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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'International' Category


12
Oct

Stop Ag Secretary Vilsack from Undermining Climate Initiative to Transition Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2021) Tell President Biden and Congress that there is no room for agriculture policies that are not in line with the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review. USDA must remove all barriers to a national transition to organic agriculture. One of President Biden’s first actions, on the day of his inauguration, was the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review, requiring the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This mandate should reverse the trend of regulatory review, which has so far protected the status quo, rather than advancing urgently needed change. Why, then, do we see Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack opposing moves in the direction laid out by the Presidential directive? A recent Mother Jones article by Tom Philpott focuses on Mr. Vilsack’s opposition to the “Farm to Fork” initiative in the European Union, which aims to “push the continent’s agriculture in a healthier, more resilient direction, to reduce the use of toxic chemicals […]

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08
Oct

Ag Secretary Vilsack Pushes Petroleum Farming Inputs, Fights EU’s Climate-Friendly Organic “Food to Fork’ Initiative

(Beyond Pesticides, October 8, 2021) Taking a page from the playbook of Trump Administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the current secretary, Tom Vilsack, used a September G20 summit in Italy to target the European Union’s “Farm to Fork” (F2F) strategy, a part of its European Green Deal. Mr. Perdue had said that F2F is “more . . . ‘political science’ than demonstrated agricultural science”; Secretary Vilsack called it “a path very different from the one the U.S. is pursuing.” The F2F initiative aims to transition the EU to a sustainable food system such that it also achieves significant mitigation of climate change. But Mr. Vilsack chose to counter the F2F efforts by promoting an “alternative strategy” — under the moniker “Coalition for Productivity Growth” — through which “other nations pledge not to follow the European path on farm policy.” He has described this alternative, U.S.-led strategy as “a market-oriented, incentive-based, voluntary system [that] is effective” at slashing agricultural carbon emissions. Climate, pesticide, organics, and other environmental and health advocates, including Beyond Pesticides, are troubled by these actions. Mother Jones poses the central question in the headline of its September 30 article: Why is Secretary Vilsack So Afraid of a Plan to Cut […]

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20
Sep

We Must End the Sixth Extinction

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2021) Scientists warn that humanity is causing the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. A series of reports from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) highlights how human activities threaten the healthy functioning of ecosystems that produce food and water, as well as one million species now at risk of extinction. The UNEP report, Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss, identifies the global food system as the primary driver of biodiversity loss. The report points to the conversion of natural ecosystems to crop production and pasture, with concomitant use of toxic chemicals, monoculture, and production of greenhouse gases.  In view of the many steps that have been identified to stop both biodiversity loss and global climate change, it is beyond disappointing to see our “Environmental Protection Agency” continuing to allow use of chemicals that it recognizes will contribute to the problems. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the international legal instrument for “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.” It has been ratified by 196 nations—all the members of the United Nations […]

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17
Aug

Global Review Identifies Key Drivers of Pollinator Decline, Threat for Humanity

(Beyond Pesticides, August 17, 2021) “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.” This quote is often attributed to Albert Einstein (although its true origins are unknown), but it begs an important question: What are the consequences to humankind of a world where pollinators are rapidly declining? Modern-day scientists have begun to explore that question, and a group of 20 experts recently published a global-scale assessment of the risks associated with the ongoing worldwide decline of pollinator populations in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. While the study experts do not provide such a dire time frame, the message unfortunately is not too far off from the Einstein-attributed quote. “What happens to pollinators could have huge knock-on effects for humanity,” said lead study author Lynn Dicks, PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK. “These small creatures play central roles in the world’s ecosystems, including many that humans and other animals rely on for nutrition. If they go, we may be in serious trouble.” With a study objective of identifying the key drivers and implications for global pollinator decline, a group of 20 pollinator experts from throughout the world […]

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11
Jun

Switzerland to Hold Landmark Vote on Nationwide Ban of All Synthetic Pesticides June 13

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2021) On Sunday, June 13, Switzerland will hold a national vote on two landmark initiatives related to pesticide use (as well as several referenda). The vote on one initiative, dubbed by advocates “For a Switzerland Free of Synthetic Pesticides” (FSFSP), will determine whether or not the country will ban synthetic pesticides. If it does, it will become the first European nation to do so. The other initiative, which aims to eliminate direct subsidies of farmers who use synthetic pesticides or antibiotics for livestock, is focused on improving the quality of Switzerland’s drinking water and food supply. Beyond Pesticides covered the grassroots origin of the Swiss “no synthetic pesticides” initiative in 2018 and sees potential passage of both it and the water quality initiative as a watershed moment in the protection of health and the environment. These measures would go a long way to protecting and improving the health of humans and ecosystems, and the food supply, as well as protecting biodiversity in Switzerland. It could also — as advocates hope — encourage other European countries to follow suit. This vote has been scheduled, in part, as an outcome of a 2018 petition by the advocacy group, Future3, […]

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14
May

General Release of Honey Bees Threatens Wild Native Bee Populations and Ecosystems

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2021) In a prime example of cart-before-the-horse, greenwashing, or perhaps “beewashing,” a British company has badly missed the mark in its latest attempt to market a product while “doing good” and generating goodwill with customers. As The Guardian reports, Marks & Spencer, the giant United Kingdom (UK) retailer, is releasing 30 million managed honey bees into rural British landscapes in what the company is promoting as an effort to support biodiversity and the beekeeping sector. However, according to experts and environmental advocates, unleashing that many honey bees may well actually harm both wild native bees and honey bees themselves. Critics of the move say this means that wild bees will likely face fiercer competition for already inadequate food sources. Beyond Pesticides adds that these honey bees have been dispatched to the same pesticide-contaminated habitats in which existing bee populations of all kinds face harmful exposures — exacerbating issues surrounding pollinator decline rather than solving them. Marks & Spencer’s Twitter marketing promotes the project in this way: “Did you know that bees contribute to a third of the food we eat? At M&S, we’re introducing more than 30 million bees to our Select Farms to help protect the […]

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11
May

Bayer Loses Bid to Overturn Neonicotinoid Ban in Europe

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2021) Last week, multinational agrichemical company Bayer Cropscience lost its bid to overturn a 2018 ban on bee-toxic neonicotinoids throughout the European Union. The ruling from the European Court of Justice rejected all grounds on which the company filed its appeal, noting, “It must be held that the arguments put forward by Bayer CropScience cannot, in any event, succeed.” In denying the appeal, the court ruled Bayer responsible for paying its own legal fees, as well as the fees of environmental organizations that intervened to defend the ban. Environmental groups are applauding the ruling, as it reinforces several important aspects of the EU’s pesticide policy that favor greater public health and environmental protections. In an interview with EURACTIV, policy officer Martin Dermine at Pesticide Action Network Europe notes that the decision provides more leeway for pesticide regulators to consider new scientific evidence on pesticide hazards. “More than that,” he told EURACTIV, “the Court confirms the definition of the precautionary principle:  in case of doubts on the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission is entitled to ban it.” Pesticide regulators in Europe began restricting neonicotinoids in 2013, when a continent-wide moratorium was put in place based […]

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14
Apr

Lawsuits Mount for Syngenta/ChemChina Over Claims Paraquat Herbicide Causing Parkinson’s Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2021) Litigation on the highly toxic herbicide paraquat may soon move into its next phase as lawyers representing victims recently requested cases be consolidated in the federal district court of Northern California. Over a dozen lawsuits have been filed against the Swiss-based agrichemical corporation Syngenta in several states throughout the U.S. The complaints allege that exposure to Syngenta herbicides containing paraquat resulted in their diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Paraquat dichloride (paraquat) is a highly toxic herbicide that has been registered for use in the United States since 1964. Although not permitted for residential use, the product is registered on a wide range of agricultural land, from row crops to vegetables and trees, and on non-farm areas, including airports, certain industrial sites and commercial buildings. It can be used as a preemergent, post-emergent, and post-harvest as a desiccant or harvest aid in the field. The lawsuits target both Syngenta and Chevron corporation, which previously held the rights to sell paraquat in the 1960s under an agreement with a company that was eventually purchased by Syngenta. Syngenta itself, while still headquartered in Switzerland, is now owned by the Chinese National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) after a 2016 merger. Despite […]

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07
Apr

Toxic Pesticides Are Polluting Over Half of Arable Land, Reinforcing Need for Global Organic Transition

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2021) Toxic pesticides are putting more than half of the Earth’s farmland at risk of pesticide pollution that contaminates water, harms biodiversity, and ultimately undermines food security, according to research published in Nature Geosciences last month.  While there is firm understanding that environmental crises like climate change are affecting the entire globe, the impacts of pesticide pollution are often thought of as local, or regional issues. This study, led by researchers based at the University of Sydney, Australia, underscores the wide-ranging effects of modern civilization’s global dependence on toxic pesticide use. “Although protecting food production is essential for human development, reducing pesticide pollution is equivalently crucial to protect the biodiversity that maintains soil health and functions, contributing towards food security,” said lead study author Fiona Tang, PhD. To better understand pesticide risks at a global scale, scientists sectioned a world map into 10×10 kilometer (6.2×6.2 mile) squares that were assessed for their pesticide risk. The map also included data relating to water scarcity, biodiversity, and national income, to better determine trends and hot spots of concern. Scientists evaluated 92 different pesticide active ingredients and determined their risk within each square on the map based upon information […]

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24
Mar

Kenyan Farmers Are Resorting to Hand Pollination After Pesticide Use Kills Off Local Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2021) The worst predictions of scientists and advocates are playing out in the fields of eastern Kenya, as chemical-intensive farming there threatens the future of food production. According to Radio France Internationale (RFI), Kenyan farmers have resorted to pollinating their crops by hand after pesticide use killed off most of the pollinators they rely on. “We are mostly affected by pesticides because they have killed most pollinators which pollinate our crops—this has affected our food production compared to previous years,” said Joseph Mbithi, a farmer in Mbakoni village, Makueni County, Kenya to RFI. Crop yields in the region have tapered off over the last two years, and farmers like Mr. Mbithi are pointing to pesticide use as the cause, citing past reliance on the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) and the organophosphate insecticide malathion. “Pollinators such as bees and butterflies are not around due to chemicals which we spray in our farms,” he told RFI.   As a result, farmers are using toothbrushes and sponges as a substitute for the buzzing work of local pollinators. And it’s more complicated than one may think. ‘’The flowers are different in shape and are different in sizes. The male one is […]

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26
Feb

Current and Projected Patterns of Global Pesticide and Fertilizer Use Are Not Sustainable, Says UN. . .Again

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2021) The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the environment arm of the highest-profile international organization (the UN), has issued a draft report whose top finding is this: “The global goal to minimize adverse impacts of chemicals and waste by 2020 has not been achieved for pesticides and fertilizers.” Increased use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers — driven by rising demand for food, feed, fiber, fuel, and feedstock crops — is cited as causal, at least in part. Those factors no doubt contributed to the failure, but Beyond Pesticides asserts that such increased uses are symptomatic of the larger issue: in the U.S. and globally, chemical agriculture is a dangerous dead-end for public and environmental health. According to Beyond Pesticides: With this dominant system in place, “reductions” in use and impact are laudable but wholly insufficient. The whole system of petrochemical farming needs to be transitioned to organic, regenerative practices in agriculture, and in all land management. Such systems do not cause health and environmental harms, but are beneficent, viable, and profitable. The report warns that, going forward, “Business-as-usual is not an option.” The UNEP draft report was produced just ahead of the fifth session of the UN Environment […]

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17
Feb

In Cahoots with Pesticide Industry, Former U.S. Officials Try to Stop Mexico from Banning Glyphosate, But Fail

(Beyond Pesticides, February 17, 2021) New details are emerging around the pressure campaign Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his administration withstood as the country moved towards banning Bayer/Monsanto’s glyphosate (Roundup) herbicide. According to documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request and published in the Guardian, U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) worked in coordination with Bayer/Monsanto and the agrichemical industry umbrella group Croplife America to stop the Mexican government from embracing a precautionary approach to pesticide regulation. While the Trump administration and its collaborators were successful in a similar campaign against Thailand, there are no indications that Mexico will rescind its final decision to ban glyphosate, made at the end of last year. Health and environmental advocates want the Biden administration to not only halt the regular use of the United States’ immense global power on embarrassing flacking for the agrichemical industry, but reverse course, and embrace a truly precautionary approach. Croplife and the rest of the agrichemical industry are terrified of that outcome. In a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, copying the heads of USDA and EPA, Croplife President Chris Novak wrote of Mexico’s decision, […]

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20
Nov

Flea Treatment Pesticides Found to Contaminate Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2020) Many pet owners likely do not consider what is actually in the flea treatments they administer to their animals. That should change, and recent research demonstrates why. Scientists sampling rivers in England found extreme contamination with two neurotoxic pesticides commonly used in flea products for dogs and cats: fipronil and the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. In many instances, the concentrations in the waterways were far higher than accepted “safe” levels. Though these compounds are banned for agricultural uses in the United Kingdom (UK), risk assessment for them, as used on animals, has been minimal because of the assumption that the amounts used for veterinary treatments would mean far-less-significant environmental impact than might be expected with agricultural-scale use. This research out of the University of Sussex voids that assumption, and the researchers recommend “re-evaluation of the environmental risks posed by pet parasite products, and a reappraisal of the risk assessments that these products undergo prior to regulatory approval.”   Apart from being an active ingredient in flea treatments for pets, fipronil is used in insect baits, and in turf management and agriculture in the U.S. It is highly toxic to insects, including bees, to birds, and to aquatic invertebrates. […]

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30
Oct

New European Union Looks at Chemical Mixtures

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2020) The European Union (EU) adopted, in mid-October, a new strategy on chemicals — including pesticides — that seeks to deal with their combined (synergistic) and cumulative impacts on human and environmental health. A highlight of the new strategy is the acceleration of work, already begun across the EU, to address the “chemical cocktail” impacts of pesticides and other chemicals. Human exposures to such “cocktails” can happen through use of multiple different agricultural pesticides that can persist as residues on food, and via industrial processes and consumer products. Beyond Pesticides has insisted for years that, here in the states, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been way behind the eight ball in dealing with the potential synergistic and cumulative impacts of the pesticides its registers for use. Advocates have argued that the agency must be far more rigorous in evaluating impacts of exposures to multiple pesticides, as well as cumulative impacts. The toxicity problem the EU seeks to address is that interacting chemicals can have synergistic effects, even at very low levels — effects greater than and/or different from the expected impacts of each chemical per se. Pesticides can also have cumulative “toxic loading” effects in both […]

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06
Oct

Pesticide Trade Group Wrote U.S. Government Policy to Undermine International Efforts to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2020) Despite the rapid rise of antibiotic resistance in the United States and throughout the world, new documents find the Trump Administration worked on behalf of a chemical industry trade group to weaken international guidelines aimed at slowing the crisis. Emails obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity through the Freedom of Information Act show that officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) worked to downplay the role of industrial agriculture and pesticide use in drug-resistant infections. “From everything we’ve seen, it’s clear that this administration believes rolling back regulations and protecting industry profits is more important than protecting public health,” said Nathan Donley, PhD, senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, to the New York Times (NYT). “But what these emails show is that the Department of Agriculture isn’t just soliciting their input. They’re seeking their approval on what the government’s position should be.” Ray McAllister, PhD, of the pesticide industry trade group Croplife America, sent an email in March of 2018 to U.S. officials, wanting to “make certain” that the United Nation’s (UN) Codex Alimentarius, a set of international guidelines and standards established to protect consumer health, made no mention of how […]

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29
Sep

Biological Management Has Added Billions in Benefits to Agricultural Economies

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2020) While the green revolution is often heralded in conventional agriculture circles as the key agricultural innovation of the last century, new research finds that biological controls likely had a bigger beneficial impact on world crop production. The study, Ecological Pest Control Fortifies Agricultural Growth in Asia–Pacific Economies, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, makes the case that the introduction of predators to manage non-native pest species was just as important as the introduction of new cereal grain varieties. “Our work constitutes an empirical demonstration of how insect biological control helped solidify the agrarian foundation of several Asia-Pacific economies and, in doing so, places biological control on an equal footing with other biological innovations such as Green Revolution germplasm,” said study co-author Michael Furlong, PhD, of the University of Queensland, Australia. The study, focusing in on the Asia-Pacific region between 1918-2018, relied primarily on the BIOCAT database, a record cataloging “classical biological control” introductions. Of 252 unique interventions reviewed within individual countries, pest predators established themselves in 96. Of those roughly 4 in 10 introductions that were able to maintain populations over the long term, 48% achieved full or partial pest control. The success of these […]

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25
Sep

Where Do Pesticides Banned in Europe Go? Mostly to Poorer Countries, While Two-Thirds of Those Sent to Richer Counties Head for the U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, September 25, 2020) An investigation has revealed that companies in the United Kingdom (UK), as well as in some European Union (EU) countries, are exporting massive amounts of pesticides — banned in their own jurisdictions — to poorer countries. More than 89,000 (U.S.) tons of such pesticides were exported in 2018, largely to countries where toxic pesticide use poses the greatest risks. The UK has been the largest exporter (15,000+ tons, or 40% of the total in 2018); other significant exporters include the Netherlands, France, Spain, German, Switzerland, and Belgium. Among the countries receiving the bulk of these dangerous pesticides are Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia, and Ukraine. Despite a flurry of attention to this problem in the U.S. in the early 2000s, little has changed, worldwide, to stop this practice of selling domestically banned pesticide products to parts of the world that continue to allow their use. This is an unethical practice that compounds the risks to workers in developing countries, who already endure heighted threats to health and local ecosystems. The investigation was conducted by Unearthed, a Greenpeace UK journalism arm, and Public Eye, a Swiss NGO (non-governmental organization) that investigates human rights abuses by Swiss companies. The collaborators […]

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23
Sep

Bayer Coordinated with U.S. Government on Pressure Campaign to Stop Thailand from Banning Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2020) Multinational agrichemical corporation Bayer coordinated with the U.S. government to pressure Thailand to drop plans to ban glyphosate use, according to documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). CBD is now suing the Trump Administration after it refused to release additional documents pertaining to the pressure campaign. The incident is the latest example of an administration that has allowed corporate interests to dictate American governmental action on toxic pesticides. The documents reveal that the October 2019 letter that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Ted McKinney sent to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pushing back on the country’s plan to ban glyphosate came shortly after emails Bayer sent to U.S. officials. In September and October 2019, Bayer’s Jim Travis asked the U.S. to act on its behalf in defense of the company’s glyphosate products. Emails reveal that Mr. Travis also collected intelligence on the personal motivations of Thailand’s deputy agriculture minister, including whether she was “a diehard advocate of organic food; and/or staunch environmentalist who eschews all synthetic chemical applications.” Reports indicate that the U.S. government brought up the issue of glyphosate during trade talks in the context of considerations to revoke Thailand’s […]

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16
Sep

The Way Humans Alter the Environment Increases the Prevalence of Disease Carrying Mosquitoes

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2020) Disease carrying mosquitoes are more likely to flourish in areas being altered by human activities, according to new research published by scientists at Oregon State University. With climate change facilitating the spread of mosquitoes into new regions throughout the world, it is critical to understand the drivers of mosquito-borne disease in order to establish effective mitigation measures. “People care a lot about what environment a lion needs to succeed in; we’ve researched that extensively. But people don’t do that with mosquitoes. We don’t understand them as a group of species and how their ecology differs between species,” said study co-author Brianna Beechler, PhD, a disease ecologist and assistant professor of research in Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine. Authors of the study note that most mosquito collection occurs opportunistically, with samples taken at known mosquito breeding sites. To better understand mosquito spatial ecology, scientists conducted paired sampling at locations inside and outside South Africa’s Kruger National Park, the largest nature preserve in the country. Each sample location inside the park was paired with another sample from a similar location (in terms of landscape and climatic conditions) in developing areas outside of the park. […]

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15
Sep

Primates, Both Wild and Captive, Are Being Exposed to Toxic Pesticides and Flame Retardants

(Beyond Pesticides, September 15, 2020) Both wild and captive primates are being exposed to hazardous pesticides and flame retardants, according to research published this month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. This is the first study to look at the threat anthropogenic (man-made) chemicals may present for this important order of animals. “We think a lot about habitat disturbance, logging, and hunting as threats to these species, while pollution has been overlooked,” study co-author Michael Wasserman, told Environmental Health News (EHN). Scientists conducted their research by first obtaining fecal samples from three distinct primate populations: captive baboons from an Indiana zoo, wild howler monkeys from a research station in Costa Rica, and wild chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, and red colobus monkeys from a Ugandan national park. Samples were then tested for a range of chemicals, including 50 pesticides, and nearly 70 flame retardants. Scientists discovered legacy pesticides (such as heptachlor, DDT, hexachlorohexane, chlordane, and related compounds) in every species tested, with the highest levels found in red colobus and red-tailed monkeys. In particular, DDT and its related compounds (DDD and DDE) were found to be widespread, with red colobus monkeys registering a median of 260 ppb DDE in its waste. […]

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08
Sep

Take Action by Sept. 13: Tell Canada to Ban Horrifically Hazardous Wood Preservative Pentachlorophenol

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2020) Canada should be in accordance with international treaty to eliminate persistent pollutants.  Canada is considering the elimination of one of the worst persistent pollutants—pentachlorophenol (penta)—that dot our landscape in utility poles and railroad ties. This wood preservative—a cancer-causing chemical with dioxin, furans, and hexachlorobenzene that causes health and environmental degradation—has no place in society as we struggle with shared global challenges of public and worker health threats, the climate crisis, and biodiversity decline. We have a chance to urge Canada to move ahead with a pentachlorophenol ban, joining with Mexico to show leadership in the protection of health and the environment—something the U.S. has not done. Tell Canada to ban pentachlorophenol. Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is accepting comments on a proposal to ban the all uses of penta in Canada. Comments are due September 13. Canada is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which voted 90-2 to ban penta in 2015. The United States is not a signatory to the Stockholm Convention and still allows the use of penta on utility poles and other “wood that is subject to decay or insect infestation, including supporting structures in contact with […]

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26
Aug

Neonicotinoids Harm Shrimp and Oyster Health, Decrease Nutritional Value

(Beyond Pesticides, August 26, 2020) Neonicotinoid insecticides damage the health of shrimp and oysters, according to two (1, 2) new studies published by Australian researchers. Although this class of chemicals is best known for its hazardous impacts on pollinator populations, it is becoming increasingly clear that the entire food chain is at risk from continued neonicotinoid use. This study builds on an already established body of literature showing these systemic chemicals poison waterways. Researchers began by collecting samples of shrimp and oysters from growers along the coast, and acclimating the species to laboratory conditions. Both collections were separated into different test groups. Oysters where exposed in their tanks to various concentrations of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. Shrimp were exposed to imidacloprid through two methods: in their feed, and in their tanks. Each separate test group was further separated into high and low exposures. A control group that did not receive any pesticide exposure was also established in each experiment. For the oyster populations, scientists found a range of negative effects. Imidacloprid inhibits the proper functioning of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, a well-known impact of many pesticides that results in damage to the nervous system. Detoxification mechanisms are activated, and changes are observed […]

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12
Aug

Atrazine Found to Harm Marsupial Health

(Beyond Pesticides, August 12, 2020) The herbicide atrazine can interfere with the health and reproduction of marsupials (including kangaroos and opossums) kangaroo, Virginia opossum, according to research published in the journal Reproduction, Fertility, and Development. Although the research focuses on the health of the Australian wallaby, the data is relevant for the only marsupial in the United States, the opossum. Unfortunately, the research is no surprise, as atrazine has a long history of displaying endocrine (hormone) disrupting properties, affecting sex and reproduction in a broad range of species. The study, under the auspices of University of Melbourne Animal Experimentation and Ethics Committee, exposed pregnant female adult wallabies to atrazine through gestation, birth, and lactation. Doses of the weedkiller were slightly higher than real world models, but according to researchers, “It is quite possible a wild animal could get such an exposure.” Researchers then euthanized the newborn wallabies to study atrazine’s effects. The gonads and phallus of young wallabies were analyzed for any physiological changes or impacts to gene expression. Researchers found changes to the gene expression necessary for basic function of the testis, and a significant reduction in phallus length. “These results demonstrate that [atrazine] exposure during gestation and lactation can […]

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