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Ecosystem Health: Pesticide Use from Forest Management Practices Threatens Essential West Coast Marine Organisms

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2021) A Portland State University (PSU) study finds that pesticides from the forestry industry threaten clams, mussels, oysters (bivalves) along the Oregon state coast. Bivalves are excellent indicator species, signaling environmental contamination through their sedimentary, filter-feeding diet. However, continuous pesticide inputs—from various forestry management regimes—into watersheds along Oregon’s coastal zone endanger these species in downstream rivers and estuaries (river mouths). Although research demonstrates many forestry practices (e.g.., road building, planting, clearcutting, thinning) have cumulative effects on the ecosystem, there is a lack of studies addressing the overall impact of multiple chemical mixtures and application on watersheds and subsequent aquatic transport. Like agriculture, conventional forest management across the U.S. depends on the use of toxic pesticides to control pest populations. However, pesticide residues from application drift, runoff, and contamination continuously jeopardize the health and fitness of various non-target species, including humans. Marine ecosystem pollution is difficult to track and measure, and forestry pesticide regulations can invoke variations in water quality requirements through discrepancies in buffer zones and application concentrations. Therefore, studies like this can help guide future forest management practices to reduce the number of chemicals entering aquatic ecosystems. Researchers in the study note, “These findings highlight the need to […]

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Implications for Human Health: Chronic Inhalation of Paraquat in Low-Doses Disrupts Sense of Smell

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2021) New research published in the journal Toxicological Sciences finds extended inhalation of the common herbicide paraquat causes male mice to lose some sense of smell, even at low doses. This study highlights the significance of understanding how specific chemical exposure routes can influence disease development. Olfactory (relating to the sense of smell) impairment is a precursory feature of Parkinson’s disease (PD), and studies connect paraquat poisoning to PD risk. Hence, future pesticide management policies should assess specific disease risks with bodily chemical concentration from low-dose, chronic neurotoxic chemical exposure. The study’s researchers note, “These data support the importance of route of exposure in the determination of safety estimates for neurotoxic pesticides, such as [paraquat]. Accurate estimation of the relationship between exposure and internal dose is critical for risk assessment and public health protection.” Despite evidence demonstrating that olfactory  nerve cells transport toxic airborne particles and solutes to the brain upon inhalation, the possibility of olfactory impairment (damage) from paraquat inhalation lacks adequate assessment. To assess the impact paraquat has on olfactory function, researchers exposed a cohort of adult female and male mice to paraquat aerosols in an inhalation chamber for four hours a day, five days a week, for four weeks. Researchers investigated paraquat concentrations […]

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TAKE ACTION: Tell President-Elect Biden and Congress to Clean Up at EPA— End the Era of Corporate Deception

Monday, January 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2021) Treatment of chemical companies as clients rather than regulated entities is not new at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but corruption reached new highs during the Trump administration. With a new administration, it is time to end the rule of corporate deception at EPA. This goes beyond the use of the Congressional Review Act to reverse individual rules (adopted in the last six months) that defy scientific findings and compliance with environmental and public health standards. We can no longer rely on bad science and unscrupulous chemical manufacturers that put profits above concerns for the health of people and the environment. EPA must audit pesticide registrants for integrity to scientific process and set a moratorium on future pesticide registration until the agency can assure the public that their science is not corrupt, as it has been in the past. Tell President-elect Biden and Congress to clean up the corruption of science at EPA and set a moratorium on future pesticide registrations—until the agency can assure the public that the chemical manufacturers’ science supporting pesticide registrations is not corrupt. The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published a story in early December on yet another example of the […]

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Farmworkers and Conservationists Ask Court to Remove Monsanto’s Roundup from the Market

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2020) Opening arguments and evidence were filed by a coalition of farmworkers, farmers, and conservationists last week in litigation challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) re-approval of glyphosate, best known as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s “Roundup” pesticides. The lawsuit charges that the Trump Administration unlawfully ignored cancer risks and ecological damage of glyphosate.  Represented by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), plaintiffs, including the Rural Coalition, Farmworker Association of Florida, OrganizaciĂłn en California de Lideres Campesinas, and Beyond Pesticides, filed the federal lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in March. The groups seek to have the pesticide prohibited from use or sale because of its unlawful approval. “Farmworkers are on the frontlines of nearly every health and environmental crisis, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, and are particularly at risk of health impacts from pesticide spraying,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at CFS. “EPA failed these essential workers. It rejected evidence that glyphosate causes cancer and entirely failed to assess the main way people are exposed at work, through their skin.” The court filing includes volumes of evidence showing how EPA ignored glyphosate’s health risks, including cancer risks, to farmworkers and farmers exposed during spraying. The evidence […]

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Investigation on Weed Killer Dicamba Adds to Pattern of Corporate Deception on Pesticide Hazards

Friday, December 18th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 18, 2020) The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published a story in early December on yet another example of the corporate malfeasance that exalts profit far above concerns for safety, health, and ecosystems. The Midwest Center’s investigation finds that Monsanto and BASF, makers of the extremely problematic herbicide dicamba, engaged in a variety of deceitful, unethical, and possibly fraudulent practices to enable its use. The bottom line is that the companies knew, before they released dicamba, about the massive damage it would cause — and then put it on the market. Beyond Pesticides has reported on the corporate greed that fuels the downstream public health, environmental, and economic devastation these pesticides cause, and advocated for their removal from the market. Such unscrupulous behavior is not confined to these companies; Bayer (which now owns Monsanto) and Syngenta are also implicated in similar actions related to other pesticides: glyphosate and atrazine, respectively. Over the course of the past couple of decades, large agrochemical corporations have pursued not only extreme market penetration for their toxic products, but also, vertical integration that, in the case of Bayer/Monsanto, “represents a near-monopoly on the agriculture supply chain.” Corporate ownership of the patent on genetically […]

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Open Letter to Biden-Appointed USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack: Moving Forward, Meeting Challenges, Correcting the Past

Monday, December 14th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2020) As the President-elect chooses the leadership in his administration, it is critical that we in the affected communities establish our expectations of what is needed from agencies to address critical issues of the day. While we may feel that different choices of personnel could have been made, ultimately we are looking forward to advancing programs across all agencies that represent meaningful and foundational changes to our social, economic, and environmental norms. As we focus on the appointment of a Secretary of Agriculture, issues of foundational change come into sharp focus, relating to sustainable land management, distribution of resources and access to land, food security, protection of human and ecosystem health, and climate. It is normal, therefore, to look at any individual appointee’s past performance and positions as a measure of future decisions or policies that may be advanced. Ultimately, though, it is the administration that sets the tone, establishes a framework, and forges the direction of the government’s programs and policies. President-elect Biden has talked about a framework for policy to which we can and must hold all officials in the administration accountable across all agencies. These key elements of the framework intersect with the […]

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EPA by Fiat Overturns State Authority to Restrict Pesticides in the Face of Its Faltering Programs

Friday, November 13th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2020) The toxic herbicide dicamba is once again at the center of a larger story about states’ authority to regulate pesticides beyond federal dictates. The Trump EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has just made it much harder for state regulations to be more protective than federal rules are. It did so via a footnote embedded in dozens of pages of regulatory documents related to EPA’s registration of three new dicamba products. Given conservatives’ long-standing lip service to “states’ rights,” this EPA’s thwarting of the wishes of individual states to respond to their respective circumstances could easily be regarded as an odd — though, during this administration, hardly singular — stance. This latest development underscores EPA’s continuing failures to protect people and the environment, and the increasing tension between centralized, federal regulation and more-local regulation, whether by states or smaller localities. For nearly 30 years, state regulators have used a Section 24 provision of FIFRA, the Federal, Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act — the law that gives EPA authority to regulate pesticides — to establish specific restrictions, on use of federally registered pesticide products, that go beyond what EPA has mandated. The agency has long allowed states to add […]

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Pesticide Exposure Increases the Risk of Developing Gene-Specific and Sporadic Parkinson’s Disease Incidences

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2020) Research at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) finds that pesticide exposure increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), regardless of whether disease onset is idiopathic (spontaneous) or genetic (GBA genetic risk variant). Although the exact etiology of PD remains unknown, epidemiological and toxicological research repeatedly identifies exposure to pesticides, as well as specific gene-pesticide interactions, as significant adverse risk factors that contribute to PD. Furthermore, this study, “Gene Variants May Affect PD Risk After Pesticide Exposure,” suggests that environmental triggers like occupational exposure to pesticides can prompt PD in individuals with or without the genetic precursor. This research demonstrates the importance of assessing disease etiology concerning occupational pesticide exposure, especially if disease triggers are overwhelmingly non-hereditary. Since not all individuals genetically predisposed to the disease develop PD, with only 10 to 15 percent of PD cases being genetic, government officials need to consider alternate etiological pathways that include environmental risk factors. Study researchers note, “‘Environmental exposures may have differential effects in different genotypes’ and may predispose people with PD to different symptom burden.”  Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, with at least one million Americans living with PD and about […]

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After Court Rules Herbicide “Would Tear the Social Fabric of Farming Communities,” Dicamba in Genetically Engineered Crops Given Go-Ahead by EPA

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2020) Despite a recent court ruling voiding the registration of drift-prone dicamba herbicides on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and soybeans, EPA has renewed  the registration of these chemicals. The court’s ruling stated that EPA, “substantially understated risks that it acknowledged and failed entirely to acknowledge other risks,” in regards to the herbicides XtendiMax and Eugenia (dicamba), produced by agrichemical corporations Bayer and BASF for their genetically engineered (GE) crops. In announcing the decision, Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the agency made its decision “[a]fter reviewing substantial amounts of new information, conducting scientific assessments based on the best available science, and carefully considering input from stakeholders.” Yet, it is evident that the most important stakeholders for EPA continues to be chemical corporations. The history of dicamba’s use in GE agriculture reveal this to be the case. In the mid-2010s, Bayer’s Monsanto developed new dicamba-tolerant seeds and received approval to sell them from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. EPA had not yet approved its corresponding herbicide, but nonetheless, Bayer’s Monsanto urged farmers to plant its seed, claiming they would increase yields. The results of this were predictable: farmers began to use older, unapproved dicamba formulations on their new GE […]

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Captured by Extremist Pro-Pesticide Agenda, A Broken EPA Reregisters Several Toxic Pesticides

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2020) This month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized decisions allowing continued use of a range of highly toxic pesticides, including the herbicide paraquat, and the synthetic pyrethroid class of insecticides. The move has been met with stinging criticism from the health and environmental community, but the decisions come as no surprise. Continued allowance of hazardous pesticides is a result of a weak law, lax regulations, and an administration that has consistently refused to follow even deficient protections. “The EPA’s pesticide office has sunk to a despicable new low in allowing farmworkers, small children and the environment to be sacrificial pawns in the profit schemes of its friends in the pesticide industry,” said Nathan Donley, PhD, senior scientist at Center for Biological Diversity. “In rushing to reapprove these deadly chemicals, it’s ignored its own scientists and independent researchers, refused to protect human health and the environment, and shown itself to be the panting lapdog of a morally bankrupt industry.” EPA reregistered paraquat despite overwhelming evidence that the chemical cannot be used without ‘unreasonable adverse effects on the environment’ — the lackluster standard in federal pesticide law to which the agency is required to regulate a […]

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Literature Review: Pesticides Exposure Highly Correlated with Respiratory Diseases

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2020) A review of scientific literature on the correlation between respiratory diseases and pesticides exposure—published in the journal Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine (AAEM), “Influence of pesticides on respiratory pathology—a literature review”—finds that exposure to pesticides increases incidents of respiratory pathologies (i.e., asthma, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]—or chronic bronchitis). The review by researchers at the Iuliu Hatieganu’ University of Medicine and Pharmacy Cluj-Napoca, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, looks at how pesticide exposure adversely propagates and reinforces respiratory diseases in humans. This review highlights the significance of evaluating how pesticide exposure impacts respiratory function, especially since contact with pesticides can happen at any point in the production, transportation preparation, or application treatment process. Researchers in the study note, “Knowing and recognizing these respiratory health problems of farmers and their families, and also of [pesticide] manipulators/retailers, are essential for early diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and preventive measures.” This study results are critically important at a time when exposure to respiratory toxicants increases vulnerability to Covid-19, which attacks the respiratory system, among other organic systems. The respiratory system is essential to human survival, regulating gas exchange (oxygen-carbon dioxide) in the body to balance acid and base tissue cells for normal […]

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Bayer Coordinated with U.S. Government on Pressure Campaign to Stop Thailand from Banning Glyphosate

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2020) Multinational agrichemical corporation Bayer coordinated with the U.S. government to pressure Thailand to drop plans to ban glyphosate use, according to documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). CBD is now suing the Trump Administration after it refused to release additional documents pertaining to the pressure campaign. The incident is the latest example of an administration that has allowed corporate interests to dictate American governmental action on toxic pesticides. The documents reveal that the October 2019 letter that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Ted McKinney sent to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pushing back on the country’s plan to ban glyphosate came shortly after emails Bayer sent to U.S. officials. In September and October 2019, Bayer’s Jim Travis asked the U.S. to act on its behalf in defense of the company’s glyphosate products. Emails reveal that Mr. Travis also collected intelligence on the personal motivations of Thailand’s deputy agriculture minister, including whether she was “a diehard advocate of organic food; and/or staunch environmentalist who eschews all synthetic chemical applications.” Reports indicate that the U.S. government brought up the issue of glyphosate during trade talks in the context of considerations to revoke Thailand’s […]

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Consumer Reports Study Rates Foods with Pesticide Residues; Doesn’t Include Worker, Environmental Justice, Biodiversity Impacts

Friday, September 18th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2020) In late August, Consumer Reports magazine (CR) issued a report titled, “Stop Eating Pesticides,” which offers consumers a rating system CR developed and employed to help them “get the health benefits from fruits and vegetables while minimizing [the] risk from toxic chemicals.” In addition to providing its analysis and ratings of the pesticide risk of a variety of produce items, CR recommends eating organically grown and raised foods whenever possible. It also makes a host of recommendations on federal pesticide policies and emphasizes the importance of maintaining the integrity of the National Organic Standards (of the USDA-housed National Organic Program). Beyond Pesticides appreciates that this mainstream publication has arrived at many shared, science-based assessments of the risks of pesticides. That said, a wholesale transition to organic and regenerative agriculture — rather than making the public figure out which fruits and vegetables are “safer” or “less safe” — is the real answer to the health risks of pesticides in the food supply, according to Beyond Pesticides. The CR analysis used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Pesticide Data Program for 2014–2018. Those pesticide residue data were compiled from tests of approximately 450 pesticides across 24,000 […]

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Court Decision Highlights Systemic Failure of Federal Pesticide Law to Protect Health and the Environment, Despite a Silver Lining and a Must-Read, Powerful Dissenting Opinion

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2020) Petitioners who mounted a legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) registration of Enlist Duo, a relatively new and highly toxic pesticide product, recently learned of a mixed decision from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case. The good news is that Judge Ryan D. Nelson, writing the opinion for the court, found that EPA, in registering the herbicide Enlist Duo, had failed to protect monarch butterflies, which are under consideration as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On the other and disturbing hand, the court concluded that EPA registration of the product was otherwise lawful — which means that this toxic compound will for now remain on the market. As one of the plaintiffs in the case, Beyond Pesticides is adamant that this product should not be registered for use by EPA. George Kimbrell, Legal Director of Center for Food Safety and Lead Counsel for the plaintiffs, commented on the decision in the organization’s July 22 press release on the decision: “The panel majority’s unprecedented decision is contrary to controlling law and established science, and Center for Food Safety is analyzing all legal options, including seeking a full […]

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Wild Pollinator Declines Result in a Loss of U.S. Crop Production

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 6, 2020) New research finds that a decline in wild pollinator abundance, notably wild bees, limits crop yields in the U.S., according to the study, “Crop Production in the USA Is Frequently Limited by A Lack of Pollinators.” The study results, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, find the annual, national average value of wild bee pollination for the most economically important and pollinator-dependent crops is approximately $1.5 billion, with the total value of all U.S. pollinator-dependent crops equaling $50 billion annually. The United Nations states that 75% of the 115 top global food crops depend on insect pollination, with one third of all U.S. crops dependent on pollinators, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, research finds that many insect populations are declining by half with a third threatened by extinction, including managed and wild pollinators, mainly due to habitat fragmentation, climate change, and extensive pesticide use. With the global reliance on pollinator-dependent crops increasing over the past decades, a lack of pollinators threatens food security and stability. The researchers in the study note, “Our findings show that pollinator declines could translate directly into decreased yields or production for most of the crops studied, […]

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Tell USDA to Reject Bayer-Monsanto’s Multi-Herbicide Tolerant Corn—Please sign the petition by Monday, July 6, 4pm EDT

Monday, June 29th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2020) Bayer’s Monsanto is requesting non-regulated status for corn that will increase the use of drift-prone and toxic herbicides. This means that the planting of a new genetically engineered (GE) variety of corn, which requires substantial weed killer use, will not be restricted in any way. The syndrome of ‘more-corn, more-pesticides, more-poisoning, more-contamination’ must stop—as we effect an urgent systemic transformation to productive and profitable organic production practices. Because USDA is proposing to allow a new herbicide-dependent crop under the Plant Protection Act, the agency must, but does not, consider the adverse impacts associated with the production practices on other plants and the effects on the soil in which they are grown. Business as usual is not an option for a livable future. Sign the petition. Tell USDA we don’t need more use of 2,4-D, Dicamba, and other toxic herbicides associated with the planting of new GE corn. Bayer-Monsanto has developed multi-herbicide tolerant MON 87429 maize, which is tolerant to the herbicides 2,4-D, dicamba, glyphosate, glufosinate, and aryloxyphenoxypropionate (AOPP) acetyl coenzyme A carboxylase (ACCase) inhibitors (so-called “FOP” herbicides, such as quizalofop). Now the company wants this corn to be deregulated—allowing it to be planted and the herbicides […]

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Court Victory on Three Dicamba Weed Killers Underscores the Need to Reform Pesticide Law

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2020) The June 3 decision in a high-profile “dicamba case” — against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and for the plaintiffs, a coalition of conservation groups — was huge news in environmental advocacy, agriculture, and agrochemical circles. The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated EPA’s 2018 conditional registration of three dicamba weed killer products for use on an estimated 60 million acres of DT (dicamba-tolerant through genetic modification/engineering) soybeans and cotton. There is, however, a related issue that accompanies this and many other pesticide cases. When EPA decides to cancel or otherwise proscribe use of a pesticide (usually as a result of its demonstrated toxicity and/or damage during litigation), the agency will often allow pesticide manufacturers to continue to sell off “existing stocks” of a pesticide, or growers and applicators to continue to use whatever stock they have or can procure. Beyond Pesticides has opposed, covered, and litigated against this practice. To greenlight predictable harm is a violation of any recognized moral code, never mind of the agency’s mission — “to protect human health and the environment.” According to Beyond Pesticides, EPA should never permit continued use of a dangerous pesticide once that compound’s […]

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Federal Court Halts Use of Drift-Prone Dicamba on Millions of Acres of GE Soy and Cotton

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2020) Use of the weed killer dicamba on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and soybeans is now prohibited after a federal court ruling against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week. A coalition of conservation groups filed suit in 2018 after EPA renewed a conditional registration for dicamba’s ‘over the top’ (OTT) use on GE cotton and soy developed to tolerate repeated sprayings of the herbicide. “For the thousands of farmers whose fields were damaged or destroyed by dicamba drift despite our warnings, the National Family Farm Coalition is pleased with today’s ruling,” said National Family Farm Coalition president Jim Goodman in a press release. First registered in the late 1960s, dicamba has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, birth defects, and kidney and liver damage. It is also toxic to birds, fish and other aquatic organisms, and known to leach into waterways after an application. It is a notoriously drift-prone herbicide. Studies and court filings show dicamba able to drift well over a mile off-site after an application. Bayer’s Monsanto thought they could solve this problem. The “Roundup Ready” GE agricultural model the company developed, with crops engineered to tolerate recurrent applications of their […]

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Occupational Exposure to Pesticides, and Other Environmental Chemicals Increase Risk of Developing ALS

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2020) Exposure to agricultural and industrial pesticides, solvents (thinners), electromagnetic fields, and heavy metals predispose humans to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to an Italian research study, “Environmental and Occupational Risk Factors of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Population-Based Case-Control Study,” published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Although research supports ALS’s genetic etiology, epidemiologic research associating ALS risks and to environmental, or work-related risk factors (i.e., pesticide use, pollutant exposure, heavy metal exposure, etc.) has been inconsistent and non-definitive. This research demonstrates the importance of assessing aggregate health risks associated with occupational pesticide exposure, especially when determining potential exposure routes in specific occupational sectors. In the study, researchers note, “In particular, having an occupation in the agricultural sector, especially with a long duration of the working activity as well as occupational exposure to some chemicals
might increase ALS risk.” While scientists extensively study the epidemiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—a rare, yet fatal neurodegenerative disease—occupational and environmental hazards inducing random (sporadic) or hereditary ALS diagnoses remain vague. With researchers predicting a global ALS incidence increase of 69% by 2040, identifying ALS’s causal factors are important to future research. In this research, Italian researchers conducted a case-control, […]

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Study Finds an Association between Dicamba Use and Increased Risk of Developing Various Cancers

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2020) Use of the herbicide dicamba increases humans’ risk of various acute and chronic cancers, according to research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Many pesticides are “known or probable” carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), and their widespread use only amplifies chemical hazards, adversely affecting human health. However, past research lacks comprehensive information regarding human health effects associated with long-term pesticide use. This study highlights the significant role that long-term research plays in identifying potential health concerns surrounding registered pesticides, especially as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to reaffirm its decision to allow dicamba use on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a scientist with the environmental health program at the Center for Biological Diversity, comments: “This sweeping study exposes the terrible human cost of the EPA’s reckless decision to expand the use of dicamba. [
]For the EPA to approve widespread use of this poison across much of the country without assuring its safety to people and the environment is an absolute indictment of the agency’s persistent practice of rubber-stamping dangerous pesticides.” Dicamba—a benzoic acid chemical that controls broadleaf weeds—is one of the most widely applied herbicides in corn production. As a result of weed resistant to […]

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Monarch Butterfly Larvae Adversely Affected by Pesticide Drift from Contiguous Soybean and Maize Crop Fields

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2020) Pesticide spray drift from adjacent farmlands expose butterfly larvae to lethal pesticide concentrations, according to research published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry by Iowa State University (ISU). Lack of previous experimental pesticide toxicity data makes it unclear as to what degree insecticides impact monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) productivity in milkweed (Asclepias spp.) habitats near pesticide-treated pasture. This study adds weight to the idea that pesticides are playing a role in the ongoing decline of this iconic butterfly, as researchers find insecticide drift from adjacent fields to be strongly associated with larval mortality. Future monarch butterfly conservation efforts should consider risks stemming from pesticide exposure when developing butterfly rehabilitation efforts, according to advocates. As co-author Niranjana Krishnan (ISU graduate student) states, “In order to make the best decisions about how and where to plant milkweed, we first need to find basic toxicity and exposure data.”  ISU researchers established monarch butterfly colonies by collecting larvae from roadside milkweeds, which they then reared in the laboratory for incubation. To analyze the relative toxicity of various insecticides on monarch butterflies, researchers applied normal field-application rates of each pesticide at different larval development stages. Scientists used a bioassay to measure the […]

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EPA Registers Toxic Pesticide for Use on GE Soybeans without Required Opportunity for Public Comment

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2020) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered a carcinogenic herbicide for new uses without following  the required public notification and comment process, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting (MCIR) reports. The chemical in question, isoxaflutole, is a broadleaf weedkiller that can now be applied to genetically engineered (GE) soybeans in half of U.S. states. Health and environmental groups are outraged by EPA’s furtive move, accusing the agency of colluding with the pesticide industry. “Clearly no one from the public health community knew about this because no one commented,” said Nathan Donley, PhD, of the Center for Biological Diversity to MCIR. “Yet there was all these industry comments, all these positive comments. Someone was tipped off that this docket had been opened. One side was able to comment, the other wasn’t.” Without public notification, only 54 comments were received. In its decision document, the agency touted how most of the input “were generally in favor of the decision to register the new use.” When questioned about its move, EPA simply told MCIR that it “requested public comment on the proposed registration decision.” The Federal Register provides the public notice of a proposed rulemaking by […]

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Bader Farms Wins $265 Million in Lawsuit Against Bayer’s Monsanto, BASF

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2020) Missouri’s largest peach farm, Bader Farms, is set to receive $265 million in compensation from two multinational agrichemical companies after the companies’ dicamba-based weed killers caused widespread damage to the farm’s fruit trees. Bayer’s Monsanto and BASF were found to be responsible for negligence in the design of their dicamba herbicides, and failure to warn farmers about the dangers of their products. The jury determined that the joint venture between the two companies amounted to a conspiracy to create an “ecological disaster” in the name of profit. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Bayer Monsanto’s release of a new line of genetically engineered (GE) seeds designed to tolerate repeated spraying of dicamba. With glyphosate resistant ‘super-weeds’ widespread and threatening GE farmer’s yields, the company aimed to redeploy dicamba, one of the oldest herbicides in the market, on cotton and soybeans throughout the U.S. Knowing the propensity of dicamba to drift for miles off site, Bayer’s Monsanto promised a new product line with much lower volatility.  But as the company was waiting on approval for this product by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it nonetheless began selling its dicamba-tolerant seeds. This led to […]

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