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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'International' Category


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 ‚ÄĒ banned in their own jurisdictions ‚ÄĒ 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‚Äôs Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pushing back on the country‚Äôs plan to ban glyphosate came shortly after emails Bayer sent to U.S. officials. In September and October 2019, Bayer‚Äôs Jim Travis asked the U.S. to act on its behalf in defense of the company‚Äôs glyphosate products. Emails reveal that Mr. Travis also collected intelligence on the personal motivations of Thailand‚Äôs deputy agriculture minister, including whether she was ‚Äúa diehard advocate of organic food; and/or staunch environmentalist who eschews all synthetic chemical applications.‚ÄĚ Reports indicate that the U.S. government brought up the issue of glyphosate during trade talks in the context of considerations to revoke Thailand‚Äôs […]

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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‚Äôs 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‚ÄĒpentachlorophenol (penta)‚ÄĒthat dot our landscape in utility poles and railroad ties. This wood preservative‚ÄĒa cancer-causing chemical with dioxin, furans, and hexachlorobenzene that causes health and environmental degradation‚ÄĒhas 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‚ÄĒsomething 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 ‚Äúwood 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, ‚ÄúIt is quite possible a wild animal could get such an exposure.‚ÄĚ Researchers then euthanized the newborn wallabies to study atrazine‚Äôs 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. ‚ÄúThese results demonstrate that [atrazine] exposure during gestation and lactation can […]

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05
Aug

Nearly A Century of Pesticide Use Changed the Size of Australian Dingoes

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2020) Regions of Australia that use a highly toxic rodenticide are home to larger dingoes than areas where the pesticide is not used, according to research published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Over the course of roughly the last century, dingoes in rodenticide-baited regions have grown by between six and nine percent. While pesticides are well known to induce changes in insect morphology as resistance is developed, this is one of the first studies to find effects on a large vertebrate carnivore. To make their determination, researchers began measuring the size of dingo skulls, which can be used as a proximate for body size, in areas where the rodenticide compound 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) was and was not historically used. Skull analysis relied primarily on historical specimens stored in museums throughout Australia. ¬† “Skulls from the baited regions grew by about four millimetres since poison baiting was introduced,” says Michael Letnic, PhD, lead author of the paper and professor in conservation biology and ecosystem restoration at the University of New South Wales Science. “This equates to roughly a kilogram [2.2 lbs] in body mass.” While size increases were consistently seen in baited regions, dingoes […]

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27
Jul

TAKE ACTION! Tell Evian to Protect the Integrity of Its Purity Claim by Supporting a Worldwide Shift to Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2020) Evian bottled water, produced by the French company Danone, is supposed to be so pure that scientists will calibrate their measuring devices with it. But new data from Swiss researchers finds it to be contaminated with a toxic fungicide. ‚ÄúThe fact that even the Evian springs in the French Alps, which are hardly affected by humans, contain pesticide residues is alarming and shows the far too careless handling of these substances,‚ÄĚ Roman Wiget, president of the international drinking water association AWBR told the German-language Swiss weekly. The answer is not to simply ban another toxic pesticide, only to be followed by another toxic pesticide, but foundational changes to agriculture and land management with a shift to organic practices.¬† Tell Evian to protect water quality and the integrity of its purity claim by prominently supporting a worldwide shift to organic agriculture and land management. Danone claims that the purity of Evian bottled water comes from its source in Cachat Spring at the base of the French Alps in the town of √Čvian-les-Bains, France, where it is ‚Äú[p]rotected under a fortress of geological layers built by glaciers 30,000 years ago, it slowly travels through natural snowy, glacial […]

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24
Jul

Environmental Pollutants, including Pesticides, Can Increase Susceptibility to Infectious Diseases

(Beyond Pesticides, July 24, 2020)¬†As the novel coronavirus pandemic has heightened awareness of infectious diseases, there is increased attention to connections between environmental concerns and such diseases, including factors that may exacerbate their transmission. New research shows one such relationship: the transmission of schistosomiasis, a tropical disease caused by contact with the larvae of parasitic worms (schistosomes), is likely accelerated by the use of pesticides and other agrochemicals (such as synthetic fertilizers). The study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, also shows that contamination of freshwater bodies with these chemicals disturbs ecological balances that can actually limit schistosome infections. This new research underscores the urgency of the needed transition, in affected tropical and subtropical areas, to agricultural approaches that do not involve synthetic agrochemicals that pollute local waterways and put people‚Äôs health at increased risk. Beyond Pesticides recently covered another study, published in Nature‚Äôs Scientific Reports in February 2020, that indicates that agricultural pesticide runoff indirectly increases rates of transmission of schistosomiasis. The transmission landscape for this disease is complex, in part because one of the parasite‚Äôs vectors are freshwater snails, which: (1) play an important role in schistosomes‚Äô life cycle, (2) are relatively resistant to the effects of pesticides, […]

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17
Jul

Unregulated, “Shocking” and Destructive Levels of Pesticide Mixtures Found in Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2020)¬†Researchers have discovered that the rivers and creeks that discharge into the lagoon of the Great Barrier Reef are riddled with mixtures of pesticides. The University of Queensland team expected to find some such mixtures in their sampling, but was shocked to find that 99.8% of their samples contained up to 20 different pesticides. Michael Warne, PhD, lead researcher and associate professor at the University of Queensland‚Äôs School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, says, ‚ÄúThe issue with having mixtures of pesticides is that as the number of pesticides increases the impact to aquatic ecosystems generally increases.‚ÄĚ Beyond Pesticides has covered waterway pesticide contamination in Europe and the U.S. The organization has long advocated for protective federal regulation that considers potential synergistic and additive threats, to ecosystems and organisms, from admixtures of pesticides ‚ÄĒ whether in formulated products, or ‚Äúde facto‚ÄĚ in the environment, as this study addresses. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Lagoon is the open water of the Coral sea that lies between the reef and the Queensland, Australia coast. The GBR is the world’s largest¬†coral reef¬†system, comprising more than 2,900 individual¬†reefs¬†and 900 islands, and extending across an area of approximately 133,000 square miles. It […]

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15
Jul

Evian Bottled Water, Touted for Its Purity, Tainted With Toxic Fungicide Pervasive in the Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2020) Evian bottled water is supposed to be so pure that scientists will calibrate their measuring devices with it. But new data from Swiss researchers finds it to be contaminated with a toxic fungicide. ¬†‚ÄúThe fact that even the Evian springs in the French Alps, which are hardly affected¬†by humans, contain pesticide residues is alarming and shows the far too careless handling of these substances,‚ÄĚ Roman Wiget, president of the international drinking water association AWBR told the German-language Swiss weekly. Researchers looked specifically at the levels of the fungicide chlorothalonil in Swiss waterways, as Switzerland and the European Union took steps last year to ban use of the pesticide. In banning the chemical, regulators at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) noted, ‚ÄúGreat concerns are raised in relation to contamination of groundwater by metabolites of the substance.‚ÄĚ EFSA designated the fungicide as a 1B carcinogen, meaning that it ‚Äúmay cause cancer.‚ÄĚ Chlorothalonil has been in production and use since the 1960s, but it is only now that regulators are starting to take a closer look at its health and environmental impacts. In addition to cancer, chlorothalonil is neurotoxic, can harm the human reproductive system, damage kidneys, […]

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14
Jul

Mexico Announces Glyphosate-Roundup Phaseout

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2020) The Mexican government announced late last month that it plans to phase out the importation and use of glyphosate in the country over the next four years. The announcement means that Mexico will join other countries, such as Luxembourg, Vietnam, Germany in prohibiting the chemical and the toxic consumer products, like Roundup, that contain it as an ingredient. International watchdogs are keeping an eye on reactions from the United States, which in recent years has worked to intervene in other countries’ decision-making over toxic pesticides. The government‚Äôs announcement cites the Precautionary Principle as part of its decision-making. According to the Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle, ‚ÄúWhere an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.‚ÄĚ In the case of glyphosate, there is strong evidence, per a 2015 review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), that glyphosate is carcinogenic. Since 2015, several more publications have added weight to glyphosate‚Äôs link to cancer. A February 2018 meta-analysis finds ‚Äúa compelling link between exposures to GBH [glyphosate-based herbicides] and increased risk of NHL [non-Hodgkin […]

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08
Jul

With 400,000 Malaria Deaths Worldwide, Insect Resistance to Mosquito Pesticides Calls for Urgent Need to Shift to Alternative Management Strategies

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2020)¬†Efforts to control the transmission of malaria are encountering a big, though predictable, problem: the mosquitoes that transmit malaria are developing resistance to at least five of the insecticides that have been central to limiting transmission of the disease. A study released in late June reveals a dramatic increase in resistance to pyrethroid insecticides and DDT across sub-Saharan Africa. This signals the failure of a mainstay chemical approach to the spread of malarial mosquitoes; this same problem ‚ÄĒ resistance ‚ÄĒ is happening with chemical management of agricultural pests and weeds, and with antibiotics to treat human bacterial infections. This study underscores a point Beyond Pesticides has made repeatedly: resistance to pesticides (whether insecticides, herbicides, biocides, fungicides, or medical antibiotics) is nearly inevitable. The solution to containing the spread of malaria lies not in the use of more and different chemicals, but in nontoxic approaches that respect nature and ecological balance. Malaria is a sometimes deadly disease caused by female Anopheles mosquitoes infected with any of four varieties of the Plasmodium parasite. The disease kills roughly 400,000 people annually, with half that mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. sees approximately 2,000 cases of malaria annually, primarily in […]

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01
Jul

U.S. and Brazil Trying to Force Thailand to Accept Food Coated in Hazardous Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2020) As the U.S. is subject to searing criticism for inadequately regulated hazardous pesticides domestically, administration officials are standing in the way as other countries’ work toward modest reforms. According to a report published in Reuters, the U.S. is standing alongside the corrupt Bolsonaro administration in Brazil to oppose Thailand‚Äôs efforts to protect its citizens from highly toxic pesticides used in food production. Both countries launched separate complaints to the World Trade Organization after Thailand announced it would ban imports of the brain-damaging insecticide chlorpyrifos and weedkiller paraquat, which has been strongly linked to Parkinson‚Äôs disease. On June 1, Thailand added paraquat and chlorpyrifos to its list of most hazardous substances. This listing initiated a follow-on regulation that banned the import of these substances on food, set to take effect in mid-July. Thailand has been feeling the brunt of U.S. diplomatic pressure since it first proposed restrictions on toxic chemicals late last year. By December, the U.S. was able to get Bangkok to remove glyphosate from its proposal, and delay the listing of paraquat and chlorpyrifos until June. But as the current situation shows, the U.S. had no plans to stop pressuring the Bangkok government after […]

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19
Jun

Toxic Trade: Will the U.S. Force a Trade Agreement that Allows More Poisons in the UK?

(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2020)¬†As it navigates an exit from the European Union (EU) and its trade agreements, the UK is considering the establishment of its own Free Trade Agreements, including commodities treated with pesticides, with various partner countries. Toxic Trade, a new report from Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) and others, reveals how such agreements between the UK and other countries ‚ÄĒ and the U.S., in particular ‚ÄĒ threaten to weaken existing protections from pesticides in the UK, which are stronger than those in most other countries. The report points to potential harms to UK residents, environment, and wildlife; it further suggests that the likelihood of the U.S. successfully imposing a weakening of UK protections is high. In November 2019, Beyond Pesticides covered the warnings from PAN UK and the Soil Association that the UK‚Äôs ‚ÄúBrexit‚ÄĚ might result in greater pesticide use and/or exposure. The UK, and other European countries, have taken a more-precautionary approach to the permitting of pesticide use than does the U.S., Australia, or India. The UK bans a long list of pesticides that threaten human health, pollinators, ecosystems, and natural resources; many of these same compounds continue to be used in these three other […]

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08
Jun

Report Finds Monocropping and Toxic Pesticides Threaten Brazil’s Native Bees as Country’s President Challenges Environmental Protection

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2020) Brazil is home to more than 300 native bee species ‚ÄĒ many of them stingless ‚ÄĒ that help pollinate the nation‚Äôs valuable agricultural crops and provide other important environmental services. Yet, chemical-intensive agriculture‚Äôs intensive pesticide use and devotion to monocropping are a serious threat to these bees, Mongabay reports. Beyond Pesticides maintains that elimination of such pesticides is key to protecting critical pollinators, ensuring a nontoxic food supply, supporting ecosystems and biodiversity, and ensuring safe working conditions for agricultural workers and safety for rural residents. Organic, regenerative agricultural practices, which often avoid monocropping, achieve all of these important goals. Advocates maintain that a transition to such practices is imperative in ensuring a far less toxic future for humans, other residents of Planet Earth, and Nature itself. The Brazilian Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services estimates the financial value of pollinators in Brazil, which include bees, moths, bats, butterflies, wasps, beetles, and other organisms, at roughly $8 billion annually. Most honey production in Brazil (and globally) comes from one species, Apis mellifera ‚ÄĒ a hybrid of European and African species that arrived in the Americas in the early 17th century. A. mellifera is still the dominant […]

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26
May

EU Proposes 2030 Goal to Reduce Pesticide Use by 50% and Increase Arable Land in Organic Production by At Least 17%

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2020)¬†Across the pond, the European Commission (EC) has announced plans to protect biodiversity and build a more sustainable food system, and identified the reduction of pesticide use¬† and the expansion of organic agriculture as pillars of the scheme. The EC expects that the initiative, which will require EU member states‚Äô endorsement, will advance progress on the EU goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, given that 10% of emissions arise from the agricultural sector. The EC‚Äôs goals are important and laudable, but Beyond Pesticides is clear: reduction of pesticide use in service of them is not an adequate strategy to ensure long-term success. Genuine success requires the elimination of the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and other toxic inputs, and the transition to agricultural and land management systems that work with nature, rather than fight against it. Regenerative, organic practices are the path to a livable future, according to Beyond Pesticides. The EC, which is the executive branch of the EU, expects its plan to reduce use of pesticides by 50% by 2030; reduce use of antimicrobial chemicals, including antibiotics, in fish and animal farming by 50%; dedicate a minimum of 25% of arable […]

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17
Apr

Farmed Salmon during Covid-19 Pandemic Subject to Increased Pesticide Use in Scotland

(Beyond Pesticides, April 17, 2020) As the novel coronavirus pandemic upends much of human activity, some governments are acting to loosen environmental regulations ‚ÄĒ purportedly, in the interests of public health in the face of Covid-19 threats, and/or in deference to economic concerns of certain industrial sectors. There has been little analysis, to date, of what the ‚Äúon the ground‚ÄĚ impacts of these relaxed rules may be, but news out of Scotland illustrates some kinds of concerns critics and advocates have about such loosening of regulations. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has issued new, temporary rules that allow some salmon farms both to ignore newly established limits on the amount of emamectin, an insecticide used to control sea lice that plague the salmon, and to boost use of azamethiphos, another insecticide used against the lice, beyond previous 24-hour limits. SEPA says the relaxed rules will endure only as long as the Covid-19 ‚Äúlockdown‚ÄĚ remains in place (perhaps the end of June), and apply only to new or expanding enterprises, which to date total approximately 14 of the country‚Äôs 200+ salmon farms. The farmed salmon industry represents a huge domestic and export commodity worth approximately $2.5 billion annually. In addition […]

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10
Apr

Brazilian Government Gives $2.2 Billion in Annual Tax Subsidies to the Multinational Agrichemical Industry

(Beyond Pesticides, April 9, 2020) Brazilian tax exemptions benefit the agrichemical industry to the tune of $2.2 billion USD annually, according to researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz foundation and the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro. ABRASCO, the Brazilian Association of Collective Health, headed a new study which illuminates a tight relationship between Brazilian government and industry. Researchers additionally point to millions of dollars given from public resource funds to the companies. While industry lobby groups argue that toxic pesticides are necessary for development and food production, environmental and health advocates say the people of Brazil bear the brunt of toxic pesticide contamination while international companies profit. ‚ÄúIt is as if you lived in a condominium and your neighbor didn‚Äôt have to pay the condominium fees. And that they got the pool dirty, and the shared gym space, generating costs for everyone else,‚ÄĚ says Marcelo Novaes, a S√£o Paulo State public defender who has spent years investigating this issue, ‚ÄúThese benefits give large agribusiness companies a break while throwing the cost back on society.‚ÄĚ By value, Brazil is the world‚Äôs largest consumer of toxic pesticides. Since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2018, the country has rapidly approved new […]

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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‚ÄĒmore than ever‚ÄĒby 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‚Äôs […]

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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,‚ÄĚ said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. ‚ÄúMonarchs unite us, and more protections are clearly needed for these migratory wonders and their habitat.‚ÄĚ WWF‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúwith respect to biodiversity, climate, soil, [and] land degradation as well as socio‚Äźeconomic challenges.‚ÄĚ The authors call on the European Parliament, Council, and Commission to adopt 10 urgent action points that advance a goal that ‚Äúall CAP elements, without exception, should be aligned with the principles of sustainability, multi‚Äźfunctionality and public payments for public goods.‚ÄĚ The paper‚Äôs 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‚Äôs (EC‚Äôs) ‚ÄúEuropean Green Deal,‚ÄĚ which the EC describes as a roadmap for¬†making the EU‚Äôs economy sustainable, and making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. […]

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