rise to squalor, inhumane living conditions, and the poor state of development that, together, breed insect-borne diseases like malaria.”     Malaria, which is spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes infected with a Plasmodium parasite, causes illness in more than 200 million people annually, and is lethal to more than 400,000, […]

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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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07
Jan

USDA Genetic Engineered Food Label Misleads Consumers, Took Effect January 1

(Beyond Pesticides. January 7, 2022) Unbeknownst to most Americans when they woke up on New Year’s Day 2022, a new labeling system for genetically modified-engineered foods— promulgated in 2019 — which does not mention genetically engineered or GMO ingredients, went into effect. Consumer, food, and environmental advocates say that the new label is misleading, insufficiently transparent, discriminatory, rife with loopholes, and confusing for consumers. The new labeling requirement mandates that genetically engineered foods bear labels that indicate that they have been “bioengineered” or that provide a text-messaging phone number or a QR code as avenues for further information. (“Additional options such as a phone number or web address are available to small food manufacturers or for small and very small packages.”) The new labeling rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aims, according to the agency, to eliminate the crazy quilt of labels affixed to foods and ingredients that have been scientifically altered. According to an agency spokesperson, the rule is designed to “balance the need to provide information to consumers with the interest in minimizing costs to companies.” Genetically altered food items and ingredients have heretofore been called, and labeled as, “genetically engineered” (GE) or “genetically modified” (GM), […]

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15
Dec

It’s Time for Bayer/Monsanto to Leave Hawai’i after Pleading Guilty to Multiple Violations that Harm People and Environment of the State, Advocates Say

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2021) Monsanto has pleaded guilty to multiple environmental crimes in Hawaiʻi for the second time in less than four years, and the island communities are left asking “when is enough enough?” In the most recent case, Monsanto will plead guilty to 30 environmental crimes in Hawaiʻi, related to pesticide use violations and putting field workers at risk.  In both cases, they admit that they knowingly violated pesticide law and put field workers in harmʻs way.  They will pay a $12 million fine this time, bringing their criminal fines and “community service payments” to a total of $22 million since 2019. At the center of these cases is the fact that the Monsanto field workers had to transport, apply, and suffer exposure to these toxic and banned pesticides as a part of their job. Autumn Ness, director of Beyond Pesticides’ Hawai’i organic land management program,  said: “In small island communities of Hawaiʻi, Monsanto workers are our friends and family. Folks live just downwind and next door to these fields.  We are concerned about their health, and those concerns are glaringly missing from news reports and in the distribution agreements for the community service payments.” There are two […]

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30
Jul

Commentary: Will Playing Fields, Parks, and Lawns Be Safe After Glyphosate in Roundup Residential Use Ends in 2023?

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2021) Bayer (Monsanto), the maker of the deadly herbicide glyphosate/Roundup, after hinting in May that it would end the weed killer’s residential uses in the U.S., made it official yesterday. With its announcement to shareholders, Bayer puts an end to residential uses beginning in 2023 and allocates $4.5 billion to cover “the company’s potential long-term exposure” from lawsuits by those harmed by the chemical. At the same time, the company announced it is seeking a U.S. Supreme Court hearing to reverse significant jury verdicts (from $289 million to $2 billion) for individuals who have suffered health damage they tie to glyphosate exposure. Bayer claims that it will argue that federal pesticide law preempts litigation against products that it has registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA). Similar arguments have been tried before, most notably in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences (2005), and the Supreme Court has found that federal pesticide law does not protect “manufacturers of poisonous substances.” (See more below.) Despite the extensive scientific review (see Pesticide Gateway) of glyphosate/Roundup and a “probable” cancer causing ranking by the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015, Bayer says, “This move is being made exclusively […]

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22
Dec

Farmworkers and Conservationists Ask Court to Remove Monsanto’s Roundup from the Market

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2020) Opening arguments and evidence were filed by a coalition of farmworkers, farmers, and conservationists last week in litigation challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) re-approval of glyphosate, best known as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s “Roundup” pesticides. The lawsuit charges that the Trump Administration unlawfully ignored cancer risks and ecological damage of glyphosate.  Represented by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), plaintiffs, including the Rural Coalition, Farmworker Association of Florida, Organización en California de Lideres Campesinas, and Beyond Pesticides, filed the federal lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in March. The groups seek to have the pesticide prohibited from use or sale because of its unlawful approval. “Farmworkers are on the frontlines of nearly every health and environmental crisis, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, and are particularly at risk of health impacts from pesticide spraying,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at CFS. “EPA failed these essential workers. It rejected evidence that glyphosate causes cancer and entirely failed to assess the main way people are exposed at work, through their skin.” The court filing includes volumes of evidence showing how EPA ignored glyphosate’s health risks, including cancer risks, to farmworkers and farmers exposed during spraying. The evidence […]

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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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