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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'International' Category


27
Jul

Monarchs Listed as Endangered by International Safety Group, while U.S. Fails to Take Meaningful Action

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2022) As monarch butterfly numbers continue to drop throughout the United States, an international conservation group is listing the migratory monarch butterfly as endangered. The move by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) places pressure on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to prioritize protections for this rapidly dwindling iconic species. “Today’s Red List update highlights the fragility of nature’s wonders, such as the unique spectacle of monarch butterflies migrating across thousands of kilometres,” said Bruno Oberle, PhD, IUCN Director General. “To preserve the rich diversity of nature we need effective, fairly governed protected and conserved areas, alongside decisive action to tackle climate change and restore ecosystems. In turn, conserving biodiversity supports communities by providing essential services such as food, water and sustainable jobs.” Migratory monarch butterflies are under threat from a range of factors harming both their western and eastern populations. Logging and deforestation have destroyed much of their overwintering grounds in Mexico and California. Climate change has subjected the butterflies to temperature anomalies and extremes, severe weather, and wildfires. Herbicide use has eliminated millions of acres of breeding habitat by killing off milkweed plants that monarchs require to rear their […]

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25
Jul

Help Stop Collapse of Ocean Life, Part of the Biodiversity Decline Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2022) We have seen pesticide use, habitat destruction, and climate change result in dramatic losses of insect biodiversity and biomass—an “insect apocalypse” that is resulting in cascading impacts on other species that depend on them. A preliminary report on two years of water sampling from sites in the Atlantic Ocean near the United Kingdom (UK), by a team from the Global Oceanic Environmental Survey Foundation (GOES), suggests that plankton populations may have plummeted by 90% since baseline 1940 levels. Just as insects are crucial as the basis of terrestrial ecosystems, plankton are the base of aquatic and marine food chains. The authors of the report conclude, “An environmental catastrophe is unfolding. We believe humanity could adapt to global warming and extreme weather changes. It is our view that humanity will not survive the extinction of most marine plants and animals.” Tell EPA to protect our oceans and our lives. Tell Congress to ensure that EPA does its job. Action is needed now to stop the ongoing plankton apocalypse. Researchers blame chemical pollution from pesticides, farm fertilizers, and oil spills in the water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responsibilities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act […]

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15
Jul

UN: Short-Term Economic Gains Harming Well-Being and Integrity of Nature

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2022) Nature is too often sacrificed to a global and outsized focus on short-term profits and economic growth, according to a new report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The report warns that policy making, broadly, does not reflect the value of Nature’s roles in supporting human life and activity, never mind all the peripheral benefits (aesthetic, emotional, spiritual) people derive from the natural world. The report calls on leaders in all sectors to integrate the contributions of Nature in development and deployment of policy in a more-comprehensive way — as Le Monde writes, “beyond being ‘a huge factory.’” Beyond Pesticides offers a seminal reminder from Fred Kirschenmann, PhD: the prevailing philosophy of maximum efficient production for short-term economic return at the expense of Nature causes havoc in the world and will not work in the future; instead, we must develop a broad ecological conscience that guides all that we do. The report’s Summary for Policymakers was approved on July 11 by representatives from 139 Member States; the report itself is the culmination of four years of effort by 82 collaborating scientists and experts from multiple disciplines. The same member […]

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13
Jul

France Enacts Sweeping Restrictions on Pesticide Use in Public and Private Landscaped Areas

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2022) A new law in France bans the use of lawn and landscape pesticides in both public and private areas frequently used by the public. The law, which came into effect at the beginning of this month, applies throughout the country and extends the scope of a previous decree that restricted pesticide use on green spaces in public areas. As it stands, France’s previous approach is set to be adopted by the entirety of the European Union under its Farm to Fork initiative goals of reducing overall pesticide use by 50% by 2030. This new law, which tracks most similarly to restrictions enacted in most Canadian provinces and by certain U.S. cities like South Portland and Portland, ME, highlights the importance of extending pesticide restrictions to most all outdoor spaces to ensure health and environmental safety. The new restrictions apply to a laundry list of sensitive sites where pesticide use can unnecessarily harm individuals or the wider public: Private residential properties, including their outdoor areas Hotels, hostels, lodgings, camping sites and residential leisure parks Cemeteries Allotments [community gardens]; Amusement, entertainment and recreation parks with a variety of activities and facilities; Areas accessible to the public in […]

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01
Jul

EU Bans Pesticides in Parks, Playgrounds, and Playing Fields; Fails to Set Organic Transition Goals in Ag

(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2022) The European Commission (EC) introduced on June 22 new rules that ban all pesticides in “public parks or gardens, playgrounds, recreation or sports grounds, public paths, as well as ecologically sensitive areas.” In agriculture, the policy adopts strategies for achieving the pesticide use- and risk-reduction goals of its Farm to Fork initiative. The EC — the European Union’s (EU’s) politically independent executive arm — proffered new rules that are binding on all EU Member States. Those states must, in turn, adopt their own binding targets to help meet the overall EU targets — a 50% reduction in use and risk of chemical pesticides, and a 50% reduction in use of more-hazardous pesticides, by 2030. Beyond Pesticides has covered the shortcomings of the EU’s previous approach, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy and its 2021 disparagement by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, and his apparent turnaround in the large and recently announced USDA investment in the U.S. transition to organic agriculture (albeit without metrics or acreage goals), a transition F2F seeks to advance for the EU. Regarding the ban of pesticides in parks, the policy says: “Use of plant […]

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17
Jun

Groups Worldwide Tell UN To Rescind Agreement with Chemical Industry for Human Rights Violations

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2022) Hundreds of civil society groups and organizations of indigenous people worldwide have called on the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to end its nearly two-year-old partnership with CropLife International, the trade association for the world’s largest pesticide manufacturers. The organizations’ June 9 letter to the Member State Representatives of the FAO Council was signed by 430 entities, from 69 different countries. The letter asserts that the UN agency’s agreement with CropLife International (CLI) is incompatible with FAO’s obligations to uphold human rights, and urges it both to review the partnership agreement on the basis of human rights concerns, and to “consider directing the Director-General of FAO to rescind the agreement.” The call comes from this huge group of advocates, but it is also coming from “inside the house”: UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Michael Fakhri is one of the signatories; Beyond Pesticides is one among 65 U.S. signatories. CropLife International’s corporate members — BASF, Bayer, Corteva, FMC, Sumitomo Chemical, and Syngenta — are huge synthetic pesticide companies with global reach. CLI also counts as members 11 subsidiary national associations in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, Canada, and the […]

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17
May

Study of Dramatic Flying Insect Declines Reinforces Earlier Findings

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2022) With public awareness of an ongoing ‘insect apocalypse’ growing, one of the first anecdotes people often note is how many fewer bugs are found splatted onto their car windshield than in the past. In a recent survey, conservation groups in Britain are finding evidence of insect declines in exactly that place, providing scientific backing for these concerning suspicions. Between 2004 and 2021, 58.5% fewer flying insects were squashed onto car license plates. “The results from the Bugs Matter study should shock and concern us all,” says Paul Hadaway, conservation director at Kent Wildlife Trust, which conducted the study alongside UK organization Buglife. “We are seeing declines in insects which reflect the enormous threats and loss of wildlife more broadly across the Country. These declines are happening at an alarming rate and without concerted action to address them we face a stark future. Insects and pollinators are fundamental to the health of our environment and rural economies.” The survey was conducted primarily through citizen science, utilizing the “Bugs Matter” mobile app, and a sampling grid, referred to as a ‘splatometer’ that is affixed to a car’s license plate. Data was retrieved from trips taken by citizen […]

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11
Apr

International Aid Needed To Support Traditional and Organic, Not Chemical-Intensive, Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2022) As the U.S. encourages the spread of chemical-intensive, industrialized agriculture, local farmers are increasingly pressured into giving up traditional agricultural practices in favor of monocultures to increase the demand  for agrichemical pesticides and fertilizers worldwide. This policy is promoted by the industry with vested economic interests as good for the U.S. economy, but it is not good for either planetary health or global food security. Instead, U.S. foreign aid agencies, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other agencies, should be supporting traditional practices and organic agriculture. Tell Congress and U.S. AID to support aid that promotes traditional and organic agriculture.  Industrial agriculture depends on monoculture—growing single crops that can be easily planted, fertilized, treated with pesticides, and harvested—especially on large-scale, mechanized farms. In spite of the perceived advantages of monoculture, however, it is a significant contributor to biodiversity loss and pollinator decline. Loss of biodiversity feeds the pesticide treadmill by removing predators and parasites who keep crop-feeding insects below damaging levels. The vast majority of crop plants depend on pollinators. Traditional agriculture, like organic agriculture, depends on interacting species. Most organic agriculture resembles monoculture piecewise, but integrates cover crops, hedgerows and other […]

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08
Apr

Broken Promises, Empty Pledges Leading to Irreversible Climate Disaster: UN Says It’s Now or Never

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2022) “The jury has reached a verdict. And it is damning. This report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world. We are on a fast track to climate disaster.” These words came from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement responding to the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report released on April 4. As a Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog headline virtually shouted in October 2021, “Climate Crisis, Soil, Pesticides, Fertilizers: Red alert! This is Not a Drill!” This IPCC report — Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change — is the third and final part of the panel’s latest review of climate science. It is informed by the work of thousands of scientists, and follows on the first two of the trio of reports that comprise the comprehensive Sixth Assessment Report. The first, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, from the IPCC Working Group I, was released on August 9, 2021. The second, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II, […]

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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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15
Mar

Monoculture Rice Production Outperformed by Traditional Techniques that Integrate Aquatic Animals

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2022) Adding animal diversity to rice paddy farms reduces weed pressure, increases food production, and makes fertilizer use more efficient, according to a study published late last month in the journal eLife. As chemical-dependent, industrialized agriculture has spread across the world, local farmers are increasingly pressured into eschewing traditional agricultural practices in favor of monocultures in an attempt to meet the demands of global markets. This one-size-fits-all approach oversimplifies the interdependency within ecosystems, failing to incorporate the complexity of nature that many traditional and organic practices embrace. As the present study shows, research and investment into systems that promote natural diversity can provide insights that allow these approaches to leapfrog the chemical-dependent, monoculture paradigm of industrial agriculture. Rice paddy fields are intentionally flooded, and crops are often grown in shallow water. In industrialized fields, monocultures of rice are planted out, and fertilizers and weed killers are applied at regular intervals. However, many traditional rice farmers around the world integrate aquatic animals into their paddies. In the present experiment, researchers conducted a 4-year long evaluation comparing the benefits of monoculture production against co-cultures of rice and aquatic animals. Co-culturing animals and rice differs slightly from traditional practices […]

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25
Feb

Trillions in Subsidies Worldwide Are Driving Environmental Collapse Instead of Advancing Solutions

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2022) Together, governments of the world over are spending at least $1.8 trillion annually — 2% of global gross domestic product — on subsidies that drive the destruction of ecosystems and species extinction, and exacerbate the climate crisis. This news comes from a study commissioned by The B Team and Business for Nature, and released in a joint brief, Financing Our Survival: Building a Nature Positive Economy through Subsidy Reform. The Business for Nature website offers a remedy to this entropy: “With political determination and radical public–private sector collaboration, we can reform these harmful subsidies and create opportunities for an equitable, nature-positive and net-zero economy.” To that end, the two organizations have issued, in their brief, calls to action to multiple sectors, including one to the governments participating in the coming UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15): “Adopt a clear and ambitious target within the Global Biodiversity Framework . . . that commits governments to redirect, repurpose, or eliminate all environmentally harmful subsidies by 2030 and increase positive incentives to enable an equitable, net-zero, nature-positive world.” A press release from The B Team reports that the fossil fuel, agriculture, and water sectors are the recipients of more than […]

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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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21
Jan

Global Chemical Pollution Exceeds Safe Limits for Humanity

(Beyond Pesticides, January 21, 2022) The bottom-line conclusion of a recent study is that global chemical pollution has now exceeded a safe limit for humanity. As reported by The Guardian, “The cocktail of chemical pollution that pervades the planet now threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends.” Published in Environmental Science & Technology, the research paper asserts that the creation and deployment (into the materials stream and environment) of so many “novel entities” (synthetic chemicals) is happening at a pace that eclipses human ability to assess and monitor them. The study team calls this exceedance of the “planetary boundary” of such chemical pollution “the point at which human-made changes to the Earth push it outside the stable environment of the last 10,000 years.” According to Beyond Pesticides, which covers pesticide (and other kinds of) chemical pollution, these results underscore a grim twin reality to the human-caused climate emergency, and should be a dire warning on the state of our shared environment and a time for systemic movement to eliminate fossil fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers. Hailing from Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, and Switzerland, members of the research team define “novel entities” as those compounds and materials […]

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13
Jan

Insects in Nature Preserves Contaminated with Over a Dozen Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2022) Insects found in nature preserves are consistently contaminated with over a dozen pesticides, calling into question the ability for these areas to function as refuges for threatened and endangered species. This finding comes from a study published last month in Scientific Reports by researchers with The Entomological Association Krefeld, the team behind the seminal study on the decline of flying insect biomass in German nature preserves, which sparked worldwide discussions about the ongoing insect apocalypse. With pesticide use rampant and contamination ubiquitous, it is imperative that lawmakers and regulators embrace stronger measures to reverse the ominous trajectory society continues to follow. After finding devastating insect declines of nearly 80% over the last 30 years in German nature preserves, researchers set out to analyze what chemicals these insects were being exposed to, whether there were differences in contamination that could be observed between seasons, and how surrounding agricultural areas influenced insect exposure to pesticide residue. Scientists established a series of Malaise traps – large, tent-like mesh nets that will trap flying insects. Between May and August 2020, two insect collection samples each were taken from 21 nature preserves around Germany. Collected insects were immediately placed into […]

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12
Jan

Banned Pesticides in Well Water Linked to Declines in Kidney Function

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2022) Well water in agricultural regions of Sri Lanka is contaminated with highly hazardous insecticides and associated with a decline in kidney function, according to research published in npj Clean Water this month. This finding is the latest piece in an ongoing ‘puzzle’ regarding the epidemic of chronic kidney disease of unknown origins in Sri Lanka and other developing countries in agricultural regions. Although the exact etiology of the disease has not been confirmed, a number of scientific studies have pointed the finger at industrial agriculture, increasingly finding evidence of chronic pesticide exposure in affected populations.   To better understand the connection between agrichemical exposure and kidney health, researchers enrolled 293 individuals from Wilgamuwa, Sri Lanka into a prospective study. Baseline data was retrieved on occupational and environmental exposure factors, focusing in on the water source individuals used at their homes. Samples of each participant’s household wells were taken and analyzed for the presence of pesticides. Of the wells sampled, 68% were found to contain pesticides. Further, every well where pesticides were detected had at least one pesticide recorded above global drinking water guidelines. The chemicals found were also some of the most toxic pesticides to […]

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21
Dec

Review Shows that Monsanto/Bayer Claims of Glyphosate Safety Not Supported by Credible Science 

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2021)  A research team undertaking a review of industry-conducted glyphosate safety studies submitted to EU (European Union) regulators shows that most of the research fails to meet current international standards for scientific validity. The researchers find that of the 11 reviewed studies, which were submitted to regulators by Bayer AG (now owner of the Monsanto “Roundup” brand of glyphosate herbicide) and several other chemical companies, only two are scientifically “reliable”; six others are deemed “partly reliable,” and the remaining three, “not reliable.” These results go, in part, to the age of some of the studies (see below); but they also underscore the point Beyond Pesticides has made for years. Regulators, whether in the UK, the U.S., or anywhere else, ought not be relying solely and without adequate auditing on industry-generated and -funded safety research in making safety determinations that underlie regulations impacting the well-being of millions of people (and other organisms), never mind the environment writ large. The report, from a team working out of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) at the Medical University of Vienna, is timely: the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) are currently considering whether or not […]

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09
Dec

The Expense of Pesticides Significantly Outweigh Economic Benefits

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2021) The cost to maintain crops using conventional pesticides outweighs the economic benefits from crop production and yield, according to a report, Pesticides ‘cost double the amount they yield,’ by the French-based organization Bureau for the Appraisal of Social Impacts for Citizen Information (BASIC). Moreover, the annual cost of increasing organic farms three-fold by 2030 is less than the cost of pesticides to society (i.e., adverse health and ecological effects from pesticide use and contamination). However, the price to pay from pesticide use encompasses much more than the products themselves. Researchers point to the need for government and health officials to consider the billion-dollar costs associated with adverse health effects from pesticide use, especially as studies confirm that pesticides cause cancer, Parkinson’s, and other diseases that are increasing. Thus, this report adds to the growing body of research demonstrating the unsustainability of conventional, chemical-intensive agricultural practices. The National Academy of Sciences identifies four goals of sustainable agriculture—productivity, economics, environment, and social well-being for future generations. However, current chemical pesticide use threatens sustainable agriculture. Although the primary concerns about pesticide usage centers on health and ecological concerns, including food security, this report provides an economic assessment that offers an […]

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27
Oct

Global Pollinator Declines Threaten Plant Biodiversity

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2021) Declines in pollinator populations throughout the world may result in the loss of tens of thousands of wild flowering plants that rely on their services, according to research published this month in the journal Science Advances. “Our paper provides the first global estimate of how many plant species mostly or completely rely on animal pollinators to make seeds and thus to reproduce,” wrote author James Rodger, PhD, in an article in The Conversation. “We found that it’s about 175,000 plant species – half of all flowering plants. This means declines in pollinators could cause major disruptions in natural ecosystems, including loss of biodiversity.” Pollinators are being threatened with multiple interacting stressors, from climate change, to pesticide use, disease, habitat destruction, and other factors. In the US, an increasing number of pollinators, including iconic species like the American bumblebee and monarch butterfly, are being added or in consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Systemic neonicotinoid insecticides implicated for their earth-spanning hazards to pollinator populations themselves put 89% or more of U.S. endangered species at risk. Many are aware of the fact that pollinators help make available one in three bites of food. Research studies […]

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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 “Farm 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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