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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'International' Category


18
Mar

Infectious Human Disease, Snail Fever, Worsened by Pesticide Run-Off into Fresh Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2020) Freshwater habitats are threatened now—more than ever—by the adverse effects of pesticide pollution, according to a report published in Scientific Reports by a collaborative research team from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Pesticide pollution, attributed to runoff from agricultural farms, indirectly increased the rate of the tropical disease schistosomiasis, which infects over 280 million people (2018). This research underlines the range of uncertainties that exist as a result of pesticide contamination, making it critically important that subtropical areas where this disease threat exists move toward organic and pesticide-free approaches.  Increased prevalence of this disease is devastating to socioeconomic development in affected regions, as life expectancy, employment rate, and gross domestic product (GDP) decreases. Schistosomiasis (snail fever), or bilharzia, is a tropical disease caused by parasitic flatworms (trematodes) in the genus Schistosoma and transmitted via freshwater snail (genus Biomphalaria) to its definitive human host. Freshwater snails act as a vector for schistosomiasis as they play a vital role in the lifecycle of the parasitic flatworm. Professor Matthias Liess (Ph.D.), Head of the Department of System Ecotoxicology at the UFZ, and his research team investigated pesticide pollution’s […]

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17
Mar

Monarch Population, Under Threat from Pesticide Use and Habitat Loss, Declines by Half in One Year

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2020) The number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico is down 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. While WWF indicates the decline was expected due to unfavorable weather conditions during the species southward migration, other environmental groups are raising red flags. “Scientists were expecting the count to be down slightly, but this level of decrease is heartbreaking,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monarchs unite us, and more protections are clearly needed for these migratory wonders and their habitat.” WWF’s count found that monarchs occupied seven acres this winter, down from 15 acres last year. Reports indicate that 15 acres is a minimum threshold needed to prevent a collapse of the butterfly’s migration and possible extinction. This was the goal stated by the 2015 White House Pollinator Task Force, which the current administration is failing to see through. While weather conditions play an important role in monarch migration from the U.S. and Canada south to Mexico, the species is under threat from a range of environmental factors. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants to lay eggs, and monarch caterpillars feed solely on […]

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13
Mar

European Commission’s Agricultural Policy Clashes with Its ‘Green Deal’ Plan

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2020) The European Commission’s proposed (post-2020) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a failure and must be dramatically changed to embrace organic practices and support small farmers, according to a paper written by 21 scientists and published in the British Ecological Society’s journal, People and Nature. The authors point to provisions that permit anemic implementation of critical sustainability goals, and say that as it stands, the CAP fails “with respect to biodiversity, climate, soil, [and] land degradation as well as socio‐economic challenges.” The authors call on the European Parliament, Council, and Commission to adopt 10 urgent action points that advance a goal that “all CAP elements, without exception, should be aligned with the principles of sustainability, multi‐functionality and public payments for public goods.” The paper’s authors say that the CAP continues, in fact, to support practices that exacerbate the climate emergency, soil erosion, land degradation, and biodiversity loss, and fails to fund initiatives that could address climate and other critical issues. Happening concurrently with the CAP is development of the European Commission’s (EC’s) “European Green Deal,” which the EC describes as a roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable, and making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. […]

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11
Mar

Global Growth of Organic Farmland Further Advances UN Sustainable Development Goals

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2020) Worldwide, organic farming practices quadrupled from 2000 to 2018, with over 180 countries leading a global transition to organic agriculture. Newly published global survey data by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements – Organics International (IFOAM) reveal global organic agriculture to be at an all-time high, with 71.5 million hectares (mha) of farmland in production. Organic agriculture’s rise in popularity makes important progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as organic agriculture is essential for a sustainable future; it is a solution to the global food crisis and eliminating the health risks engendered by chemical-intensive farming. According to Monica Rubiolo, PhD of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), “Access to quality data on organic farming not only helps to measure success toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals but also to orient decision-makers and other stakeholders along the whole value chain.” In a period of rapid population growth, a climate crisis, environmental degradation, and high energy costs, organic farming addresses human health, environment, and socioeconomic concerns. Organically managed farmland increased by a total of 2 mha (2.9%), in all continents, between 2017 and 2018. Australia has […]

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29
Jan

Rate of Male Breast Cancer on the Rise in Scotland, Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Suspected

(Beyond Pesticides, January 29, 2020) A study of male breast cancer (MBC) in Scotland reports an alarming, increasing trend of this rare disease – especially in agricultural areas. While only accounting for 1% of diagnosed breast cancer, MBC forms in the breast tissue of men and is often fatal because of delayed diagnosis and lack of research on male-specific treatment. The authors point to risk factors that include increased exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as pesticides, and a need for further study. Researchers analyzed data from the Information Services Scotland database spanning from 1992-2017. Results showed that incidence of breast cancer in men rose with age, and that the total number and age-adjusted incidence of MBC increased in the last 25 years. Overall, the incidence rose by 38.5%. There was a total of 558 diagnoses in Scotland in the entire period. The trend is clearest in certain regions, including the North of Scotland and some rural areas. “Within the confines of this observational study, reasons for these regional differences are difficult to reconcile, but potential explanations are offered,” the authors write, “Exposure to environmental compounds that mimic oestrogens (so-called Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals; (EDCs)) might be exacerbated in areas of higher agricultural […]

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17
Jan

European Union Bans Neonicotinoid Insecticide, Citing Health and Environmental Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2020) In Brussels, the European Commission (EC) has just decided not to renew approval of the neonicotinoid pesticide thiacloprid, citing both environmental and health concerns related to use of and exposure to the pesticide. The decision was approved by a majority of European Union (EU) governments last fall, after the EC had made the proposal to them. The EC based that proposal on findings of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in January 2019, which highlighted concerns about toxicity to humans and high concentrations in groundwater. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides commented, “There are environmental concerns related to the use of this pesticide, particularly its impact on groundwater, but also related to human health, in reproductive toxicity.” The current EU use approval for thiacloprid products expires on April 30, 2020. The EC decision — functionally, a ban — means that farmers will need to turn to other means to deal with the primary thiacloprid targets in agriculture, aphids and whiteflies. Beyond Pesticides and many organic agricultural resources advocate for widespread adoption of organic, regenerative systems and practices. Such systems may include management features such as mechanical and biological controls, trap crops, natural […]

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30
Oct

US Government Opposes Toxic Chemical Bans in Thailand

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30th, 2019) This month, the Thai government moved to ban some toxic chemicals out of concern for the health of its residents and environment. In response, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Ted McKinney sent a document to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pushing back on their plan. As the Thai government makes changes to protect the health and represent the will of the people, the U.S. acts on behalf of its allegiance to agrichemical companies on an international stage. After powerful and sustained activism from local advocacy groups such as BioThai, the Thai government decided to upgrade glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, and paraquat from Type 3 toxic substances to Type 4, meaning these chemicals will no longer be allowed to be produced, imported, or possessed in the country. Witoon Lianchamroon, director of BioThai, says glyphosate and paraquat “contaminate our water, the soil, and some species like crab or fish or frog. These two main herbicides cover around half of the total pesticide use in the country and they cause a lot of problems.” The ban was approved by the National Hazardous Substances Committee, made up of 29 experts in the field, on October 22. Beginning December 1, the ban […]

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24
Oct

Study Adds to Evidence that Organic Fruit Consumption Leads to Lowers Levels of Pesticide Contamination in Children, Pregnant Women

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2019) Fish and fruit are undoubtedly healthy foods, but modern-day contamination is leading scientists to caution pregnant mothers and young children to stick within current dietary guidelines, or switch to organic, in order to avoid adverse health effects. This new public health message is based on research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by scientists from University of Southern California (USC) and several European Countries, finding that overconsumption of fish and fruits leads to higher levels of contamination with toxic persistent chemicals. “During gestation and early development, the fetus and the child, respectively, are vulnerable to the effects of environmental chemicals, said Lida Chatzi, MD, associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “A balanced diet during these periods is also critical for optimal nutritional status, but what to eat, and how much, are critical questions.” Scientists studied a cohort of 1,288 children (between 6 and 11 years) and 818 pregnant mothers from six European countries, who were provided questionnaires to assess their weekly diet. Blood levels of a range of environmental toxicants, including organochlorine compounds like PCB, PFHSs, PFOS, PFOA, pesticides like DDT and DDE, and heavy metals including […]

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07
Oct

Banana Workers Made Sterile from Pesticide Sue Dow in France

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2019) Central American agricultural workers, exposed in the 1970s and early 1980s to a highly toxic pesticide, subsequently began suing manufacturers in the mid-1980s, with mixed success. Now, some of those workers have stepped up their game: they have brought suit against three big agrochemical industries in France to try to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages awarded to them by Nicaraguan courts, but never paid. As reported by The New York Times, “the case could set a legal precedent and lead to more lawsuits in France for harm done in other countries by the pesticide Nemagon.” Farmworkers in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, the Philippines, West Africa, and the U.S. were exposed to the highly toxic, brominated organochlorine pesticide ingredient, DBCP (dibromochloropropane), from the 1960s until cessation of its use, which has varied from country to country. DBCP was sold in the pesticide products Nemagon and Fumazone as a soil fumigant and nematocide on banana plantations and other crops across Central America (especially), in western Africa, and in Hawaii. As acknowledged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DBCP has multiple adverse health impacts: decreased sperm production and mobility, disturbed estrous cycles, reduced phagocytosis […]

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11
Sep

Germany Moves to Phase-Out Glyphosate/Roundup; EPA Unmoved

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2019) Germany is the latest entity to take action on getting glyphosate-based pesticides out of the marketplace. Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that, beginning in 2020, the country will phase out herbicides that contain glyphosate by the end of 2023. The phase-out will occur through a series of scheduled reductions in amounts allowed for use, with a goal of a 75% reduction over the next four years. The announcement comes after “nation-wide protests and demands from [Merkel’s] junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, for more decisive action on environmental issues.” This action stands in telling contrast to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) repeated failures to protect people, ecosystems, and our food supply, from this toxic compound. The German government also plans to oppose any European Union (EU) request for renewal of licensing of these herbicides, according to the environment ministry. Bayer AG, maker of glyphosate-based herbicides and owner of original manufacturer Monsanto, has pushed back, saying that the government is “getting ahead of itself” by banning glyphosate-based herbicides prior to any decision by the relevant EU authority, and that EU laws disallow unilateral decisions by member states. (Pesticide licensing decisions lie with EU governance in Brussels, […]

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03
Sep

Take Action: Help Save the Amazon Rainforest — #BoycottBrazilianFood

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2019) Brazil’s environment is under siege, as President Jair Bolsonaro has approved hundreds of new toxic pesticides this year and gutted watchdog environment agencies. Among the many dreadful results, news reports indicate that between December 2018 and March 2019, Brazilian beekeepers found more than 500 million dead bees. As the Amazon burns, Indigenous activists are calling on the world to help, and Beyond Pesticides is responding by promoting a boycott started by a Swedish supermarket owner: #BoycottBrazilianFood. Pledge to #BoycottBrazilianFood, and ask major U.S. supermarkets to do the same. The Amazon rainforest is the world’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink, and home both to the planet’s richest biodiversity and approximately 400 indigenous tribes. The country has 2300 pesticides registered for use; a total of 290 new toxic pesticides have been approved as of late August 2019. Swedish supermarket owner Johannes Cullberg started an international boycott in response to Brazil’s approval and use of hazardous pesticides in food production. #BoycottBrazilianFood began in June of 2019 when the total of newly registered pesticides stood at 197. Cullburg declared, “We need to stop (the president) Bolsonaro, he’s a maniac.” The boycott prompted a response from the Brazilian embassy, stating, “…the Embassy wishes to inform […]

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22
Aug

European Regulators Issue Warning on Danger of Chlorpyrifos Prior to Release of Full Review

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2019) In early August, experts from European Union (EU) member states and staff members of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced their conclusion that chlorpyrifos fails to meet criteria for renewed approval for use, potentially moving the EU a step closer to an outright ban. This ends the green light that chlorpyrifos (and its structurally close cousin, chlorpyrifos-methyl) have enjoyed at the EU level since 2006. That permitting is set to expire in January of 2020, although eight member states — Germany, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia — had already either banned or never authorized chlorpyrifos use in their countries. In the U.S., states are picking up the slack on efforts against chlorpyrifos use as, in the tenure of the current administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has chosen to protect industry rather than human health and the environment. The step EFSA took was unusual in that the agency does not typically publish findings before ongoing peer reviews are completed. EUObserver.com reports that EFSA’s public statement was triggered by a July 2019 EU request for information “on the available outcomes of the human health assessment in the context of the pesticides peer […]

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01
Aug

Brazil Approves 262 New Hazardous Pesticides, Makes Death Sole Criteria for Toxicity

(Beyond Pesticides, August 1, 2019) Last month, the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture approved the registration of 51 additional hazardous pesticides and brought the total to 262 newly approved pesticides this year. Moreover, Brazil’s health surveillance agency, Anvisa, approved new rules that establish risk of death as the singular criteria for determining toxicity of pesticides. Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit that conducts local investigations, reports that the government has simultaneously been unresponsive to incidents of pesticide poisoning. Brazil’s president, Jair Boslonoro, is known for his far-right politics, and has been accused of corruption, scandals, and disregard for the environment. This rapid registration of novel pesticides is unprecedented in Brazil. Many of the products are generic versions of existing formulas, with government officials seeking to lower the price of pesticides. Products include insecticides with the active ingredient sulfoxaflor, a bee-toxic pesticide that has also recently gained traction in the U.S. despite pushback from beekeepers and environmentalists. While an American license for a pesticide, for example, lasts 15 years, Brazilian registration of pesticides never expires. Generic products lower the price barrier to amplified use of these interminable, toxic pesticides. In 1989, Brazil established one of the toughest pesticide laws in the world that […]

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19
Jul

Report Calls for Radical Transformation of Food and Agricultural Production System

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2019) A high-level, nongovernmental commission in the United Kingdom (UK) — the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) Food, Farming and Countryside Commission — has just released an important report: Our Future in the Land. As reported by The Guardian, “The true cost of cheap, unhealthy food is a spiralling public health crisis and environmental destruction.” The commission’s report calls for radical transformation of the UK food and agricultural system, by 2030, to sustainable, agroecological farming, and establishes steps to launch the process. A notable one of those steps is the creation of a nonprofit National Agroecology Development Bank to hasten and enable a fair and sustainable transition of a complex system. The commission also published a Field Guide to the Future, which it describes as a “practical guide, with interviews and stories from the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s work across the UK, [including] case studies of good practice and stories of change [that] hint at a better future.” Our Future in the Land declares, “Our future depends on the land. The land nourishes and supports us. It provides for our nutrition, our health and our wellbeing. Food and […]

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28
Jun

Swiss Government Challenged by United Nations for Human Rights Violations Associated with Pesticide Use and Actions of Pesticide Companies

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2019) As is the case in many countries, the conversation about the use of pesticides has been especially vigorous in the past few years. Switzerland is a case in point: it is undergoing deep scrutiny of pesticide use, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, has now said publicly that pesticide companies’ behavior is “seriously deficient” regarding human rights (especially those of children), and that the Swiss government should act more aggressively to phase out use of these hazardous chemicals. Recently, the pesticide conversation has ratcheted up several notches, not only in the U.S., but also globally, due to greater public awareness of the health and environmental threats of pesticide use, more and more research underscoring those threats, and pointedly, the cascade of litigation against Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) for harm to individuals who have used its glyphosate-based products. Public awareness in Switzerland is also mounting in response to global developments, to recent discoveries that small streams in Swiss agricultural areas are heavily polluted with pesticides, and to broadening recognition that pesticides are linked to a plethora of harms to human health, pollinators, water, farmworkers, wildlife, ecosystems and biodiversity, and more. In 2017, a UN […]

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26
Jun

Colorado Couple Sues Dominican Resort for Pesticide Poisoning

(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2019)  “We were drooling excessively. My eyes would not stop watering,” Kaylynn Knull said to Denver ABC7, after she and her boyfriend filed suit against a Dominican Republic resort they claimed poisoned them with toxic pesticides. This year, the same resort, the Grand Bajia Principe, has had three Americans die on its premises. This is not the first time an island resort has been implicated in improper, potentially illegal pesticide use. In 2015, a family of four was poisoned by Terminix after the highly toxic fumigant methyl bromide was applied in a nearby room seeped in while they slept. Ms. Knull told ABC7 that the couple’s symptoms began after rejecting a time share offer at the resort. “As soon as we came back to the room, we noticed it smelled like somebody had dumped paint everywhere. I was having the worst intestinal cramping I have ever experienced. It felt like a chainsaw going through my gut.” The couple booked the first flight off the island, and went to a doctor, who diagnosed them with “Likely Organophosphate poisoning.” Organophosphates are acutely toxic insecticides that bind to and block the transmission of the acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme important to […]

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06
Jun

Pesticide Use Kills Off Mosquito Predators Faster than Target Mosquitoes

(Beyond Pesticides, June 6, 2019) Pesticide use eliminates pest predators and permits mosquito populations to flourish, according to research conducted in Costa Rica by scientists at Utah State University. The new study, “Adaptation to agricultural pesticides may allow mosquitoes to avoid predators and colonize novel ecosystems,” highlights the dangers of human intervention through broad scale pesticide applications, and the urgent need to consider ecosystem-wide impacts before allowing chemicals to be placed on the market. As lead study author Edd Hammill, PhD, told National Geographic, the investigation got its start after he observed higher numbers of mosquitoes in orange groves he was visiting, when compared to other, non-agricultural areas. “We felt like we were getting a lot more mosquito bites in plantations than in pristine areas and started to wonder why,” noted Dr. Hammill. The study focuses first on the role that bromeliads, a tropical flowering plant that grows on tree branches, play in affecting mosquito populations. Mosquitoes use the water that these plants catch in between their leaves to lay eggs. Many other species are found to lay eggs within the leaves, including the top-level predator in this system, the damselfly. Dr. Hammill’s team looked at community composition within bromeliad […]

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10
May

UN Brings Together 145 Experts, 50 Countries, 15,000 Studies, Documents Accelerating Biodiversity Loss Threatening All Life; Ecosystem Protections Urgently Needed

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2019) The Earth, its natural systems, and as many as a million species are at enormous risk from human activity, says a new assessment from the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity project — the IPBES Global Assessment Summary for Policymakers. The net finding might be expressed as: humans are not immune from the sequelae of biodiversity loss; the ecosystem functions on which human lives depend are in increasingly dire straits. The 1,500-page report, convened by IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), is the most comprehensive look to date at the biodiversity crisis and its implications for human civilization. A summary of the report’s findings, approved by representatives from the U.S. and other member countries, was released in Paris on May 6; the complete report is expected later in 2019. It is of note and commendable that the summary, though lengthy, is digestible for a lay audience. IPBES is an intergovernmental body of 132 member states, established in 2012, that assesses the state of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services such diversity provides to societies. The group also provides reporting to policymakers on those assessments, and on the dynamics (i.e., causes and impacts) between human […]

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08
Apr

Focus on Pesticide Bans Continues in U.S. and EU, While Toxic Pesticide Use Continues

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2019) Officials in Europe and the U.S. focus on banning problem pesticides, raising concerns about their replacements in the face of pesticide-intensive management strategies, while organic advocates call for a systems change in land management. In reference to widespread community bans of Roundup/glyphosate, Cary Gillam, author of Whitewash, told last year’s Beyond Pesticides’ Forum, “Glyphosate is the poster child for the bigger pesticide problem.” She continues, “If it goes away tomorrow, we are not okay.” Because of this, Beyond Pesticides has strategically sought to transform our country’s approach to pest management, both agricultural and residential/structural, by eliminating a reliance on pesticides and advancing organic management practices that do not rely on toxic inputs. This Daily News Blog post offers updates on progress in the European Union (EU), in the U.S. Congress, and in communities and sates nationwide. The EU is poised to ban clorothalanil, a commonly used — and highly toxic — organochlorine fungicide, The Guardian reported, in mid-to-late May 2019. After a review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), EU states voted to approve a ban. EFSA identified as a chief safety concern the possibility that breakdown products (metabolites) of the compound may cause damage […]

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04
Apr

European Regulators Ban Carcinogenic, Frog-Killing Fungicide

(Beyond Pesticides, April 4, 2019) Contamination of drinking water with toxic breakdown products and risks to fish and and amphibians has led to a ban on the fungicide chlorothalonil in the European Union (EU). While the pesticide will be out of use in the EU next decade, tens of millions of pounds will continue to be sprayed throughout the U.S. unless regulators take action quickly. “The [chlorothalonil ban] is based on [the European Food Safety Authority’s] EFSA’s scientific assessment which concluded that the approval criteria do not seem to be satisfied for a wide range of reasons,” a spokeswoman for the European Commission told The Guardian. “Great concerns are raised in relation to contamination of groundwater by metabolites of the substance.” EFSA’s review of chlorothalonil categorized it as a 1B carcinogen, meaning it “may cause cancer,” with the most significant risk found for kidney cancer based on laboratory animal studies. Further research was needed into many of the metabolites (break-down substances) created when chlorothalonil degrades. However, regulators determined enough data was present to conclude that these breakdown substances may be genotoxic, with the potential to damage DNA and lead to cancer. European regulators also identified a high acute risk to […]

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12
Mar

Deadly Dioxin, An Agent Orange By-Product, Continues to Contaminate Vietnam

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2019) Fifty years after the end of the Vietnam War, the Agent Orange byproduct dioxin continues to contaminate Vietnam’s soils and wildlife, and subsequently affect human health. In their review, scientists at Iowa State and the University of Illinois focus on the locations where hot spots and contaminated sediments have persisted after 130,000 fifty-five gallons drums of toxic herbicides were sprayed over Vietnam’s farm fields and jungle canopies during the war. “Existing Agent Orange and dioxin research is primarily medical in nature, focusing on the details of human exposure primarily through skin contact and long-term health effects on U.S. soldiers,” says Ken Olson, PhD, co-author on the article. “In this paper, we examine the short and long-term environmental effects on the Vietnamese natural resource base and how persistence of dioxin continues to affect soils, water, sediment, fish, aquatic species, the food supply, and Vietnamese health.” While public attention has generally focused on the “rainbow herbicides,” such as Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam war, it is the dioxin TCDD (2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzodioxin), a byproduct of Agent Orange’s manufacturing process, that has caused the most lasting damage within the country. While the breakdown period for Agent Orange herbicides 2,4-D […]

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14
Feb

Bavarians Gather Enough Petition Signatures to Advance Legislation to Save the Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2019) Over the course of the last two weeks in Bavaria – a southern state of Germany – locals rallied in an effort to save the bees. Braving the cold in eye-catching bee outfits, a broad coalition of activists collected over a million signatures (the necessary 10% of the state’s eligible voters) to move a petition into legislature. The petition pushes forward changes in farming practices to support pollinators; while bees are the charismatic champion of the campaign, changes will support biodiversity in general. Now that signatures are gathered, the state parliament has three months to handle citizens’ requests. Then, parliament can either accept the proposal as is or put it to a statewide referendum. In a statewide referendum, there will be a “yes” or “no” vote by a simple majority, with government bound by the result. A central motion within the petition is to increase percentage of organic farmland from 10% to 30% by 2030. This number is based on the global movement to conserve 30% of the world by 2030 in order to avoid environmental catastrophe. Proponents of the petition suggest that the demand for organic products is higher than current Bavarian capabilities, and that the […]

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12
Feb

Study Predicts Demise of Insects within Decades if Pesticide Dependence Continues

(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2019) A new systematic review of insect population studies worldwide reports on “the dreadful state of insect biodiversity in the world, as almost half of the species are rapidly declining and a third are being threatened with extinction.” The study concludes with the dire prediction that insects as a whole will go extinct in the next few decades if patterns of intensive agriculture, in particular pesticide use, continue. The review, published in Biological Conservation, analyzes 73 insect population studies conducted within the past 40 years, filtered to include only those that quantitatively assess all insect species within a taxa over a span of 10 or more years. Researchers Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, PhD and Kris A.G. Wyckhuys, PhD uncover the disturbing truth behind this mass of data: one in every three insect species monitored worldwide is threatened with extinction. Even more concerning is the finding that 41% of insect species worldwide are in decline, outpacing the more well-publicized vertebrate declines by 200%. Only a few species are expanding in range or occupying vacant niches – not nearly enough to compensate for the massive losses. In 8% of the studies in the review, citizen science data is analyzed in […]

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