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Study of Dramatic Flying Insect Declines Reinforces Earlier Findings

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2022) With public awareness of an ongoing ‘insect apocalypse’ growing, one of the first anecdotes people often note is how many fewer bugs are found splatted onto their car windshield than in the past. In a recent survey, conservation groups in Britain are finding evidence of insect declines in exactly that place, providing scientific backing for these concerning suspicions. Between 2004 and 2021, 58.5% fewer flying insects were squashed onto car license plates. “The results from the Bugs Matter study should shock and concern us all,” says Paul Hadaway, conservation director at Kent Wildlife Trust, which conducted the study alongside UK organization Buglife. “We are seeing declines in insects which reflect the enormous threats and loss of wildlife more broadly across the Country. These declines are happening at an alarming rate and without concerted action to address them we face a stark future. Insects and pollinators are fundamental to the health of our environment and rural economies.” The survey was conducted primarily through citizen science, utilizing the “Bugs Matter” mobile app, and a sampling grid, referred to as a ‘splatometer’ that is affixed to a car’s license plate. Data was retrieved from trips taken by citizen […]

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Study Finds Chemical Exposure Increasing among Pregnant Women

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2022) Pregnant women are being exposed to increasing amounts of dangerous industrial chemicals, according to research published this week in Environmental Science and Technology.  The chemicals in question include pesticides, plastics, and parabens, as well as ‘replacement chemicals’ for substances like phthalates and bisphenols that have gained notoriety for risks to public health. With a range of scientific data highlighting chemical exposures during pregnancy as a critical window of vulnerability, public awareness of these growing threats, and meaningful action by government regulators to reduce exposure is needed.   The results of this study follow the release of data last year finding over 100 different chemicals in U.S. pregnant women’s blood and umbilical cord samples. For the present study, however, researchers did not merely detect these chemicals, they tracked exposure levels over the course of 12 years. The cohort of 171 women represents a diverse group from seven American states and territories (including New Hampshire, New York, Puerto Rico, Illinois, California, and Georgia), with 20% of women participating Black, one third white, 40% Latina, and the remaining from other or multiple groups. Over the course of the study, routine monitoring was conducted utilizing an advanced diagnostic method […]

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With Decision on Insecticide, EPA Betrays Protection of Pollinators. . .Again

Monday, May 9th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 9, 2022) While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its guidelines for pollinator risk assessments in 2014, the agency continues to either fail to conduct full assessments, or dismiss concerning data it receives. EPA appears to discount threats like the insect apocalypse, evidenced by a 75% decline in insect abundance, which threatens not only global ecosystems, but also food production that depends on animal pollination. As pesticides move through the food web, birds are also at risk. Bird numbers are down 29% since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962. Tell EPA To Protect Against Other Threats to Pollinators. Tell Congress To Insist that EPA Does Its Job. The problem is highlighted by EPA’s recent Interim Decision on fenbuconazole, in which the agency notes that, “For larval bees, RQs (risk quotients) exceed the LOC (level of concern) for all pollinator attractive uses including when assessed at the lowest application rate of 0.0938 lb a.i./Acre (RQ = 1.1).” Yet in the same document, the agency declares that “…the benefits of fenbuconazole (e.g., efficacy in management of fungal pathogens) outweigh any remaining risk and that continuing to register fenbuconazole provides significant benefits, including its ability to increase crop […]

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Fungicide Found to Jeopardize Male Pollinator’s Ability to Find a Mate, as EPA Ignores Risk

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2022) Exposure to a commonly used fungicide considered to be ‘slightly toxic or nontoxic’ to pollinators makes male mason bees less likely to find a mate, jeopardizing future generations of critically important pollinators. This determination comes from research recently published in the Journal of Applied Ecology by scientists at Germany’s University of Würzburg. The timing of these findings comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reapproved uses of fenbuconazole, the fungicide in question, late last year without completing all required studies on pollinator health effects. Horned mason bees (Osmia cornuta), a solitary bee species, have a complex mating process that includes a range of “pre-copulatory behaviors” used by male bees attract females. Males create thoracic vibrations with their flight muscles, rub the eyes of female bees with their antennae, and emit a distinct odor from their body. If the female likes the presentation, she will mate with the male. Otherwise, she will move him to the side and wait for another male to try to win her affection. To see how this process was influenced by pesticide exposure, researchers conducted a range of different experiments. For the first, newly emerged male and female bees were […]

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No Mow May—Support Organic Habitat

Monday, May 2nd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2022) Lawns occupy 40 million acres, or 2% of the land in the U.S. Their maintenance typically involves pesticides and fertilizers that kill pollinators and soil life and wash into streams, where they do more damage. Lawn maintenance also involves a lot of mowing. While mowing is an effective way to encourage grasses over most broadleaved plants, it also has broader ecological impacts. The 3,600 species of bees in the U.S. and Canada range from large bumblebees to tiny sweat bees. There are many things you can do in your yard and community to protect these bees—starting with managing lawns and landscapes organically and planting flowers favored by bees and other pollinators. This one—No Mow May—requires less work. Participate in No Mow May. Manage your landscape organically. Plant flowers for pollinators. Send a message to your mayor.  No Mow May began with research by Plantlife in the UK and was taken up by property owners in Appleton, WI, who demonstrated that “homes that participated in No Mow May had more diverse and abundant flora than regularly mowed green spaces throughout the city.” May is the month when many bees emerge from hibernation throughout the U.S. and […]

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Texas AG Tells Fed Endangered Habitat Should Not Stand in Way of Border Wall

Friday, April 29th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2022) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) plan to list a rare milkweed species, and the areas in which it grows in south Texas, as critical and endangered has garnered political pushback from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. In February, FWS announced its intention to list 691 acres of prostrate milkweed habitat in order to protect it, given its critical role in supporting monarch butterfly populations. But Attorney General (AG) Paxton sent a letter to FWS saying that the critical and endangered determination “would further destabilize Texas’s border, hindering the construction of the border wall,” and that it would risk security on the border with Mexico. FWS countered with a press release stating that, “This listing and critical habitat proposal is based on the best available science, including a species status assessment that included input and review from academia and state agencies.” The 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) mandates that federal agencies, in consultation with FWS and/or the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service, ensure that any actions in which they engage (whether authorizing, implementing, or funding) are unlikely to jeopardize the existence of a listed species, or have negative impacts on […]

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Pesticide Concentration through Metamorphosis Contaminates Birds and Bats

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2022) Pesticides can accumulate in aquatic fly larvae, be retained through metamorphosis, and represent a source of chronic pesticide exposure to birds and bats, according to research published in Environmental Science and Technology earlier this month. As population declines among these critical wildlife continue to mount, findings like these highlight the complex ways in which human activities are further stressing natural systems. Pesticide reviews conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are limited to an outdated set of studies conducted by the pesticide industry, and generally reject and dismiss emerging science from independent literature. This myopic focus on industry studies has brought widespread contamination to the natural world that necessitates wholescale changes at EPA through Congressional action. With widespread acknowledgement that older pesticide chemistries, such as organochlorines like DDT and aldrin, bioconcentrate in living organisms, researchers aimed their study at present use fungicides and herbicides that have not yet undergone similar scrutiny. This includes seven fungicides—azoxystrobin, boscalid, cyflufenamid, fluopyram, tebuconazole, pyrimethanil, and trifloxystrobin—and two herbicides—napropamide and propyzamide. The study notes that formulated end use products, rather than technical grade active ingredients, were used in order to best mimic real world exposure conditions. Larvae of the […]

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Literature Review Adds to the Growing Evidence that Inert Ingredients Are Toxic to Pollinators

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2022) A literature review published in Royal Society finds that ‘inert’ ingredients’ in pesticide formulations adversely affect the health of bees and other wild pollinators. Inert ingredients, also known as “other” ingredients, and not disclosed by name on pesticide product labels, facilitate the action of active ingredients targeting a specific pest. Although both ingredients have chemical and biological activity, most studies on agricultural chemical toxicity focus on the active ingredient, assuming that inert ingredients are “nontoxic.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in regulating pesticides, assesses the toxicity of individual active ingredients on bees through various testing methods. However, there are no requirements for EPA to test inert ingredients to the same degree, despite evidence demonstrating these chemicals harm pollinators. Moreover, EPA does not require pesticide manufacturers to disclose the inert ingredients used in any product as the information is confidential. Both wild and commercial bees and other pollinators encounter multiple stressors, including pesticides, parasites, and poor nutrition, that act together to increase the risk of bee mortality. Therefore, reviews like these highlight the need for pesticide testing to consider the effects of all product ingredients, regardless of perceived toxicity. The researchers caution, “We argue that ‘inert’ ingredients […]

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Ecosystem Services Provided by Birds and Bees Synergize to Increase Farm Yield and Profit

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2022) The combined effects of insect pollination and natural pest control provided by birds synergize to improve yields and income for coffee farmers, finds research published this month in the journal PNAS. Ecosystem services – the positive benefits provided by ecosystems, wildlife, and their natural processes – underpin agricultural production, but are often analyzed in silos, on a case by case basis in the scientific literature. The current research finds that the quantitative benefits of ecosystem services can be greater when considering their interactive effects. “Until now, researchers have typically calculated the benefits of nature separately, and then simply added them up,” says lead author Alejandra Martínez-Salinas, PhD of Costa Rica’s Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE). “But nature is an interacting system, full of important synergies and trade-offs. We show the ecological and economic importance of these interactions, in one of the first experiments at realistic scales in actual farms.”   Researchers based their experiment in Costa Rica, working with 30 shade grown coffee farms owned by small landholders. Eight coffee plants on each farm were selected for the study. Pest control services provided by birds were assessed using a 20mm mesh screen that excludes […]

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International Aid Needed To Support Traditional and Organic, Not Chemical-Intensive, Agriculture

Monday, April 11th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2022) As the U.S. encourages the spread of chemical-intensive, industrialized agriculture, local farmers are increasingly pressured into giving up traditional agricultural practices in favor of monocultures to increase the demand  for agrichemical pesticides and fertilizers worldwide. This policy is promoted by the industry with vested economic interests as good for the U.S. economy, but it is not good for either planetary health or global food security. Instead, U.S. foreign aid agencies, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other agencies, should be supporting traditional practices and organic agriculture. Tell Congress and U.S. AID to support aid that promotes traditional and organic agriculture.  Industrial agriculture depends on monoculture—growing single crops that can be easily planted, fertilized, treated with pesticides, and harvested—especially on large-scale, mechanized farms. In spite of the perceived advantages of monoculture, however, it is a significant contributor to biodiversity loss and pollinator decline. Loss of biodiversity feeds the pesticide treadmill by removing predators and parasites who keep crop-feeding insects below damaging levels. The vast majority of crop plants depend on pollinators. Traditional agriculture, like organic agriculture, depends on interacting species. Most organic agriculture resembles monoculture piecewise, but integrates cover crops, hedgerows and other […]

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Broken Promises, Empty Pledges Leading to Irreversible Climate Disaster: UN Says It’s Now or Never

Friday, April 8th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2022) “The jury has reached a verdict. And it is damning. This report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world. We are on a fast track to climate disaster.” These words came from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement responding to the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report released on April 4. As a Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog headline virtually shouted in October 2021, “Climate Crisis, Soil, Pesticides, Fertilizers: Red alert! This is Not a Drill!” This IPCC report — Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change — is the third and final part of the panel’s latest review of climate science. It is informed by the work of thousands of scientists, and follows on the first two of the trio of reports that comprise the comprehensive Sixth Assessment Report. The first, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, from the IPCC Working Group I, was released on August 9, 2021. The second, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II, […]

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Industry, Money, and Politics Drive Legislation to Squelch Local Pesticide Restrictions

Thursday, April 7th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2022) Legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) last week would roll back, preempt, and prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting policies that protect resident health and a community’s unique local environments from hazardous pesticides. The bill, H.R.7266, is a direct attack on the scores of local communities that have enacted common sense safeguards from toxic pesticides, and represents the pesticide industry’s response to the growing momentum of the pesticide reform movement. Health and environmental advocates are expecting Rep. Davis and his partners in the agrichemical industry to attempt to work the provisions of the legislation into the upcoming 2023 farm bill. The industry had previously attempted to work federal preemption into the 2018 farm bill, an effort that ultimately failed after massive pushback from health advocates, local officials, and Congressional allies. Rep. Davis’ press release for the bill, in which he was joined with quotes from a range of agrichemical industry leaders, is titled “Davis Introduces Legislation to Prevent Liberal Local Governments from Banning or Restricting Pesticide Use,” striking a partisan tone. Caring about public and environmental health is typically not viewed as a liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican issue. Those monitoring local governments […]

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EPA Considers Future of Bee-Toxic Neonic Insecticides as Scientific Evidence Supports Ban

Monday, April 4th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 4, 2022) Recent actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highlight the urgent need to prevent pesticides from further endangering crucial pollinators, including birds, bees, and bats. Tell EPA To Ban Neonics and Protect Against Other Threats to Pollinators. Tell Congress To Insist that EPA Does Its Job. Despite EPA’s own findings of evidence of serious threats posed by neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides to pollinators, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife, it issued interim decisions on these neonics in January 2020 that disregard the science on the pesticides’ impacts and it appears that the agency is prepared to finalize these registrations late in 2022. This would, barring further action, extend the use of these harmful compounds for 15 years. Now is the time to let EPA know that continued use of neonicotinoids is unacceptable. Furthermore, building on a history of unenforceable and impractical pesticide label restrictions resulting in EPA findings of ludicrously small or no risk, the agency spun its approval of the continued use of the deadly organophosphate insecticide malathion as “protecting threatened and endangered species.” As the nation and world sit on the brink of biodiversity collapse and deadly pesticide-induced diseases, EPA actions continue to protect pesticide […]

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Coverup of Dog Deaths at EPA, According to Internal Emails on Seresto Flea and Tick Collars

Friday, April 1st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2022) According to reporting by E&E’s Greenwire, internal emails at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that career scientists at the agency expressed worry about pesticide-laced pet collars, such as the notorious Seresto flea and tick collars, but that EPA managers “instructed them to avoid documenting those worries in publicly accessible records.” The emails were released pursuant to a 2021 FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) lawsuit, brought by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), that sought records of internal communications. The documents evidence staff concern about the collars that has not been a part of EPA’s public communications on the subject. EPA staff, in the emails, expressed a range of degrees of outrage at managers’ behavior and at the very registration of the product, given the significant harms. Seresto collars are plastic pet collars embedded with pesticides designed to kill fleas, ticks, and lice; they contain the active ingredients flumethrin and imidacloprid. Flumethrin, a chemical in the pyrethroid class of synthetic neurotoxic insecticides, has been linked repeatedly to neurological issues, such as seizures and learning disabilities in children, to gastrointestinal distress, and to damage to nontarget invertebrates, according to EPA’s own analysis. Imidacloprid is a commonly used pesticide linked to […]

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Animals in Wildlife Sanctuaries at Greater Risk of Pesticide Exposure from Internal Agricultural Practices

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2022) An article by the Audubon Society covers ongoing advocacy to end pesticide spraying in wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges act as a sanctuary, providing habitat and protection essential for the survival and recovery of species nationwide. However, portions of the wildlife sanctuary can have agricultural uses, allowing farmers to cultivate crops on various acres, subsequently applying pesticides. Pesticide spraying in or around wildlife refuges threatens the survivability and recovery of species that inhabit the area. Moreover, many of these pesticides are highly toxic to human and animal health. Analyses like these are significant, especially since the globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to enforce policies that eliminate pesticide use in wildlife refuges. Ending pesticide applications in sanctuaries can protect the well-being of animals, humans, and the ecosystem. Hannah Connor, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), notes, “It’s not a huge economic driver of the refuge system, and it is truly problematic in terms of fulfilling its mission and goals[…]. That just means it should be […]

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Environmentalists Outraged at Probability that EPA Will Allow Continued Use of Deadly Pesticides, the Neonicotinoids

Friday, March 25th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2022) Recent coverage by The Guardian of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan — to extend the registration of several demonstrably harmful neonicotinoid insecticides — compels Beyond Pesticides to identify, once again, the agency’s failures to enact its core mission. That mission is “to protect human health and the environment,” and to ensure that “national efforts to reduce environmental risks are based on the best available scientific information.” EPA has undertaken a review of the registration of several members of the neonicotinoid (neonic) family of pesticides and, despite the agency’s own findings of evidence of serious threats to pollinators, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife, it issued interim decisions on these neonics in January 2020 that disregard the science on the pesticides’ impacts. EPA appears to be prepared to finalize these registrations late in 2022; this would, barring further action, extend the use of these harmful compounds for 15 years. Neonics are used widely in the U.S., both on crops to kill sucking insects, and as seed treatments with the same goal for the developing plant. These insecticides are systemic compounds, meaning that once applied, they travel to all parts of a plant through the vascular […]

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Pesticide Drift or Chemical Trespass Continue Uncontrolled, Despite Successful Litigation

Friday, March 18th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2022) A 2020 lawsuit related to pesticide drift was resolved on March 8, 2022 in San Joaquin (California) Superior Court with the finding that Alpine Helicopter Services, which specializes in pesticide applications for government and tourism entities, had violated pesticide drift laws and endangered public health and safety. The court further found Alpine liable for damage related to its actions, though penalties in the case, brought by California state prosecutors and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), have yet to be determined. The case exposes a handful of the many instances of pesticide drift, also known as “chemical trespass,” that occur every year in the U.S. In 2004, Beyond Pesticides covered the issue with Getting the Drift on Chemical Trespass; its monitoring of drift issues is ongoing, as can be seen in its “Pesticide Drift” archives. The long history of nontarget exposure, contamination, and poisoning teaches that drift is a function of pesticide use, but not considered adequately by regulators who allow the marketing of poisons that are known to move through the environment uncontrolled. Cases like the Alpine case highlight a relentless problem associated with the daily use of pesticides. Pesticide drift is any airborne […]

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Monoculture Rice Production Outperformed by Traditional Techniques that Integrate Aquatic Animals

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2022) Adding animal diversity to rice paddy farms reduces weed pressure, increases food production, and makes fertilizer use more efficient, according to a study published late last month in the journal eLife. As chemical-dependent, industrialized agriculture has spread across the world, local farmers are increasingly pressured into eschewing traditional agricultural practices in favor of monocultures in an attempt to meet the demands of global markets. This one-size-fits-all approach oversimplifies the interdependency within ecosystems, failing to incorporate the complexity of nature that many traditional and organic practices embrace. As the present study shows, research and investment into systems that promote natural diversity can provide insights that allow these approaches to leapfrog the chemical-dependent, monoculture paradigm of industrial agriculture. Rice paddy fields are intentionally flooded, and crops are often grown in shallow water. In industrialized fields, monocultures of rice are planted out, and fertilizers and weed killers are applied at regular intervals. However, many traditional rice farmers around the world integrate aquatic animals into their paddies. In the present experiment, researchers conducted a 4-year long evaluation comparing the benefits of monoculture production against co-cultures of rice and aquatic animals. Co-culturing animals and rice differs slightly from traditional practices […]

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Despite Past Findings of Insecticide’s Threat to 1,284 Species, EPA Reverses and Allows Continued Use

Friday, March 11th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2022) With a history of unenforceable and impractical pesticide label restrictions resulting in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) findings of ludicrously small or no risk, the agency is at it again with its latest announcement that allows the continued use of the deadly organophosphate insecticide malathion. This just the latest example of what advocates see as an irresponsible federal agency falling far short, as the nation and world sit on the brink of biodiversity collapse and deadly pesticide-induced diseases.   In a head-spinning development, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on March 8 its final Biological Opinion (BiOp) on malathion, which opinion claims that the commonly used insecticide poses no extinction risk to any protected animal or plant. The FWS review and BiOp are part of EPA’s evaluation of whether malathion — an organophosphate insecticide that causes serious damage to many organisms — should retain its registration. The Executive Summary of the BiOp concludes: “Our findings suggest that no proposed species or candidate species would experience species-level effects from the action [i.e., registration and thus, permitted use of malathion], and, therefore, are not likely to be jeopardized. We also conclude the proposed action is not […]

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Pesticide Use on Crops for Meat and Dairy Feed Further Threatens Endangered Species

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2022) A report by the Independent finds chemical-intensive farming of crops for animal feed puts thousands of endangered species at risk. U.S. farmlands use more than 235 million pounds of pesticide (i.e., herbicides and insecticides) solely for animal feed production, many of which are highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs). Several HHP hazard categories include acutely toxic, chronic health hazards, and environmental hazards. Therefore, animal feed production intensifies global pollution, increases pesticide exposure, and degrades human, animal, and ecological health.  Although the report demonstrates a need to eliminate toxic pesticide use for the sake of human, animal, and ecosystem health, it will take more than eliminating the worst chemicals to address the impending biodiversity collapse and the climate crisis. Experts highlight the need for an urgent shift to organic land and agricultural management practices. The study notes, “These pesticides are taking a toll on our environment and biodiversity. Endangered species like the highly imperiled whooping crane, monarch butterflies, all species of salmon, the rusty-patched bumble bee, the San Joaquin kit fox, and the northern long-eared bat, as examples, all face significant threats from industrial agricultural operations and the chemicals applied. In order to conserve biodiversity and better protect vulnerable species and their habitats, […]

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PFAS Adds to the Legacy of Persistent Toxics Hurting Generations of People and the Environment

Friday, February 18th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2022) A new analysis conducted by Safer States, and reported on by Environmental Health News (EHN), concludes that in 2022, at least 32 states will consider 210 potential laws to ban or restrict one category of so-called “legacy” chemicals — the PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) family of compounds. “Legacy” or “forever” chemicals are those whose historical use, including many decades ago in some instances, has led to their toxic persistence in the environment and in organisms. In recent years, scientists, health and environment advocates, and policy makers have begun to recognize these as very serious contaminants, and to call attention to their ubiquity and impacts. Beyond Pesticides has identified multiple instances of such “legacies” (including those related to the production of pesticides and particularly, the infamous DDT), and will here discuss both PFAS, and concerns about such legacy chemicals as they may impact food producers. The term “legacy” often connotes the ongoing influence or impact — generally salutary — of an individual’s activity, or a set of principles or activity inherited from one’s forebears. It is an apt description, minus the “salutary” part, for legacy chemicals — toxic “gifts that keep on giving” via persistent contamination […]

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Review Provides New Insight into How Pesticide Exposure Disrupts Bee Gut Microbiome

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2022) Pesticide exposure disturbs the gut microbiome of social bees, leading to a range of alterations that could affect fitness in the wild, finds a major literature review recently published by researchers at the University of Ottawa, Canada. With research on bee gut microbiomes is still in its infancy, the review provides a centralized overview of data collected to date, and highlights areas for further research to fill in remaining knowledge gaps. “Social bees have gut microbiotas that contribute to their health, just like we (humans) do,” said Michelle Hotchkiss, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Science at the University of Ottawa. “Further research on the interactions between pesticides, bee gut microbiotas, and bee hosts will help us better understand how pesticides affect bee health and performance.” To conduct their review, scientists collected research relating to bee gut over the last 50 years. “The earliest studies we found were published in the 1970s and the most recent ones in 2020,” said Dr. Hotchkiss. “We summarized what methods were used to collect data, including which bee hosts and pesticides were examined. To summarize how the abundances of core microbes changed after pesticide exposure, we looked at […]

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USDA Food Pesticide Residue Survey Raises Alarm, while Pesticide Industry and EPA Mislead Public

Friday, February 4th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2022) In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its 30th Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary report (which evaluates each year the presence of pesticide residues on produce) and misleads the public on the safety of food and agricultural practices. This 2020 report concludes that more than 99% of the produce samples tested showed residues below established U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) benchmark levels. At first blush, this sounds very reassuring, but Beyond Pesticides maintains that there is (always) more to the “safety” story, not least of which are serious deficiencies in EPA’s establishment of those “tolerances.” Those flaws include a lack of risk assessment for vulnerable sub-populations, such as farmworkers, people with compromised health, children, and perhaps, cultural/ethnic and regional sub-groups of the general population, and a failure to fully assess serious health outcomes such as disruption of the endocrine system (which contributes to numerous serious diseases). For everyone, Beyond Pesticides recommends choosing organic produce whenever possible — the vast majority of which does not contain synthetic pesticide residues. The PDP report asserts that “the data . . . illustrate that residues found in agricultural products sampled are at levels that do not pose […]

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