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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Pesticide Regulation' Category


17
Jul

France, UK Elections Indicate Turning Point for Pesticide Regulation on the Global Stage

(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2024) National election results in the United Kingdom (UK) and France in recent weeks have shocked the world amidst concerns of a rising tide of right-wing authoritarianism on the eve of European Parliament election results—trending toward what was initially perceived as a conservative majority earlier in June. With new leadership in some of the biggest economies and policy leaders across the Atlantic, environmental and health advocates are hopeful that this will signal a new momentum to advance the mission of transitioning to a fully organic land management and food system that replaces the status quo reliant on toxic petrochemical-based pesticides and fertilizers that exacerbate the climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, and public health fragility. Citizens of the United Kingdom overwhelmingly voted for the center-left Labour Party, which won an unprecedented margin of 291 seats, winning 412 seats out of the 650 total seats up for grabs. The Conservative Party won just 121 seats, a clear rejection of their nearly fifteen-year leadership position in UK politics. UK-based advocates welcome the news given the Labour Party platform to “ban neonicotinoid pesticides imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam due to their impact on bees,” according to reporting by Politico. Neonicotinoids have long […]

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27
Jun

Biosolid Biohazard: EPA Sued for Failing to Protect Farmers and Public from PFAS-Contaminated Biosolids

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2024) Earlier this month, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of a group of ranchers and farmers in Texas harmed by biosolids contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The plaintiffs charge that their health and livelihoods were severely damaged due to contaminated biosolids leaching from neighboring properties onto their land. Despite EPA’s responsibility under the Clean Water Act (Section 405(d) and 40 CFR Part 503) to identify toxic pollutants in biosolids and regulate them to protect human health and the environment, the agency has not effectively addressed the dangers posed by PFAS in biosolid fertilizers. EPA’s failure has dramatic impacts on farmers as well as the public, who are eating or drinking PFAS-contaminated crops, dairy milk, beef, or other meat products. The shortcomings of federal regulations underscore the urgent need for a shift in how federal and state agencies approach these issues, prioritizing precaution to prevent future harm. The persistence of these legacy or “forever” chemicals in the environment illustrates the severe consequences of a historically lax regulatory framework in the U.S.  The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has identified […]

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26
Jun

Pesticide Free Towns Taking Hold Worldwide with Growth in Europe

Image: Globetrotter19, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons (Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2024) The Hungarian city of TörökbĂĄlint (featured above) is one of several dozen towns to join the European Pesticide Free Towns Network, an initiative of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, based on a recent blog post welcoming the city into its Network. With elections coming up in European Union Parliament and EU member state nations across the continent, advocates believe in the importance of proactive actions local governments and towns launch to address the cascading crises of climate change, biodiversity deterioration, and public health fragility. In the U.S., Beyond Pesticides is working with communities nationwide, providing hands-on technical assistance in the adoption of organic land management practices. “In recent years, our municipality has begun to explore the possibility of tackling an increasing number of city management problems with environmentally friendly solutions,” says SĂĄndor Elek, mayor of TörökbĂĄlint in a public statement announcing the city’s membership. “We are phasing out chemical treatments in public areas and working on the continuous information and awareness-raising of the public. We are also working to promote the public acceptance of environmentally friendly mosquito control.” In joining the European Pesticide Free Towns Network, each […]

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20
Jun

EPA “Mitigation Menu” Called Complex, Raising Doubts about Required Endangered Species Protection

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2024) As part of its update to the proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Endangered Species Act (ESA) Workplan, the agency held a public webinar on June 18, 2024, which provided an overview of the agency’s “Mitigation Menu Website” for “reducing pesticide exposure to nontarget species from agricultural crop uses.” [Check back to see webinar when posted by EPA.] After court decisions forced EPA to develop a strategy to meet its statutory responsibility to protect endangered species from pesticide use, the agency recognized that it is, in its own words, “unable to keep pace” with its legal obligations. Despite this acknowledgement, the agency said it would “provide flexibility to growers to choose mitigations that work best for their situation.” In this spirit, a range of people, including grower groups, gathered earlier in the year for a series of workshops in the Pacific Northwest to discuss possible mitigation measures. According to a report written by commercial beekeeper Steve Ellis (more background), concrete decisions were not reached at the workshops as participants recognized the complexities in crafting pesticide product label restrictions to protect endangered species. Mr. Ellis concluded: “If it’s so complex that it’s impossible, then no one […]

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19
Jun

Juneteenth 2024–Taking Action to Fight Disproportionate Adverse Effects to People of Color

Calls for Holistic Environmental Justice and a Shift Away from Societal Dependence on Petrochemical Pesticides and Fertilizers (Beyond Pesticides, June 18-19, 2024) Juneteenth (June 19) commemorates the date in 1865 when the enslavement of Black Americans ended in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, over two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the defeat of the Confederacy on April 9, 1865. On June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger brought federal troops to Galveston, Texas and finally, and belatedly, implemented the Emancipation Proclamation, which proclaimed on January 1, 1863 freedom from slavery across the nation. Carl Mack, PhD, a historian and former President of the Seattle-King County NAACP, reminds us that there were still 225,000 enslaved Black Americans in Kentucky and Delaware after June 19, 1865 and the end of the Civil War until December 6, 1865 when Georgia became the 27th state to ratify the 13th amendment. “That is the day in which Georgia ratified the 13th amendment,” Dr. Mack goes on to discuss the remaining three former border states on their progress in adopting the 13th amendment. “As it applies to Delaware and Kentucky, Delaware did not ratify the 13th amendment until […]

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13
Jun

Study Confirms Serious Flaws in EPA’s Ecological Risk Assessments, Threatening Bees and Other Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2024) A study published in Conservation Letters, a journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, exposes critical shortcomings in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ecological risk assessment (ERA) process for modeling the risks that pesticides pose to bees and other pollinators. For the study, “Risk assessments underestimate threat of pesticides to wild bees,” researchers conducted a meta-analysis of toxicity data in EPA’s ECOTOX knowledgebase (ECOTOX), an EPA-hosted, publicly available resource with information on adverse effects of single chemical stressors to certain aquatic and terrestrial species. The meta-analysis found that the agency’s approach, which relies heavily on honey bee data from controlled laboratory studies, drastically underestimates the real-world threats from neonicotinoid insecticides (and likely other pesticides) to native bees and other pollinators. The study “challenges the reliability of surrogate species as predictors when extrapolating pesticide toxicity data to wild pollinators and recommends solutions to address the (a)biotic interactions occurring in nature that make such extrapolations unreliable in the ERA process.” Beyond Pesticides executive director Jay Feldman remarked, “EPA’s ecological risk assessment process is fundamentally flawed and puts thousands of bee species at risk of pesticide-caused population declines and extinctions.” Mr. Feldman continued, “This underscores the urgent […]

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04
Jun

Presence of Weed Killer Glyphosate in Human Sperm Elevates Debate on Pesticide Threats to Human Survival 

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2024) A study published in the most recent edition of the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety documents for the first time the presence of the herbicide glyphosate in human sperm. The study looked at 128 French men with an average age of 36 years who tested positive for glyphosate in their blood. Seventy-three out of the 128 men were found to also have glyphosate in their seminal plasma. Not only that, the amount of glyphosate in seminal plasma was nearly four times higher than what was detected in the blood.   Methods  The study involved a population of 128 infertile French men from whom seminal and blood plasma samples were collected. The study was conducted at the “Pole SantĂ© LĂ©onard de Vinci” medical center, located centrally near Tours, France. This region is recognized for its urban characteristics as well as being a major agricultural hub, particularly for grain and wine production. The study authors note, “This area reflects the common herbicide exposure in France” and the district ranks third highest in terms of pesticide purchases. While additional qualitative data was collected, only 47 of 128 participants fully completed a questionnaire about their profession, diet (organic or […]

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30
May

House Farm Bill Moves Out of Agriculture Committee Undermining Health, Ecosystems, and Democracy, Advocates Say

(Beyond Pesticides, May 30, 2024) The House Agriculture Committee voted 33-21 on May 23 to move the Farm, Food, and National Security Act out of committee after a contentious markup and onslaught of amendments that undermine water health, soil health, and local democratic authority to protect people and the environment from toxic pesticide exposure. One of nearly sixty amendments introduced in the markup last week included the continuation of a decade-long attack on National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit via Clean Water Act (CWA) for pesticide discharge. What was most illuminating however was not the passage of the bill itself, but Big Agriculture’s raucous approval. Advocates see pesticide industry and its allies’ support for what it is—the reliance on petrochemical-based pesticides leading to economic instability, ecosystem collapse, and the degradation of democratic institutions. With support for entrenched dependency on petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, the committee’s bill requires taxpayers to pay through the government’s crop insurance program for escalating losses caused by chemical-intensive farming practices, contributing to yield losses that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says are “natural causes such as drought, excessive moisture [e.g., floods], hail, wind, frost, insects, and disease. . .” However, the frequency of these […]

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02
May

Unregulated Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Potent Pesticide Impact Climate Crisis and Public Health

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2024) In the midst of a climate crisis and a lack of government recording of atmospheric measurements of sulfuryl fluoride (SO2F2), a study of the estimated emissions of sulfuryl fluoride throughout the U.S. shows elevated levels being released in California. The study, performed by researchers from Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, University of California’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Global Monitoring Laboratory, uses measurements from the NOAA Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network and a geostatistical inverse model. Sulfuryl fluoride is a fluoride compound and pesticide used primarily for the extermination of drywood termites and beetles—linked to increased greenhouse gas emissions and having acute exposure consequences—with little data collected or reported on the amount of sulfuryl fluoride being used and released into the atmosphere. There is a long history of limited protections for the public centered around sulfuryl fluoride, with regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not addressing both dietary and nondietary exposure to fluoride compounds and the body burden this creates. With the dismissal of aggregate risk exposure, public health and safety and environmental sustainability are not prioritized. Organic alternatives have been left out of the conversation, […]

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25
Apr

Wide Range of Harmful Effects of Pesticides Documented in Literature Review

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2024) In a study from earlier this year, “Pesticides: An alarming detrimental to health and environment,” scientists compiled research from 154 articles regarding pesticide use and the adverse effects they have on the environment and human health. Among the effects of the harmful pesticides described is genotoxicity—the alteration of genetic material that results in the mutations in DNA that cause cancer.  The authors state that “genotoxins are mutagenic chemicals, and exposure to them increases the risk of developing tumors, hormonal changes, DNA damage, and changes in the ovaries and eggs, all of which leading to cancers… The risk of DNA damage surges with increased genotoxicity in people exposed to pesticides.” In addition, the National Institute of Health states that all “pesticides are highly biologically active chemicals. They may interact with DNA and damage its structure.” Despite these documented risks, pesticide use continues to surge.  While phased out to a considerable extent after being widely used in agriculture and residential areas, organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) or its breakdown compound dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) continue to show up as residues in the environment and food supply. Symptoms in humans that have been exposed to these chemicals include: seizures, […]

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24
Apr

EPA Draft Herbicide Strategy Update Further Weakens Plan to Protect Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2024) On April 16, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an “update” to the Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework (Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework to Reduce Exposure of Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Species and Designated Critical Habitats from the Use of Conventional Agricultural Herbicides) that was released last summer, weakening aspects of the agency’s efforts to “protect” endangered species from herbicide use. The update outlines three types of modifications to the Draft Strategy, including “simplifying” its approach, increasing growers’ “flexibility” when applying mitigation measures, and reducing the mitigation measures required in certain situations. By reducing the stringency of the Strategy, advocates are again questioning EPA’s commitment to fulfilling legal requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or protecting endangered species and their habitats in the midst of an unprecedented rate of global extinction. ESA is celebrated as one of the most far-reaching conservation laws globally, credited with preventing the extinction of 99 percent of those species the government targets for protection, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). ESA establishes a framework to categorize species as “endangered” or “threatened,” granting them specific protections. Under ESA, EPA is required to consult with relevant agencies […]

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17
Apr

“Forever Chemical” PFAS Drinking Water Rules Issued, Urgency to Shift from Petrochemicals Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, April 17, 2024) With headlines drawing public attention to the contamination of drinking water after years of federal government neglect, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 10 new standards to reduce public exposure to PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because of their persistence. EPA has finalized a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for six PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, which EPA has recognized have no safe level of exposure, regulating new chemicals for the first time since the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). PFAS persistence and bioaccumulation in humans, wildlife, and the environment is due to the strength of a resulting fluorine–carbon atom bond. PFAS contamination of drinking water, surface and groundwater, waterways, soils, and the food supply—among other resources—is ubiquitous worldwide. PFAS is used in everyday products, including cookware, clothes, carpets, as an anti-sticking and anti-stain agent, in plastics, machinery, and as a pesticide. The action was welcomed by environmentalists and public health advocates as an important step but left many concerned that any level of exposure to these chemicals is unacceptable and critical of EPA’s ongoing failure to act despite years […]

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16
Apr

California Bill Would Ban Deadly Weedkiller, Paraquat, Linked to Parkinson’s Disease in Face of EPA Inaction

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2024) Citing serious health issues associated with its use, including Parkinson’s disease, and inaction by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the weed killer paraquat would be banned through legislation introduced in the California Assembly (AB 1963). Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), in the Assembly’s leadership, chair of the bicameral Environmental Caucus, and a self-described “steadfast advocate for the environment [and] sustainable communities,” introduced the legislation to phase out and ban the use of paraquat across all uses, including agriculture, by the end of 2025. The introduction of this bill follows a long history of scientific documentation of the pesticide’s hazards, fits and starts in the regulatory process, and previous efforts to ban the herbicide through legislative action. In 2018, U.S. Representative Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) introduced legislation (Protect Against Paraquat Act) to ban paraquat. In a 1986 factsheet, Beyond Pesticides wrote, “In mammals, paraquat attacks the epithelial tissues (the skin, nails, the cornea of the eye, and the linings of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract). There have also been reports of damage to the heart muscle and to nerves. It is easily absorbed through the skin as well as orally [and through inhalation]. Paraquat causes specific damage […]

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21
Mar

Hazardous Pesticide with Reproductive and Developmental Effects Enters U.S. Food Supply through Imported Food

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2024) Alarming levels of a hazardous pesticide plant growth regulator linked to reproductive and developmental effects, chlormequat, is found in 90% of urine samples in people tested, raising concerns about exposure to a chemical that has never been registered for food use in the U.S. but whose residues are permitted on imported food. Published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology in February 2024 and led by Environmental Working Group toxicologist Alexis Temkin, PhD, a pilot study finds widespread chlormequat exposure to a sampling of people from across the country. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations only permit the use of chlormequat on ornamental plants and not food crops grown in the U.S. As explained in the journal article, “In April 2018, the U.S. EPA published acceptable food tolerance levels for chlormequat chloride in imported oat, wheat, barley, and some animal products, which permitted the import of chlormequat into the U.S. food supply.” In 2020, EPA increased the allowable level of chlormequat in food. Then in April 2023, EPA proposed allowing the first-ever U.S. use of chlormequat on barley, oat, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), and wheat. Existing regulatory standards explain the […]

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18
Mar

Getting Toxics Out of Food Production and Communities Requires Strong Organic Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2024) Comments are due by 11:59 pm EDT on April 3, 2024. Organic standard setting provides for democratic input, full transparency, and continuous improvement. The current public comment period is an important opportunity for the public to engage with the organic rulemaking process to ensure that the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the USDA National Organic Program uphold the values and principles set forth in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). With the threats to health, biodiversity, and climate associated with petrochemical pesticide and fertilizer use in chemical-intensive land management, advocates stress that this is critical time to keep organic strong and continually improving. Organic maintains a unique place in the food system because of its high standards, public input, inspection system, and enforcement mechanism. But, organic will only grow stronger if the public participates in voicing positions on key issues to the NOSB, a stakeholder advisory board. Beyond Pesticides has identified key issues for the upcoming NOSB meeting below! The NOSB is receiving written comments from the public on key issues through April 3, 2024. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on April 23 and 25 and the deliberative hearing on April 29 through […]

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06
Mar

Inspector General Finds Widely Used Flea Collars Still Not Fully Evaluated by EPA 

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2024) With over 2,500 pet deaths and 900 reports of adverse effects to people, an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report, published on February 29, 2024, reveals multiple systemic failures by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), citing inadequate safety reviews of Seresto pet collars. The report, The EPA Needs to Determine Whether Seresto Pet Collars Pose an Unreasonable Risk to Pet Health, concludes, “The EPA’s response to reported pesticide incidents involving Seresto pet collars has not provided assurance that they can be used without posing unreasonable adverse effects to the environment, including pets.” At the time the animal effects made headlines in 2021, the agency defended the product’s registration, telling the media that, despite these incidents, EPA deemed Seresto collars “‘eligible for continued registration’ based on best available science, including incident data… No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk.” Despite the scathing criticism, EPA maintains the position that it conducted an adequate review of the two active insecticide ingredients in the pet collars—the neurotoxic insecticide flumethrin, and the notorious neonicotinoid imidacloprid—proven to have adverse effects on the endocrine system as […]

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29
Feb

Oregon Is the Latest State to Step In and Ban Widely Used Neurotoxic Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos, as EPA Stalls

(Beyond Pesticides, February 29, 2024)  In the face of federal inaction, an Oregon regulation banning the agricultural uses of the highly toxic chlorpyrifos took effect on January 1, 2024. Chlorpyrifos was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2000 for most residential uses by its manufacturer, Dow Chemical, and has been the subject of extensive litigation. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed most agricultural uses to continue. Oregon joins four other states that have acted to ban chlorpyrifos, including Hawai’i, New York, California, and Maryland.   Central to state action are nervous system and brain effects in children, especially farmworker children. Chlorpyrifos is banned in 39 countries, including the European Union (see here for more Beyond Pesticides coverage). State action has become important since the November 2023 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which overturned the EPA rule revoking all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos, an effective ban on chlorpyrifos use. The final EPA rule, issued in August 2021, came in response to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found the agency’s inaction on chlorpyrifos unlawful. The case was filed by Earthjustice, on behalf of public health, labor, and disability organizations.  The […]

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28
Feb

Attack on Vulnerable Species Pilot Project: Opportunities to Engage with EPA on Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2024) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is putting on hold its Vulnerable Species Project (VSP) after vociferous comments from the petrochemical pesticide industry to instead, “create a narrow, tailored policy rather than a sweeping, burdensome one,” according to a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Upon heavy pushback from the petrochemical pesticide industry and agribusiness, EPA is hosting a variety of workshops and openings for the public to provide feedback not just on VSP, but the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Workplan the Biden Administration originally introduced in 2021 in its entirety. Advocates are calling for the strengthening of pesticide regulation given the impending decisions that may shape the fate of ESA-FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) compliance for years to come. As EPA continues through its pesticide registration program to advance continued dependency on pesticides through its interpretation of FIFRA, despite the availability of nontoxic alternatives, endangered species extinction and biodiversity collapse has never been a high priority. While EPA has initiated efforts to address a significant backlog of pesticide evaluations, Civil Eats has reported that the agency faces a task so extensive that it may require several additional decades to fully catch up. EPA officials stated, “Even if EPA completed […]

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23
Feb

Bayer/Monsanto in Roundup/Glyphosate Case Stung with Largest Multi-Billion Dollar Jury Award, Asks States to Stop Litigation

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2024) The latest string of billion-dollar plaintiff judgments against Bayer/Monsanto, the maker of Roundup™ with active ingredient glyphosate, does not yet signal a capitulation by Bayer or a win for public health or the environment in the United States. A jury award of $2.25 billion, the largest to-date, was handed down in Philadelphia in January. As Beyond Pesticides reported previously, Monsanto has a long history of challenging scientific findings on Roundup/glyphosate and evidence of harm to human health, the environment, and crops themselves (see resistant super weeds here and here), as it seeks to avoid liability claims by those suffering from cancer.  Bayer Looking to State Legislatures for Protection from Lawsuits  As result of its failure in quash lawsuits, Bayer has moved its case to state legislatures, where it is seeking the adoption of statutes that preempt liability claims by damaged parties.  As reported by Beyond Pesticides, a rash of state legislation has been introduced in Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, and Florida, which would block plaintiff liability claims when pesticide products, like Roundup, cause harm. The chemical industry pushes the notion that the registration of its pesticide products with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a […]

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16
Feb

Disproportionate Pesticide Hazards to Farmworkers and People of Color Documented. . .Again

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2024) A report released in January, US pesticide regulation is failing the hardest-hit communities. It’s time to fix it, finds “people of color and low-income communities in the United States and around the world continue to shoulder the societal burden of harmful pollution.” More specifically, the authors state that “ongoing environmental injustice is the disproportionate impact these communities suffer from pesticides, among the most widespread environmental pollutants.” The report follows an earlier article by the same lead authors and others (see earlier coverage) on the long history of documented hazards and government failure to protect farmworkers from pesticide use in agriculture. In a piece posted by Beyond Pesticides earlier this week, the serious weaknesses in the worker protection standard for farmworkers are documented.   The latest report was led by Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center for Biological Diversity and Robert Bullard, known as the “Father of Environmental Justice” and executive director of the Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University in Houston. In addition to these authors, the 2022 review was coauthored by Jeannie Economos of the Farmworker Association of Florida, Iris Figueroa of Farmworker Justice, Jovita […]

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14
Feb

EPA’s Worker Protection Standard Fails to Protect Farmworkers’ Health, Report Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2024) The latest in a series of reports on the state of farmworker protection, released last December, highlights the long history of health threats, regulatory failures, and structural racism that is imbued in the chemical-intensive agricultural system that feeds the nation and world. The authors conclude that farmworkers “face a level of occupational risk unrivaled by most workers.” They continue: “From repeated exposure to pesticides and extreme heat, to injuries from machinery and repetitive motion, conditions on American farms involve myriad hazards. Meanwhile, a lack of access to healthcare and legal services, low wages, marginalization, language barriers, racism, and the threat of deportation among these largely immigrant communities compound their many challenges.” Describing the U.S. food system and the workers who serve as its foundation, Precarious Protection: Analyzing Compliance with Pesticide Regulations for Farmworker Safety is the third publication in a series of reports on farmworker health and safety, led by the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law and Graduate School and written with the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and the nonprofit group Farmworker Justice. Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and Farmworker Justice partnered on the […]

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07
Feb

Consumers Left High and Dry: Public Health Issues Persist with Cannabis Products and Production Practices

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2024) Sun + Earth Certified (SEC), a West Coast third-party regenerative organic certifier of cannabis products, approved the first certification for an East Coast farm in Brattleboro, Vermont – Rebel Grown. The expansion of independent certifications amidst the ongoing legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana usage raises questions on the regulation of toxic petrochemical pesticides found in a range of cannabis products. SEC does establish, in its standards, the use of “biopesticides…[o]nly if the product brand name is approved for use in certified organic farming.” Additionally, the label goes beyond the stringency of the National Organic Program in its policy on potassium bicarbonate as an approved input. For example, SEC standards dictate that this input should be, “[f]or pest control as a last resort only… [and] only if the product brand name is approved for use in certified organic farming.” Rebel Grown– the new farm that acquired the SEC label – owner reported to Brattleboro Reformer, “Cannabis grown regeneratively, under the sun and in the soil, without toxic chemicals, is not only high quality but also the best for the earth.” Before delving into the weeds, there is important legal context on current regulations regarding marijuana […]

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31
Jan

Planting the Seeds of Change: Why the European Union Struggles to Meet 2030 Organic Farming Target

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2024) A report published in December 2023 by the European Environment Agency (EEA) details opportunities and challenges to European organic farming targets for 2030. The European Union (EU) has set ambitious targets in its environmental policy—including the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F) and European Green Deal (EGD)—with the goal to have at least 25 percent of European farmland run on organic land management practices by 2030. The EU’s approach to organic farming and pesticide regulation on agricultural land in comparison to public and private land offers insightful lessons for advocates in the United States to apply to their campaigns. Some countries are ahead of the 25 percent by 2030 target, such as Austria, Estonia, and Sweden, with 20 percent of agriculture organically managed as of 2021. The German government is preparing to exceed the EU goal when the new coalition government presented a strategy last November outlining a 30 percent goal for 2030. Meanwhile, some countries are vastly underperforming—with Poland adding virtually zero farmland to organic production between 2012 and 2021. Overall, approximately 9.9 percent of total EU farmland follows organic standards as of 2021. At this rate, the EU will only meet 15 percent rather […]

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