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Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category


22
Nov

Brexit Predicted to Lead to Regulatory Decline and Increased Hazards from Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22, 2019) The potential exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU) — aka “Brexit” — may portend greater pesticide use and exposures, according to a report from the Soil Association and the Pesticide Action Network UK. As covered by The Guardian, the report’s prediction points to uncertainty, despite reassurances from the United Kingdom (UK) government, about what regulatory standards will actually be in effect if and when Brexit occurs. The report also highlights the under-regulated issue identified in the report’s title — The Cocktail Effect — synergistic impacts of exposures to multiple synthetic pesticide compounds. Beyond cessation of pesticide use, Beyond Pesticides advocates for more rigorous review of synergistic effects of pesticides in the U.S. In the UK, environmental and health advocates are voicing worries that the government’s reassurances that existing standards will be maintained after a Brexit is unconvincing. UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove insists that environmental standards would be enhanced following a UK exit from the EU. But advocates are concerned about potential loopholes that could allow farmers to use more pesticides on crops than the EU regulations permit, and could greenlight the import of foodstuffs with greater amounts of pesticide residue than […]

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21
Nov

City of South Miami Becomes First Organic Community in Florida

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2019) The City of South Miami last month became the first organic community in the state of Florida, passing a landmark ordinance limiting hazardous pesticide use on public property in favor of safer practices. An increasing number of communities in the state have begun to restrict the use of toxic pesticides, with North Miami passing an Integrated Pest Management plan last year, and Miami, Stuart, and Key West banning glyphosate. South Miami, under the direction of Mayor Phillip Stoddard, PhD, professor of Biological Science at Florida International University, has a history of leading the state in the protection of public health and the environment. In 2014, the City Commission voted to declare all of South Miami a wildlife sanctuary, thereby restricting the use of highly toxic mosquito adulticides. The move protected populations of the state’s rare and endemic wildlife, such as the Florida bonneted bat, which begins to feed on mosquitoes in the spring at the same time spraying usually begins. The City’s move toward organic landscaping was borne out of two years of successful trials by city workers and contractors. In 2017, its landscaping request for proposals (RFP) required that, in addition to practices intended […]

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20
Nov

Memo Released by EPA Proposes Increased Aquatic Allowances for Endocrine-Disrupting Atrazine

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2019) Continuing its marathon of deregulation to benefit the chemical industry, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a memo announcing its proposal to increase the amount of the weed killer atrazine allowed in U.S. waterways by 50% during the chemical’s registration review—a stark reversal of previous proposals to significantly reduce atrazine levels in the environment. The proposal comes after agrichemical giant Syngenta and the National Corn Growers Association requested that EPA dismiss independent research regarding the adverse impact of atrazine.  Atrazine, a broadleaf herbicide, is linked to endocrine disruption, neuropathy, and cancer. It disrupts the sexual development of frogs at levels far below the current allowed concentrations by EPA. Studies by Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, and others have shown that concentrations as low as 0.1ppb interfere with mammary gland development in the breast of mammals. In 2009, a study linked birth defects like gastroschisis and choanal atresia to time of conception and the relative concentrations of atrazine and other pesticides in drinking water. The current Concentration Equivalent Level of Concern (CELOC), a measure in place to protect aquatic organisms, for atrazine is a 60-day average concentration of 10 ppb. EPA’s proposal […]

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19
Nov

In the Fight to Protect Pollinators, New Hampshire Pollinator Bill Stalls as Massachusetts Advocates Gear Up

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2019) Legislatures in two New England states continue to deliberate environmental and public health measures aimed at protecting pollinators, safeguarding schoolchildren, and eliminating toxic pesticides. In Massachusetts, dozens of advocates packed a crowded hearing room for a slate of 16 bills before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. In New Hampshire, advocates were dismayed that, after a successful vote in subcommittee, the House Environment and Agriculture committee voted to weaken HB646, the Saving New Hampshire’s Pollinators Act, into an interim study measure. The stalling of NH’s HB646 came as the pesticide industry, state agencies, and the state agricultural commissioner placed significant pressure on lawmakers, forwarding the idea that the science on the dangers neonicotinoids pose to pollinators is too complex for lawmakers to understand. Local advocate Fawn Gaudet of Save Our NH Pollinator Coalition responded with a passionate, science-based editorial in the Concord Monitor underlining the need for urgent action. However, arguments from pesticide industry proponents sowed the seeds of doubt, deferring to the current Environmental Protection Agency, despite its repeated failures to step up and protect pollinators. An amendment weakening the legislation was introduced by State Representative Peter Bixby (D-Strafford), but not […]

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18
Nov

Stand Up for Those Who Harvest Our Food – Farmworkers

(Beyond Pesticides, November 18, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing changes to the way farmworkers and bystanders are protected from toxic pesticide applications. Billed as “improvements” that will “reduce regulatory burdens for farmers,” the actions would instead significantly shrink Application Exclusion Zones (AEZs), buffer areas where individuals are not supposed to enter during a pesticide application, putting farmworkers and bystanders at risk. Tell your Congressional Representative and Senators that EPA must protect farmworkers. “Although the proposal is framed as a narrow revision, it would in fact eliminate, reduce, or weaken various AEZ provisions,” said Farmworker Justice attorney Iris Figueroa to Politico. “These changes threaten to increase exposure to toxic pesticide drift for farmworkers and their families.” EPA’s proposal, announced in a press release featuring the heads of industry associations like the American Farm Bureau, would do the following: Make AEZs applicable only to a farm owners’ property. Under the current rules, pesticide handlers are required to keep individuals out of an area where pesticides are applied both on and off site. Exempt on-farm family members from all aspects of the AEZ. EPA says this will allow farmers and their family “to decide whether to stay in their homes or…on […]

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15
Nov

Threat of Pesticides to Endangered Species Continues

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2019) The Endangered Species Coalition has released its newest annual report on the 10 U.S. species most threatened by pesticide use, Poisoned: 10 American species imperiled by pesticides. Produced with seven of its member groups, the coalition introduces the report by noting, “Our world is awash in chemicals. We’re particularly addicted to pesticides.” It points to well-known harms, and identifies the exacerbating factors of both climate change and the Trump administration, the latter of which “denies the reality of climate change and has dramatically changed how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is implemented, leaving vulnerable species at far greater risk.” The introduction ends on a somewhat encouraging tone, saying that previous administrations have supported record growth in organic farming — the solution to pesticides harms that Beyond Pesticides has long endorsed — and that “any administration has the power to get us back on track and away from pesticides.” Impacts on wildlife linked to pesticide exposures — including mammals, bees and other pollinators, fish and other aquatic organisms, birds, and the biota within soil — have been well documented by Beyond Pesticides, and include reproductive, neurological, renal, hepatic, endocrine disruptive, and developmental anomalies, as well as […]

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14
Nov

EPA Proposes to Reduce Protections from Neurotoxic Pyrethroid Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2019) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under pressure from chemical companies, released a proposal on Tuesday to further weaken protections regarding 23 pyrethroids. Pyrethroids are a common class of neurotoxic insecticides that have been repeatedly linked by peer-reviewed studies to neurological issues such as learning disabilities in children. They are also extremely damaging to non-target invertebrates, according to EPA’s own analysis. Despite this, EPA had already recently undermined protections for children from these chemicals, and the Trump Administration is now embracing industry proposals to further remove other safety barriers to human health and the environment. The Pyrethroid Working Group, a weighty working group of pesticide companies, requested EPA reduce safeguards such as a permanent 66-foot vegetation buffer between fields and water bodies to a 10 – 25-foot buffer. Also, the working group (and now EPA) suggests that the wind-speed cutoff for spraying should be increased from 10 mph to 15 mph. EPA’s announcement proposes the reapproval of five out the 23 pyrethroids; proposals regarding the rest are already pending approval. EPA is accepting public comments on the proposal until January 13, 2020. As mentioned, this is only the latest detrimental decision EPA has put forth regarding […]

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13
Nov

Study Shows Drastic Loss of Arthropods in German Grasslands and Forests

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2019) Research from Germany shows a steep decline of arthropod (insect and spider) populations in grasslands and forests. These data add to the growing body of evidence documenting an ongoing insect apocalypse. “Our study confirms that insect decline is real,” Author Sebastian Seibold, PhD, told BBC, “It might be even more widespread than previously thought considering, for example, that also forests are experiencing declines in insect populations.” Researchers analyze data from standardized inventories of arthropod populations taken from 150 grassland sites and 140 forest sites across three regions of Germany sampled between 2008-2017. They found that, in grasslands, arthropod: Biomass declined by 67% Abundance declined by 78% Number of species declined by 34% In forest sites, arthropod: Biomass declined by 41% Number of species declined by 36% Abundance had more complicated results The paper’s abstract sums up, “Our results suggest that major drivers of arthropod decline act at larger spatial scales, and are (at least for grasslands) associated with agriculture at the landscape level. This implies that policies need to address the landscape scale to mitigate the negative effects of land-use practices.” The scale of the insect crisis became clear after German researchers published a study […]

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12
Nov

Tell USDA to Stop “Organic” Factories from Milking Conventional Dairy Cows

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2019) Current USDA regulations clearly state that after a dairy farmer takes advantage of a one-time exemption to convert an existing “distinct” herd to organic production—all animals brought onto the farm must have been managed organically from the last third of gestation—in the case of cows, from three months prior to birth. However, USDA has interpreted the prohibition to mean that dairies could purchase animals, on an ongoing basis, who were born and raised on conventional dairies. These calves receive medicated milk replacer (formula laced with antibiotics) and, after weaning, are fed conventional GMO crops generally sprayed with Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup.® Now, as livestock factories are taking over a good share of the organic market and pushing family-scale farmers off the land, USDA has finally, only after being forced by Congress, written additional regulatory language intending to close a loophole created by USDA’s negligence. Tell the USDA to follow the will of Congress and close its own loophole. The National Organic Program should enforce both the spirit and letter of the law. Organic farmers are mandated to provide healthy living conditions where livestock can exhibit their natural instinctive behaviors. When they do that—and for dairy cattle, that means […]

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08
Nov

Companies that Claim Sustainable Sourcing Lack Criteria, Virtually None Includes Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2019) A new report out from As You Sow — 2019 Pesticides in the Pantry: Transparency and Risk in Food Supply Chains — focuses on the risks that agricultural pesticide use represents for food manufacturers, and offers recommendations and benchmarks for improvement in the areas of management and transparency. The report concludes that companies typically have some sort of sustainable sourcing program within their supply chains, but that most of those “lack clear criteria,” and virtually none of them includes pesticide use as an indicator. As an organization that works on shareholder advocacy to “harness shareholder power to create lasting change that benefits people, planet, and profit,” As You Sow is responding to investor and shareholder demand that companies reduce the presence of synthetic pesticide chemicals in their supply chains. No doubt this report has arisen indirectly from increased public, judicial, and media attention to the harms — to human and environmental health — of intensive pesticide use in conventional agriculture. Beyond Pesticides maintains that the real fix for the problem is a transition to organic and regenerative agriculture. Highlights of the problem in the U.S. identified in the report include: more than 1 billion pounds […]

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07
Nov

Minneapolis Park Board Investigates Pesticide Contamination; On Nov. 11, Attend Film and Join with Advocates to Advance Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2018) A former employee of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board claims that other staff members misused and disposed of pesticides in protected areas next to Lake Harriet. The controversy comes at a pivotal moment for Minneapolis, as Minneapolis Public School District and the Park and Recreation Board are beginning a demonstration organic land management project on a number of properties. Advocates are pushing for organic land management as an alternative to chemical-intensive practices. Minneapolis gardener Angee Ohmah Siegal says she was at the Lyndale Park Peace Garden when she saw parks staff spraying herbicides on a windy day. According to Russ Henry, a local advocate who she told her story to, Siegal had to head to the hospital due to “uncontrollable vomiting.” What more, Siegal claims that the same employees would dump unused or leftover pesticides into a pond beside the Roberts Bird Sanctuary. Mr. Henry and Ms. Siegal issued their complaint with Park Board commissioners on October 2, carrying a large poster of a mutated frog with six legs that Ms. Siegal says she had photographed near the area. Commissioners are investigating further into the allegations but say they need more specific evidence. Volunteers […]

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06
Nov

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Deprive Fish of Food in Lake Shinji, Japan

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2019) Between 1981 and 1992, Japanese fishers annually reaped an average of 240 tons of smelt from Lake Shinji. After 1993, their nets turned up about 22 tons – a 90% drop in their yield. Eel catches dropped by 74%. New research, published in the journal Science, implicates the introduction of neonicotinoids to the abutting watershed in the decimation of these aquatic populations, stating, “In Lake Shinji, neonicotinoids indirectly reduced fishery yields by decreasing the abundance of invertebrates that serve as food for smelt and eels.” Researchers analyzed decades of data on zooplankton, midges, and water quality as well as annual fishery yields of eel and smelt spanning from 1981-2014. Zooplankton biomass, an important fodder for smelt, plummeted from 108 µg C L−1 to 18.2 µg C L−1 after imidacloprid was introduced for use on rice paddies in May of 1993. Midges (Cyathura muromiensis) that were found in abundance in 1982 totally disappeared from all sample sites by 2016. While the smelt and eel populations drastically declined, the authors note that icefish, which eat a more diversified diet, were not impacted. Though researchers considered the possibilities of other influencing factors such as invasive species, hypoxia, and […]

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05
Nov

Increased Risk of Skin Cancer Tied to Use of Weed Killers, as Researchers Call for a Precautionary Standard

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2019) Herbicide use is associated with an increased risk of developing cutaneous melanoma, a skin cancer, according to a meta-analysis published last month in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. For those working on farms and in other occupations with frequent exposure to herbicides, the risk is another in a long list of pesticide-induced diseases. Ultimately, researchers suggest, “A precautionary public health safety policy that includes preventive individual counselling and surveillance to workers exposed to pesticides may be advisable.” Authors of the study conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed literature on pesticide exposure and skin cancer, finding nine acceptable studies for analysis. These studies represent nearly 185,000 individuals, and included enough data to make a risk estimate and determine 95% confidence intervals. Although pesticides and insecticides in general were not associated with increased risk of skin cancer, general use of herbicides was (relative risk 1.85; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-3.36). Spouses whose partners work as pesticide applicators are also found to be at higher risk of developing cutaneous melanoma. As skin cancer has increased significantly over the past 50 years, many appropriately point to the link between sun exposure and development of […]

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04
Nov

Tell the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to Promote Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2019) In recognition of the harm that climate change is causing to communities, the U.S. House of Representatives formed the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to “investigate, study, make findings, and develop recommendations on policies, strategies, and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis, which will honor our responsibility to be good stewards of the planet for future generations.” Tell the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to promote organic agriculture and land care. Regenerative organic agriculture reduces emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. In nonorganic, chemical-intensive agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions result from the use of nitrogen fertilizer, synthetic herbicides and insecticides, fossil fuel consumption associated with farm equipment, and the transportation of materials and products to and from the farm. The manufacture of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is a major source of energy use in chemical-intensive agriculture–the manufacture and use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers alone are responsible for as much as 10 percent of direct global agricultural emissions. This is important because pound-for-pound, nitrous oxide is 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide in warming the planet. Besides reducing energy use, organic […]

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01
Nov

U.S. Consumers Eating Pesticide Residues in Fruits and Vegetables, according to Government Report

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2019) The recently published report Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program Fiscal Year 2017 Pesticide Report, from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), provides data on the levels of pesticide residues that show up on the foods U.S. consumers eat. The report adds fuel to public concern about contamination of the food supply, and to discussion in the scientific and advocacy communities about what is and is not safe for human health. It is also a sobering reminder of just how much chemical-intensive agriculture depends on pesticides, whether insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides. This FDA report has been prepared annually since 1987 and is based on the agency’s Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program, which evaluates both domestically produced and imported human food samples, including fruit, vegetable, and animal products. As the report notes, “Three federal government agencies share responsibility for the regulation and oversight of pesticide chemical residues in or on food. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers (i.e., approves) the use of pesticides and establishes tolerances for pesticide chemical residues in or on food resulting from the use of the pesticides. Tolerances are the EPA-established maximum residue levels (MRLs) of a specific pesticide chemical that is permitted in […]

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31
Oct

Environmental Groups Are Victorious in Lawsuit that Pushes EPA to Protect Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2019) Last week the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must assess the risk eight toxic pesticides pose to protected organisms: atrazine, carbaryl, methomyl, and simazine as well as rodenticides brodifacoum, bromadiolone, warfarin and zinc phosphide. The plaintiffs, Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) asserted that EPA and its then administrator Scott Pruitt violated duties under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by not consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service in registering these pesticides. The history of this case extends over 8 years. Last year, the court rejected EPA’s attempts to dismiss the lawsuit. According to CBD’s press release, “Under the agreement the agency must complete assessments of four pesticides, including atrazine, the nation’s second most-used pesticide, by 2021. Assessments of four rodenticides, including the widely used rat poison brodifacoum, must be finalized in 2024.” Stephanie Parent, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said “This important step is only the start. We still have work to do to make sure the EPA addresses the harms of all pesticides, as the law requires. EPA was created after […]

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30
Oct

US Government Opposes Toxic Chemical Bans in Thailand

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30th, 2019) This month, the Thai government moved to ban some toxic chemicals out of concern for the health of its residents and environment. In response, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Ted McKinney sent a document to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pushing back on their plan. As the Thai government makes changes to protect the health and represent the will of the people, the U.S. acts on behalf of its allegiance to agrichemical companies on an international stage. After powerful and sustained activism from local advocacy groups such as BioThai, the Thai government decided to upgrade glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, and paraquat from Type 3 toxic substances to Type 4, meaning these chemicals will no longer be allowed to be produced, imported, or possessed in the country. Witoon Lianchamroon, director of BioThai, says glyphosate and paraquat “contaminate our water, the soil, and some species like crab or fish or frog. These two main herbicides cover around half of the total pesticide use in the country and they cause a lot of problems.” The ban was approved by the National Hazardous Substances Committee, made up of 29 experts in the field, on October 22. Beginning December 1, the ban […]

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29
Oct

EPA Moves to Weaken Pesticide Exclusion Zones Intended to Protect Farmworkers and Their Families

(Beyond Pesticides, October 29, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing changes to the way farmworkers and bystanders are protected from toxic pesticide applications, per an announcement published on the agency’s website last week. Billed as “improvements” that will “reduce regulatory burdens for farmers,” the actions would instead significantly shrink Application Exclusion Zones (AEZs), buffer areas where individuals are not supposed to enter during a pesticide application. Health and justice advocates say the move will put farmworkers at risk. “Although the proposal is framed as a narrow revision, it would in fact eliminate, reduce or weaken various AEZ provisions,” said Farmworker Justice attorney Iris Figueroa to Politico. “These changes threaten to increase exposure to toxic pesticide drift for farmworkers and their families.” EPA’s proposal, announced in a press release featuring the heads of industry associations like the American Farm Bureau, would do the following: Make AEZs applicable only to a farm owners’ property. Under the current rules, pesticide handlers were required to keep individuals out of an area where pesticides were applied both on and off site. Exempt on-farm family members from all aspects of the AEZ. EPA says this will allow farmers and their family “to decide whether […]

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27
Oct

Take Action: Tell University of California to Stop Hazardous Pesticide Use and Adopt Organic Land Management

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2019) The spraying of toxic herbicides for weed control on campuses exposes students, workers and the general public to chemicals linked to health problems such as cancer and reproductive issues. Any day now, the University of California system will decide whether or not to continue using glyphosate and other toxic herbicides — including Roundup — on their campuses. The University of California temporarily banned the use of cancer-causing glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, but the ban doesn’t stop the UC system from using other dangerous herbicides. Student activists are asking UC to commit to transitioning to all organic land care maintenance on all University of California campuses by 2025. This could be an opportunity for the University of California, which prides itself on its commitment to sustainability, to join other universities such as Harvard, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, and others as a national leader in the field. Tell University of California President Napolitano to issue a full, permanent ban on toxic herbicides and shift the UC land care system to organic! Message to University of California President First of all, I would like to thank you for temporarily suspending the use of glyphosate-based herbicides on […]

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25
Oct

Agreement Protects Willapa Bay and the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge from Highly Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2019) Washington State officials have approved an agreement that will prevent oyster growers farming in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor from spraying the neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticide, imidacloprid, on tidal flats to kill native burrowing shrimp. The development comes after years of discussion and dispute among the Washington State Department of Ecology, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association. Beyond Pesticides has advocated for protection of these relatively pristine estuary areas from toxic pesticides since 2002, when it worked for (ultimately successful) elimination of the use of the highly toxic carbaryl against the shrimp. More recently, it has reported and weighed in frequently on use of imidacloprid and efforts to eliminate its use, as well as on broad contamination of waterways by neonics. Neonics are well documented to be a huge threat to pollinators and other nontarget organisms, as well as to the environment at large. Imidacloprid is banned by the European Union for outdoor use, and Canada is scheduled to announce details by year’s end on its implementation of a phaseout of neonics. Washington State’s own risk assessment study found that use of imidacloprid on tidelands showed “immediate adverse, unavoidable […]

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24
Oct

Study Adds to Evidence that Organic Fruit Consumption Leads to Lowers Levels of Pesticide Contamination in Children, Pregnant Women

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2019) Fish and fruit are undoubtedly healthy foods, but modern-day contamination is leading scientists to caution pregnant mothers and young children to stick within current dietary guidelines, or switch to organic, in order to avoid adverse health effects. This new public health message is based on research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by scientists from University of Southern California (USC) and several European Countries, finding that overconsumption of fish and fruits leads to higher levels of contamination with toxic persistent chemicals. “During gestation and early development, the fetus and the child, respectively, are vulnerable to the effects of environmental chemicals, said Lida Chatzi, MD, associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “A balanced diet during these periods is also critical for optimal nutritional status, but what to eat, and how much, are critical questions.” Scientists studied a cohort of 1,288 children (between 6 and 11 years) and 818 pregnant mothers from six European countries, who were provided questionnaires to assess their weekly diet. Blood levels of a range of environmental toxicants, including organochlorine compounds like PCB, PFHSs, PFOS, PFOA, pesticides like DDT and DDE, and heavy metals including […]

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23
Oct

Bees Enrich Farmers More than Synthetic Inputs, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2019) Bees provide benefits to farmers that outweigh synthetic inputs, according to a large-scale field study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B earlier this month. Addressing the ongoing question of how much natural ecosystem services are worth, scientists analyzed the costs and benefits of biodiversity versus agrichemicals. Researchers found the value pollinators add to oilseed rape (OSR) production by increasing yields is higher than synthetic chemical inputs, which are costly to farmers and decrease beneficial insect abundance. The title of the study touts the impressive findings, “Bee pollination outperforms pesticides for oilseed crop production and profitability.” Researchers collected data over six years from 294 OSR fields in France with various levels of soil quality, fertilizer and pesticide applications, and pollinator abundance. They measured pollinator biodiversity with nets and traps at the field sites. Farmers offered data on yield, costs, and profits. Using linear models fitted to the large data set, the study analyzed combined effects of inputs on OSR yield and gross margin. Bee abundance was the only variable that had a positive effect on gross margins. Pollination is an ecosystem service that benefits one out of three agricultural crops. Studies from Ireland show […]

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22
Oct

Bill to Protect Pollinators Passes Subcommittee in New Hampshire and Moves Forward

(Beyond Pesticides, October 22, 2019) Last week, legislators in a New Hampshire House subcommittee passed a bill to restrict the use of pesticides implicated in the decline of pollinator populations. HB 646, dubbed the Saving New Hampshire’s Pollinators Act, will now go to executive session on November 7 for final approval prior to a full vote by the New Hampshire House of Representatives. If passed through the legislature, New Hampshire would become the fourth state in the nation to curb the use of dangerous pesticides to protect pollinator populations. Maryland, Connecticut, and Vermont have all passed similar pieces of legislation. As reported by the state newspaper Union Leader, the pesticide industry came out in strong opposition to the legislation. Arguments from industry proponents focused on teaching lawmakers the controversy over the role pesticides play in pollinator declines, rather than the science on the dangers that these chemicals pose. These forces encouraged inaction, pushing the idea that it would be preferable to endanger the future of New Hampshire’s beekeepers, native pollinators, state bird and other songbirds, rather than encourage an already necessary shift toward safer pest management practices. “For many years the big chemical companies have flooded the market with information […]

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