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Archive for the 'Colorado' Category


Election Day Rundown on Pesticide Restrictions and GE Labeling: Victories and Setbacks

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2014) A mixed day for environmental and public health advocates everywhere, election day, November 4, 2014, brought victories and setbacks. While campaigns to  advance public health and environmental protections faltered, as did  supportive candidates, bright spots did poke through,  leading the way forward for future grassroots efforts. Ogunquit, Maine Pesticide Ban Small but determined, the town of Ogunquit, Maine re-passed an ordinance banning the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers on private property. Residents voted 444 to 297 in favor of the ban, sending an even stronger second-time approval of the initiative. The town passed a nearly identical ordinance earlier this year in June, however, it was decided that a procedural glitch of failing to notify the state’s pesticide board before passage of the ordinance, as well as a lack of agricultural exemptions, should be corrected through an amended ordinance and revote. The now double-confirmed law expands on existing pesticide use restrictions on town-owned property. The passage of this ordinance positions Ogunquit as a leader in the state for environmental sustainability and the protection of public health, and supports the Ogunquit Conservation Commission’s goals to ensure that the town’s popular beaches are clean and healthy for […]



Consumer Cost for GE Labeling Found To Be Minimal

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2014) A new analysis of published research finds that the median cost to consumers of requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food is $2.30 per person annually. The report, commissioned by Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, and conducted by the independent Portland-based economic research firm, ECONorthwest, arrives amidst the highly contested GE labeling initiative on Oregon’s November election ballot, Measure 92. Proponents of labeling say that the new research disputes claims made in ads opposing the initiative, which claim that labeling will force farmers and food producers to spend  “millions” and increase food costs for consumers. Consumers Union is a strong supporter of Oregon’s GMO labeling ballot initiative. “Given the minimal cost to consumers, the increased herbicide use involved in growing almost all genetically engineered crops, as well as the failure of government to require human safety assessments before genetically engineered foods reach the marketplace, GMO labeling is well worth it,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union. “Companies change their labeling all the time and with GMO labeling costing so little, it is likely some producers won’t even bother to pass the minimal increase on to consumers.” The […]



Tamarisk Tree’s Role as ‘Invasive’ in Southwest Questioned

(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2014) As drought persists across the western U.S., farmers, ranchers, and government authorities looking for solutions to water worries have picked a tough battle, and many are questioning whether it’s worth the fight. The target is the ”˜invasive,’ tamarisk tree, also known as salt cedar, a hardy evergreen that can grow nearly 60 feet tall, and has been labeled as a water glutton. In Arizona, many are heralding the arrival of the small tamarisk beetle, itself an ”˜invasive’ imported from Kazakhstan by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to control the spread of tamarisk trees. But numerous questions surrounding the campaign highlight a persistent national debate: Are invasives categorically bad or simply convenient scapegoats? Are the solutions worse than the current state of affairs? Can we permanently restore native habitat? In 2005, USDA approved the release of the tamarisk beetle in Colorado, Utah and a number of other western states. However, five years later, the agency made a quiet about-face on the campaign and stopped any further releases of the beetle into western habitat. The stated reason for the cancellation was “potential effects on the critical habitat of the federally-listed, endangered southwestern willow flycatcher,” notes […]



First Colorado “Bee Safe” Neighborhood Established

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2014) Just in time for Pollinator Week, the Melody-Catalpa neighborhood of Boulder has become the first “bee-safe” locality in Colorado that has pledged to not use neonicotinoids and other systemic pesticides in the community, in an effort to protect bees and other pollinators, and provide safe forage and habitat. Melody-Catalpa joins other small communities across the country in taking a stand against bee decline by committing to not use pesticides toxic to bees and other pollinators. The small community north of Boulder signed a pledge not to use neonicotinoids and similar systemic pesticides, and is buzzing with excitement over earning the distinction. This past spring, the City of Eugene, Oregon became the first community in the nation to specifically ban from city property the use of  neonicotinoid pesticides, citing recent research demonstrating a link between pesticides that contain neonicotinoids and the loss of plant pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, butterflies, moths, and other beneficial  insects. Melody-Catalpa’s grassroots action began earlier this year when three neighborhood residents banded together to sign on about 20 volunteers to go door to door to get more than half of the area’s 389 households to sign a pledge not to […]



Vermont Prepared for Challenges to GE Labeling Law

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2014) Vermont is currently gearing up to defend against possible litigation its groundbreaking law to label genetically engineered (GE) food ingredients. The law, which is the first of its kind in the nation, was specially written so that it created  the Food Fight Fund that allows individuals to donate to defend the law if it were to be challenged in court. The Vermont law and polling data  show that consumers strongly want to know what is going into their food and are willing to stand up to industries that do not want consumers to have this right. As of the first week of June, the  Food Fight Fund raised just over $15,000, with over $$9,000 of it coming from outside the state. Most of the donations come in small amounts of less than $50, which is indicative of the grassroots structure of the GE labeling movement. The fund will be the initial money used by the Vermont attorney general’s office if the state’s GE labeling law is challenged in court. Currently, the $15,000 is not  enough funds to cover legal fees to  defend this law. Lawsuits brought against the state, according to testimony by Assistant Attorney […]



Sewage Sludge (Biosolids) Contaminants Move to Groundwater

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2014) New research conducted in Colorado by the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) that examines contaminant transport of biosolids ””otherwise known as sewage sludge”” in soils, has found that the toxic fertilizer can leave traces of household chemicals, antibacterial, and prescription drugs. The research adds to existing evidence of the hazards of sewage sludge fertilizer by demonstrating that chemical contaminants are sufficiently mobile and persistent that they can easily be transported to groundwater, with implication for local drinking water. The study, entitled Dissipation of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Biosolids Applied to Nonirrigated Farmland in Eastern Colorado,  sampled  regional wheat fields treated with sewage sludge processed in a nearby sewage treatment plant in order to determine contaminant levels and transport in soils. Researchers tested for a total of 57 contaminants of emerging concerns””chemicals that are increasingly being discovered in waters. Tests found chemicals ranging from antibacterial soaps, chemical cleaners, cosmetics, fragrances, and prescription drugs, such as the antidepressant Prozac and the blood thinner Warfarin, which had migrated down the soil column. In fact, 10 of the chemicals examined migrated to depths of 7 to 50 inches over 18 months after treated sewage sludge was applied. “These compounds […]



Colorado GMO Labeling Initiative Overcomes Challenge by Industry

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2014) Ruling on a  challenge by biotech industry interests, the Colorado Supreme Court on March 13 authorized the Right to Know Colorado ballot initiative to label GMO foods, clearing the way to begin collecting over 86,000 signatures needed for a 2014 statewide ballot measure. In overturning a major challenge by the biotech industry, pesticide, and grocery interests to a statewide GMO labeling ballot initiative, the Colorado State Supreme Court affirmed Colorado consumer’s right to determine whether the presence of genetically engineered foods should be labeled on food packaging. The State Supreme Court ruling allows the Right to Know Colorado campaign, a grassroots effort established by local residents to achieve mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients ( commonly known as GMOs) in foods, to begin circulating petitions for signatures to place the initiative on the November 2014 ballot. Colorado requires 86,105 valid signatures to be submitted by early August to place an initiative on the ballot. Once on the ballot, Colorado will vote on whether labeling should be required for GE foods. The campaign plans to partner with local farmers, farmers markets, moms, faith-based organizations, natural, organic and non-GE food retailers, and other health, sustainability and […]



With Legalization of Marijuana, Chemical-Intensive Production Practices Questioned

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2013) As medical and recreational production of marijuana in the U.S. increases, new and complicated questions have risen over how to limit consumers’ exposure to pesticides through marijuana consumption. Many growers are facing limited institutional knowledge and economic forces that could lead to the unnecessary use of pesticides. States are also still wrestling with the adequate  regulation of production and testing practices. Exposure to pesticides from marijuana consumption may also be more harmful than exposure through food consumption when consumed through inhalation. As marijuana consumption becomes more widely legalized, many are calling for  stronger safety standards for marijuana production. Alan Schreiber, Ph.D., President of the Agriculture Development Group, believes that the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington will lead to immense demand for pest prevention research. Currently, growers of marijuana lack institutional assistance from federal agencies or state agricultural extension services, which have limited understanding of marijuana production. There is a concern that the lack of  field research and increased demand may lead to heavy pesticide use. In Washington, the state will allow the equivalent of 46 acres to be grown for recreational use, a factor that Dr.. Schreiber says will drive most […]



Genetic Engineering Labeling Bill to be Introduced in U.S. Congress

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2013) Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) announced last Wednesday that he intends to co-sponsor a bill in Congress along with Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to mandate the labeling of food containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in the U.S. Earlier this week, the Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee held a public hearing on state House Bill 0903, which would set requirements for labeling and disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients in food.  Other state labeling efforts have been launched in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Oregon, Missouri and Washington. More than 90 percent of Americans believe that foods with GE ingredients should be required to be labeled; however, Rep. Polis recognizes that it is still going to be tough to get enough votes to pass. Corporate opponents have spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying against GE labeling, and a bill introduced in the state of Colorado by Representative Jeanne Labuda (D-Denver) to label GE foods was stopped after just five hours of testimony. The House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee in Denver voted 7-2 against the bill just a day after Rep. Polis’ announcement. Despite testimony from concerned consumers, parents, and health advocates, the committee said the […]



Goat Weeding Takes Off in Durango, Colorado

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2012) Eight miles south of Durango, Colorado in a 65-acre plot of barren land an unusual set of guests has set out to manage weeds, restore soils, and improve land quality. Land owner Kim Craden, who shares the land with Chevron Corp, has contracted Lani Malmberg, board member of Beyond Pesticides, with her herd of 850 goats to help restore their property. This follows the recent ordinance that eschews chemical fertilizers and pesticides in favor of an organically maintained system on public land. Until recently, the land in question had hosted a holding pond owned by Chevron and used for the oil exploration and production of wastewater. It had been grandfathered into statewide rules governing wastewater management, until a riding arena was built just across the road. When faced with bringing the pond into compliance with state security, signage, and fencing requirements, Chevron decided to close the pond, reclaim the land, and restore the surrounding area. They contracted Ms. Malmberg, who had already worked for city and county governments, the Department of Defense, federal public land agencies, and numerous private ventures. Needless to say, her herd of goats has an impressive track record. Ms. Malmberg has […]



Parents Cancel Soccer Game Due to Hazardous Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2012) Concerned parents in Durango, Colorado created uproar last week when they discovered a synthetic weed killer containing at least two possible carcinogens would be applied to the athletic fields before Saturday’s games. Though the city enacted the Organically Managed Lands Program last month, the current season’s contracts with pest control companies have not yet been canceled. However, it seems that the efforts of local organizers and the city council have still left an impression on parents, and the city decided to at least postpone all youth soccer games that were scheduled after the spray. “I believe these chemicals are harmful, and it’s best for my son not to be exposed to them,” said Sheryl McGourty, one of the mothers who, according to



Organic Land Management Ordinance Proposed in Durango, Colorado

(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2012) A proposed ordinance that eschews chemical fertilizers and pesticides in favor of an organically maintained system on public land in Durango, CO will be up for debate tonight, and, if denied, will wind up on the city’s November ballot. The ordinance was put together by a group of local advocates, Organically Managed Parks Durango. The group utilized a petition process defined in the City Charter, which gives voters the power to propose ordinances to the City Council which must either approve the ordinance or send it back to residents for a vote. The ordinance, based on Beyond Pesticides’ model policy, focuses on developing healthy soil and would appoint an organic land management coordinator to oversee the program. The ordinance also allows for pesticides to be used in the case of a public health emergency only after all other options have been exhausted. A summary of the ordinance, according to the group: An ordinance mandating the implementation of an organic land management program for all city parks, open space, trails, lawns, playgrounds, sports fields, rights-of-way and other real property owned or leased by the City; using organic fertilizers and eliminating the use of synthetic fertilizers on […]



Ruling Protects Organic Farm from Pesticide Trespass

(Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2012) In a victory for human health and organic farmers, the District Court in Delta, Colorado granted a permanent injunction last week to prohibit a farmer from fogging for moquitoes within 150 feet of his neighbor’s property or allowing the pesticides to drift, considering this to be a form of trespass. The victory is important for organic growers and others who are frequently under threat of pesticide drift from neighboring properties. Judge Charles Greenacre determined that an application of the insecticide, Fyfanon, a form of malathion, had drifted, and thus trespassed, onto the neighboring organic farm of Rosemary Bilchak and her husband, Gordon MacAlpine. In granting the permanent injunction, Judge Greenacre decided that: “Plaintiffs have an interest, shared by the public in general, in not having their property invaded by third persons or things. Plaintiffs also have a specific interest in not having pesticides invade their property because such invasions will delay or negate their efforts to have their property certified for the production of organic crops.” Last year, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that pesticides drifting from one farm to another may constitute trespass, and courts in other states have ruled in favor of […]



Aspen City Council Considers Pesticides Pre-Notification Law

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2011) Aspen City, Colorado, is considering mandating pre-notification of pesticide use so that neighbors and passersby can avoid being exposed to possible toxic chemicals. The notification provides for a 48-hour notice before application, as well as information on the pesticide to be used and its potential health effects. However, the Council stopped short of banning pesticide use outright throughout the city until it could gather additional information on the legal ramification of challenging state preemption law. City Council staff last week requested direction from the Council on whether notification should be required before spraying pesticides, whether minimal restrictions should be imposed on homeowners who spray and whether the city should draft an ordinance that would challenge state preemption laws. Council members are in consensus that the city should move toward mandating pre-notification, and in the meantime continue educational outreach regarding land management practices, which can be more effective than pesticide use. Currently, state law requires pesticide applicators to post notices on properties after they have been sprayed, but not before. While an outright ban would challenge state law, mandating pre-notification would sidestep it. Local governments cannot directly regulate commercial pesticide applicators, but they can regulate homeowners’ […]



Boulder County To Decide on Potential GMO Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2011) A citizen advisory council in Boulder County, Colorado is preparing to decide on whether or not to recommend that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) be banned from county lands. The County’s Croplands Policy Advisory Group will meet on Wednesday, August 10 (agenda packet here) to decide if they want farmers who plant their crops on county land to be able to be able to grow crops that have been genetically modified. With organic farmers around the country worried about potential contamination of their crops with GMO pollen following a number of recent regulatory decisions, the citizen council model may represent a good way for communities to come together and find a solution. Currently, many farmers grow on land owned by the county, and some want to plant GMOs to stay competitive with other farmers around the country. However, some citizens of the county are concerned about the widespread use of GMOs and the increased reliance on agricultural chemicals that usually accompanies them. Organic farmers in the area are also very worried. Recent decisions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have led to the deregulation of several genetically engineered varieties of common crops, including alfalfa and sugar […]



Denver Parents Present Signatures to School Board to Stop Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2011) The Edison Elementary Green Team, a group of concerned parents in Denver, Colorado asked the Denver Public School Board Monday to stop the use of harmful chemicals. The group has been petitioning for almost a month now, collecting over 1,000 signatures of concerned parents and community members urging the school board to reconsider its contract with TruGreen ChemLawn which ends on July 1- tomorrow. The issue began for Nicole Baumann, one of the concerned parents who started the petition, when she heard other parents describe an incident when TruGreen sprayed the herbicide 2,4-D on school grounds while kids were playing soccer and parents were standing outside waiting to pick up their children. School officials say they do not know what happened that day; however Trena Deane, executive director of facilities management for Denver Public Schools (DPS) told Education News Colorado that they have no reason to believe TruGreen was misapplying them, and that the chemicals are typically not toxic unless they are used inappropriately. “These kids are rolling around in the grass,” Ms. Baumann told Change.org. “Our kids’ immune systems are not really developed yet. They’re susceptible. Why would we knowingly apply this where our […]



Join Us at Sustainable Community, the 29th National Pesticide Forum

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2011) From protecting pollinators, managing bed bugs, banning genetic engineering to going organic in the food we eat and the way we manage our yards, parks and open spaces – these are just a few of the pressing health and environmental issues that will be addressed at Sustainable Community: Practical solutions for health and the environment, the 29th National Pesticide Forum, April 8-9 at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, Colorado. Beyond Pesticides, says about the conference, “This national forum convenes at a critical crossroads —as we strive for sustainability in our personal and community choices. Central to the concept of sustainability are the issues and practices addressed at this gathering that challenge us to adopt strategies to protect and nurture the web of life in the context of economic pressures that raise affordability issues.” The program begins Friday evening and continues through Saturday night. Registration is $35 ($5 for students) and includes all sessions and organic food. The conference is cosponsored by Colorado School of Public Health – Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Denver Beekeepers Association, Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club, Slow Food Denver, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, Denver Urban […]



Colorado Kids Rally Against Herbicide Use In Parks

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2010) Disturbed to learn that an advisory committee in his community in Boulder, Colorado had approved two new herbicides for use on city parks, a 9-year-old environmental activist organized a group of some two dozen children to protest the potential use of the herbicides in front of the Boulder County Courthouse last Friday. Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez is a third grader who loves playing kickball and baseball in Boulder city parks. But then he heard that the advisory committee had approved two new herbicides for use on city parks. “I didn’t think it was right,” he said. “The children of this generation should be able to grow up without worrying about the air they’re breathing or the grass they’re playing on.” The Integrated Pest Management Subcommittee – made up of representatives of three city boards – recommended that Boulder add the herbicides, Tenacity and Barricade, to the list of allowed turf treatments. Xiuhtezcatl organized a group of some two dozen children to protest the potential use of the herbicides. They gathered Friday in front of the Boulder County Courthouse on the Pearl Street Mall waving hand-lettered signs that read “Let us play in clean parks,” “We love dandelions” […]



Boulder Activists Successful in Delaying Herbicide Spraying

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2007) Boulder, CO, officials will delay spraying herbicide in a community park for at least a year, after activists protested last Wednesday the pesticide application to control the spread of a noxious weed. The herbicide Plateau, whose active ingredient is the ammonium salt of imazapic, would have been sprayed over jointed goatgrass, an invasive, non-native plant. About a dozen people, including children, gathered Wednesday morning at Foothills Community Park to distribute information on their concerns about the health effects of spraying the herbicide. More people called in to express their opposition, prompting officials to halt the spraying, said Paul Bousquet, spokesman for the city’s parks and recreation department. Boulder City Manager Frank Bruno said the decision to delay herbicide spraying at the park was made because the weed situation is not a life-threatening one. “This isn’t a situation where the people pushed and the city blinked,” said Bruno. “We’re all in this together. We can take a strategic moment to explain what we’re doing.” Bousquet said that the herbicide is safe, but that officials want to better educate the community on its health and safety information. The delay will allow the city to distribute information, as […]



Controversy Surrounds Aurora Again

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2007) Aurora Organic Dairy, found earlier this year by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be in “willful” violation of organic standards, is once again the subject of claims made by the Cornucopia Institute. In its findings, USDA had announced that Aurora “labeled and represented milk as organically produced, when such milk was not produced and handled in accordance with the National Organic Program [NOP] regulations.” As a result of this report, Cornucopia, whose research and original complaint initiated USDA’s investigation, has brought class action suits in Denver, St. Louis, and federal courts, which allege “consumer fraud, negligence, and unjust enrichment concerning the sale of organic milk by the company. “The basis of Cornucopia’s suit centers around milk sold before USDA’s organic certifier, Quality Assurance International (QAI), filed a notice of the violations found. Cornucopia’s Mark Kastel argued that the milk sold in the more than three years prior to QAI’s findings hurt smaller players in the organic industry, as well as consumers. “Aurora’s actions have injured the reputation of more than 1,500 legitimate organic dairy farmers who are faithfully following federal organic rules and regulations,” he said. “We cannot allow these families to […]



A Tale of Two Colorado Cities and WNv Disease Control

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2007) Recently published research comparing two adjacent Colorado cities shows an unexpected correlation between West Nile virus (WNv), mosquito control programs and human behavior factors. Northern Colorado experienced major outbreaks of human WNv disease in 2003. However, the neuroinvasive disease rates recorded were higher in Loveland (38.6 vs. 15.9 per 100,000), which had a more extensive mosquito control program and fewer mosquitoes, than adjacent Fort Collins. The study, entitled “Behavioral Risks for West Nile Virus Disease, Northern Colorado, 2003” (Gujral et al., Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 13, No. 3), calls into question the ability of spray programs to actually reduce the risk and transmission of the virus. Additionally, it shows spray programs may be giving communities a false sense of security, and re-emphasizes the importance of personal preventative measures in lowering disease rates. During the height of the outbreak, from July 26 to September 5, 2003, the number of mosquitoes (Cx. tarsalis and Cx. pipiens) collected per trap night was higher in Fort Collins than in Loveland, and the WNv infection rates of the mosquitoes were approximately equivalent in the two cities during that period. In other words, more WNv-infected mosquitoes were present in Fort Collins […]



Fracking Biocides Pose Danger to West

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2007) With little oversight from the federal government, a myriad of chemicals are being injected underground in the name of energy exploration in the West. Among these chemicals, biocides are considered to pose a serious threat to environmental and public health. Hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking” or “frac’ing” for short, is the process approximately 90 percent of oil and gas wells in the U.S. undergo to facilitate extraction. Biocides are used to kill microorganisms that can interfere with other fluids and methods used to stimulate extraction, and to prevent corrosion to pipes. Thousands of wells are popping up over Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and New Mexico, many of which are located on private property, and some directly adjacent to homes. Many property owners do not own adequate mineral rights to what lies under their land and are rendered powerless to stop energy exploration. With minimal federal oversight, wells, roads and pipelines are established rapidly in these areas bringing heavy traffic, noisy equipment, and air, soil and water pollution. In 2005, the oil and gas industry was granted an exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act, allowing the injection of toxic fluids directly into groundwater without oversight by […]