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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Florida' Category


20
Jan

Save the Date, April 17-18: Agricultural Justice, Age of Organics, and Alligators: Protecting health, biodiversity, and ecosystems

(Beyond Pesticides, January 20, 2015) The 33rd National Pesticide Forum,  Agricultural Justice, Age of Organics, and Alligators: Protecting health, biodiversity, and ecosystems,  will be held April 17-18, 2015 (Friday afternoon and all day Saturday) at the Florida A&M University College of Law (FAMU) in Orlando, FL. The 2015 conference is convened by Beyond Pesticides, Farmworker Association of Florida, and FAMU. Co-sponsors include Agricultural Justice Project, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Florida A&M University Small Farms Program, Florida Organic Growers, Food and Water Watch Florida, Just Harvest USA, Orange Audubon Society, Youth & Young Adult Network (YAYA) of the National Farmworker Ministry. If your group is interested in joining as a co-sponsor, please feel free to email us. This year’s conference will focus on agricultural justice, including the impact of pesticide use on human health and the environment, particularly as it relates to farmworker protections and organic agriculture. Biodiversity, pollinator protection, and other relevant issues for central Florida, including West Nile virus, pesticides in schools and hospitals, and genetic engineering will also be covered. The 33rd National Forum provides an opportunity to share the current science and policy information and discuss local, state, and national issues. The conference, including a tour in […]

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08
May

Elevated Levels of Glyphosate in U.S. Mothers’ Breast Milk

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2014) – Two citizen groups have taken the initial step toward debunking chemical-industry claims that glyphosate, the world’s most widely-used herbicide, does not bioaccumulate or metabolize in humans. The pilot study, conducted by Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse, looked at ten breast-milk samples and 35 urine samples from across America and 21 drinking water samples. The groups commissioned Microbe Inotech Labs to conduct the analysis, and what they found raises some serious questions about the prevalence and persistence of glyphosate. In breast milk, three of the ten samples tested reveal high levels of glyphosate, meaning that the amount of glyphosate found  is between 76 ug/l to 166 ug/l. The highest glyphosate level detected in a mother is from Florida (166 ug/l) and the other two mothers with “positive” results are from Virginia (76 ug/l) and Oregon (99 ug/l). While these levels fall under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 700 ug/l, across the pond in Europe this range of exposure is 1,000 higher than what is deemed safe. From the 35 urine samples received from across the U.S., 13 samples are above the minimum detectable level. The three […]

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04
Oct

Citrus Farmers and Beekeepers at odds over Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2013)  It was hoped that a  recent meeting in Florida between beekeepers and citrus growers could create stronger communication between both agricultural sectors. Beekeepers in Florida have begun to voice growing concerns over the increased use of insecticides on citrus trees where their bees are used as pollinators. Though this meeting worked to set up an important dialog between beekeepers and citrus growers, it focused predominantly on the effects of accidental exposure. This focus does not take into account the long-term residues these systemic insecticides can leave in the environment, contaminating nectar and pollen.     The recent September meeting that was organized by the Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putman, a former U.S. congressman and citrus farmer, was meant to start a dialog between citrus growers and beekeepers. This dialog was viewed as necessary by Florida’s Department of Agriculture as beekeepers are worried over the increased use of insecticides in citrus groves. Recently, citrus farmers have increased their use of insecticides from several times a year to applications every month or greater to combat the invasive Asian citrus pysllids. Asian citrus pysllids can infect trees with a bacterium that causes citrus greening. Honey bees in Florida […]

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05
Sep

Orange Grower Fined for Killing of Honey Bees with Pesticide Widely Linked to Bee Kills

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2013) One of Florida’s largest citrus growers, Ben Hill Griffin, Inc., has been fined a mere $1,500 after a state investigation found that the farm illegally sprayed pesticides, resulting in the death of millions of managed honey bees. Beekeeper Randall Foti, a Crystal River-based beekeeper of 42 years, reported the bee kill to the state back in March. According to Mr. Roti, millions of his bees, as well as those owned by beekeeper Barry Hart of Fargo, GA, were dead as a result of over a dozen aerial pesticide sprayings in the orange groves. He estimates that due to the bee kills, his colonies were only able to produce half the amount of honey, resulting in a loss of $240,000 from honey alone. ”Every four days, they were spraying seven or eight different types of chemicals,” Mr. Foti told the Palm Beach Post.  “A $1,500 fine is not much of a deterrent.” Though this is the first time the state of Florida has taken action against a citrus grower for a reported bee kill in relation to a pesticide violation, the Palm Beach Post reports that beekeepers have been arguing for this type of action since […]

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13
May

New Report Details Mounting Bee Losses

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2013) According to preliminary results of a survey by the Bee Informed Partnership, 31.1 percent of managed honey bee colonies in the U.S. were lost during the 2012/2013 winter.   Though these preliminary loss reports are similar to the past six year average of 30.5 percent, the new loss numbers represent a 42 percent increase compared to the previous winter. Survey participants indicate that they consider a loss rate of 15 percent as “acceptable,” but 70 percent of participants suffered losses greater than this. With continued winter bee losses of over 30%, and concern whether there will be enough bees to pollinate U.S. crops this year, beekeepers and environmentalists say it is imperative  that regulators act by banning the neonicotiniod pesticides that have been implicated in the global decline of honey bee populations. In addition to this national report, several state level incidents of large scale honey bee colony losses have been reported. In a recent incident in Florida, citrus groves experienced an acute foliar poisoning that resulted in severely damaged colonies. Oranges had an early bloom this year, and were still blooming near the end of April. One beekeeper’s colonies suffered immense losses due to […]

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26
Apr

Report Describes Dangers Female Farmworkers Face in the U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2013) Female agricultural workers experience the same hardships as their male counterparts, but have additional responsibilities and danger at home and in the field, according to a report released by the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP). While women make up only 22 percent of agricultural labor in the U.S., AFOP makes a strong argument that women face disproportionate burdens, while at the same time earning less for their labor: On average they earn  just over $11,000 per year compared to male agricultural workers who earn $16,000. Through hundreds of interviews and focus groups of female farmworkers in California and Florida, AFOP revealed some of the most dangerous  conditions associated with farm work, among the worst being pesticide exposure. Carmela, a farmworker from Florida, indicated in the AFOP report that, “More than anything else, we have problems with pesticides. Sometimes they put us to work right after they’ve sprayed the pesticides. And this is bad for us because when we go in the field and start working with the plants, it gets in our eyes. It makes your head hurt too.” According to the EPA’s “Pesticide Industry Sales and Usage: 2000 and 2001 Market Estimates,” female […]

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25
Oct

Judge Halts GE Crops on Southeastern Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2012) In stark contrast with last week’s decision in the midwest, a federal court ruled in favor of halting cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in all national wildlife refuges in the Southeastern U.S. on Tuesday. The suit, filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Center for Food Safety (CFS), and Beyond Pesticides, is a part of a series of legal actions taken against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (FWS) for entering into cooperative farming agreements for GE crops on wildlife refuge sites without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and refuge management laws. This latest ruling bars FWS from entering into cooperative farming agreements for GE crops on the 128 refuges across eight states, including the 25 refuges currently growing GE crops. The requirement of environmental reviews will likely prevent the planting of crops in 2013 and 2014, and may result in a permanent end to the practice, as native successional grasses reclaim fallow refuge tracts. This ruling is the third in a series of victories against FWS. In March 2009, the same groups won a similar lawsuit against GE plantings on Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. In […]

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03
Feb

Research Shows Structural IPM Confronts Pests and Reduces Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2012) A new study recently published in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management (JIPM) shows that from 2003 to 2008 the use of insecticide active ingredients was reduced by about 90% in University of Florida (UF) housing buildings after an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program was implemented. The results of the study show that pest pressure was effectively managed throughout this period as well. These findings demonstrate that IPM can be an effective management tool for institutional pest problems, confronting pests while reducing human exposure to dangerous chemicals. IPM is a systematic approach to managing pests based on long-term prevention or suppression by a variety of methods that are cost effective and minimize risks to human health and the environment. The goal of urban IPM is to manage pests primarily by prevention and elimination of their access to food, water and harborages, exclusion techniques that seal entryways, as well as changes in human behavior. Low-toxicity insecticides were used only when necessary. In their article “Advancement of Integrated Pest Management in University Housing,” the JIPM authors find that the IPM program helps to virtually eliminate the use of hydramethylnon, borate, desiccants, organophosphates, fipronil, and pyrethroids, and they […]

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29
Oct

Florida Golf Course Discontinues Use of Arsenic Weed Killer

(Beyond Pesticides, October 29, 2009) Concerns from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about groundwater contamination in a golf course have temporarily halted the use of an herbicide by the Tampa Sports Authority. Recent soil and groundwater testing in Tampa has revealed higher than acceptable levels of arsenic that may be attributed to the use of the arsenical herbicide monosodium methanearsonate (MSMA) on the golf course, Rogers Park. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, chronic exposure to organic arsenic, such as MSMA, is known to cause cancer and has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and declines in brain functions. It is also been identified as a potential leacher and is toxic to birds, fish, aquatic organisms and bees. EPA’s Reregulation Eligibility Decision (RED) states that most uses of this product as well as other arsenical herbicides, disodium methanearsonate (DSMA) and hydroxydimethylarsine oxide (cacodylic acid, or sodium salt) are banned except for use on cotton, and will be phased out by the end of 2013, in two phases. In the meantime, many new restrictions apply in an attempt to protect water resources. For instance, MSMA use on golf […]

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25
Feb

State Fails To Protect Workers in Pesticide Lawsuit

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2009) After three years of legal battle, the North Carolina Pesticide Board on February 19, 2009 fined Florida-based Ag-Mart Produce Inc. a substantially lower fine of $3,000 than the originally proposed $185,000, after deciding that it can only prove six of about 200 worker safety accusations that had been levied against the company. This comes less than a month after the unprecedented ruling against Ag-Mart in New Jersey, where the company was ordered to pay penalties of more than $931,000 for misusing pesticides and jeopardizing the health and safety of workers in its New Jersey farm fields and packing houses. The Florida-based company, described as one of the biggest pesticide offenders, has been accused of routinely exposing hundreds of workers to toxic chemicals. Investigators in North Carolina, Florida and New Jersey, the three states where the international company grows its tomatoes, scrutinized the company’s records and charged it with ignoring laws intended to keep workers safe from toxic pesticide residue. The investigators alleged workers were sent into the fields too soon after dangerous chemicals had been sprayed. The case started three years ago when some workers gave birth to babies with severe birth defects. One mother […]

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29
Sep

Air Monitoring Near School Finds Hazardous Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2008) A new study by Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) confirms that school children in Florida continue to breathe air contaminated by hazardous pesticides. Air monitoring near South Woods Elementary School in Hastings detected four agricultural chemicals in the air, often at levels that pose unacceptable risks to children. The report mirrors the results of a similar study released in April 2007, confirming the existence of an ongoing problem of pesticide contamination that is more extensive than previously documented. The new test results show that in October, November and December 2007 the air in Hastings was contaminated with the pesticides endosulfan, diazinon https://www.beyondpesticides.org/gateway/pesticide/diazinon.htm, trifluralin and chlorothalonil. Of these, two are neurotoxins, two are suspected carcinogens, and three are or will soon be banned in Europe. Endosulfan, the pesticide of greatest concern, was found in 87% of the samples, and, on several days, exceeded levels of concern. The air monitoring was conducted by concerned area residents using a “Drift Catcher” device, a simple air sampling system that sucks air into tubes, where the pesticides are absorbed and captured. The tubes are then sent to a laboratory, where the chemicals can be identified and the concentrations measured. […]

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17
Jul

In Agricultural Areas, Male Toads Feminized

(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2008) In a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers have found an increased occurrence of intersex toads in areas with greater agricultural land cover. This points to a link between certain pesticides and endocrine disruption, a change in the hormonal balance that can have sexual and reproductive effects. Such results implicate pesticides in the decline of amphibian populations, and suggests that these chemicals are also adversely affecting humans. The study, which was conducted in south Florida, looked at cane toads, Bufo marinus, at five sites with differing land use patterns ranging from suburban to nearly completely agricultural (primarily sugarcane and vegetables). Researchers examined physical characteristics such as coloration, sexual organs, and forelimb length, as well as hormone concentrations, and found a higher rate of feminization for toads in agricultural areas. In these areas, glyphosate (the active ingredient in Round Up herbicide) and atrazine (an herbicide) use is common. Tyrone Hayes, PhD, was one of the first to document the endocrine disrupting effects of atrazine on frogs in a laboratory setting. Countering any doubts of why this work is important, Dr. Hayes said, “People often say, ”˜It is just frogs, so who cares?’ Well it […]

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28
Mar

Ag-Mart Settles Birth Defect Case

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2008) Three years ago, Carlos Candelario was born without arms or legs and with spinal and lung deformities, birth defects caused by his mother’s exposure to multiple pesticides while working in Ag-Mart Produce fields during her pregnancy. His parents, Francisca Herrera and Abraham Candelario, sued the company in 2006, and last week’s settlement will provide for Carlos for the rest of his life, pending a judge’s approval. “I am as gratified about this case as any I’ve ever handled,” said attorney Andrew Yaffa. “This child has tremendous needs and needed somebody willing to speak on his behalf. Every medical need will be taken care of as a result of this settlement.” Ag-Mart has a history of state pesticide violations and use of extremely toxic pesticides (although in 2005, the company did agree to discontinue use of chemicals linked to reproductive risks, excepting methyl bromide, which is still in use). The company grows “UglyRipe” heirloom tomatoes and Santa Sweets grape tomatoes in a chemical-intensive operation. Ms. Herrera and Mr. Candelario worked alongside other migrant workers in North Carolina and Florida fields at the time of Ms. Herrera’s exposure. Both Florida and North Carolina have published reports on […]

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05
Sep

School Districts Call for Reduced Pesticide Use in Florida

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2007) The Duval County School Board, along with other school districts in Florida, is preparing to change its schools’ pest control management strategies by making the use of pesticides on school grounds the last resort, rather than routinely spraying, by instituting an integrated pest management (IPM) program. The school board will vote on a $195,000 annual contract with Terminix for the IPM program that may cut the use of pesticides by half. This new measure is in response to calls to reduce pesticide use in schools, especially in light of recent studies that have shown that small children are vulnerable to the chemicals found in pesticides. Children face higher risks than adults from pesticide exposure due to their small size, tendency to place their hands close to their face, engaging in activities on or near the ground, greater intake of air and food relative to body weight, developing organ systems and other unique characteristic. Asthma, and other respiratory illnesses have been closely associated with pesticide exposure. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a program of prevention, monitoring and control. It offers the opportunity to eliminate or drastically reduce pesticide use in schools and to minimize the toxicity […]

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09
Jul

Florida Gators Need Win Over Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2007) New field and laboratory research reveals that organochlorine pesticides reduce the hatching rate of alligator eggs. This finding adds to previous studies demonstrating that pesticides cause endocrine disruption in alligators, resulting in poorly developed reproductive organs. American alligators, which were delisted from the endangered species list in the late 1980s, are still experiencing low hatching rates around contaminated wetlands. In Florida, many wetlands were converted or are adjacent to farmlands and some farmlands have been restored back into wetlands in efforts to improve ecosystem health. Agricultural runoff has altered the surrounding aquatic environments by depositing pesticide residuals and skewing nutrient levels. Organochlorine pesticides, such as chlordane, toxaphene and dieldrin, have been especially problematic due to their persistent nature. The link between pesticides and reproductive problems in alligators has been firmly established since the 1990s. University of Florida zoologist Louis Guillette, Ph.D., found pesticides are linked to smaller penises and abnormal egg development in exposed alligators. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission official Allan Woodward has also observed fewer hatches around lakes with high pesticide levels. He reports the hatching rate has improved around Lake Apopka, a large lake in central Florida, during the last two […]

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03
Apr

Florida Restricts Phosphate Fertilizers To Improve Water Quality

(Beyond Pesticides, April 3, 2007) Responding to concerns about the state’s polluted waterways, Florida will become the first in the nation to enact a statewide restriction on the content of fertilizers. If passed, fertilizers sold in Florida must be no- or low-phosphate. Phosphorus, along with nitrogen, is a pollutant that contributes to algae blooms, fish kills, and dead zones, all of which alter already fragile ecosystems. The high phosphate levels are due in large part to Americans’ affinity for heavily-fertilized, brilliantly green lawns, golf courses, and recreational areas. The proposed rule was designed in response to a number of local fertilizer restrictions in the state; rather than deal with the confusion of regulating a wide variety of local standards, the Department of Agriculture’s rule will clarify and standardize the movement to reduce pollution from lawn fertilizers. According to Richard Budell, director of water resources protection for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, “One of the things we’re trying to prevent is a patchwork of local ordinances that would be almost impossible to enforce.” Local regulations include a similar rule that has been in place in Wellington since 2000, one in Crystal River than allows only slow-release fertilizers, and a […]

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