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Judge Hands Down 10-Year Prison Sentence in Organic Fraud Case

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August, 20, 2019) Last week U.S. District Court Judge C.J. Williams sentenced Missouri resident Randy Constant to 10 years in prison for selling conventional grains he and his co-conspirators fraudulently passed off as certified organic. In his ruling, Judge Williams noted the scheme resulted in “extreme and incalculable damage” to consumers and public trust in the organic label. According to court filings, Mr. Constant made over $120 million in the scheme, much of it spent on vacations and trips to Las Vegas. The case highlights the importance of funding enforcement measures that ensure compliance with the organic certification process and the resulting price premium it confers to organic farmers. Mr. Constant was convicted last December of one count of wire fraud, admitting that from 2010 to 2017, he misled customers who purchased grain at a silo he owned in Iowa called Jericho Solutions. Mr. Constant told customers that the grain they were purchasing was grown on certified organic fields he owned in Iowa or Nebraska, when in fact the grain was either not organic or mixed with non-organic grain. “Thousands upon thousands of consumers paid for products they did not get and paid for products they did not […]

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Insect “Honeydew” Secretions, Contaminated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides then Eaten by Other Insects, and Birds Contribute to an Expansive Threat

Friday, August 9th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2019) A recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates a food chain vector for exposure of beneficial insects to neonicotinoid pesticides — the invasive mealybug, in this case. The finding may also be relevant for other phloem-feeding hemipterans, which can feed on neonicotinoid-contaminated plants and excrete so-called “honeydew” that is then consumed by beneficial insects. A primary “fix” for the decimation of insects and pollinators — caused chiefly by pesticide use, habitat destruction, and impacts of a rapidly changing climate — is, of course, the cessation of use of these toxic compounds in agriculture. The most common route of exposure of beneficial insects to neonicotinoids is through contaminated floral nectar and pollen. The discovery of this “honeydew” vector is important because it could potentially affect far more insects than nectar and pollen consumption, given that honeydew is more abundant, especially in agricultural fields. Pollinators such as honey bees, solitary bees, bumblebees, and even birds have been observed feeding on honeydew. Neonicotinoids represent more than 20% of the insecticides used worldwide; they are used on crops such as citrus, cotton, oilseed rape, soybean, fruits, potatoes, rice, corn, sunflowers (for seed), ornamentals, fruits, […]

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Impossible Burger Causes Some Beef in the “Green” Market

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 8, 2019) The Food and Drug Association (FDA) recently approved the Impossible Burger, sparking a debate among environmentalists and lovers of plant-based meat products. The burger, manufactured by the Impossible Foods Group, is comprised of genetically engineered soy and heme (iron-containing molecule that is a component of hemoglobin and common to plants and animals). It contains over 11.3 times the amount of glyphosate residue as its counterpart, the non-GMO Beyond Burger. Spurring more controversy, the Impossible Foods Group recently attacked regenerative agricultural practices that advocates say are part of the solution to the current food system and climate crises. Impossible Foods Group uses genetically engineered soy that is resistant to herbicides such as glyphosate. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has recently taken the pesticide spotlight as over 18,000 plaintiffs are suing the agricultural giant Bayer over diagnoses of cancer and other diseases allegedly caused by use of their products. Ingestion or exposure to glyphosate can increase risk of cancer, disrupt estrogen, harm gut bacteria, and jeopardize overall health. Pesticide residues end up in food, and runoff or drift from agricultural fields contaminates soil, air, and water. The spraying of these chemicals can also endanger nearby operations […]

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Remind USDA that Genetic Engineering Is NOT Acceptable in Organic

Monday, August 5th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2019) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) appears to have forgotten the lesson learned 20 years ago when it was forced to ban genetic engineering (GE) in organic regulations. At a July 17 hearing called by the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research on “Assessing the Effectiveness of the National Organic Program,” Greg Ibach, the USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, stated, “There is the opportunity to open the discussion to consider whether it is appropriate for some of these new technologies, including gene editing, to be eligible to be used to enhance organic production.” In 1997, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a draft rule that would have allowed GE, irradiation, and sewage sludge (the “Big Three”) in organic production, which was met by the second largest number of comments the agency had ever received—well before the days of internet advocacy—overwhelmingly opposing the inclusion of the “Big Three.”  The prohibition of gene editing falls under the “excluded methods” provision of the organic regulations. The law prohibits “a variety of methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions […]

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At Congressional Hearing, USDA Proposes Allowing Genetic Engineering (“Editing”) in Certified Organic Food

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2019) Advocates of organic agriculture, including Beyond Pesticides, are sounding a “yellow alert” on the heels of recent comments, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach, before the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research. In his remarks, Mr. Ibach opened the door to consideration of allowing new gene-editing technologies to be permitted under the federal National Organic Program (NOP) and its standards. He said, “As the National Organic Standards Board set the rules originally, GMOs are not eligible to be in the organic program. However, we’ve seen new technology, including gene-editing, that accomplishes things in shorter periods of time than a natural breeding process can. I think there is the opportunity to open the discussion to consider whether it is appropriate for some of these new technologies that include gene-editing to be eligible to be used to enhance organic production and to have drought and disease-resistant varieties, as well as higher-yield varieties available.” The National Organic Standards (NOS), promulgated in 2002 (on the basis of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990) by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) — on which Beyond Pesticides Executive […]

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Monoculture in Crop Production Contributes to Biodiversity Loss and Pollinator Decline

Friday, July 26th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2019) The botanic denizens of wild and unmanaged lands typically comprise many different plant species. This is because nature abhors monocultures — the existence of a single kind of plant growing across some amount of territory. Yet, this is the dominant practice in modern agriculture, and brings with it a plethora of problems. One of them, emerging from an Argentinian study out of the Universidad Nacional del Comahue and published in Global Change Biology, is that agricultural production in some areas of the world is at risk because of this obeisance to monoculture in a time of biodiversity loss and pollinator decline. Monocultural agriculture, for all its perceived advantages — in yield, routinization of management practices, ease of harvesting, and others related to technological tools — also involves significant downsides, including: robbing local ecosystems of natural systems of checks and balances, thus making monocrops more vulnerable to pests and diseases — which in turn usually means greater applications of toxic pesticides nutritional impoverishment of soil by reducing available nutrients, thereby inviting addition of synthetic, usually fossil fuel–based fertilizers and other inputs degradation of soils so that they retain moisture far less well and cause increased runoff of […]

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Public Soybean Field Research Damaged by Pesticide Drift

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2019) Professors are experiencing damage to their soybean field research as a result of dicamba drift from neighboring agricultural fields. Experts worry that continued drift will make it impossible to carry out public research integral to non-genetically engineered soybean production. These reports, recent studies of dicamba drift potential, and numerous lawsuits counter Monsanto/Bayer’s claims that dicamba poses no drift threat when used properly. Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, manufactures both dicamba and genetically engineered, herbicide-tolerant crops. Dicamba mimics natural plant hormones, auxins, to cause uncontrolled and abnormal growth in non-tolerant plants; soybeans are especially vulnerable. Pengyn Chen, PhD, a professor of soybean breeding and genetics at the University of Missouri’s Fisher Delta Research Center, reports that his soybeans leaves curled up into cups and grew fragile unusual side branches due to dicamba drift. Dr. Chen has seen damage for the past three years as dicamba use has increased around his research station. The nature of Dr. Chen’s work bars him from switching to dicamba resistant crops, a switch many farmers make to avoid the impacts of drift. Dr. Chen studies many varieties of soybeans, including obscure types that private companies ignore. His research aims to find […]

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Pesticide-Intensive Agriculture Contributes to Severe Monarch Butterfly Decline through Milkweed Contamination

Monday, July 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2019) Scientists studying the precipitous decline in populations of monarch butterflies are searching for causes, and pesticide use is one of the factors under their (figurative) microscopes. Purdue University entomology professor Ian Kaplan, PhD and doctoral student Paola Olaya-Arenas recently turned their attention to a poorly studied potential factor — exposure during monarchs’ larval stage to non-target pesticides on their primary host plant and food source, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). In Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the researchers report finding evidence of 14 different agricultural pesticides on milkweed near Indiana farm fields, including neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam, the pyrethroid deltamethrin, and imidacloprid in a few samples. The research team’s primary aim was to identify and measure the range of pesticides to which monarch caterpillars might be exposed, or which they might consume, on milkweed plants in agricultural landscapes. Secondarily, they hoped to learn how pesticide presence varies with distance between milkweed plants and nearby agricultural sites. In the subject Indiana environs, where corn and soybeans are dominant crops, the study found neonicotinoid residues on milkweed, particularly those of the active ingredients in clothianidin and thiamethoxam. They note, “Although seed treatment data are no longer reported for U.S. […]

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Study Finds Synergism between Neonicotinoids and Parasites Leads to 70% Declines in Honey Bee Survival

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2019) A study finds that the interaction of a common honey bee parasite with neonicotinoid insecticides causes 70% reductions in overwintering honey bee survival. These results help to explain the unsustainable honey bee colony losses observed in recent decades. Neonicotinoids (neonics) are a class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects. Studies show that neonicotinic residues accumulate in pollen and nectar of treated plants, and, given their widespread use and known toxic effects, there is major concern that neonics play a major contributing role in pollinator declines. In the early 2000s, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) brought national attention to increased honey bee colony losses. During the same period that CCD and colony losses spiked, neonic prevalence skyrocketed, in large part due to the introduction of seed-delivered technologies. As of 2011, 34-44% of soybeans and 79-100% of maize hectares were preemptively treated with neonics. While CCD prevalence has decreased, colony loss rates (and systemic insecticide use) remain high. A 2018 national survey indicates that U.S. beekeepers currently experience an average annual colony mortality rate of 30.7%, double the pre-CCD baseline of 15% losses. In the present study, […]

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Gear Up for Actions to Protect Pollinators during Pollinator Week, June 17 – 22

Friday, June 14th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2019) Next week, June 17–22, marks Pollinator Week 2019, a celebration of the beauty and benefits these critical species provide, but also a call to action to protect pollinators and the natural world. Since United States Senate declared the first Pollinator Week in 2007, nearly every week since there has been new research published linking pesticides to pollinator declines. Yet the companies that produce pollinator-toxic pesticides, like Bayer and Syngenta, make use of this week to excuse their products from any culpability. Instead, they sponsor events and posters, discussing every threat to bees except those posed by the pesticides that make up their bottom line. They are the villains in this story, but there is no superhero in line to save bees, butterflies, birds, and bats.  That’s why it’s up to you, everyday heroes that support protecting pollinators, to alert the public, and inspire good in elected officials. We’ve outlined a week of actions aimed at educating and inspiring action to protect pollinators. Monday Support the New Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA), HR1337. SAPA represents the best opportunity to enact meaningful changes at the federal level that will protect pollinators in the long term. This bill, […]

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service To Consider Monarch Butterfly Endangered Status, Amid Staggering Declines and Threat of Legal Action

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 30, 2019) Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) agreed to a 2020 deadline for reaching a decision on protection status for monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. This agreement comes nearly five years after the filing of a petition by conservationists with the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety led to the launch of an ongoing status review in 2014. While FWS deliberates, monarch butterflies continue their staggering, decades-long population decline, perhaps for the last of their decades. In the 1990s, the eastern monarch population numbered nearly one billion butterflies, and the western population numbered more than 1.2 million. Last year’s winter counts recorded around 93 million eastern monarchs and fewer than 200,000 western monarchs. That loss is “so staggering that in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio,” Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement to Live Science. Recent studies project that if current trends continue, both eastern and western monarch populations face migratory collapse within the next 20 years. FWS is no stranger to the threats facing monarch […]

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Fulfilling Legal Settlement with Limited Scope, EPA Cancels Twelve Neonicotinoid Products

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2019) On Monday in the conclusion of a lawsuit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final notices of cancellation on the registration of twelve neonicotinoid pesticide products in the Federal Register, each of which contains chlothianidin or thiamathoxam as an active ingredient. The decision to pull these products from the market was required as part of a legal settlement under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in December 2018 of a successful case, Ellis v. EPA, brought by beekeeper Steve Ellis and a coalition of other beekeepers and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides. The case establishes a legal precedent in which the court required action to address the bee-toxic effects of pesticides; however, the effect of the settlement and its impact on overall neonicotinoid and other systemic insecticide use is limited. For all but two of the twelve canceled products, a nearly identical surrogate remains actively registered. Furthermore, the fact remains that there are hundreds more products containing the active ingredients targeted by the lawsuit that have not been removed in any capacity – 106 products containing clothianidin and 95 containing thiamethoxam remain untouched on the market. Breaking down the impacts of the EPA ruling even […]

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Organic Agriculture is Growing as Chemical-Intensive Farming Struggles

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2019) As farmers nationwide are facing extreme stressors and either consolidating or retiring, organic is going against the grain. Despite overall declines in the number of U.S. farms, the number of organic farms increased 27% between 2012 and 2017, according to new data from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The value of organic sales in 2017 was $7.2 billion, and the average value of sales per farm has increased a remarkable 84% since 2012. Laura Batcha, the executive director of the Organic Trade Association, told Bloomberg that young families are among the drivers in the organic market as they seek to avoid residues of chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones on food. Organic products fetch a higher price point than conventional. Indiana farmer Joe Mills can sell his organic food-grade corn for about $10.50 a bushel, while chemical-intensive sells for about $3.50/bushel. Mr. Mills notes, “Yes, it’s economical, but there is a huge learning curve and a mindset change. We relied on commercial fertilizers and pesticides for so long.” At the same time, the benefits and affordability of organic food are critical to the market, as consumers consider their purchasing choices. Read the Beyond Pesticides’ report Low Food […]

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Fish and Wildlife Service Sued for Failure to Disclose Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides and GMO Crops in Wildlife Refuges

Friday, April 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2019) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced on April 3 that it is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for its failure to release public records, despite multiple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, that would reveal on-the-ground impacts of FWS allowing use of neonicotinoids and genetically engineered (GE) crops in wildlife refuges. Last August, in yet another rollback of protections for wildlife, the environment, and public health, the Trump administration reversed a 2014 FWS decision to ban the use of neonicotinoids and GE crops in National Wildlife Refuges. If successful, the CBE lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, would compel the agency to provide the requested documents. This would allow the public, largely through the work of NGO (non-governmental organization) watchdogs, such as CBD and Beyond Pesticides, to understand what harms are being caused on the nation’s protected public lands by the administration’s reversal of the 2014 ban. Hannah Connor, a CBD senior attorney, said, “The goal of the lawsuit is to get them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and produce the records that have been requested. . . . We aren’t asking them to […]

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EPA Wants to Squelch State Authority to Adopt Pesticide Restrictions More Protective than the Fed

Friday, March 29th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a low-key announcement on March 19 suggesting that it may change its handling of requests from states to exert stricter controls on use of pesticides than the federal agency sets out in its registration of the compounds — by disapproving them. This is potentially a big deal because it signals that the agency will be less-kindly disposed to states’ desires to establish either somewhat different parameters of use based on local conditions and needs, or more-stringent regulations on pesticide use than those set out by federal regulators. This issue of preemption of localities’ desires to protect their populations and environment has become an increasingly dynamic frontier at the nexus of pesticide use, health, and environment. Beyond Pesticides has written more frequently about this issue in recent years as the tension between centralized, federal regulation and more-local regulation has risen; see more below. EPA appears distressed by some of the approximately 300 annual requests it gets to make some adjustment to the federal regulation. This can happen under Section 24(c) of FIFRA, which allows for a Special Local Need Label, which can be requested under a variety of conditions, including […]

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Take Action: Help Stop Pesticide-Treated Seeds from Poisoning the Environment

Monday, March 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2019) EPA is using a regulatory loophole – the “treated articles exemption” – to allow systemic insecticides to be used in mass quantities, without regulating or labeling them as required under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA does not currently assess adverse effects on the environment and public health caused by widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides delivered through seeds coated with the insecticides, resulting in widespread exposure to one of the most environmentally damaging classes of chemicals on the market. Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA must fully regulate treated seeds to protect the environment and public health. Pesticide-coated seeds are now ubiquitous, yet their far-reaching impacts on wildlife and human health continue to go unregulated. The introduction and spread of seed-delivered pesticides to major field crops, beginning around 2003, caused a massive increase in total neonicotinoid use nationwide. As of 2011, 34 to 44% of soybeans and 79 to 100% of maize acres were planted with coated seeds, accounting for an astounding 35-fold increase in nationwide neonicotinoid use from baseline rates prior to 2003 (Douglas and Tooker, 2015). Alarmingly, because the national pesticide survey conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service fails to […]

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Study Finds that Commonly Occurring Levels of Neonicotinoid Insecticide Harm White-tailed Deer

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2019) A two-year study, published March 14,  finds that field-relevant contamination with the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid causes reduced body weight and metabolism in white-tailed deer, and – in fawns – mortality. Remarkably, researchers uncovered imidacloprid levels in free-ranging deer a full 3.5 times higher, on average, than the levels in the animals treated in their experiment. These new findings add to the mounting evidence of the hazards posed by current patterns of neonicotinoid use, while evidence of benefits remains sparse. The study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, includes two years of data on the physiological and behavioral outcomes of imidacloprid contamination in 80 white-tailed deer housed in a South Dakota State University captive research facility. Notably, researchers were unable to entirely control imidacloprid levels in untreated deer, most likely due to background contamination from corn- and soy-based feed, and surrounding vegetation infiltrated by runoff from nearby agricultural fields. This background contamination altered, but did not compromise, the analysis. Researchers found that imidacloprid levels detected in the spleens of treated and control animals were significantly predictive of reduced thyroid hormone levels, shorter jawbones, lower activity levels, and higher fawn mortality. Lead authors Elise Berheim, Jonathan Jenks, PhD, […]

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General Mills Commits to Large Acreage of Regenerative Agriculture, Short of Organic

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2019) Corporate food giant General Mills has thrown some weight behind regenerative agriculture, committing to converting one million acres of farmland to regenerative practices by 2030. Some – but not all – of the initiative involves organic land management. Regenerative agriculture is a term with a range of interpretations, but the key element is improving soil health through carbon sequestration. Robert Rodale, one of the early proponents of organic agriculture and a major publisher, coined the name to characterize a process that moves beyond sustainable maintenance and into improvement of resources. This methodology is gaining traction in the farming world because it is economically beneficial to farmers and promotes environmental remediation. A 2018 study shows that ecologically-based farming systems have fewer pests and generate higher profits than their conventional counterparts. “Practitioners who have done this the longest point to the fact that in extreme years, their farms will do better than those who do not,” says Jerry Lynch, General Mills’ chief sustainability officer, “After some transition time, depending on their location and cropping system, farmers are saving a lot of money because they’re using fewer inputs.” In their press release, General Mills lays out three foci […]

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Study Raises Ecological Concerns about EPA-Approved RNAi Pesticides that Turn Off Genes

Friday, March 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2019) Researchers from the U.S. and Switzerland have published their findings, a beginning assessment of how use of a new category of pesticides — dsRNA (double stranded RNA), which is less a traditional pesticide than a genetically based pesticide “technology” — might impact soils and non-target microorganisms in the soil. The co-authors (Kimberly M. Parker, PhD, et al.) note that, “The ecological risk assessment of these emerging pesticides necessitates an understanding of the fate of dsRNA molecules in receiving environments, among which agricultural soils are most important.” Their research appeared in late January 2019 in Environmental Science & Technology. Previously, technical hurdles in measuring dsRNA had stymied scientists’ ability to quantify the genetic material and its degradation products in soil, but these investigators were able to attach a radioactive atom to the molecule, “tagging” it so it could be followed through a series of simulated soil systems representative of those in the “real” world. Researchers were able to measure the presence of the material at concentrations as low as a few nanograms of dsRNA per gram of soil. The work of these researchers represents the beginning of understanding the ecological risks of these emerging dsRNA pesticides. They demonstrated […]

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Petition Challenges Lack of Protection for Endangered Species from Pesticides

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2019)  A petition submitted on January 7 by the Center for Biological Diversity calls on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to initiate rulemaking to proscribe nearly all pesticide use in areas that are deemed critical habitat for endangered species. It asks these federal agencies to use the authority they have under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect wildlife from the threats represented by pesticides — which threats both agencies have long recognized. The language of the ESA says its purpose is “to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved.” In its press release on the petition, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) notes that it comes “after decades of intransigence by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has refused to comply with the legal mandates of the Endangered Species Act to protect the nation’s most imperiled species from highly toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos and atrazine that are known to harm wildlife.” CBD environmental health director Lori Ann Burd said, “Pesticides pose a devastating danger to endangered wildlife, from coast to coast. If the EPA isn’t going to […]

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USDA Capitulates to the Agrichemical Industry with Final GE Labeling Rule

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2019) At the end of December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized its rule regarding the disclosure of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in consumer foods. After years of local, state and federal pressure to implement a clear, concise labeling requirement for GE foods, advocates say USDA’s rule is a failure, and a capitulation to agrichemical corporations that promote GE farming systems. According to U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), speaking with the Portland Press Herald, the new rule is “an insult to consumers.” She said, “These labels should give people the facts of whether ingredients in their food have been genetically altered, plain and simple.” Rather than the plain and simple language urged by Rep Pingree and other GE labeling advocates, USDA determined to move forward with muddled verbiage that is certain to confuse consumers. GE products will not defined by a term Americans are familiar with, such as GE or GMO. Instead, the term USDA will require on product labels is “bioengineered.” USDA is allowing companies to choose one of the following methods to alert consumers to the presence of GE ingredients in their foods: Inclusion of a “bioengineered” or “derived from bioengineering” symbol alongside […]

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Continuing Pattern, Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler Ignores Science, Embraces Monsanto (Bayer), and Continues Dicamba Herbicide Use

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2018) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignored the input of an expert weed scientist on the controversial herbicide dicamba, bending to Bayer’s Monsanto and the pesticide industry, according to emails obtained by the Arkansas Democrat and Chronicle (ADC) through a Freedom of Information Act request. The scandal centers on the recent re-approval of the pesticide, a highly volatile and drift-prone herbicide that has become a serious problem for many farmers and state regulators. As top-level EPA officials continue to work with industry to subvert their own agency’s scientific findings, more and more consumers are moving to organic products in order avoid the pesticide risks government regulators ask consumers to accept. Emails ADC received indicate that Jason Norsworthy, PhD, a weed scientist with the University of Arkansas, worked closely with Bayer’s Monsanto in conducting field trials this past summer, but found high volatility and drift of the company’s new dicamba-based herbicide XtendiMax. The product was developed in the face of widespread resistance to glyphosate-based herbicides in genetically engineered (GE) farm fields. However, recent accounts from farmers in the south and midwest indicate that, not only is the switch to dicamba unhelpful  in eliminating drift and reversing escalating weed resistance, its […]

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Monarch Population Loss Tallied at 80% since 2005

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2018) Monarch butterflies are in the midst of a staggering decades-long population decline that has rapidly accelerated since 2005, research published by an international team of scientists and the University of Florida last month indicates. According to data meticulously collected by researchers, monarchs making their way to central Florida after emerging from their breeding grounds in Mexico have declined by 80% over the last decade and a half. This is roughly the same time frame at which beekeepers began to see precipitous declines in managed honey bee colonies. Researchers point to industrial development and increasing pesticide use as factors that have accelerated the decline of this iconic species. “A broad pattern is that 95 percent of corn and soybean products grown in the U.S. are Roundup Ready crops that resist glyphosate,” said study coauthor Earnest Williams, PhD, of New York’s Hamilton College in a press release. “That has a national impact. What’s really needed are patches of native vegetation and nectar sources without pesticides. It’s not just for monarchs but all pollinators.” Beginning in 1985, renowned monarch expert Lincoln Brower, PhD and his team monitored monarch populations at a pesticide-free cattle pasture south of Gainesville, FL. […]

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