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Common Use Organophosphate Insecticides Pose a Greater Threat to Women’s Health

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2021) A new study published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology finds chronic (long-term) organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposure increases adverse health and cancer risk for U.S. women relative to men. Organophosphorus pesticides have a wide range of biological uses—from insecticides to flame retardants—that make these chemicals ubiquitous, significantly contributing to ecosystem contamination. Furthermore, while organophosphates have less bioaccumulation potential, residues are consistently present in human and animal blood, urine, tissues, and milk. Although research demonstrates that OPs are highly toxic, there remains an inadequate understanding of how OP exposure impacts the nonagricultural population in the U.S., especially women. Therefore, it is essential to investigate the sex-specific health effects chemical contaminants can produce to mitigate exposure among vulnerable populations. Study researchers note, “Given the higher burden of OP exposure and their significantly higher overall health risk, including cancer, reducing OP exposure in U.S. women needs to be prioritized.” To examine the relationship between OP exposure and health risks, researchers investigated the presence of commonly detected OP metabolite concentrations in urine using participants from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Urine samples measure OP metabolite as an indicator of OP exposure like previous agriculture-related population surveys. Study participants report health issues […]

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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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Current and Projected Patterns of Global Pesticide and Fertilizer Use Are Not Sustainable, Says UN. . .Again

Friday, February 26th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2021) The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the environment arm of the highest-profile international organization (the UN), has issued a draft report whose top finding is this: “The global goal to minimize adverse impacts of chemicals and waste by 2020 has not been achieved for pesticides and fertilizers.” Increased use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers — driven by rising demand for food, feed, fiber, fuel, and feedstock crops — is cited as causal, at least in part. Those factors no doubt contributed to the failure, but Beyond Pesticides asserts that such increased uses are symptomatic of the larger issue: in the U.S. and globally, chemical agriculture is a dangerous dead-end for public and environmental health. According to Beyond Pesticides: With this dominant system in place, “reductions” in use and impact are laudable but wholly insufficient. The whole system of petrochemical farming needs to be transitioned to organic, regenerative practices in agriculture, and in all land management. Such systems do not cause health and environmental harms, but are beneficent, viable, and profitable. The report warns that, going forward, “Business-as-usual is not an option.” The UNEP draft report was produced just ahead of the fifth session of the UN Environment […]

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Breast Cancer Rates Higher Among African American Women from Disproportionate Chemical Exposure

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2021) A University of Michigan study finds a link between elevated rates of breast cancer incidents and chemical exposure from pesticides among African American women. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, causing the second most cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, breast cancer outcomes differ significantly among women of various races/ethnicities, with African American women being 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than women of any other race. Furthermore, incidences of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)—an aggressive breast cancer subtype lacking remediation—is approximately three-fold higher in non-Hispanic Black women (NHBW) compared to non-Hispanic White women (NHWW). Although past studies suggest genetic and environmental factors interact to produce these differences in breast cancer outcomes, genetic factors only play a minor role while disparities (differences) in external factors (i.e., chemical exposure) may play a more notable role. This study highlights the significance of understanding how chemical exposure drives disease outcomes and increases disease risk, especially for more virulent diseases that disproportionately (unequally) impact specific communities. Prior research infers differences in chemical exposure may explain racial disparities for several illnesses, and growing evidence suggests common chemical exposure patterns influence the risk of breast cancer. […]

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Biden Executive Orders Set the Stage for Systemic Change, If Words Turn to Action

Friday, February 5th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2021) The American public has witnessed, in the barely launched tenure of President Joe Biden, a surge of Executive Orders (EOs). Based on the first flurry of orders, much of the Biden “reset” appears gauged to beat back Trump policies that worsened an already inadequate regulatory system, and to reconfigure federal operations and regulations so as to address and solve the biggest threats (beyond COVID) the country faces. Among the high-profile EOs already issued are three that stand out. One recalibrates the operations of the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) to forward health, racial equity, and environmental stewardship. A second and third seek, respectively, to restore scientific integrity and elevate the role of science across the federal government, and to tackle comprehensively the climate crisis with a “whole of government” approach. Beyond Pesticides welcomes these early efforts, and maintains that vigilance and robust advocacy will be necessary to achieve needed paradigmatic change across federal agencies, which exist to protect and support the American people. EOs are tools the President can wield to manage directly some operations of the federal government. They are seen as muscular and immediate means through which to change course, particularly in […]

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EPA Confirms Widespread PFAS Contamination of Pesticides, Announces “Investigation,” Stops Short of Action to Protect Public

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 20, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that PFAS (per and polyfluorinated alykyl substances) ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating containers that store pesticide products, and subsequently the products themselves. The confirmation comes after preliminary testing from the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) found PFAS in the widely used mosquito pesticide Anvil 10+10. In response EPA announced further investigation and said, “EPA understands the need to provide guidance to states, tribes, and other users as they prepare to purchase mosquito control products for 2021 and will provide more information as it continues its investigation. EPA will update the following webpage with information as it becomes available: https://www.epa.gov/pesticides/pfas-packaging.” “EPA’s discovery has opened a Pandora’s Box of health risks,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, PhD, whose testing of the insecticide first raised the alarms, according to the EPA statement.  “Shipping containers may be a significant source of PFAS exposure through the entire U.S. agricultural sector.” According to EPA, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers used to store and transport pesticides are commonly treated with fluoride in order to create a “chemical barrier” that will “prevent changes in chemical composition.” The fluorinated container is supposed to be more stable, […]

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We Honor Martin Luther King Today

Monday, January 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2021) We honor Martin Luther King, Jr. today on Martin Luther King Day—a day of national service with volunteer opportunities across the nation. During this day of reflection, consider reading Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” or listening to it here. At Beyond Pesticides, our vision and work aligns with the vision Dr. King expressed—“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” To that end, we seek to eliminate disproportionate risk, with elevated toxic hazards to people of color communities, with higher rates of pesticide-induced diseases among those who live in fenceline communities where chemicals are produced, among farmworkers who harvest the nation’s food, and among landscapers who manage our parks and children’s playing fields. We seek to transform national laws that allow risks under risk assessments that institutionalize environmental racism by allowing for this disproportionate risk. We seek to eliminate toxic pesticides production and use through the adoption of organic land management. To that end, we work with communities across the country to transition their land management to organic practices and we advance organic standards under the Organic Foods Production Act that have integrity and are fully enforced. Eliminating Toxic Pesticides with Organic Transformation […]

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Trump EPA Adopts Rule to Undermine Science in Decision-Making

Friday, January 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2021) In an eleventh-hour move, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on January 5 the finalization of its controversial, so-called “transparency” rule. The agency claims that the rule— dubbed “Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information”—which mandates that researchers provide to EPA access to their raw data, will improve the credibility of its regulations because the public would be able to validate research that influences EPA regulations. In fact, as researchers and advocates recognize, this rule will significantly restrict the scientific research EPA uses in developing regulations to protect human health. This rule will mitigate against use of the best and broadest knowledge base in developing protections for the American people. In its article on the EPA announcement, The Washington Post explains that the rule would “actually restrict the EPA from using some of the most consequential research on human subjects because it often includes confidential medical records and other proprietary data that cannot be released because of privacy concerns.” Trevor Nace of Forbes magazine writes of the proposed rule: ‘It literally throws out fundamental and hallmark environmental studies the EPA paid scientists to conduct and [which it used to] build […]

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Beyond Pesticides Wishes You A Healthy New Year

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 24, 2020) We at Beyond Pesticides wish our members, supporters, and collaborators all the best for the holiday season and new year. We look forward to working with you in the new year to meet the serious environmental and public health challenges with truly organic solutions. Our accomplishments are your victories. We are seeing the outcomes in communities across the country—the adoption of organic land management policies and practices that eliminate toxic pesticides, protect children, pets, and families, and protect the local ecology. With your support of Beyond Pesticides, we strive to reverse the destructive environmental and public health path that we’re on and advance the adoption of organic practices and policies that respect life. Meeting the Challenges Ahead Beyond Pesticides is working toward the societal transition to practices and policies that eliminate toxic pesticide use. This work intersects with daily decisions made in households, school districts, and municipal and state governments, as well as at the federal level, on crucial issues relating to the health of children, families, and workers, the climate crisis, and biodiversity. Our work helps to inform practices and policies that go to the core of public health protection and the sustainability of […]

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Tell President-elect Biden to Adopt a New Direction for Pesticide Regulation

Monday, December 7th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2020) The Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed in four years much of the progress made by EPA in decades, and that push continues. The Biden EPA needs to advance a new vision. Tell President-elect Biden to adopt a new direction for pesticide regulation. Challenge so-called “benefits” of pesticides. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires EPA to weigh risks against benefits when registering pesticides. Claimed “benefits” for toxic pesticides need to be judged in comparison to organic production, which is able to produce all types of food and feed. The Organic Trade Association reports that organic sales now exceed $55 billion per year, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finds that organic producers in the U.S. produced $9.9 billion worth of organic food on 5.5 million acres in 2019. EPA assumes benefits of pesticides, rather than measuring them, and does not take into account the development of resistance. The cost-competitive success of organic food production and nonagricultural land management practices make the case that toxic pesticides lack benefits. Protect pollinators. Agriculture relies on insect pollinators to facilitate fertilization and maintain annual crop yield. Globally, the production of crops dependent on pollinators is worth […]

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Tell President-elect Biden We Need an Environmental Leader to Head the EPA

Monday, November 30th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2020) The “environment” is central to President-elect Biden’s priorities: climate change, COVID-19, and the next pandemic, racial equity, and economic recovery. The new administration should include an EPA administrator who understands the relationships among these and other environmental issues and has a clear vision of the changes needed to dramatically change our course, currently heading for ecological destruction. Tell President-elect Biden to appoint an EPA Administrator who is an environmentalist with broad environmental credentials and a vision that embraces a dramatic transition away from hazardous chemicals and polluting practices at this perilous time. Let’s start with what the past four years has taught us about who we do NOT want as EPA Administrator. We do not want an industry lobbyist, someone whose work has been funded with industry money, who has represented industry in litigation or as a lobbyist, who has attacked environmentalists, or has never read Silent Spring. Such a person is not qualified to provide the leadership needed to address priority issues and understand the interconnections necessary to address the crises associated with climate, health, and biodiversity decline. On the other hand, a strong candidate will support holistic thinking, with an understanding of interrelationships in […]

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Lawsuit Launched Against EPA Approval of Toxic Herbicide Atrazine

Friday, November 6th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2020) Beyond Pesticides joined health and environmental groups suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) late last month over its decision to reapprove the endocrine disrupting herbicide atrazine with fewer protections for children’s health. Despite the chemical being banned across much of the world, EPA continues to make decisions that benefit chemical industry executives. “EPA’s failure to remove atrazine represents a dramatic failure of a federal agency charged with safeguarding the health of people, wildlife, and the environment,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “We seek to uphold the agency’s duty to act on the science, in the face of viable alternatives to this highly toxic weedkiller.” It is not hyperbole, but in fact scientifically documented, that atrazine exposure “chemically castrates” frogs, impairs fish reproduction, and can result in birth defects and cancer in humans. EPA decision comes on the heels of a rash of industry-friendly decisions. Within the last month, the agency has finalized rules weakening farmworker buffer zone protections, reapproving dicamba use on genetically engineered crops, and reregistering some of the most toxic pesticides on the market. The lawsuit, filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, contends that before reapproving atrazine, […]

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Ecosystem-Killer Fipronil More Toxic Than Previously Thought, Found in Waterways Throughout the U.S.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2020) The insecticide fipronil is more toxic to aquatic insects than previously thought, often present in U.S. waterways, and can trigger trophic cascades that disrupt entire aquatic ecosystems, finds new research published by the U.S. Geological  Survey (USGS). The data have important implications for waterways throughout the country, but particularly in the Southeast U.S. where the chemical was found at hazardous levels in over half of sampled steams. Despite the high quality of the findings by a U.S. government agency, pesticide regulators at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do not adequately consider ecosystem-level effects when determining whether to register a pesticide. As a result, without public pressure on the agency, it is unlikely it will follow the science and take the action necessary to rein in use and safeguard the environment. Fipronil is a systemic pesticide that can travel through plant tissues and be expressed in its pollen, nectar, and dew droplets. Due to its systemic properties and similar toxicity profile, it is often targeted for restriction alongside the notorious neonicotinoid class of insecticides. Although fipronil is equally concerning, there is less data on the range of harm the chemical may cause. To better understand […]

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Report Finds Latina Farmworkers Confront Unique Challenges

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 21, 2020) Women now account for one in four agricultural jobs in the United States, and these important workers face unique challenges to their health and well-being, as outlined by a report published by Boise State University scientists. Farmworkers, often immigrants, or from communities of color, are frequently referred to as ‘invisible’, despite the essential job they perform getting food to American’s dinner tables. With their struggle and plight outside of the view of mainstream news, it is critical that U.S, residents better understand the lives they lead, and their daily obstacles, to inform how their conditions can be improved. “In this study, we tried to understand the women that we were working with what their concerns were and what their challenges were rather than coming in and just saying what we thought the concerns were,” Cynthia Curl, PhD, Associate Professor at Boise State University, told Idaho News 6 (IN6). To better assess the well-being of women farmworkers, researchers conducted mixed method data collection, through surveys, focus groups, and urinary analysis for pesticide body burden. Surveys were received from 70 Latina farmworkers, with 22 participating in focus groups and 11 in semi-structured interviews. An assessment of pesticide […]

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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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Biological Management Has Added Billions in Benefits to Agricultural Economies

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2020) While the green revolution is often heralded in conventional agriculture circles as the key agricultural innovation of the last century, new research finds that biological controls likely had a bigger beneficial impact on world crop production. The study, Ecological Pest Control Fortifies Agricultural Growth in Asia–Pacific Economies, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, makes the case that the introduction of predators to manage non-native pest species was just as important as the introduction of new cereal grain varieties. “Our work constitutes an empirical demonstration of how insect biological control helped solidify the agrarian foundation of several Asia-Pacific economies and, in doing so, places biological control on an equal footing with other biological innovations such as Green Revolution germplasm,” said study co-author Michael Furlong, PhD, of the University of Queensland, Australia. The study, focusing in on the Asia-Pacific region between 1918-2018, relied primarily on the BIOCAT database, a record cataloging “classical biological control” introductions. Of 252 unique interventions reviewed within individual countries, pest predators established themselves in 96. Of those roughly 4 in 10 introductions that were able to maintain populations over the long term, 48% achieved full or partial pest control. The success of these […]

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U.S. Geological Survey Finds Mixtures of Pesticides Are Widespread in U.S. Rivers and Streams

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2020) A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project, reveals the presence of pesticides is widespread in U.S. rivers and streams, with over almost 90 percent of water samples containing at least five or more different pesticides. Pesticide contamination in waterways is historically commonplace as a 1998 USGS analysis revealed pesticides are commonly found in all U.S. waterways, with at least one pesticide detectable. Thousands of tons of pesticides enter rivers and streams around the U.S. from agricultural and nonagricultural sources, which contaminate essential drinking water sources, such as surface water and groundwater. As the number of pesticides in waterways increases, it has detrimental impacts on aquatic ecosystem health, especially as some pesticides work synergistically with others to increase the severity of the effect. Reports like these are a significant tool in determining appropriate regulatory action to protect human, animal, and environmental health. USGS concludes, “Identification of primary contributors to toxicity could aid efforts to improve the quality of rivers and streams to support aquatic life.” Water is the most abundant and important chemical compound on earth, essential to survival and the main component of all living things. Less than three percent of that water […]

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Please Submit Comments: Organic Can Prevent Ecological Collapse with Our Help

Monday, September 21st, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2020) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets online October 28-30 to debate issues—after hearing public comment October 20 and 22—concerning how organic food is produced. Written comments are due October 1. They must be submitted through Regulations.gov. Everywhere we look, we see signs of ecological collapse—wildfires, the insect apocalypse, crashing populations of marine organisms, organisms large and small entangled in plastic, more and more species at risk, rising global temperatures, unusual weather patterns, horrific storms, and pandemics. As we focus on one of the most blatant examples of environmental abuse—the dispersal of toxic chemicals across the landscape—it is important to seek a solution. Organic can be a big part of the solution, but only if it doesn’t stray from its core values and practices. Tell the National Organic Standards Board to support core organic values. From its very beginnings, the organic sector has been driven by an alliance of farmers and consumers who defined the organic standards as a holistic approach to protecting health and the environment, with a deep conviction that food production could operate in sync with nature and be mindful of its interrelationship with the natural world—protecting and enhancing the quality of air, […]

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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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Fashion Killer: Report Finds that the Apparel Industry is a Major Contributor to Biodiversity Loss

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2020) The apparel industry becomes the latest contributor to global biodiversity loss, directly linking soil degradation, natural ecosystems destruction, and environmental pollution with apparel supply chains, according to the report, “Biodiversity: The next frontier in sustainable fashion,” by McKinsey & Company. Although there are many studies on the fashion industry’s impact on climate change, much less research discusses the impact the industry has on biodiversity. The globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk of extinction. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to hold the fashion industry accountable for the direct (i.e., excessive agrochemical use, water consumption) and indirect (i.e., water pollution from run-off) impacts on the environment, not only to protect the well-being of animals, but humans, as well. Researchers in the study note, “We expect biodiversity to become an even greater concern for consumers and investors in the coming years. Covid-19, instead of slowing the trend, has accelerated it—perhaps because people now understand more deeply that human and animal ecosystems are interdependent. It’s time for the apparel industry, which to date has contributed heavily […]

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Commentary: Let’s Do More Than Thank Workers on This Labor Day; Let’s Commit to Abolishing Pesticide Laws that Institutionalize Disproportionate Risk

Monday, September 7th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 7, 2020) On Labor Day during this coronavirus pandemic, it is especially appropriate that we thank all essential workers—but thanks are not enough. We must redouble our efforts to eliminate the racial and economic inequities in our society that contribute to disproportionate risk to the health and well-being of workers, especially people of color. As the commentary in New York Magazine by Sarah Jones states, “[T]okens of appreciation are just that: tokens, which signal nothing deeper than gratitude. That doesn’t pay anyone’s rent.” And, all our gratitude does not protect anyone’s health. Nobody should have to risk their health for a job. As we as a nation recognize that systemic change is needed to fight racial and economic injustice, we are faced with questions that go to the core of our society—the distribution of wealth, a livable wage, investment in and access to education and health care, and an environment that sustains life. It could be said that an environmental organization, like Beyond Pesticides, that works on environmental, health, and agriculture and land management issues should “stay in its lane” and not delve into broader issues that address our social and economic structure. However, the events of the […]

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Pesticides and Fertilizers Outrank Fossil Fuels as the Number One Contributor of Hazardous Sulfur Emissions

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticide, August 27, 2020) The latest research finds that pesticides and fertilizers supersede fossil fuels as the greatest contributor of sulfur emissions in the environment, according to U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded study, published in Nature Geoscience. Particularly, atmospheric sulfur dioxide and reactive sulfur emissions contribute to sulfur deposition via acidic rain and snow, causing a multitude of human and animal of health problems and environmental degradation. Although some U.S. policy regulations curb sulfur emissions from atmospheric sources, alternative sulfur inputs from agricultural sources can cause similar issues as atmospheric sulfur emissions, including acid rain. With peak sulfur concentrations from agricultural outputs up to ten-fold higher than previous 20th-century sulfur levels, studies like these are significant in understanding how underrepresented pollution sources may contribute to overall environmental pollution. Lead author of the study, Eve-Lyn Hinckley, Ph.D., states, “We have an imperative to understand the impact that we’re having on the environment. And then we need to work together towards solutions to mitigate those effects.” Sulfur is a naturally occurring element found in vast, underground deposits. Although relatively stable underground, it is highly reactive once it reaches the surface, transforming into chemical compounds, like sulfur oxides, upon exposure to oxygen. Over […]

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Arctic Glaciers Entrap Pesticides and Other Environmental Pollutants from Global Drift and Release Hazardous Chemicals as They Melt from Global Warming

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2020) Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including banned and current-use pesticides are present in snow and ice on top of Arctic glaciers, according to the study, “Atmospheric Deposition of Organochlorine Pesticides and Industrial Compounds to Seasonal Surface Snow at Four Glacier Sites on Svalbard, 2013–2014,” published in Environmental Science & Technology. Past research finds that air contaminated with these environmentally bioaccumulative, toxic chemicals drift toward the poles, becoming entrapped in ice under the accumulating snowfall. As the global climate continues to rise and the climate crisis worsens, studies like this become significant, as glaciers encapsulating these toxic chemicals are melting. Upon melting, some chemicals can volatize back into the atmosphere releasing toxicants into air and aquatic systems, with the ensuing consequences. Although this research demonstrates that specific computer programs can track the trajectory of chemically contaminated air parcels with practical precision, it falls to global leaders to curtail the continued manufacturing of these chemical pollutants. [For related pieces, see Silent Snow: The unimaginable impact of toxic chemical use and DDT in Glacial Melt Puts Alaskan Communities at Risk.] Countless scientists consider Arctic environments to be “pristine,” void of direct chemical inputs from pesticides and other POPs. However, the Arctic has become a sink for […]

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