[X] CLOSEMAIN MENU

  • Archives

  • Categories

    • Announcements (582)
    • Antibacterial (115)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (2)
    • Aquaculture (22)
    • Beneficials (22)
    • Biodiversity (19)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (11)
    • Biomonitoring (28)
    • Canada (4)
    • Cannabis (17)
    • Children (3)
    • Children/Schools (215)
    • Climate Change (30)
    • contamination (49)
    • Environmental Justice (105)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (60)
    • Events (82)
    • Farm Bill (1)
    • Farmworkers (107)
    • Fracking (1)
    • Fungicides (1)
    • Goats (1)
    • Golf (11)
    • Health care (32)
    • Holidays (24)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (53)
    • International (278)
    • Invasive Species (28)
    • Label Claims (46)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (181)
    • Litigation (278)
    • Microbiata (2)
    • Microbiome (2)
    • Nanotechnology (53)
    • National Politics (381)
    • Pesticide Drift (122)
    • Pesticide Regulation (657)
    • Pesticide Residues (138)
    • Pets (17)
    • Preemption (4)
    • Resistance (69)
    • Rodenticide (21)
    • Take Action (376)
    • Uncategorized (182)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (309)
    • Wood Preservatives (21)
  • Most Viewed Posts

Daily News Blog

05
Sep

September’s PolliNATION Pollinator of the Month – The Bog Copper Butterfly

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2017) The bog copper butterfly (Lycaena epixante) is a member of the second largest family of butterflies, Lycaenidae, which includes over 4,700 species worldwide. Also known as the cranberry-bog copper butterfly, the species has strong biological ties to cranberry plants and its associated habitat.

Range
Bog coppers are unevenly distributed throughout Northeast United States and into Canada, with some ranging as far west as Minnesota. Populations are generally concentrated in acid bog environments containing wild cranberry, but have also been sighted in other damp acidic habitats, such as wet meadows. The butterfly requires an environment that is wet year-round, with ample sunlight. Bog coppers are highly adapted to this environment and do not migrate.

Diet and Pollination
The life cycle of the bog copper strongly depends on cranberry plants. Female butterflies lay single eggs leaves in late summer or early fall on the leaves of cranberry plants, usually near the edge of the bog, covered with sedges. Each female may lay 20-40 eggs. After developing into a first stage larva within the egg, the larva is protected from ice and freezing temperature during the winter by entering state of diapause, or dormancy. The egg is protected from dessication by the moist environment under the leaf, and from flooding by a convoluted membrane that traps bubbles of air. Bog coppers spend roughly 85% of their lives in their egg stage, emerging as larvae in spring to feed on cranberry leaves where the egg was laid. After a brief pupation period, bog coppers emerge as adults, and mating occurs 2-3 days before the females lay eggs, repeating their life cycle. Cranberry-bog copper adults feed almost solely on cranberry nectar, and their life cycle is timed so that emergence of adults coincides with flowering of cranberries. It may come as no surprise that the species is an important pollinator of wild cranberries.

Physiology
The bog copper is the smallest of the copper butterflies found in the United States, with a wing span ranging just under an inch. Both males and females have wings which are colored dark grey to brown on the front side, with a tinge of purplish gloss. Males also have black dots and an orange zig-zag line at the base of the front side of their wings. Both sexes have a white colored border around the edge of their wings. The back side of both males and females is generally colored grey to tan with small black spots and a reddish zig-zag at the base.

Ecological Role and Threats to Existence
Bog coppers are important pollinators of both large and small cranberry plants. The cranberry bog copper is not an important part of commercial cranberry production, because the butterfly is highly sensitive to insecticide exposure. Thus bog coppers are rarely found in commercial cranberry farms, leaving pollinators like the honey bee to perform the necessary pollination.

Recent research from Ellwood et al. finds that as a result of climate change, bog coppers and cranberry plants are increasingly mismatched ecologically. Cranberry plants flower earlier in warmer years. This is leading to unhappy consequences for bog coppers, which have not been known to alter their behavior in response to temperature changes. Thus, if cranberries flower earlier than bog coppers emerge as adults, the butterflies are likely to miss out on their critical food source. For any bog coppers who may incidentally be on a non-organic cranberry farm, early flowering may mean that the bog copper emerges at a time when insecticide spraying is most active.

In addition to insecticide use, cranberry-bog coppers are at risk from habitat destruction. Acidic areas where the insects live are prime spots for the development of peat mining or the creation of industrial cranberry operations. Natural hazards have always posed a threat –beavers, ecosystem engineers, can both create and destroy the conditions that bog coppers need to thrive. This small pollinator is also at risk from fire, natural succession to forests, and severe floods.

How to Protect the Species
Encourage a safer environment for cranberry-bog coppers by purchasing organic cranberries and cranberry products. Conventional cranberry production is known to make use of neonicotinoid insecticides, which once applied, will make their way into a plant’s vascular system, and express itself in its pollen and nectar. Given that the bog copper’s entire life cycle depends upon consuming the cranberry plant, it is little wonder why so few are found in and around commercial cranberry bogs. In addition to insecticides, conventional cranberry production applies significant quantities of fungicides, such as chlorothalonil and azoxystrobin, which are also likely to affect non-target pollinator species such as bog coppers. Buying organic will encourage the industry to transition to practices that do not necessitate the use of these toxic chemicals, and are likely to make commercial cranberry production a safer environment for the bog copper.

Although bog copper populations are considered relatively stable, their long-term outlook is questionable. While there are many states and localities where native cranberry bogs are protected, pressures from climate change and development will remain a factor for many years to come. Protecting these species will require concerted efforts to preserve their native habitat, and eliminate the introduction of environmental stressors such as pesticides.

Citations
Averill, A. and Sylvia, M., 1998. Cranberry insects of the Northeast.

Elwood et al. 2013. Cranberry flowering times and climate change in southern Massachusetts. International Journal of Biometerology. DOI 10.1007/s00484-013-0719-y https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256480641_Cranberry_flowering_times_and_climate_change_in_southern_Massachusetts

Encyclopedia of Life, N.D. Bog Copper. http://eol.org/pages/2682626/details#cite_note-rcgt-2

Moths and Butterflies of North America. N.D. Bog Copper. https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Lycaena-epixanthe

Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. N.D. Bog Copper. http://www.naturalheritage.state.pa.us/factsheets/11718.pdf

Pelikan, Matt. 2014. A highly evolved butterfly. MVtimes. http://www.mvtimes.com/2014/07/02/highly-evolved-butterfly/

Severns, P.M., Boldt, L. and Villegas, S., 2006. Conserving a wetland butterfly: quantifying early lifestage survival through seasonal flooding, adult nectar, and habitat preference. Journal of Insect Conservation, 10(4), pp.361-370.

United States Forest Service, N.D. The Bog Copper. https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/bog_copper.shtml

Wright, D.M., 1983. Life history and morphology of the immature stages of the bog copper butterfly Lycaena epixanthe (Bsd. & Le C.)(Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera.

Share

01
Sep

Take Action this Labor Day: Tell Your Governor to Stop Monsanto’s False Safety Claims that Hurt Workers

(Beyond Pesticides, September 1, 2017) Tell your Governor to stop Monsanto from making false and deceptive claims about glyphosate (Roundup) –a pesticide that hurts workers. Because of its wide use by workers in parks, along utility and railroad rights-of-way, and on farms, use of Monsanto’s glyphosate results in more exposure than any other pesticide. Monsanto has developed and continues to grow its market for this product with false claims of the safety of the toxic chemical. Glyphosate is listed as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (World Health Organization) and disrupts a pathway in humans necessary for healthy functioning of the gut microbiome. Meanwhile, Monsanto actively advertises and promotes its Roundup products as targeting an enzyme “found in plants but not in people or pets.”

Act now to urge your Governor to act on false claims by Monsanto.

Although EPA considers glyphosate to be “of relatively low oral and dermal acute toxicity,” symptoms workers could experience following exposure to glyphosate formulations include: swollen eyes, face, and joints; facial numbness; burning and/or itching skin; blisters; rapid heart rate; elevated blood pressure; chest pains, congestion; coughing; headache; and nausea.

The additional ingredients in Roundup can be more toxic than glyphosate alone, resulting in a number of chronic, developmental, and endocrine-disrupting effects. The “inert” (non-disclosed) ingredients in Roundup formulations kill human cells at very low concentrations. At least some glyphosate-based products are genotoxic.

Because glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway, crucial for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants but not animals, Monsanto claims that it does not harm humans. However, many beneficial bacteria use the shikimate pathway, and glyphosate, in fact, is a patented antibiotic. Glyphosate destroys bacteria in the human gut and, therefore, is a major contributor to disease. Disturbing the microbiota can contribute to a whole host of “21st century diseases,” including diabetes, obesity, food allergies, heart disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer, asthma, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. The rise in these same diseases is tightly correlated with the use of glyphosate herbicides, and glyphosate exposure can result in the inflammation that is at the root of these diseases. Glyphosate appears to have more negative impacts on beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to flourish and enhancing antibiotic resistance.

Although consumers are at risk from Monsanto’s glyphosate products, the workers who apply it and work in fields and parks, and along rights-of-way where it is used are at greatest risk.

There is precedent for states acting on false claims by manufacturers. Massachusetts sued Bayer for false and deceptive claims on the label for its neonicotinoid products that harm bees. Every state can seek to protect against a false and deceptive claim under consumer protection and truth in advertising law.

Act now to urge your Governor to act on false claims by Monsanto.

Share

31
Aug

Birth Abnormalities Linked to Pesticide Exposures

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2017) Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara report in a new study that exposure to pesticides as a result of living near agricultural areas increases the risk of giving birth to a baby with abnormalities. These results are more significant for those exposed to very high levels of pesticides, underscoring the continued risks faced by farmworkers and farmworker families, especially mothers living near chemically-intensive treated fields.

The study, “Agricultural pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes in the San Joaquin Valley of California,” looked at individual birth and demographic characteristics for over 500,000 birth observations between 1997 and 2011 in the agriculturally dominated San Joaquin Valley, California. The researchers, who report their findings as, “the most comprehensive to date, bringing together the largest data file ever compiled on street-address level birth outcomes and fine scale exposure to agricultural pesticides,” analyzed residential agricultural pesticide exposure during gestation, by trimester, and by toxicity influences on birth outcomes: birth weight, gestational length, or birth abnormalities. Adverse birth outcomes increased by 5–9% among those exposed to very high quantities of pesticides (e.g., top 5th percentile, i.e., ~4,200 kg per square mile applied over gestation). According to the results, “ The magnitude of effects were further enlarged for the top 1%, where these extreme exposures (>11,000 kg per square mile) led to an 11% increased probability of preterm birth, 20% increased probability of low birth weight, and ~30 g decrease in birth weight.”

Numerous chemicals are used daily in close proximity to residential areas, making it difficult to ascertain a specific responsible agent. As a result, in this study, the researchers looked at the combined results from all pesticides used in the region. Looking at pesticide use by aerial and ground application, the study finds that exposure to high pesticide levels from ground applications had a significant effect on birth weight, gestation, preterm birth, and birth abnormalities. The authors note ground application represents roughly 95% of total active ingredients used and, thus, high ground exposure represents most of the cumulative pesticide exposure measure.

“If we can identify where and why these extremely high levels of use are occurring, particularly near human settlements, policymakers and health workers can work to reduce extreme exposures near agricultural communities via information campaigns or farmer outreach,” said lead author Ashley Larsen, PhD, assistant professor in UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

The San Joaquin Valley is an agricultural region of California where pesticide use is widespread. More than one-third of U.S. vegetables and two-thirds of fruits and nuts are produced here. Pesticides are applied to crops here intensively, and can vary dramatically in their use. For instance, commodities, such as grapes, receive nearly 50 kg ha−1 per year of insecticides alone in the San Joaquin Valley. San Joaquin county also has the highest numbers of schools within ¼ mile of pesticide application, but in this study not all agricultural fields were in proximity to human settlement. Areas with consistent births and pesticides are a small fraction of the San Joaquin Valley, and the researchers theorize, if extreme pesticide areas and vulnerable populations could be identified, strategies or interventions could be developed to mitigate the likelihood of extreme exposures. Farmworkers of San Joaquin Valley and their families are exposed to pesticides by loading, mixing or applying pesticides, and by secondary exposures to pesticides migrating into homes via pesticide drift or residues on skin and clothi

In addition to adverse birth outcomes, studies also report other developmental effects from pesticide exposures.  A 2014 study conducted by the UC Davis Mind Institute found that pregnant women who lived within a mile of treated fields more than tripled their chances of giving birth to a child with autism. Additionally, the UC Berkeley CHAMACOS team, studying organophosphate pesticide impacts on women and children in the Salinas Valley, found that every 522 pounds of combined organophosphate pesticide applications within one kilometer of a pregnant woman’s home correlates with a two point IQ loss in her children at seven years old.

In order to facilitate access to epidemiologic and laboratory studies based on real world exposure scenarios that link public health effects to pesticides, Beyond Pesticides maintains the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database, commonly referred to as PIDD. The scientific literature documents elevated rates of chronic diseases among people exposed to pesticides, including birth defects and developmental impairments. This new study underscores an urgent need for public policy at all levels –local, state, and national– to end dependency on toxic pesticides, replacing them with carefully defined green strategies. The current database, which contains hundreds of studies, is continuously updated.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source:
Science Daily
The Independent (UK)

Share

30
Aug

Study Finds Suicides Linked to Toxic Agricultural Pesticides, Authors Call for Global Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2017) Preventing the 250,000 farmer suicides globally from pesticide self-poisoning requires more than household security measures. It requires the removal of highly toxic pesticides from the market, according to a study recently published by The Lancet. Global suicide rates associated with pesticide use is tracked by the World Health Organization, with 89% taking place in rural Asia, where the current study was conducted. By encouraging a transition to safer organic practices, and implementing restrictions on imports containing toxic pesticides, developed countries like the U.S. can assist in reducing farmer suicide rates.

Research in The Lancet, published by a team of scientists from Sri Lanka and the UK, looked at suicide rates within 180 Sri Lankan villages, representing over 200,000 individuals and over 50,000 households, over the course of three years. Households in half of the villages (90) received lockable pesticide storage containers, while the remaining villages, acting as a control group, did not. Suicide by pesticide is associated with impulsivity, the authors indicate, so the purpose of the study was to investigate whether encouraging active individual means to restrict access (means restrictions) would lower suicide rates. Means restriction is a method of suicide prevention, which includes eliminating access to areas or items people might use to take their own life.

After three years, 61% of households that received the storage containers were storing pesticides away, with 53% locking them away. In the control group, 52% were storing pesticides, and 5% were locking them away. However, incidents of pesticide self-poisoning were ultimately very similar between the two groups. The villages that received the pesticide storage lockers recorded 611 cases of suicide, while the villages in the control group recorded 641.

Thus, researchers found no evidence that household storage lockers would prevent suicides, indicating a failure of active individual means restriction. Indeed, authors conclude that the only successful method of means restriction that has shown to reduce pesticide self-harm is to completely remove highly toxic pesticides from agricultural use.

“A worldwide ban on the use of highly hazardous pesticides is likely to prevent tens of thousands of deaths every year,” said lead author David Gunnell, DSc, of University of Bristol, to the Daily Star.

Already, the study notes, by implementing alternative pest management approaches that focus on less hazardous pesticides, Sri Lanka has reduced suicides rates by 75% over the last 20 years, saving over 93,000 lives. And unsurprisingly, the country has not suffered any measurable drop in agricultural yields.

Developed countries like the U.S. can play an important part in reducing suicides in rural agricultural areas. Buying organic not only contributes to a system that respects the natural environment and stops exposure to toxic pesticides, it also reduces demand for toxic pesticides in areas of the world where farmer suicides are alarmingly high. Coupled with evidence from past studies that link pesticide exposure to suicidal ideations, as well as depression, even in developed countries, this research strongly supports a ban on toxic pesticides in favor of organic practices. In addition, small and peasant farmers, who are encouraged to adopt chemical-intensive farming practices, typically take on high debt and face insect and weed resistance that results in crop failure and financial ruin.

For more information on how organic is the right choice for both consumers and farmworkers in the agricultural communities that grow our food, see Beyond Pesticides’ webpage, Health Benefits of Organic Agriculture.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Daily Star

 

Share

29
Aug

Neurotoxic Pesticide Detected in Air at High Levels in California County

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2017) Air monitoring in Kern County, California, finds levels of the highly neurotoxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, in excess of the levels of concern established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for pregnant women. Chlorpyrifos is linked to low IQs, autism and other developmental neurological effects. Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt refused to ban chlorpyrifos to the dismay of many scientists, medical professionals, and farmworker organizations.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) released its 2016 air monitoring data where it was revealed that chlorpyrifos air concentrations for a one-month period at the air monitoring site on the campus of Shafter High School in Kern County was 39.4 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) – more than 18 times higher than EPA’s level of concern for pregnant women (2.1 ng/m3).  Shafter High School is some distance from fields in an area where chlorpyrifos use is not as high as in other parts of Kern County or elsewhere in California. More than 1.1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos was used in California in 2015, and more than a quarter of that is used in Kern County.

High chlorpyrifos levels at a school means that children and unsuspecting teachers and parents, especially those that may be pregnant, are breathing in unusually high levels of chlorpyrifos. Children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have developmental delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. A 2014 study conducted by the UC Davis Mind Institute found that pregnant women who lived within a mile of fields where chlorpyrifos was sprayed more than tripled their chances of giving birth to a child with autism. Additionally, the UC Berkeley CHAMACOS team, studying organophosphate impacts on women and children in the Salinas Valley, found that every 522 pounds of combined organophosphate pesticide applications within one kilometer of a pregnant woman’s home correlates with a two point IQ loss in her children at seven years old.

Prior to CDPR’s release of its air monitoring data, two pesticide drift incidents involving chlorpyrifos occurred in Kern County that harmed dozens of farmworkers. As many as 37 workers in a crew of 48 cabbage pickers and packers at a field south of Bakersfield began feeling ill about an hour into their shift early on May 5th. Some began fainting and vomiting, and at least five workers received medical attention. The pesticides involved in the incident drifted a half-mile from where they were applied, in violation of California law. Another incident in early August affected seventy farmworkers harvesting garlic. Here, seven workers suffered exposure symptoms that included eye and skin irritation, nausea and headache. According to the Kern County Agriculture Commissioner, this incident is under investigation, and two companies have already been fined in the first incident. In these incidents, chlorpyrifos was not the only pesticide used nearby, however. The soil fumigant metam sodium was being used nearby in the second incident, and sulfur was also found on plants near workers at the site from the May 5th incident. Although pesticides are regulated individually, an increasing body of research indicates that workers are often exposed to pesticides in combination, which may interact in ways that are currently little understood.

New rules proposed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to protect children from exposure to hazardous agricultural pesticides include a quarter-mile buffer zone from 6am to 6pm on school days around schools and daycares for the most drift-prone application methods — a safeguard advocates point out would have been insufficient in this case.

In March 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed a 2015 proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos, even though EPA’s own assessment found that the chemical is too toxic to children. A revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances would have effectively banned the chemical from use in agriculture. Instead, Administrator Pruitt’s decision indicated the agency will continue to study chlorpyrifos and would not take any action until 2022. Epidemiological data also points to subpopulations that are disproportionately affected by chlorpyrifos exposures. Low-income African-American and Latino families, including farmworker families, continue to suffer the most, and this disproportionate impact creates an environmental justice problem that the agency cannot continue to ignore.

Currently, there is a bill, “Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act,” S. 1624, that would amend the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) that oversees pesticide food exposures to prohibit all chlorpyrifos use. Introduced by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the bill also directs EPA to partner with the National Research Council to assess the neurodevelopmental and other low-dose effects of exposure to organophosphate pesticides to agricultural workers and children.

Take Action: Ask your U.S. Senators to co-sponsor legislation to ban chlorpyrifos after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed the previous administration’s proposal to discontinue its food uses. [The bill is currently co-sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).]

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Pesticide Action Network News Release

Share

28
Aug

Take Action: Back-to-School; Stop the Toxic Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2017) School policies must protect children from pesticides by adopting organic land and building management policies and serving organic food in cafeterias. At the start of the school year, it is critical for school administrators to make sure that students and teachers are learning and teaching in an environment where no hazardous pesticides are used in the school’s buildings or on playing fields. It is also essential that children have access to organic food in food programs and manage school gardens organically.

Send a letter to your local officials urging them to tell school districts to adopt organic management and serve organic food to students.

In addition, there are other things you can do:

Whether a parent, teacher, student, school administrator, landscaper or community advocate, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the school environment is a safe from toxic chemicals, as the new school year begins.

For Parents and Teachers:

Because children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure due to their smaller size and developing organ systems, using toxic pesticides to get control insects, germs, and weeds can harm students much more than it helps. The good news is that these poisons are unnecessary, given the availability of practices and green materials that do not poison people or the environment.

Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage. This is supported by the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which concluded, “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity.” You can help to eliminate children’s exposure to toxic chemicals by urging school administrators to implement organic management practices that use cultural, mechanical, and biological management strategies, and, as a last resort, defined least-toxic pesticides. See Beyond Pesticides ManageSafeTM database for managing all insects and weeds without toxic pesticides.

Find Out About Your School’s Pest Management Program
One way to protect children is to find out whether the school has a pest management policy in place already, and identify key allies to improve it. Since toxic pesticides are not necessary to effective pest management, it is important that schools and school districts have a written organic pest management program. This will ensure that the program is institutionalized and will continue to flourish over time. See here for more details and practical steps on how to get organized and improve a school’s pest management program. For additional information, see Beyond Pesticides’ School Organizing Guide.

Non-Toxic Lice Management

Children going back to school may face challenges with head lice, and research has found that lice in 25 of 30 states in a U.S. study have developed resistance to common over-the-counter treatments like the insecticide permethrin, which therefore are not effective. Utilizing non-toxic approaches and products is critical, especially since lice are not a vector for insect-borne disease, and typical pesticide products used to treat them can be neurotoxic or carcinogenic. Fortunately, this nuisance insect can be managed utilizing a number of alternative lice treatment methods that do not include the use of toxic chemicals. One method for eliminating head lice is the use of hot air, which desiccates the insects and eggs, killing them. Lice and their eggs (or nits) can be combed and handpicked, and then destroyed in soapy water. Beyond Pesticide’s ManageSafe Database has a comprehensive webpage dedicated to safe management of lice, in addition to preventive practices.

Pack Organic Lunches or Start an Organic Garden
Organic foods have been shown to reduce dietary pesticide exposure. Children who eat a conventional diet of food produced with chemical-intensive practices carry residues of neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides that are reduced or eliminated when they switch to an organic diet.  The effects of pesticide exposure have been well documented, particularly for vulnerable segments of the population like children and pregnant women. In 2012, AAP weighed in on the organic food debate, recognizing that lower pesticide residues in organic foods may be significant for children. In addition to direct health effects, the Academy also noted that choosing organic is based on broad environmental and public health concerns, including pollution and global climate change —a position that is supported by Beyond Pesticides. Ask the school to adopt an organic lunch program, starting with organic produce, milk or juice. See School Lunches Go Organic for more information.

In addition to serving organic food in the cafeteria, it can be both helpful and a valuable part of the lesson plan to grow food in an organic school garden. For more information, The Organic School Garden (or Grow Your Own Organic Food for technical advice). School gardens teach children where food comes from and establishes healthy relationships with food and the natural world.

Promote Biodiversity with Organic Landscapes and Turf
Biodiversity helps bees and other pollinators; diverse plants produce a supply of nectar throughout the growing season, and biodiversity of soil organisms promotes healthy plants that grow well without the introduction of poisonous pesticides.

Playing fields that are intensively managed with chemicals are at greater risk for disease and weed infestation (leading to a dependence on chemical inputs), compared with practices that build healthy, balanced soil. Similarly, chemically-managed fields are generally harder and more compacted due to a loss of natural soil biology, while organic management focuses on cultural practices, such as aeration, that alleviate compaction, improve moisture retention, and provide a softer, better playing surface. See the factsheet, Pesticides and Playing Fields, for more information.

Protect biodiversity through organic turf, playing fields and landscape policies. Encourage the school to plant pollinator-attractive plants in its garden as part of its biology class. If the school does not have a garden, request one be integrated into the curriculum. Wildflowers, native plant and grass species should be encouraged on school grounds. For more information on attractive flowers, see the BEE Protective Habitat Guide. Also see the Do-It-Yourself Biodiversity factsheet and Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind for resources on building and protecting biodiversity.

For College Students:

On college campuses nationwide, grounds crews and landscapers often maintain the land with toxic pesticides, even though safer alternatives exist. College students across the country want their campuses to be a safe and healthy environment. To assist with college studies, Beyond Pesticides has developed the BEE Protective Ambassador Program.

BEE Protective College Ambassador Program

The widespread use of systemic pesticides in agriculture and landscaping, specifically, a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids (neonics), has been implicated in causing poor pollinator health and widespread bee deaths. Therefore, a key focus of the program is to eliminate the use of neonics on college campuses.  A critical part of being a BEE Protective Ambassador is to engage with college administrators in the creation of a pollinator-friendly campus.
“BEE” prepared: you may get some pushback about phasing out toxic pesticides on campus. But contrary to what some administrators and groundskeepers may tell you, a college campus can be maintained successfully without toxic, systemic pesticides!

With the fall semester rapidly approaching, now is a great time to take the BEE Protective Ambassador Pledge. With assistance from Beyond Pesticides, BEE ambassadors will be given  educational information to with college  administrators. Students who are interested in joining the movement to protect pollinators and save the bees, can become a Bee Protective Ambassador and sign the pledge!

Send a letter to your local officials urging them to tell school districts to adopt organic management and serve organic food to students.

See Beyond Pesticides Children and Schools webpage.

Share

25
Aug

Organic Agriculture: Visions and Challenges –Topic of Article

(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2017) While organic agriculture still represents only a fraction of the world’s food production, organic food sales have enjoyed remarkable growth over the past couple of decades, which is captured in a recent article, Building a global platform for organic farming research, innovation and technology transfer, published by Springer online. This growth of organic is propelled by consumers and farmers who recognize significant environmental and health advantages of organic, compared to chemical-intensive agriculture. In this context, studies conclude that organic agriculture may be the best way to meet the world’s food security and environmental needs.

A bit of history for some context on this issue: for millennia, of course, all agricultural was “organic.” Even the Industrial Revolution — which brought the combustion engine that enabled machines that made tilling, planting, and harvesting less animal-bound and human-labor intensive — had minimal impact on other aspects of how food was planted, raised, and harvested.

In the 1960s, the so-called “Green Revolution” took hold, powered in part by the post-WWII technological and industrial boom in scientific and technical discoveries and applications, and in part by a rapidly growing global population that shared inequitably in the world’s food production. This “revolution” introduced and promoted intensive, largely petroleum-based and synthetic chemical inputs (primarily fertilizers and herbicides/pesticides), and genetic manipulation techniques. Although the adoption of this approach resulted in significant increases in production, it has, during its 50-year hegemony in parts of the globe, brought with it alarming levels of pollution and degradation of the natural environment, poorer soil and animal health, and increased plant vulnerability to climatic stresses, diseases, and pests.

Those are among the issues that organic agriculture successfully addresses. It improves soil health and quality; sequesters carbon; reduces erosion; increases biological activity that suppresses disease and pests, and boosts plant immunity to infection; improves cycling of nutrients in soil, making them more bioavailable to plants; and yields more healthful forage for livestock. In addition, organic yields are sometimes more stable in the face of environmental or weather stresses; and organic protocols boost populations of pollinators and beneficial insects, and lower pesticide residues.

Moving to organic agriculture seems obvious, so why isn’t it happening at a faster clip? Perhaps it is because there is still disagreement about efficacy and question of feeding the world, but also, because, as discussed in the article, there are barriers to broader adoption, including technological obstacles; policies that continue to favor use of chemical inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides); dependency in livestock practices on petrochemical inputs and dubious animal health approaches; and an economic system in which food prices fail to reflect the environmental, health, and social costs of food production.

On the persistent question of whether organic agriculture could produce enough to feed the 7.5 billion people who inhabit the planet (and the 11.5 billion the U.N. predicts by 2100), studies have reached different conclusions.  However, most research has focused on the question of yield.

Proponents of organic see organic yields and cost of production as competitive. “There are actually myriad studies from around the world showing that organic farms can produce about as much [as], and in some settings, much more [than], conventional farms. Where there is a yield gap, it tends to be widest in wealthy nations, where farmers use copious amounts of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in a perennial attempt to maximize yields.” More recent research showed organic yields in North America and Europe at 80% of conventional yields, and some studies show an even narrower gap. And notably, in the world’s poorer countries, where food insecurity is most extreme, “the yield gaps completely disappear.”

Assessing yield gaps between conventional and organic agriculture is a real “apples to oranges” conundrum, not least because production varies with myriad factors, including geography, soil characteristics, weather, farm-specific practices, etc. A very large, 2015 meta-study found organic yields to be 19.2% (with a ±3.7% margin of error) lower than conventional yields, and identified “entirely different effects of crop types and management practices on the yield gap compared with previous studies. For example, we found no significant differences in yields for leguminous versus non-leguminous crops, perennials versus annuals, or developed versus developing countries. Instead, we found the novel result that two agricultural diversification practices, multi-cropping and crop rotations, substantially reduce the yield gap (to 9 ± 4% and 8 ± 5%, respectively) when the methods were applied in only organic systems.”

Beyond Pesticides has long advocated for organic food and agriculture, noting that an “Organic Green Revolution,” using integrated farming practices such as cover crops, organic no-till, and composting, can not only substantially improve yields, but also, protect and restore soil and environmental health. In 2009, Beyond Pesticides said, “Organic agriculture can increase world food security as it offers affordable, immediately usable, and universally accessible ways to improve yields and access to nutritional food in developing countries. A 2008 report cited in a paper from the United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP) notes that not only can organic agriculture feed the world but it may be the only way we can solve the growing problem of hunger in developing countries. UNEP states that its extensive study ‘challenges the popular myth that organic agriculture cannot increase agricultural productivity.’ In an analysis of 114 farming projects in 24 African countries, UNEP reports that organic or near-organic practices result in a yield increase of more than 100 percent.”

In 2009, Beyond Pesticides reported on a 2008 Rodale Institute research paper, titled The Organic Green Revolution, including a review of replicated research, shows that the latest scientific approaches in organic agriculture offer affordable, immediately usable, and universally accessible ways to improve yields and access to nutritional food in developing countries.

Some have predicted catastrophe should the world convert to organic farming. At a 2002 conference, award-winning plant breeder Norman Borlaug said, “We aren’t going to feed 6 billion people with organic fertilizer. If we tried to do it, we would level most of our forest and many of those lands would be productive only for a short period of time.” Cambridge University chemist John Emsley pulled no punches in his assessment: “The greatest catastrophe that the human race could face this century is not global warming but a global conversion to ‘organic farming’ — an estimated 2 billion people would perish.” Still others believe that organic agriculture is an inefficient approach to food security. (For a primer on the question, see this Worldwatch Institute article.]

Despite the different perspectives, the impetus for organic growth is driven by a desire to address the multiple environmental and health problems that humanity faces. Still, challenges and obstacles to the advancement of organic abound.

IFOAM–Organics International, a consortium of 800 organizations across 100 countries — an umbrella of sorts for the organics movement — is acting on those challenges. In 2013 it formed its Technology Innovation Platform (TIPI) to advance organic farming through research, development, innovation, and technology transfer. By engaging stakeholders, including researchers, farmers, consumers, and all those along the “value chain” of food systems, it hopes to develop an agenda for advancing organic production and to advocate for funding initiatives that do so.

IFOAM notes that the kind of research and investment that can help organic farming practices grow and improve is currently insufficient to the task. In recent years, such investment has increased, but it is still a pittance compared to conventional/industrial agriculture’s spending on agrochemicals, genetic engineering, CAFOs (confined animal farming operations), and other approaches that organic practices disallow. Global investment in “organic supportive” research and development activity [as of 2011] was .5% of the total investment in agricultural R&D. During the past couple of decades, especially, there has been an overall decline in public funding of ag research, and a concomitant rise in the rate of corporate investment in proprietary biotechnology (think, e.g., of Monsanto and its dominance in GE soybean seeds in the U.S. because of its development of the glyphosate herbicide, Roundup). IFOAM also points out that “agroecological research seen as compatible with organic farming systems does not provide the same incentives for private sector investment in research and development because their benefits are long-term and are public goods.”

TIPI has identified three strategic research approaches for the sector: (1) develop research methods appropriate for organic food and farming systems; (2) renew partnerships between farmers, farm advisors, scientists, and consumers; and (3) integrate technological, social, and ecological dimensions of innovation. It also advocates for three “pathways,” or goals, for the advancement of organics: (1) organic agriculture becomes the preferred land use system in rural areas worldwide; (2) food and ecosystem security are attained through eco-functional intensification; and (3) organic agriculture produces healthful food in an equitable manner for the well-being of everyone. (See details on these strategies and their research implications in Table 2, here.)

A sampling of TIPI’s goals for enactment of those strategies includes: develop value-added food chains in rural economies; use local sourcing and processing; establish a norm of human, animal, soil, and plant health as primary axes of investigation; breed crops and livestock better suited to local conditions; design ag systems to enhance biodiversity; increase sustainable yields via use of polycultures, variety selection, improved crop rotation, and improved nutrient recycling; investigate relationships between organic food quality and human health; improve technologies to recover organic wastes and return them to the soil; examine and adapt traditional food processing to modern techniques to improve performance and quality of authentic, heritage foods; investigate ways to prevent contamination by pesticides, genetically modified organisms, and other contaminants in production and handling.

Organic agriculture can respond to our human and environmental sustainability needs, but it needs support from all corners. Beyond Pesticides advocates choosing local, organic goods whenever possible; see our Organic Agriculture pages for more information. As Paul Ehrlich and Lauren Ponisio point out, “The sustainability of society hinges on the future of agriculture.”

Source: Building a Global Platform for Organic Farming Research, Innovation and Technology Transfer

Share

24
Aug

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Stop Queen Bumblebees from Laying Eggs, Raising Extinction Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2017) Common pesticides used on canola crops significantly reduce bumblebee egg laying and may lead to local population extinction, according to new research published in the journal Nature by scientists at the Royal Holloway University of London. This is the latest study to investigate how neonicotinoids, insecticides linked to the global decline of pollinator populations, are changing the landscape that humans rely on for food production and other ecological services. Although this eye-opening study should be a wake-up call for regulators in the U.S., there is little indication that federal agencies tasked with protecting pollinators and the wider environment are willing to make changes that would affect the profits of multinational chemical companies.

Researchers began their study by visiting canola fields in the United Kingdom that had been treated with neonicotinoids, observing the distribution of various bumblebee species. One of the most abundant species found is Bombus terrestris, a key pollinator and the most common bumblebee throughout Europe. Colonies of B. terrestris were then purchased commercially, and roughly 230 queens were successfully mated in the lab.

In addition to pesticide exposure, scientists used length of hibernation as a variable in their experiment. This is because bumblebee queens can lose significant fat reserves during hibernation, and its length of duration can have an impact on its vulnerability to other stressors. Bumblebee queens were separated into several groups, with some exposed to thiamethoxam, others to a control (no treatment). Some queen bees underwent a six week hibernation, while others a longer 12 week period. Bees were exposed to real-world exposure levels of the neonicotinoid in their feed for a period of two weeks after hibernation, to mimic the natural process.

Overall, bumblebee queens exposed to thiamethoxam displayed a 26% reduction in egg laying compared to the control group. Although the authors indicate that the interplay between pesticide exposure and duration of hibernation was not significant, neonicotinoid-treated queens did begin egg laying sooner after waking from hibernation than the control group. This may be a stress-induced response, the study indicates, as fewer pesticide-treated queens laid eggs after pesticide exposure stopped than control queens. Indeed, by the end of the study, more untreated queens laid eggs than pesticide-treated queens.

Scientists extrapolated these data to model how this effect could manifest itself in the wild. With 26% fewer queens laying eggs as a result of pesticide exposure, models indicated a 28% chance that local populations of B. terrestris would eventually go extinct. This estimation was conservative, researchers note, as bumblebees are exposed to a range of additional stressors in real world conditions.

The results of this research align with a study published in May 2017 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, which may reveal the physiological effects behind infertile, pesticide-exposed queens. In a BBC News article, lead author, Dr. Gemma Barron, Ph.D., stated, “We consistently found that neonicotinoid exposure, at levels mimicking exposure that queens could experience in agricultural landscapes, resulted in reduced ovary development in queens of all four species we tested. These impacts are likely to reduce the success of bumblebee queens in the spring, with knock-on effects for bee populations later in the year.”

Prior research published in 2015 by Scottish researchers has also shown that neonicotinoids impair bumblebees’ brain function, leading to struggles at the colony level.  This is backed up by research also published in 2015 in Nature and PeerJ, which finds pollination impairment after exposure to neonicotinoids.

Although the evidence linking these insecticides to declines in pollinator populations, including both wild and manager bees, is robust and continues to strengthen, in the U.S., only states and localities have begun to take action to restrict neonicotinoid use in the environment. Despite strong scientific evidence, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently determined that these chemicals pose no significant risks to pollinators. Many watchdog groups, reporters, and advocates are concerned that the agency’s close ties to the chemical industry (as evidenced by recent reports of coordination over chemical reviews, including the Poison Papers, and reviews of chlorpyrifos and glyphosate), have influenced the agency’s decision making process when it comes to neonicotinoids. In light of this, Beyond Pesticides encourages a grassroots approach to restrict neonicotinoids and a range of chemicals at the local level. If you’re interested in getting active in your community, reach out to Beyond Pesticides at 202-543-5450 or info@beyondpesticides.org for resources and strategies you can use to protect your local pollinator populations.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Nature

 

 

 

Share

23
Aug

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Expansion of Aquaculture Industry that Decimates Marine Life

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2017) The Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with an expansion of industrial shellfish aquaculture on the Washington state coast without any water quality or marine life protections from pesticide use and habitat loss. This is just the latest in efforts to protect sensitive coastal areas in Washington from shellfish farming that is contributing to increased pesticide use and environmental degradation.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington earlier this month, challenges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issuance of a nationwide permit (NWP 48), which, according to the suit, “greenlights a massive expansion of shellfish aquaculture with entirely inadequate protections.” The Corps has a duty to protect public water from adverse impacts, but potential environmental impacts have not properly assessed or considered, the suit claims, in violation of the Corps’ environmental protection mission. The lawsuit argues that the Corps, when it approved the Washington state permit, violated numerous environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedure Act.

According to CFS, the permit issued will allow shellfish aquaculture acreage to double to an estimated 72,300 acres, or a third of all the Washington shoreline, including critical spawning and feeding grounds for forage fish, invertebrates, like Dungeness crab, finfish like salmon and green sturgeon, and birds. Many of these species rely on eelgrass and other aquatic vegetation, and eelgrass helps to mitigate the effects of climate change on oceans.

Industrial shellfish aquaculture is known to reduce or eliminate eelgrass with the use of pesticides. Yet the new permit has no restrictions on pesticide use, and the agency refused to examine the impacts of pesticide use on shellfish beds and the surrounding tidal habitat. The permit also allows the unrestricted use of plastics- PVC tubes and plastic netting – that are hazardous to marine organisms and can trap and entangle wildlife.

Commercial shellfish aquaculture is a large-scale industry in Washington state that has significant impacts on the nearshore marine environments, which provide essential habitat for many species, including invertebrates, fish (including herring and salmon), and birds (migratory and shorebirds). Just last month, a new state permit application was submitted to Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) by a group of oyster farmers from the Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association (WGHOGA) that “propose[s] to use the pesticide to treat tide lands to support their aquaculture practices.” They requested the use of the neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, which is known to be toxic to bees and aquatic organisms, raising questions on the impacts of its use on the long-term ecological health of the bays. This followed a nationwide public outcry in 2015 when Ecology approved a permit submitted by the same oyster farmers for the use of imidacloprid to combat burrowing shrimp in these aquatic ecosystems. This 2015 permit was withdrawn.

The shellfish industry is important to the Pacific Northwest, injecting an estimated $270 million or more into the region’s economy, and providing jobs for many Washington’s tidelands, especially those in Willapa Bay. However, shellfish aquaculture impacts the immediate and surrounding environment through physical barriers, impacts to water quality through the deposition of wastes, disruption of sediments, intentional addition of chemical pesticides, and the removal of important and native species and a reduction in biodiversity. Washington is the only state which allows pesticide use on shellfish beds and the new permit for imidacloprid is still pending. Already several organizations and federal agencies voiced concerns over the application of pesticides like imidacloprid to coastal waters.

According to CFS, this is not the first time the Corps’ shellfish permitting has been challenged in court. In 2015, another public interest group petitioned the Corps to stop using the previous version of the current permit and then sued, claiming that the Corps failed to examine or prevent the ongoing and expanding harm to the Puget Sound ecosystem caused by the rapid expansion of industrial shellfish aquaculture.

Beyond Pesticides recently released Poisoned Waterways, a report that documents the persistence of neonicotinoids in U.S. waterbodies and the danger they cause to aquatic organisms, resulting in complex cascading impacts on the aquatic food web. The report also highlights current regulatory failures of EPA aquatic standards, which continue to underestimate risks to sensitive species due to a reliance on test protocols that do not reflect real-world exposures or susceptibilities. Further, the impacts of chemical mixtures and synergistic interactions are not considered. Aquatic standards, which continue to underestimate risks to sensitive species due to a reliance on test protocols that do not reflect real-world exposures or susceptibilities. Further, the impacts of chemical mixtures and synergistic interactions are not considered.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Center for Food Safety

Share

22
Aug

USGS Report Shows Dozens of Pesticides Consistently Found in Midwestern Streams, Underscoring the Need for Organic Practices

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2017) Streams in the Midwestern U,S. are polluted with complex mixtures averaging over 50 pesticides each, according to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report published earlier this month. This is the latest and also most extensive study on pesticide contamination in U.S. streams to date. The shocking results put many aquatic plants and animals at existential risk, leading health and environmental advocates to ask how the federal government can continue to permit U.S. streams to be used as a mixing bowl for toxic pesticide compounds.

Each week between May and August of 2013, USGS sampled 100 streams located in 11 Midwestern states for 228 pesticides and their breakdown products. Based on site location, 88 of these streams are considered agricultural, while 12 are considered urban. “About 150 million pounds of pesticides are applied annually in the Midwestern U.S.,” said Lisa Nowell, PhD, research chemist and lead scientist on the study. “Understanding which pesticides are occurring at levels potentially toxic to aquatic life, and where they occur, is crucial to informing management decisions.”

Of the 1,200 samples collected over the study’s 12 week period, scientists detected 183 pesticide compounds (98 of the 124 herbicides tested, 71 of the 88 insecticides, and 14 of the 16 fungicides). In general, herbicides were detected more often and at higher concentrations than fungicides or insecticides. The study noted detections of atrazine, metolachlor, and acetochlor herbicides more often in agricultural streams, and glyphosate, 2,4-D and prometon more often in urban areas. That being said, glyphosate was still found to be widespread – in 63% of urban sites, compared to 41% of agricultural sites. Insecticides and fungicides were more prevalent in urban than suburban areas. Notably, the fungicide carbendazim, often incorporated into paints, adhesives, textiles, and other building materials, and also a breakdown product of thiophanate methyl, a chemical used on turfgrass and ornamental shrubs, was detected in roughly 95% of all urban site locations.

Mixtures of multiple pesticides were detected in all but 1 of the 1,200 samples USGS scientists tested. Each sample tested contained a median number of 25 compounds, and overall each site contained 54 pesticide compounds per stream.

Using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ecotoxicity reference values for individual compounds, and a screening tool called the pesticide toxicity index for mixtures, researchers estimated harm to aquatic insects and plants. Results show that in over half the streams sampled, at least one pesticide surpassed levels considered toxic for aquatic insects when chronically exposed. In 25% of streams, there were found to be between two and four pesticides compounds that exceeded aquatic invertebrate chronic toxicity thresholds. In general, chronic and acute aquatic toxicity thresholds were exceeded more often in urban sites (75% and 33,% respectively), than sites with medium to high agricultural activity (52% and 10,% respectively). Despite the range of tools available to researchers to determine toxicity, the study ultimately notes that, “The impacts of concurrent exposure to multiple pesticides at chronic effect levels are unknown.”

USGS has consistently been at the forefront of scientific research investigating the presence of pesticide contamination in U.S. waterways. The agency’s Pesticide National Synthesis Project catalogues these data, and presents maps of estimated annual agricultural pesticide use throughout the country. A study published in 2016, for instance, provided a snapshot of the current study, finding neonicotinoid pesticides widespread in U.S. waters.  Research published in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 linked the prevalence of pesticides in wildlife refuges in the Northeast to the rise in bass with intersex characteristics.

This current research is the first in a five part series of stream quality assessments that will also include the Southeast, Pacific Northwest, Northeast, and California. The prevalence of tens of different pesticides in the majority of streams in both urban and agricultural areas points to a need to rethink current pest management approaches. By moving to organic practices on farms and in urban and suburban landscapes, toxic pesticide use can be drastically reduced. With little indication that EPA will incorporate this concerning data into their current assessment framework for pesticides, it is up to state and local governments, forward-looking farmers and businesses, and local advocates to enact these needed changes.

Source: USGS Press Release

 

 

 

 

Share

21
Aug

Take Action: Insist that the Organic Label Be Regulated on the Basis of Law, Not Whim!

(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2017) Consumers of organic food expect a clear set of production standards that are enforced with a rigorous system of inspection and certification. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) is currently undermining this central organic principle. During a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) webinar, NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy extolled the new “flexibility” of his program in allowing organic certification of operations not permitted by regulations. Although the webinar focused on the program’s allowance of hydroponics, Mr. McEvoy’s comments apply to a wide variety of permitted practices for which USDA has yet to approve standards.

Click here to take action:
Tell the NOSB, NOP, Secretary of Agriculture, and your Congressional delegation that organic certification must be based on law, not the arbitrary judgment of the Deputy Administrator.

Some NOSB members pointed out the problems with NOP’s arbitrary approach to standards –that the criteria for approving them have not gone through the transparent public review process required by law; that problems of health and environmental impacts and consistency with organic principles may be discovered during the public process; that consumers expect certification to be based on uniform standards enforced consistently; and that once such practices are allowed, it is extremely difficult to prohibit them. Other NOSB members appeared to approve of NOP’s “flexible” (arbitrary) procedures.

Click here to take action:
Tell the NOSB, NOP, Secretary of Agriculture, and your Congressional delegation that organic certification must be based on law, not the arbitrary judgment of the Deputy Administrator.

NOSB member Harriet Behar put the matter succinctly: “Without clear, consistent standards, the integrity of the entire label is at risk. It is not acceptable to allow different certifiers to interpret the regulations in lots of different ways. This is the whole reason for the label – consumer trust that stems from uniform standards, enforced in a consistent way, and backed by good process.”

This action allows you to send letters to Deputy Administrator McEvoy and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and your Congressional delegation, and will automatically take you to Regulations.gov, where you can enter a comment for the NOSB. See some suggested language below.

Suggested comment to NOSB:

Dear NOSB members:

During the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) webinar on August 14, National Organic Program (NOP) Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy applauded the “flexibility” of his program in allowing organic certification of operations not permitted by regulations. Although the webinar was focused on hydroponics, Mr. McEvoy’s comments applied to a wide variety of production areas where USDA has yet to approve standards. In accordance with your responsibilities under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) to advise the Secretary on implementation of the act, please tell NOP to correct this statement through a policy memo that explains the necessity of developing standards before allowing certification. Regardless of your feelings about the hydroponics issue, please let NOP know that it must follow the rule of law, rather than arbitrarily allowing certification decisions to be made in the hodge-podge of actions that OFPA was designed to avoid.

The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) provides requirements for the organic label in law, and regulations. These legal standards are developed through a transparent public process that ensures that they are not arbitrary, but meet the needs of organic producers and consumers. The law and the standards are public documents, which keep certifiers accountable. The purposes of OFPA are stated in §6501:

It is the purpose of this chapter—
(1) to establish national standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced products;
(2) to assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard; and
(3) to facilitate interstate commerce in fresh and processed food that is organically produced.

To suggest that organic is “flexible” enough to certify products for which there are no standards is a dangerous mistake. This sort of thinking has landed us in the predicament in which we currently find ourselves with hydroponics –where some certifiers certify hydroponic operations as organic, while others do not.

Certifiers interpret and consistently apply standards through the certification process and are held accountable through NOP accreditation. We cannot expect certifiers to uphold the integrity of the label in the absence of clear, applicable standards.  The standards must come first, created through a public process, with the certified products following.

NOP must correct this statement through a policy memo that explains the necessity of developing standards before allowing certification.

Sincerely,

 

Share

18
Aug

How Just Is that Glorious Farm-to-Table Meal?

(Beyond Pesticides, August 18, 2017) The exuberant consumer interest in Farm-to-Table (aka Farm-to-Fork) dining experiences, which germinated in the 1970s, grew dramatically during the last couple of decades, as consumers became far more interested in eating healthfully and knowing more about the sourcing of their food. The bloom may be coming off the rose just a bit, as people respond to a variety of concerns, including pricing; some perception of “preciousness” or elitism about the movement; the occasional “food fraud” — cutting corners and/or “greenwashing” — perpetrated by those looking to cash in on the trend without delivering the real goods; and ethical concerns rooted in a growing recognition of health, safety, and inequality problems in the U.S.

In the early 2000s, those clued in to the food and agriculture scene witnessed an exciting new trend: Farm to Table (FTT) restaurants, and a concomitant focus on local sourcing, and organic and sustainably raised food. The idea promised foods grown and produced nearby, greater transparency about that sourcing, relationships with a region’s producers, more organics, and generally, more-healthful fare.

As the sector has grown, those working in it have begun to talk about the difficulties inherent in such an enterprise. Andrea Reusing, on NPR’s “The Salt,” and proprietor of Lantern restaurant in North Carolina, says, “Guests are sometimes surprised to learn that every single thing we serve isn’t both local and organic, that our relatively expensive menu yields only slim profit, or that we can’t afford a group health plan. Diners occasionally comment that our use of Alaskan salmon or California cilantro has detracted from a truly ‘authentic’ farm-to-table experience.” And in a nod to some of the emerging disenchantment with the FTT phenomenon, she quips, “Farm-to-table fatigue is most evident in those of us who cook in farm-to-table restaurants — Even We Are Sick of Us.” The increased demand for locally grown and produced products has also driven up wholesale ingredient prices, and thus, retail FTT restaurant pricing.

The critiques about preciousness redound to a first-season sketch in the TV show Portlandia, in which two diners pepper their server with questions about the chicken entrée’s provenance, and to which the server offers an extensive curriculum vitae that includes the bird’s diet, ancestry, square footage for free-ranging, mental health, social network, and name — Colin, for those who are wondering.

With hundreds of FTT venues now in the U.S., the experience claims many fans. But what does FTT actually signal to consumers? It may suggest authenticity, transparency, freshness, high quality, organic or sustainable or non-GMO ingredients, humane slaughter, wild caught, or any of myriad other descriptors. Whereas most early FTT ventures were small, artisanal operations, in recent years, demand for such dining experiences has been met with increasing “gestures” in that direction by corporate entities and those looking to make a buck without really investing in the spirit of the thing. Ms. Reusing says, “As farm-to-table has slipped further away from the food movement and into the realms of foodie-ism and corporate marketing, it is increasingly unhitched from the issues it is so often assumed to address.”

The enthusiasm for FTT dining has, unfortunately, not often enough embraced the issues that affect the workers who create it, from field laborers, fishers, and workers in processing facilities, to those prepping, cooking, and serving the food (whether in fancy restaurants, “real” fast food joints, or the school cafeteria that does some local sourcing), to those employed in the supply chain for such ventures. Workers on both conventional and organic farms, for instance, often report making far below minimum wage. Yet increasingly, there are conversations over those FTT dinner tables about what’s really happening behind the kitchen door, at the loading dock, and all the way along the supply line, however local or regional. More than ever, issues of equity are on the ethical menu.

Ms. Reusing adds, “The production and processing of even the most pristine ingredients . . . is nearly always configured to rely on cheap labor. . . . Inequality does not affect our food system — our food system is built on inequality and requires it to function. The components of this inequality — racism, lack of access to capital, exploitation, land loss, nutritional and health disparities in communities of color, to name some — are tightly connected. Our nearly 20-year obsession with food and chefs has neither expanded access to high-quality food nor improved nutrition in low-resource neighborhoods.”

Those who perform the work in our food system are relatively invisible to the consuming public, and are (disproportionately to the larger population) people of color and/or immigrants, are underpaid, and work in environments that pose significant health risks, whether in slaughtering facilities, on fishing rigs, or in the fields. People often buy organic food to avoid exposure to the toxicants used in “traditional” and industrial agriculture. Advocates say that this concern needs to extend to food and agricultural workers, as well. A major food and environmental justice argument for purchasing and eating as organically as possible is that health risks from pesticides and herbicides are far lower for workers on organic farms (and their families) than for those who work in environs that use synthetic chemicals.

An advantage of FTT establishments is that they allow a conversation between diners and restaurant managers and staff concerning these issues. Rarely do conventional restaurants offer the opportunity to ask questions about how ingredients are produced and how workers who produce the food are treated.The concerns voiced in these conversations may result in more organic ingredients and more protections for the workers in the food chain.

Director of Science Programs at The Organic Center, Jessica Shade, PhD said recently, “The benefits of organic farming associated with farmer and farmworker health have been characterized as ‘one of the most important advantages of organic management for farmworkers’ by a recent review of the impacts of organic food and farming on environmental and human health published in the journal Science Advances. . . . When you grow and purchase organic food, you’re not just making a decision that will help decrease health risks for your own family, you are also contributing to a solution that protects the welfare of millions of people living in rural areas.”

Beyond Pesticides recommends its resource, Eating with a Conscience, which offers reasons for purchasing and eating organically based on the health of you and your family, the environment, and those who bring food to our home and restaurant tables. In addition, read about how to support organizations working for justice in our food system. See Beyond Pesticides Agricultural Justice webpage and read Social Justice Labeling: From Field to Table.

Consumers of FTT dining experiences — and all of us who eat — can step up attention to issues of fairness and worker well-being in the food system. When we work for greater equity, that glorious farm-to-table meal may taste even better, and be better nourishment for all who helped create it.

Sources: The Cornucopia Institute: Ethical Food Includes Ethical Labor, and NPR’s The Salt: Farm-to-Table May Feel Virtuous, But It’s Food Labor That’s Ripe for Change.

Share

17
Aug

Montgomery County, MD Council Appeals Circuit Court Ruling Overturning Cosmetic Pesticides Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, August 17, 2017) Yesterday, the Montgomery County, Maryland County Council voted to direct the Office of the County Attorney to appeal a Circuit Court ruling issued early this month that overturned a law enacted by the Council in 2015, the Healthy Lawns Act, to restrict the use of lawn and landscape pesticides on private property. The lawsuit did not challenge the right of the county to restrict pesticides on its own property, county land.

The court ruling stated, “Maryland’s comprehensive program of pesticide regulation occupies the field of pesticide use and thus impliedly preempts the ordinance.” The court also held that the County’s ban on the application of certain pesticides on private property conflicted with Maryland law.

In October 2015, the Council enacted Bill 52-14, Pesticides – Notice Requirements – Cosmetic Pesticide Use Restrictions, which would have prohibited the use of certain registered pesticides on private property starting on January 1, 2018. The County is one of the few local jurisdictions to have such restrictions. The Council enacted this legislation with a focus on pesticides that included chemicals linked to the risk of developing cancer.

Complete Lawn Care, Inc., et al. v. Montgomery County invalidated certain provisions of Bill 52-14 because the Circuit Court found that County regulation of the use of pesticides on private property is preempted by state law.

“Our Council’s legal team advised us that the County would have a reasonable chance of prevailing in an appeal of the Circuit Court’s decision,” said Council President Roger Berliner, who also serves as chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee.  “It is important that the Council is allowed to protect our community from the threat posed by pesticides on private lawns.  Moreover, the broad scope of the court’s decision threatens our existing regulatory regime and other efforts short of a ban, even if the ban itself is ultimately deemed in direct conflict with state law.  We have also been advised that an appeal will not carry significant costs, as the work involved can be absorbed as part of the Office of the County Attorney’s normal workload.  Accordingly, my colleagues and I agree that an appeal is in the public interest.”  The Annual County Health Rankings for Maryland has recognized Montgomery County as the “Healthiest County in Maryland” for the last four years.  The County is often at the forefront of initiatives that enhance public health like the cosmetic pesticides ban.

“I am delighted that the Council is appealing the Circuit Court ruling on the pesticides ban,” said Councilmember George Leventhal, who was the lead sponsor of Bill 52-14 and serves as chair of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee.  “Studies have linked numerous chemicals found in lawn pesticides to cancer and other serious health conditions. The Council sits as the Board of Health, but the court has ruled that we are preempted from protecting our residents from this health threat.  This sets a worrisome precedent that should be overturned.”

County law provides that the Council is, and may act as, the County Board of Health.  In this capacity, the Council may adopt any regulation which a local board of health is authorized to adopt. “With Trump’s EPA protecting the interests of chemical companies instead of our residents, it is more important than ever that local communities take action to ensure that our children are not exposed to hazardous chemicals,” said Council Vice President Hans Riemer.  “This decision takes that right away from us and should be overturned.”

“Too many people believe that because a pesticide is allowed for use by the federal government and by the state, then it must be safe,” said Councilmember Marc Elrich.  “Yet scientists, medical researchers and physicians advocate for great caution when using pesticides.  Pesticide use simply is not necessary on lawns – it is not good for the environment, our children or even our pets. It is important that we appeal this decision.”

“I was disappointed with the recent Circuit Court decision that overruled the ban on certain pesticides in the County, but I am pleased that the Council is appealing this ruling,” said Councilmember Nancy Floreen. “Having battled breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. I am concerned with the public’s health and welfare, and that all residents, particularly our children, stand to benefit from reduced exposure to pesticides.”

“While I was disappointed with the Circuit Court’s ruling, I am pleased that the Council will be appealing this decision,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro. “I have received hundreds of emails from constituents in just the last few days, and there is nearly unanimous support for an appeal. The County’s leadership with regard to local health and environmental policies has been a great source of pride for our residents. It is important that the Council be able to act in the best interest of County residents by ensuring we maintain our high standards for quality of life.”

Enacted Bill 52-14 can be viewed at:
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COUNCIL/Resources/Files/bill/2014/20151006_52-14.pdf .

Contact:  
Sonya Healy
240-777-7926Sonya.Healy@montgomerycountymd.gov

Share

16
Aug

Millions of Eggs in Europe Found Contaminated with Insecticide Fipronil

EU(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2017) Millions of eggs and egg products have been pulled from supermarket shelves in 15 countries in Europe after it was discovered that the eggs were contaminated with the insecticide fipronil. Now,  the European Commissioner in charge of food safety has called for a meeting of ministers and national regulatory agencies to discuss the widespread European contamination. However, fipronil is not allowed for use in food production in Europe, raising concerns over food safety and regulatory oversight.

This incident reminds U.S. consumers about the disarray of the U.S. food safety system, as reported by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2014. According to the GAO report, Food Safety: FDA and USDA Should Strengthen Pesticide Residue Monitoring Programs and Further Disclose Monitoring Limitations, there is a lack of government coordination on food safety and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test food for several commonly used pesticides with established tolerance levels. The report sounds an alarm that GAO began sounding  in the 1980’s in several reports that identify shocking limitations of  FDA’s approach to monitoring for pesticide residue violations in food. (See Beyond Pesticides’ coverage.) Since that report, FDA announced, then withdrew its announcement, then re-announced that it would begin testing for glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide that is showing up in numerous food groups in the U.S. and worldwide.

One hundred and eighty Dutch farms have been temporarily closed after the Dutch food safety authority announced that it discovered tens of thousands of eggs contaminated with fipronil. The eggs mostly originated from the Netherlands, where, like the rest of the European Union (EU), the insecticide fipronil is used to kill lice and ticks on animals, but banned for use in food production. However, preliminary investigations find the insecticide was used on chicken farms. According to reports, both Dutch and Belgian authorities may have known about the egg contamination two months ago, but news of the contamination only broke last week. Dutch authorities have since arrested two directors of the company at the center of the safety scare, with prosecutors saying they are being held on suspicion of threatening public health and possession of a prohibited pesticide. Countries that have received the fipronil-laced eggs include Britain, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Denmark —along with non-EU Switzerland and Hong Kong.

Major German retailers, including Lidl and Aldi, have pulled the eggs off their shelves, and authorities are testing other products made with eggs –such as pasta, mayonnaise, and cakes. In the UK, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose and ASDA are also recalling egg products. Now the EU is convening a meeting before the end of September of the ministers concerned, along with various national food safety agency representatives.

Most of the eggs have already been eaten, and health authorities are downplaying potential health risks from ingesting fipronil. Fipronil is a broad spectrum insecticide used to control common insects (ants, roaches, termites, etc). This insecticide is neurotoxic, and symptoms of exposure include headache, nausea, dizziness, and weakness –typically associated with neurological interference in the brain. Fipronil is also an endocrine disruptor and can disrupt thyroid function. It is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Group C (Possible Human) carcinogen. The World Health Organization (WHO) regards fipronil as “moderately toxic” to humans, and can, in large quantities, damage kidney, liver or thyroid gland. The Dutch advisory warns consumers to avoid eating eggs with the code 2-NL-4015502, as the fipronil levels are so high it poses a health hazard. Standard preparations such as washing, cooking, or baking do not remove fipronil from the egg.

The widespread egg contamination in Europe raises questions about lax regulatory oversight in food production, particularly livestock. Poultry farming is rife with meat and egg contamination of a host of substances, including antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticides, all used to stem outbreaks of disease and ill health among animals kept under deplorable conditions. Even though certain substances are given government approval for use, many cut corners and skirt regulations, as evidenced by the fipronil contamination in Europe. Food contamination is a serious threat to public health and more oversight is needed to ensure that the food supply is safe and free from toxic agents that can potentially harm not only livestock, but humans as well.

A good way to avoid toxic contaminants in eggs is to buy organic eggs. Organic production does not allow the use of toxic insecticides like fipronil. All inputs into organic egg production must be an approved part of the producer’s organic system plan, and organic chickens are required to have access to the outdoors, although Beyond Pesticides is pushing for stronger standards that require pasturing of chickens.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Reuters

Share

15
Aug

Beyond Pesticides Journal Articles Link Pesticides to Soil Microbiota and Gut Microbiome Poisoning and Resulting Diseases

(Beyond Pesticides, August 15, 2017) With increasing scientific understanding about the importance of beneficial bacteria in soil and the human body —microbiota in the soil and microbiome in the human gut, the summer 2017 issue of Beyond Pesticides’ journal, Pesticides and You, publishes two critical articles to advance the importance of community discussion and action on organic and sustainable practices. The lead article, Sustaining Life: From Soil Microbiota to Gut Microbiome by professor of geomorphology (University of Washington) and author David Montgomery, PhD, contains excerpts from Dr. Montgomery’s talk to Beyond Pesticides’ 35th National Pesticide Forum, documenting the importance of soil microbiota to healthy soil, resilient plants, and sustainability. His piece explains the essentiality of bacteria in the human gut to a healthy life, with profound implications for both agriculture and medicine. Dr. Montgomery points to a “bonafide scientific revolution” in recognizing the failure to nurture the ecosystem in nature and the human body and the associated adverse health effects resulting from pesticide use –21st century diseases, including asthma, autism, bacterial vaginosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome, multiple sclerosis, obesity, Type 1 and 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s.

Also in the Journal, Monsanto’s Roundup (Glyphosate) Exposed, by Terry Shistar, Ph.D., documents the science linking the most widely used herbicide on the planet, Monsanto’s glyphosate, to the blocking of an enzyme that supports the essential pathway for beneficial bacteria, critical to human health. With scientific awareness of the importance of bacteria to plants and animals and the understanding of pesticides’ deleterious effect on them, eliminating toxic pesticide use becomes a central issue in the quest to protect public health. Given what is known about the delicate balance of soil microbiota and gut microbiome, Roundup’s antibiotic properties raise new concerns about the effects of glyphosate residues in food and water and the importance of shifting to organic practices. Glyphosate was classified as a probable human carcinogen in 2015 by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

View talks on Beyond Pesticides’ YouTube channel. Dr. Montgomery and the complete series of talks and workshops from the 35th National pesticide Forum, Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land, are now available. Other speakers include: Don Huber, PhD, professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University and expert on soil biology and glyphosate effects;;Vera Krischick, PhD, associate professor, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota and researcher on pesticides and pollinators; and other speakers on science, policy, organic land management, and advocacy.

See updated factsheets. Beyond Pesticides also releases today newly updated factsheets on both glyphosate and lawn and garden pesticides, in light of their widespread intersection with public exposure and adverse effects.

For more details, see Beyond Pesticides website.

Source: Beyond Pesticides Press Release

Share

14
Aug

Ask Your Senators to Co-Sponsor Bill to Ban Chlorpyrifos, the Neurotoxic Pesticide that Harms Children—After EPA Reversal

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2017) Ask your U.S. Senators to co-sponsor legislation to ban the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed the previous administration’s proposal to discontinue its food uses. [The bill is currently co-sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).]

With EPA’s own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is time for Congress to intervene to get this highly toxic pesticide off the market.

In March 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed a 2015 proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos. A revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances would have effectively banned the chemical from use in agriculture. Instead, Administrator Pruitt’s decision indicated the agency will continue to study chlorpyrifos and would not take any action until 2022.

EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have developmental delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. In 2016, EPA concluded that there is “sufficient evidence” that there are neurodevelopmental effects at low levels, and that current approaches for evaluating chlorpyrifos’s neurological impact are “not sufficiently health protective.”

Epidemiological data also points to subpopulations that are disproportionately affected by chlorpyrifos exposures. Low-income African-American and Latino families, including farmworker families, continue to suffer the most, and this disproportionate impact creates an environmental justice problem that the agency cannot continue to ignore.

>>>Urge Your Senators to Co-Sponsor Bill that Bans Chlorpyrifos.

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the bill to ban the use of chlorpyrifos. The bill, “Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act,” S. 1624, amends the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) that oversees pesticide food exposures to prohibit all chlorpyrifos use. In addition, the bill directs EPA to partner with the National Research Council to assess the neurodevelopmental and other low-dose effects of exposure to organophosphate pesticides to agricultural workers and children.

“Congress must act because Administrator Pruitt has shown that he won’t. There is no question chlorpyrifos needs to come off the market. The science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage and neurodevelopmental disorders in children is undeniable. The EPA’s own scientists have established that chlorpyrifos on food and in groundwater is a threat to public health and should be banned,” Senator Udall said. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

>>>Tell your Senators to co-sponsor Bill S.1624.

Share

11
Aug

Monsanto Papers Redux: More on Industry Suppression and Regulatory Collusion

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2017) On August 1, a second round of internal Monsanto documents became public, stirring up additional questions and speculation about Monsanto’s potential malfeasance — i.e., its efforts to hide information about impacts of its popular glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup. This follows on the heels of the March 2017 unsealing, by federal judge Vince Chhabria, of internal Monsanto documents — the “Monsanto Papers” — that evidenced questionable research practices by the company, inappropriate ties to a top EPA official, and possible “ghostwriting” of purportedly “independent” research studies.

This latest release, of more than 700 documents, came courtesy of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, one of many law firms representing thousands of families who claim that exposure to Roundup caused non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL), a blood cancer, in their loved ones. Such litigation has been triggered, in part, by the 2015 finding of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a branch of the U.N.’s World Health Organization) that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The plaintiffs allege that the combination of glyphosate and surfactants used in Monsanto’s Roundup products is even more toxic than glyphosate alone, and that Monsanto has sought to cover up that information. Monsanto has continued to deny publicly any connections between glyphosate, or its Roundup product, and cancer.

Monsanto has in fact aggressively defended glyphosate, and has fought to keep such records, garnered in the discovery phases of various litigation efforts, sealed and away from the public eye. Indeed, of this August 1 release, Monsanto says that, although “the horse is now out of the barn,” the litigants acted outside of a standing order of confidentiality, and the company will seek penalties on the law firm. Monsanto is known for A partner at the firm contradicts Monsanto’s claim, insisting that the company made a mistake in its failure to file a required motion “to seek continued protection” of the documents. Monsanto maintains that no such filing of motion was necessary.

This “dump” adds to the compendium of documents not only from the March unsealing, but also, in the vast collection that has come to be called “The Poison Papers.” A project of The Bioscience Resource Project (BRP) and the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), The Poison Papers make publicly available more than 20,000 documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the EPA, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others. These papers were amassed largely by author and activist Carol Van Strum, who kept them in her rural Oregon barn for decades. BRP and CMD describe their project: “The Poison Papers represent a vast trove of rediscovered chemical industry and regulatory agency documents and correspondence stretching back to the 1920s. Taken as a whole, the papers show that both industry and regulators understood the extraordinary toxicity of many chemical products and worked together to conceal this information from the public and the press.” In addition, the Poison Papers are just one part of the larger DocumentCloud, which contains over a million documents.

Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman indicated that it released the documents at this moment because “they not only pertain to the ongoing litigation, but also, to larger issues of public health and safety, while shedding light on corporate influence over regulatory bodies.” The firm’s Brent Wisner said, “This is a look behind the curtain. . . . These [documents] show that Monsanto has deliberately been stopping studies that look bad for them, ghostwriting literature, and engaging in a whole host of corporate malfeasance. They [Monsanto] have been telling everybody that these products are safe because regulators have said they are safe, but it turns out that Monsanto has been in bed with U.S. regulators while misleading European regulators.” The firm also sent copies of the documents to authorities in Europe, EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which Monsanto has sued for listing glyphosate as a known carcinogen.

Despite industry’s protest, the dangers of glyphosate-based herbicides continue to be of great concern. Monsanto’s representations about the safety of the compound are belied by contents of the newly released documents, which reveal internal conversations about Roundup’s safety. One Monsanto scientist wrote, in an internal email, “If somebody came to me and said they wanted to test Roundup I know how I would react — with serious concern.” A Monsanto executive said, in a 2003 email, “You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen . . .  we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement.” And in 2002, another executive said, “What I’ve been hearing from you is that . . . glyphosate is OK, but the formulated product [and thus the surfactant] does the damage.”

Beyond Pesticides continues to call for an end to glyphosate use and urges EPA to suspend its uses, while advising consumers to take steps to protect themselves and the environment from exposure to this harmful chemical. As the most widely used herbicide in the world, individuals are regularly exposed to glyphosate through contaminated food, in their work lives, and through its use on lawns and landscapes, whether by individuals themselves or through proximity to those who use it. Its antibiotic properties cause damage to both human gut and soil microbiota.

There are multiple ways to protect yourself, your family, and the environment from glyphosate and other toxic pesticides, among which are:

Sources: U.S. Right to Know/Aug. 1, U.S. Right to Know N.D., The New York Times/3.14.17, The New York Times/8.1.17, Le Monde (updated)

 

 

 

Share

10
Aug

Reports of Increasing Honey Bee Colonies Mask Continuing Pollinator Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2017)  New data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) earlier this month, indicating a slight increase in the number of honey bee colonies, is masked by beekeepers’ efforts to split hives in the face of losses. The USDA reports that Colony Collapse Disorder losses (CCD) are down 27% compared to the past year. While these numbers may seem to be a positive sign after over a decade of consistent pollinator declines, they are more indicative of a beekeeping industry that is using every available tactic possible to stay viable. With the continued use of highly toxic neonicotinoid insecticides in farms, gardens, and public spaces throughout the country, the long-term health honey bees and other pollinators continue to be in jeopardy.

According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the number of beekeeping operations with five or more colonies reported a total of 2.89 million colonies in April 2017, a 3% increase from April 2016, when numbers stood at 2.80 million. News media such as Bloomberg hailed this report in an article headlined “Bees Are Bouncing Back From Colony Collapse Disorder.” However, a closer look into the numbers and beekeeper accounts reveals what is actually occurring.

A more accurate reference point for the beekeeping industry would be beekeeping numbers reported in January 2017, during winter, which at 2.62 million remained unchanged from January 2016. Overall increases from January to April likely represented beekeepers ‘splitting’ hives, a practice through which beekeepers will create two or more hives from a singular strong hive. Although on paper this is displayed as an increase in hive numbers, in reality these hives are weaker than the colony from which they originated.

Tim May, a beekeeper in Harvard, Illinois and the vice-president of the American Beekeeping Federation based in Atlanta, who was interviewed by Bloomberg, indicates that this is the case. “You create new hives by breaking up your stronger hives, which just makes them weaker,” said Mr. May to Bloomberg. “We check for mites, we keep our bees well-fed, we communicate with farmers so they don’t spray pesticides when our hives are vulnerable. I don’t know what else we can do.”

A separate report from the Bee Informed Partnership published in late May 2017 indicates that colony declines over the past year stood at 33%, which is less than losses of 44% seen in the 2015-2016 loss reports, however far from normal, or economically viable rates. As the USDA NASS report indicates, reports of CCD, the name given to the mysterious disappearance of honey bees from an otherwise healthy looking hive filled with honey and brood, have decreased significantly. While this also appears to be good news, it is understood based upon past Bee Informed Partnership surveys that while CCD reports are down, summer colony losses ascribed to other, understood loss factors are up.

Despite continued attempts by the pesticide industry to spin the crisis by suppressing or denying evidence, scientific reports continue to point to neonicotinoid insecticides as the key factor in pollinator declines. A recent report funded by Bayer and Syngenta, the world’s two leading neonicotinoid manufacturers, actually found significant risks to pollinators, despite attempts by these two companies to influence the published results. It is little wonder why these corporations have needed to change their tune, if only slightly. In the Bloomberg article, when questioned over the impacts of pesticides, Syngenta CEO Erik Frywald had to admit that, “One of the very minor elements there is pesticides.” As one may expect from an industry CEO with vested interest in maintaining marketshare and profit, this is a vast understatement, but nonetheless indicative of a reality that even industry can no longer ignore.

In Europe, applying neonicotinoids to field crops has been banned since 2013, and the European Commission recently proposed expanding the prohibition and making it permanent. EPA data published earlier this year did find risks to pollinators from neonicotinoid insecticides, however the agency, which has long been accused of being captured by industry interests, suggested no substantive changes to their regulation.

While beekeepers and managed honey bee colonies continue to muddle through the ongoing crisis, reports indicate that wild pollinators may be at even greater risk. A review published by the Center for Biological Diversity this year indicates that 1 in 4 native bee species in North America are imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction.

Help stop the damage pesticide makers are causing to wild pollinators and the beekeeping industry by getting involved. Find the tools you need to advocate for pollinators in your community, state, and to the EPA through Beyond Pesticides’ Bee Protective webpage.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: USDA, Bloomberg

Share

09
Aug

Glyphosate Stresses Tadpoles to Produce More Venom

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2017) Common toad tadpoles express more venom when chronically exposed to glyphosate herbicides, a study published last month in Proceedings of the Royal Society B indicates. Glyphosate, an increasingly controversial chemical found in Roundup brand herbicides produced by Monsanto, has been linked to a range of adverse impacts in both wildlife and people. The results of this research indicate a need to reduce the use of glyphosate in our environment to ease chronic stressors to sensitive wildlife like amphibians.

Scientists tested the effects of formulated glyphosate products on toad tadpoles through experiments in a laboratory setting, as well as a mesocosm, a controlled outdoor environment that replicates natural conditions. Tadpoles in the lab were split into a series of groups which were each exposed to varying levels of glyphosate, some for the duration of the experiment, and others for 9 day periods during different stages in their development. For mesocosm tadpoles, researchers set up large plastic tubs and created small self-sustaining ecosystems with pond water and beech leaves. Glyphosate herbicides were added to certain tubs at either low or high concentrations. Both lab and mesocosm experiments had control tadpoles not exposed to any glyphosate herbicides.

Tadpoles exposed to the highest levels of glyphosate products throughout the duration of the lab experiment were found to have considerably more venom concentration in their bodies than control tadpoles. However, lab results found little correlation between higher venom levels and 9 day periods of glyphosate exposure at different developmental stages. For the mesocosm experiments, tadpoles exposed at high and low glyphosate concentrations had significantly higher venom concentrations than control tadpoles.

Common toads will excrete venom, or bufotoxins containing the chemical bufadienolide, which adversely affects another animal’s heart, in order to ward off predators. Scientists indicate that while higher levels of venom may seem good for the toad, they may cause unintended effects throughout the ecosystem. Increases in toxin concentrations detected after glyphosate exposure were comparable to those seen in other species under predatory threat, which resulted in death to the predator, researchers note. “Although pesticides make toads more toxic, the predator-prey balance and the composition of natural habitats in freshwater, as much as on land, may be altered,” said Veronika Bókony, PhD, an author of the study.

This is not the first instance of glyphosate altering the normal development of amphibians. Earlier this year, the same team of researchers found that glyphosate products reduced the survival and growth of common toads, and otherwise slowed down their development. A 2012 study from the University of Pittsburg found that glyphosate induced morphological changes in the development of leopard and wood frogs similar to those seen under significant predatory threat.

The results of accumulated scientific research on stress-induced changes following glyphosate exposure points to underlying flaws in U.S. regulation of pesticides. Ecosystem-wide impacts caused by the secondary effects of pesticide use are rarely, if ever, considered under the risk assessment framework used to register pesticides.

For alternatives to the use of glyphosate, start with practices that encourage healthy soil, such as mowing high, proper, aeration and proper watering to reduce weed pressure. When cultural practices have been attempted and mechanical means are ineffective or impractical, use Beyond Pesticides’ List of Organic Compatible Products as a guide. And for more information on the impact of pesticides on amphibians, see Beyond Pesticides’ wildlife program page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Brussels Times, Proceedings of the Royal Society B

 

 

Share

08
Aug

Crop Damage from Monsanto’s Herbicide Dicamba Being Investigated in 17 States, Pointing to New Formulation Used in GE Fields

(Beyond Pesticides, August 8, 2017) More than 1,400 official complaints of crop damage related to the herbicide dicamba have been recorded across 17 states this year, leading some to question a new formulation of the chemical used in genetically engineered (GE) fields. Dicamba, a toxic pesticide prone to drift off the target site, has been used in agriculture for decades. However, new GE crops developed by Monsanto must be paired with specific formulations of dicamba, and until now many believed these drift incidents were the result of illegal formulations of dicamba being applied to fields. But the extent of damage now being observed, covering over 2.5 million acres, is casting doubt on this theory, and raising more questions as to whether the new dicamba formulation is actually the cause of the widespread drift damage.

Fruits and vegetables, as well as other crops that are not genetically engineered to tolerate dicamba are often left cupped and distorted when exposed to the chemical. Monsanto, DuPont Co. and BASF SE sell new formulations of the herbicide for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton, and state enforcement officials and farmers have attributed last year’s damage incidents to off-label uses of older dicamba products.

Initial reports began to surface in Arkansas and Missouri, which recently issued bans on the sale and use of dicamba. As of July 7, nearly 600 complaints of dicamba damage have been filed by Arkansas farmers in 23 different counties. In Missouri, as of July 3, there are 123 cases of dicamba injury complaints under investigation, and according to the Missouri Soybean Association, “[M]ore than 200,000 Missouri soybean acres currently show signs of suspected dicamba damage.” The Arkansas Agriculture Department announced an emergency 120-day ban, which raised civil penalties for misuse of the toxic herbicide from $1,000 to a maximum of $25,000. Missouri Department of Agriculture followed and announced a temporary “Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order” on all dicamba products in the state labeled for agricultural use.

Monsanto has defended its new dicamba product, Xtendimax with VaporGrip Technology, blaming growers for using older versions of dicamba or not following directions on the new product label.

As reported by Bloomberg:  “The company attributes the drifting problem to farmers using illegal, off-label products that are more volatile—and thus more prone to drift—than the latest versions of dicamba. They may also be cleaning or using their spraying equipment incorrectly, or applying dicamba when it’s windy, said Robb Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer.”

Weed scientist at the University of Missouri, Kevin Bradley, PhD, in his blog notes dicamba damage of crops on approximately 2.5 million acres by his estimation “constitute a problem for U.S. agriculture,” which cannot be explained away by user errors, failure to follow guidelines, or generic dicamba usage, but on the inherent volatile nature of the herbicide. Other extension agents also cast doubt on current industry talking points blaming farmers, noting it is hard to simply blame the use of old dicamba formulations for all the hundreds of thousands of acres injured. There are reports that the latest dicamba formulation that is to be used on GE dicamba crops (Xtend, Eugenia) is responsible for some cases of drift, and preliminary tests have found that the new formulation does volatilize enough to drift.

It is no coincidence that with the deregulation of GE dicamba-tolerant varieties came increased dicamba use, and now increased incidences of drift and damage to other non-tolerant crops. Dicamba has stirred up fights between neighbors in a number of agricultural communities. Bader Farms, which grows over 110,00 peach trees on over 1,000 acres in Missouri, is suing Monsanto after its insurance company issued a refusal to pay for damages caused by off-label dicamba drift from surrounding farms. In June of this year, University of Arkansas’ agricultural research station had over 100 acres of soybeans ruined from nearby dicamba use. Shockingly, NPR reports that last October a dispute over dicamba drift led to the murder of one Arkansas farmer.

Beyond Pesticides has long advocated a regulatory approach  that prohibits hazardous chemical use and requires alternative assessments to identify less toxic practices and products under the unreasonable adverse effects clause of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Farm, beekeeper, and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides, have urged EPA to follow in the steps of countries like Canada and the European Union by following the precautionary principle, which generally approves products after they have been assessed for harm, not before. Beyond Pesticides suggests an approach that rejects uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations, and instead focuses on safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as organic agriculture, which prohibits the use of toxic chemicals. By strengthening on-farm resources, such as soil fertility, pasture and biodiversity, organic farmers can minimize and even avoid the production challenges that most genetically engineered organisms have been falsely-marketed as solving.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: EcoWatch

Share

07
Aug

Action: Oppose Release of Genetically Engineered Moth in New York

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2017) Help stop a dangerous plan hatched in New York to control a caterpillar in cabbage. Under the plan, up to 10,000 genetically engineered (GE) male diamondback moths (DBMs) will be released each week during the cabbage planting cycle (which runs about three to four months). According to USDA, “The males are genetically engineered with a lethal gene that they pass on to females when they mate.”

Because of the widespread release, this plan –a first of its kind in food crops– will contaminate organic farms with genetically engineered material. And, this is all being done based on a cursory environmental assessment, without an in-depth environmental impact assessment.

This is an issue that affects all of us –not just New Yorkers–because the moths do not respect state boundaries, and this action would set a precedent for other states.

Inadequate Environmental Review
Following a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Cornell University’s proposed release, there is an urgent need to ensure that the state of New York addresses contamination issues that APHIS failed to consider. At the top of the list is possible contamination of organic crops, which could threaten the standing of organic products with consumers and holds the threat of decertification. Other  contamination concerns are raised by scientists at the Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch, and GeneWatch UK.

>>Act now to tell Cornell University, the New York Department of Conservation, and New York Governor Cuomo to stop releases of genetically engineered diamondback moths until a thorough environmental impact study is performed!

The FONSI absolves APHIS from the duty to perform an in-depth environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) points out that this is the first food use of this particular kind of GE technology –using a genetically engineered male to produce inviable female offspring— and, as such, deserves the full investigation of an EIS, rather than the more cursory evaluation of the environmental assessment that led to the FONSI.

In addition to NEPA, New York state law requires a state agency to conduct a review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) when it uses its “discretionary” authority to approve, fund, or directly undertake an action that may affect the environment. In order to release the insects, Cornell must receive a permit under New York Environmental Conservation Law §11-0507 from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), as it did for the release of caged insects in the past. However, DEC has denied responsibility for permitting the action. As a university with a state extension service, Cornell is subject to SEQR. If Cornell or DEC does not perform the required EIS, enforcement is up to citizens. According to the DEC website, “[C]itizens or groups who can demonstrate that they may be harmed by this failure may take legal action. . . . Project approvals may be rescinded by a court and a new review required under SEQR. New York State’s court system has consistently ruled in favor of strong compliance with the provisions of SEQR.” NOFA-NY has made a strong showing that organic growers may be harmed by this release.

>>Act now to tell Cornell University, the New York Department of Conservation, and New York Governor Cuomo to stop releases of genetically engineered diamondback moths until a thorough environmental impact study is performed!

Harm to Organic
Organic growers maybe harmed if the moths escape from the research plots. The engineered trait is designed to leave behind dead moth larvae and pupae resulting from the mating of the engineered males with wild females. These residues , if left on organic crops (cabbage, broccoli, and other brassica plants), could threaten the standing of organic products with consumers and the threaten decertification. In addition, there are plausible scenarios that would result in release of viable DBMs, which could increase damage to crops.

In general, the environmental assessment performed by APHIS ignored a number of important issues, including: contamination of crops with GE dead insects; the impacts on the ecological balance of native brassicas; the lack of research on the migration of DBMs from site to site; impacts in the future if engineered DBMs are released in commercial agriculture; other alternatives besides “no action,” such as the systems approach used by organic growers; the lack of adequate monitoring and buffer zones; food safety; impacts on predators; antibiotic resistance as a result from the use of tetracycline in breeding the moths; other ecological effects; and movement of the DBM across international borders.

Voice you Opposition
Voice your opposition to the release of genetically engineered DBMs to Cornell University (which proposes to release the moths), DEC (which is responsible for state permits of releases of wild animals), and Governor Cuomo (who is responsible for ensuring that state agencies meet their responsibilities.)

>>Act now to tell Cornell University, the New York Department of Conservation, and New York Governor Cuomo to stop releases of genetically engineered diamondback moths until a thorough environmental impact study is performed!

Share

04
Aug

Court Overturns Montgomery County, MD Pesticide Restrictions, Groups Say Decision Defies Local Authority to Protect Health

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2017) A Circuit Court for the state of Maryland  on Thursday struck down key components of the landmark Healthy Lawns Act pesticide ordinance passed in Montgomery County, Maryland in 2015. The court’s decision, issued by Judge Terrence McGann, eliminates pesticide use restrictions on private property, but does not touch provisions limiting toxic pesticides used on public, county owned land.

Grassroots advocates who supported passage of the Healthy Lawns Act to protect children, families and the environment are dismayed by the court’s ruling, but nevertheless vow to keep up the fight for protections from hazardous pesticides used in their community. “The court should have recognized that, in restricting lawn pesticides throughout its jurisdiction, Montgomery County is exercising a local democratic principle under Maryland and federal law to ensure the safety of the community, including children, pets, and the environment, from a known hazard not adequately regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the state,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “After extensive hearings and study, the county council understands that toxic chemicals are dangerous and not needed to have beautiful lawns and landscapes,” Mr. Feldman said.

By passing the Healthy Lawns Act, the Montgomery County Council acknowledged growing demand within the community for natural and organic lawn care practices and compatible products. These cost-effective lawn care methods have been shown to eliminate the need for toxic pesticide use through improvements in soil biology that support more resilient plants. Pro-pesticide plaintiffs challenging the restrictions were led by Complete Lawn Care, and supported by the pesticide industry lobby group, Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE). “Just like big tobacco’s attacks on local smoking restrictions to control secondhand smoke, the chemical industry is attempting to head-off a growing movement asking for common-sense measures that protect public health from pesticide exposure,” Mr. Feldman said.

Advocates say Judge McGann’s ruling ignores historical precedent set by Maryland counties in leading the way on health and environmental laws, including bans on plastic bags and coal-tar sealants. At times, the Judge’s written opinion is dismissive of the danger posed by pesticide use, including an aside opining “…why neighborhood children sell lemonade on the street corner and not pesticides.”

Beyond Pesticides’ Map of U.S. Pesticide Reform Policies lists over 150 communities in 23 states that restrict chemical pesticide use. In Maine, over 20 policies address both public and private pesticide applications. Eight of ten Canadian provinces, and over 170 Canadian municipalities have laws with a similar structure to Montgomery County’s Healthy Lawns Act. “For the health of Maryland’s children, pets, wildlife, and waterways like the Chesapeake Bay, we will continue to support the ever-growing movement for healthy, pesticide-free communities,” Mr. Feldman said.

The Montgomery County Council is in recess until September at which time it will consider appealing the Circuit Court ruling.

For Press Inquiries:
Contact- Jay Feldman, 202-255-4296
jfeldman@beyondpesticides.org
www.beyondpesticides.org

 

 

Share

03
Aug

Chronic Pesticide Exposure at Work Tied to Breathing Disorders

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2017) Working in close contact with pesticides over the course of one’s lifetime increases the risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other breathing disorders, according to a study published in Thorax by a team of Australian researchers. While cigarette smoke remains the single leading cause of lung disease worldwide, there is growing interest in understanding the environmental exposures of individuals that develop breathing problems, but have never smoked. Given the growing list of pesticide-induced diseases, the study’s results reinforce calls for a change in pest management approaches that safeguard farmwokers and pest control operators.

Researchers’ examination of pesticide exposure made use of a health study that first began in Tazmania in 1968, and tracked asthma prevalence in participants at ages 12, 18, and 30. With this background data in hand, researchers followed up with a subset of study participants, now roughly 45 years old, and were able to further analyze 1,255 participants via in-person laboratory tests.

“Our study looked at long-term exposure to pesticides,” said Sheikh Alif, PhD, lead researcher of the study at the University of Melborne to Reuters. “[I]t is thought that long-term exposure to pesticides increases mucus secretion and muscle contraction in the lungs, causing breathlessness, cough and wheeze,” Dr. Alif said.

The study controlled its results to incorporate variability in sex, smoking, and current lung conditions. Risk was calculated based on overall number of jobs where one was exposed to pesticides, as well as estimated cumulative exposure accrued over the course of a study participant’s life.  Researchers found that lung disease and airway obstruction was 75% higher for those with exposure to any pesticides in their occupation (including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides), and 109% higher for those specifically reporting occupational exposure to herbicides. As part of cumulative exposure calculations, scientists determined that for every 10 years of exposure to any pesticide on the job, COPD risk increased by 12%, chronic bronchitis by 16%, chronic cough by 12%, and chronic phlegm problems increased by 13%. Chronic exposure to only herbicides resulted in a 16% increased risk of COPD and 22% risk of chronic bronchitis. Insecticide exposure alone represented a 10% increase in COPD and a 15% increase in cronic bronchitis.

The study concludes that, “[B]y enhanced monitoring and use of protective equipment, the burden of COPD caused by occupational exposures has the potential to be substantially reduced.”

Researchers further recommend the use of personal protective equipment when applying pesticides, and the implementation of equipment to monitor exposure levels. While these could certainly be good interim measures, a much more effective long-term strategy to address chronic exposure is to eliminate the need for pesticide use in the first place.

This prevention-based approach is particularly important for farmworkers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that for individuals occupationally exposed to pesticides, agricultural workers are 37 times more likely than nonagricultural workers to experience pesticide poisoning.  Efforts by environmental justice advocates to institute long-overdue revisions to farmworker protection requirements, which would ensure some of the basic measures recommended by the current study are put in place, have been stymied by political opposition from Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Beyond Pesticides continues to advocate for the wholesale transition of U.S. agriculture to organic production practices. Under the Organic Foods Production Act, which advises USDA’sNational Organic Program, only organic compatible substances are allowed in inspected and certified organic systems that are intended to eliminate synthetic inputs. in favor of cultural, mechanical, and biological pest management. With these methods, we can protect farmworkers and applicators, and begin to reverse long-terms trends in diseases that correlate with pesticide use.

For more information on the connection between pesticides and breathing disorders, see Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database listing for asthma.

Source: Reuters, BMJ Journals-Thorax

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Share
  • Archives

  • Categories

    • Announcements (582)
    • Antibacterial (115)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (2)
    • Aquaculture (22)
    • Beneficials (22)
    • Biodiversity (19)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (11)
    • Biomonitoring (28)
    • Canada (4)
    • Cannabis (17)
    • Children (3)
    • Children/Schools (215)
    • Climate Change (30)
    • contamination (49)
    • Environmental Justice (105)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (60)
    • Events (82)
    • Farm Bill (1)
    • Farmworkers (107)
    • Fracking (1)
    • Fungicides (1)
    • Goats (1)
    • Golf (11)
    • Health care (32)
    • Holidays (24)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (53)
    • International (278)
    • Invasive Species (28)
    • Label Claims (46)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (181)
    • Litigation (278)
    • Microbiata (2)
    • Microbiome (2)
    • Nanotechnology (53)
    • National Politics (381)
    • Pesticide Drift (122)
    • Pesticide Regulation (657)
    • Pesticide Residues (138)
    • Pets (17)
    • Preemption (4)
    • Resistance (69)
    • Rodenticide (21)
    • Take Action (376)
    • Uncategorized (182)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (309)
    • Wood Preservatives (21)
  • Most Viewed Posts