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24
Feb

Alarming World-Wide Rise of Genetically Engineered Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2011) After 15 years of commercialization, accumulated Genetically Engineered (GE) crops in the world exceeded 1 billion hectares in 2010. For comparison, 1 billion hectares is roughly equivalent to the vast land area of China, or of the United States. The figures are in this year’s International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) report, out this week. Of the four most commonly planted GE crops, a rising percentage of the total of all plantings are GE. In 2010, 81% of all soybeans, 64% of cotton, 29% of corn and 23% of canola globally were from biotech seeds, the ISAAA says.

“Growth remains strong, with biotech hectare increasing 14 million hectares — or 10 percent – between 2009 and 2010,” said Clive James, chairman and founder of ISAAA. “That’s the second highest annual hectare growth ever – bringing 2010 global plantings to 148 million hectares.”

Unfortunately, the situation does not look brighter for this upcoming year due to the recent decision from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow the U.S. sugar beet industry to continue growing Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready,” GE sugar beets and the recent decision to deregulate GE alfalfa seed, despite the risks they pose to both organic and conventional farmers. On February 7, Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, Sierra Club and Cornucopia Institute formally filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the agency concerning its decision to allow unrestricted deregulation of GE alfalfa.

Center for Food Safety’s senior attorney and counsel for the lawsuit to be filed against the USDA regarding GE alfalfa and past lawsuit regarding GE sugarbeets, George Kimbrell, is scheduled to speak at Beyond Pesticides’ 29th National Pesticide Forum, “Sustainable Community – Practical solutions for health and the environment http://www.beyondpesticides.org/forum/index.htm ,” April 8-9 in Denver, CO. Among other cases, Mr. Kimbrell was counsel in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms (2010), the first case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on the impacts of GE crops.

For the first time, in 2010, the ten largest GE crop growing countries all had more than 1 million hectares in production. In hectare rank order, they include: USA (66.8 million), Brazil (25.4 million), Argentina (22.9 million), India (9.4 million), Canada (8.8 million), China (3.5 million), Paraguay (2.6 million), Pakistan (2.4 million), South Africa (2.2 million) and Uruguay (1.1 million).

For the second consecutive year, Brazil had the world’s largest year-over-year increase in absolute biotech crop plantings, adding 4 million hectares in 2010 — a 19 percent increase — to grow a total of 25.4 million hectares. However, the United States leads Brazil in total cropland devoted to biotech crops. Australia saw the largest proportional year-on-year increase in biotech crop plantings at 184 percent. Burkina Faso followed at 126 percent growth with 80,000 farmers planting 260,000 hectares, a 65 percent adoption rate.

“Developing countries grew 48 percent of global biotech crops in 2010 and will exceed industrialized nations in their plantings of GE crops by 2015,” said James. “Clearly, the countries of Latin America and Asia will drive the most dramatic increases in global hectares planted to biotech crops during the remainder of the technology’s second decade of commercialization.”

The five principal developing countries growing GE crops – China, India, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa – planted 63 million hectares of biotech crops in 2010, equivalent to 43 percent of the global total. All told, 19 of the 29 countries that have adopted biotech crops are developing nations, which grew at a rate of 17 percent or 10.2 million hectares over 2009 compared to only 5 percent growth or 3.8 million hectares in industrialized countries.

Developing nations are adopting these methods in the hopes of lowering food prices and reducing poverty and hunger in their nations. However, the findings of a comprehensive United Nation’s assessment of world agriculture, International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), concluded that GE crops have little potential to alleviate poverty and hunger in the world. IAASTD experts recommended instead low-cost, low-input agro ecological farming methods.

“U.S. farmers are facing dramatic increases in the price of Genetically Modified (GM) seeds and the chemicals used with them,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the US-based Center for Food Safety and co-author of the report. “Farmers in any developing country that welcomes Monsanto and other biotech companies can expect the same fate – sharply rising seed and pesticide costs, and a radical decline in the availability of conventional seeds.”

Meanwhile, biotech propaganda has obscured the huge potential of low-cost agro ecological and organic techniques to increase food production and alleviate hunger in developing countries. The report mentions several such projects, such as push-pull maize farming, practiced by 10,000 farmers in east Africa. The enormously successful push-pull system controls weed and insect pests without chemicals, increases maize production, and raises the income of smallholder farmers.

Producers of genetically engineered crops claim they will reduce pesticide use and increase drought resistance, among other things, but many studies have emerged since their widespread adoption in the 1990s showing otherwise. Insect resistance, weed resistance (the development of “super weeds”), and cross contamination of other crops have been documented. These impacts threaten the sustainability of agriculture.

Beyond Pesticides believes that whether it is the incorporation into food crops of genes from a natural bacterium (Bt) or the development of a herbicide-resistant crop, the GE approach to pest management is short sighted and dangerous. There are serious public health and pest resistance problems associated with GE crops. Beyond Pesticides’ goal is to push for labeling as a means of identifying products that contain GE ingredients, seek to educate on the public health and environmental consequences of this technology and generate support for sound ecological-based management systems.

For more information on GE crops please see Beyond Pesticides page on Genetic Engineering.

Source: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) Brief 42-2010: Press Release

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23
Feb

EPA Rejects Immediate Action On Pesticide Toxic To Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2011) In response to a request by beekeepers and environmentalists to remove a pesticide linked to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a letter, defended the pesticide clothianidin and the scientific study in question which was identified by beekeepers as a critically flawed study. EPA states that it does not intend to suspend or cancel clothianidin, even though independent studies have linked this chemical and others in its class to bee decline.

Beyond Pesticides, as a part of a group of environmentalists and beekeepers, broke the news last December that a core study underpinning the registration of the insecticide clothianidin was unsound, citing leaked EPA memos which discloses the critically flawed scientific study and its reclassification as a “core” study on which clothianidin’s conditional registration was contingent on, to a “supplemental” study. Bayer CropSceicne, manufacturer of clothianidin designed and submitted to study to EPA as part of clothianidin’s registration requirement. Beekeepers claim that the initial field study guidelines, which the Bayer study failed to satisfy, were insufficiently rigorous to test whether or not clothianidin contributes to CCD in a real-world scenario: the field test evaluated the wrong crop, over an insufficient time period and with inadequate controls. In a letter dated December 8, 2010, Beyond Pesticides, beekeepers and other groups called for an immediate stop-use order on the pesticide while the science is redone, and redesigned in partnership with practicing beekeepers.

EPA rejects these concerns and stands-by its continued registration of clothianidin. According to the letter, the agency asserts “we are not aware of any data that reasonably demonstrates that bee colonies are subject to elevated losses due to chronic exposure to this pesticide.” Although deficiencies in the study were known by the agency, the study “does not change the agency’s conclusion..”

According to beekeeper Jeff Anderson, who has testified before EPA on the topic, “The Bayer study is fatally flawed. It was an open field study with control and test plots of about 2 acres each. Bees typically forage at least 2 miles out from the hive, so it is likely they didn’t ingest much of the treated crops. And corn, not canola, is the major pollen-producing crop that bees rely on for winter nutrition. This is a critical point because we see hive losses mainly after over-wintering, so there is something going on in these winter cycles. It’s as if they designed the study to avoid seeing clothianidin’s effects on hive health.”

Clothianidin is of the neonicotinoid family of systemic pesticides, which are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen, nectar and gutation droplets from which bees then forage and drink. Scientists are concerned about the mix and cumulative effects of the multiple pesticides bees are exposed to in these ways. Neonicotinoids are of particular concern because they have cumulative, sublethal effects on insect pollinators that correspond to CCD symptoms – namely, neurobehavioral and immune system disruptions. Clothianidin has been on the market since 2003. With a soil half-life of up to 19 years in heavy soils, and over a year in the lightest of soils, commercial beekeepers are concerned that clothianidin will have long lasting impacts on their hives.

According to James Frazier, PhD., professor of entomology at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, who is scheduled to speak at the 29th National Pesticide Forum, Sustainable Community: Practical solutions for health and the environment, April 8-9 at the Colorado School of Public Health in Denver (Aurora), Colorado, “Among the neonicotinoids, clothianidin is among those most toxic for honey bees; and this combined with its systemic movement in plants has produced a troubling mix of scientific results pointing to its potential risk for honey bees through current agricultural practices. Our own research indicates that systemic pesticides occur in pollen and nectar in much greater quantities than has been previously thought, and that interactions among pesticides occurs often and should be of wide concern.” Dr. Frazier said that the most prudent course of action would be to take the pesticide off the market while the flawed study is being redone.

Research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Bee Research Laboratory and Penn State University shows that the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid -a cousin to clothianidin, contribute, at extremely low levels– to bee deaths and possibly colony collapse disorder (CCD), the widespread disappearance of honey bees that has killed off more than a third of commercial honey bees in the U.S. This is the first study to show that neonicotinoids impact the survival of bees at levels below the level of detection, meaning that field studies would not have considered the role of the pesticide, because they would not have detected it.

Clothianidin is Bayer’s successor product to imidacloprid, which recently went off patent. Both are known to be toxic to insect pollinators, and are lead suspects as causal factors in CCD. Together, the two products accounted for over a billion dollars in sales for Bayer Crop Science in 2009. Imidacloprid is the company’s best-selling product and among the most widely used insecticides in the U.S.

Additional Information:
Clothianidin & CCD Fact Sheet
Beyond Pesticides Pollinators Program Page

Source: EPA

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22
Feb

Antibacterial Soap Suspected of Making Patients Sick

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2011) After witnessing a patient’s condition improve upon discontinuing the use of antibacterial products containing the active ingredient triclosan, Gerard Guillory, M.D. of Denver, Colorado believes that several of his patients are experiencing health problems caused by daily exposure to the chemical. Dr. Guillory told local ABC 7 News: Denver Channel that he was treating his patient, Mary Lou Simanovich, for hyperthyroidism and asked her about antibacterial soap, which she had been using for years. After Ms. Simanovich stopped using soaps containing triclosan, both she and Dr. Guillory noticed improvements in her condition and overall health.

“I feel better now. That’s all I can say and I think there’s an association,” said Ms. Simanovich to the Denver Channel.

Antibacterial agents like triclosan, found in many antibacterial products, are linked to a host of adverse health and environmental effects including hormone disruption, possible impaired fetal development, and water and food contamination. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones and is also shown to alter thyroid function.

“My suspicion is that if it’s damaging the thyroid, it’s probably damaging other organs in the body,” said Dr. Guillory to the Denver Channel.

Triclosan is one of the most detected chemicals in U.S. waterways; about 96 percent of triclosan from consumer products is disposed of in residential drains. This leads to large loads of the chemical in water entering wastewater treatment plants, which are incompletely removed during the wastewater treatment process. When treated wastewater is released to the environment, sunlight converts some of the triclosan (and related compounds) into various forms of dioxins. Due to its extensive use in consumer goods, triclosan and its metabolites are present in, fish, umbilical cord blood and human milk. A recent study shows that triclosan from sewage sludge can be taken up by soybean plants and translocated into the beans themselves, then consumed by people and animals. The Centers for Disease Control in an updated National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals notes that triclosan, found in the bodies of 75% of those tested, shows levels in people increasing by over 41% between just the years 2004 and 2006.

The good news is that antibacterial products available to consumers like antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers are no more effective at killing germs than regular soap and water and they do not provide any added health benefits over regular soap. A systematic review of research assessing the risks and potential benefits associated with the use of soaps containing triclosan found that data do not support the effectiveness of triclosan for reducing infectious disease symptoms or bacterial counts on the hands when used at the concentrations commonly found in consumer antibacterial hand soaps. In fact, the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Scientific Affairs reported in 2000 that, “There is little evidence to support the use of antimicrobials in consumer products such as topical hand lotions and soaps.”

This chemical is currently under scrutiny at the FDA and is the focus of petitions submitted to both FDA and EPA calling for its ban after numerous developments on the antibacterial pesticide triclosan in consumer products over the last year. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published for public comment the petition to ban triclosan submitted by Beyond Pesticides, in partnership with Food and Water Watch and 80 other groups. The petition cites the mounting scientific evidence detailing triclosan’s threat to human health and the environment. The public has until April 8th, 2011 to tell EPA to ban this dangerous chemical.

TAKE ACTION!
Support Beyond Pesticides’ petition to ban triclosan:

Click here to send an email directly to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. The link (sponsored by Organic Consumers Association) sends an automated message to Lisa Jackson, or;

Submit your own comments to the docket directly by clicking here. Fill in the form to submit your comments to the Federal Register (this method offers different levels of privacy). For a more impactful statement, use your own language.

Want to do more? We are looking for individuals to complete this short, multiple choice survey. Please share the survey (http://triclosan.questionpro.com) with your family and friends, as well as any relevant blogs or email lists. It is important to educate the public and see an accurate picture of consumer knowledge and preference.

You can also join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge to stop using triclosan today. Avoid products containing triclosan, and encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan.

Source: ABC 7 News, Denver

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18
Feb

Danish Government Agrees to Reduce Pesticides on Golf Courses

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2011) The Danish government has announced that it has reached an agreement that aims to phase out pesticide use on golf courses throughout the country. The agreement, which was made between the Danish Government, the Danish People’s Party, the Social Democrats, the Socialist People’s Party and the Danish Social-Liberal Party, seeks to replace the present ”Agreement on the golf courses of the future” dating from June 2005. It states that the long-term objective is a phasing-out of the consumption of pesticides on Danish golf courses coupled with increases in education regarding pesticide-neutral care utilizing alternative methods, such as mechanical weed control.

Part of the agreement involves an evaluation of the results achieved so far, to be carried out before the end of 2014, in order to inform efforts to tighten the requirements. The partial aim of the 2005 agreement was that, before the end of 2008, the use of pesticides on golf courses should be reduced to 0.1 kg of active ingredient per hectare (ha). As part of the 2005 agreement, golf courses were to submit their pesticide use data in the form of annual “green accounts” to The Danish Golf Union, which has advocated for stronger environmental practices. The Union’s analysis of these accounts has revealed a 2008 consumption of 0.23 kg/ha, and 0.24 kg/ha for 2009, equivalent to a total consumption on Danish golf courses of 2.5 tonnes of active agent. All parties agreed that this is not satisfactory.

The 2005 agreement was a solely voluntary effort to reduce usage, but under the new agreement, it will be replaced by binding regulations regarding golf organizations’ use of pesticides. The regulations are to be based on the following principles, outlined in the agreement:

1. Golf is an important part of Danish sporting activities; but, for the sake of human health and the environment, the pesticide consumption in the golf organizations must be minimized. Hence, the Minister for the Environment will initiate an external expert evaluation for the purpose of determining the lowest possible level of pesticide consumption on Danish golf courses, still allowing the feasibility of continued operation of the courses.

2. Regulations, subject to which only the appliance of low-risk pesticides shall be allowed on golf courses and other public areas, will be implemented. Risk factors will be determined using a benchmarking system based on the health and environment properties of the individual pesticides.

3. The current partial aim of 0.1 kg active agent per ha will be replaced by the establishment of a new cap scheme for the use of pesticides on golf courses based on the pesticides’ factual strain on health and environment. The ceiling imposed will be determined on the basis of the expert opinion provided subject to clause 1 and will be calculated using the benchmarking system referred to under clause 2. This will urge the golf clubs to apply the pesticides of lowest impact in each individual case. In consideration of the historic reference, the consumption will still be stated in kilos of active agent per ha.

4. In consideration of the consumers, an investigation will be carried out for the purpose of assessing the feasibility of preparing a public statement of the pesticide consumption at the individual courses.

Following these goals, the Danish Minister of the Environment introduced a bill in January 2011 proposing an amendment to the existing chemical law. The bill would authorize subsequent regulations that would impose binding requirements on Danish golf courses with respect to their use of pesticides.

The parties also agreed that it is essential to follow-up on golf course pesticide consumption and continue to monitor usage. In 2011, the Chemical Inspection Service the Danish Environmental Protection Agency will repeat its inspection to determine the extent to which the golf clubs apply pesticides which are restricted, and will refer violators to authorities.

The new regulations will be initiated as an element of Denmark’s implementation of the European Union (EU) framework directive on sustainable application of pesticides (Directive 2009/128/EC). This directive imposes an obligation on EU Member States to ensure that, in consideration of risks and impacts of the use of pesticides on human health and the environment, the use of pesticides shall be minimized or banned in areas used by the general public, including sports grounds and public parks. Member states must implement this directive no later than November 26, 2011.

Golf courses around the world, including many in the United States, tend to hold themselves to a high standard, when it comes to maintaining the thick perfectly manicured and weed free turf on greens and fairways. To attain this standard, golf course superintendents rely on a toxic assortment of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and other chemicals. These practices have been linked to numerous diseases in humans including cancer, as well as damage to local wildlife. In recent years, however, golf course managers have begun to work with environmental experts to maintain their greens in ways that are less damaging to the environment and human health.

Many conventional golf course managers argue that synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are necessary to maintain healthy looking grass, and an organic approach is not viable. However, Beyond Pesticides and other environmental and public health groups disagree, maintaining that, instead of relying on large amounts of synthetic chemicals to make turf appear healthy, managers should instead focus on creating healthy soils. Healthy soils create an environment for healthier turf that are less vulnerable to weeds and diseases. In addition, as pesticide use declines, biodiversity increases. This can naturally reduce the populations of various pests. Leading golf courses, such as Bethpage State Park are proving that they can have fast greens and outstanding playing conditions without the massive load of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Beyond Pesticides has served on a steering committee that seeks to develop a collaborative strategy with the golf course industry in an effort to effect change. This group developed the Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the U.S. Increasingly, players and golf course managers are asking the right questions and looking for answers that result in meaningful reductions in pesticide use. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Lawns and Landscapes and Golf and the Environment project pages.

Source: Danish Golf Union

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17
Feb

Report Shows Government-Industry Conflict in Pesticide Research

(Beyond Pesticides, February 17, 2011) According to a recent investigative report, a company known for conducting scientific research for the pesticide industry has, in an attempt to refute research linking pesticides to Parkinson’s disease, paid a U.S. government agency, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), to prove that certain pesticides are safe. According to the report, the company, Exponent Inc., is a member of CropLife America, a trade group that represents pesticide manufacturers, and also has worked regularly for Syngenta, which makes paraquat, one of the chemicals it is looking prove as safe. Specifically, the company is looking to refute the research which shows that even small amounts of agricultural chemicals, maneb and paraquat, when combined, can raise the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

According to the report, managing scientist of Exponent, Laura McIntosh, PhD, said in an interview that the company donated the money and sought participation at NIOSH to enhance the credibility of its study of maneb and paraquat; they wanted to make their research “bulletproof.”

NIOSH is a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Generally, government agencies are supposed to be unbiased, and federal ethics rules prohibit employees from accepting money from businesses relating to their jobs. Exponent got around this by donating $60,000 to the CDC Foundation, is an independent 501(c)(3) charity, which then passed the money over to NIOSH.

“We have a professional money-laundering facility at the Centers for Disease Control Foundation” quotes James O’Callaghan, PhD in the report. Dr. O’Callaghan is the NIOSH researcher running the government’s part of the project. “They accept projects from anyone on the outside.”

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects one to two percent of people over the age of 65. Sufferers have tremors, sluggish movement, muscle stiffness, and difficulty with balance. Although medical treatments may improve symptoms, there are none that can slow down or halt the progression of the disease.

Yesterday, we reported that new research shows a link between the use of two pesticides, rotenone and paraquat, and Parkinson’s disease. People who used either pesticide developed Parkinson’s disease approximately 2.5 times more often than non-users. This research supports earlier research demonstrating a link between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease. Pesticides have been long suspected to be tied to Parkinson’s partly because of the high rate of the disease among farmworkers. Scientists have also been aware for many years that both paraquat and rotenone are neurotoxins that, when given to animals, reproduce features of Parkinson’s in the brain. Previous findings show that exposure to pesticides within 500 meters of an individual’s home increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s by 75 percent.

For more information, read Beyond Pesticides’ report “Pesticides Trigger Parkinson’s Disease,” a review of published toxicological and epidemiological studies that link exposure to pesticides, as well as gene-pesticide interactions, to Parkinson’s disease.

Additionally, Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database captures the range of diseases linked to pesticides through epidemiologic studies. The database, which currently contains 383 entries of epidemiologic and laboratory exposure studies, will be continually updated to track the emerging findings and trends.

Source: Investigative Reporting Workshop, American University School of Communication and Politics Daily

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16
Feb

New Studies Reveal Many Pesticides Block Male Hormones, Others Linked To Parkinson’s Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2011) Many agricultural pesticides –including some previously untested and commonly found in food– disrupt male hormones, according to new tests conducted by British scientists. Meanwhile, U.S. researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found that people who used two specific varieties of pesticide were 2.5 times as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

Pesticides Impact Male Hormones

Evidence suggests that there is widespread decline in male reproductive health and anti-androgenic pollutants, also known as endocrine disruptors, may play a significant role. Thirty out of 37 pesticides tested by the researchers at the University of London altered male hormones, including 16 that had no known hormonal activity until now. There was some previous evidence for the other 14. Most are fungicides applied to fruit and vegetable crops, including strawberries and lettuce. The study, “Widely Used Pesticides with Previously Unknown Endocrine Activity Revealed as in Vitro Anti-Androgens,” is published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The British researchers screened the chemicals using in vitro assays, which use human cells to check whether the pesticides activate or inhibit hormone receptors in cells that turn genes on and off. Scientists, however, are uncertain what actually happens in the human body at the concentrations of chemicals that people encounter in fruits and vegetables. Fetuses and infants are particularly at risk when exposed in the womb or through breast milk because the hormones control masculinization of the reproductive tract.

Of the tested compounds, the most potent in terms of blocking androgens is the insecticide fenitrothion, an organophosphate insecticide used on orchard fruits, grains, rice, vegetables and other crops. Others with hormonal activity include fludioxonil, fenhexamid, dimethomorph and imazalil, which are all fungicides. Fungicides are often applied close to harvest, so they are frequently found as residue in food. Some are new compounds which have been used for only a few years. Fungicides are typically applied as mixtures in order to increase effectiveness and prevent development of resistant strains and, therefore, human exposure to mixtures of these in vitro anti-androgens may be considerable. For six of the pesticides that showed hormonal activity for the first time, the authors said they “strongly recommend” the next round of testing, using lab animals. “Due to estimated anti-androgenic potency, current use, estimated exposure, and lack of previous data, we strongly recommend that dimethomorph, fludioxonil, fenhexamid, imazalil, ortho-phenylphenol and pirimiphos-methyl be tested for anti-androgenic effects in vivo.” For the first four pesticides, they called it “a matter of urgency.” They are used on strawberries, lettuce, grapes and other fruits and vegetables.

Some research has linked pesticides to abnormal genitals in baby boys, such as cryptorchidism and hypospadias, and decreased sperm counts in men. Male fertility is thought to be declining in many countries, and testicular cancer is increasing. Some scientists have dubbed this compilation of male disorders “testicular dysgenesis syndrome,” and suggested that hormone-disrupting environmental contaminants play a role.

“This study indicates that, not surprisingly, there are many other endocrine disruptors that we have not yet identified or know very little about,” said Emily Barrett, PhD, a University of Rochester assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology who was not involved in the study. “This underlines the glaring problem that many of the chemicals that are most widely used today, including pesticides, are simply not adequately tested and may have serious long-term impacts on health and development,” said Dr. Barrett.

The findings come as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) faces opposition from the pesticide industry after expanding its Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, which requires testing of about 200 chemicals found in food and drinking water to see if they interfere with estrogen, androgens or thyroid hormones. None of the 16 pesticides with the newly discovered hormonal activity is included in the EPA’s program, which means they are not currently being screened. In 2009, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced The Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act of 2009 [H.R. 4190] in Congress to explore linkages between hormone disrupting chemicals in the environment and everyday products and the dramatic increase of autism, hyperactivity, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer and other hormone related disorders. In 2010, The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned EPA to establish new water-quality criteria for numerous endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) under the Clean Water Act. If adopted, it will be a big step in regulating and eliminating persistent and widespread chemicals that damage reproductive functions in wildlife and humans

For more information on Endocrine Disruptors, please see Beyond Pesticides’ Endocrine Disruption brochure and Fact Sheet: Pesticides That Disrupt Endocrine System Still Unregulated by EPA.

Theo Colborn, PhD will be a keynote speaker at the 29th National Pesticide Forum April 8-9 in Denver, CO. Dr. Colburn has been honored by Time magazine as a global Environmental Hero, Dr. Colborn is co-author of Our Stolen Future and president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX).

Study Confirms Pesticides, Parkinson’s Disease Link

New research released shows a link between the use of two pesticides, rotenone and paraquat, and Parkinson’s disease. People who used either pesticide developed Parkinson’s disease approximately 2.5 times more often than non-users. This research, “Rotenone, Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease,” out of the National Institutes of Health, supports earlier research demonstrating a link between the two pesticides and Parkinson’s disease. Pesticides are long suspected of being tied to Parkinson’s, at least in part, because of the high rate of the disease among farmworkers. Scientists have also been aware for many years that both paraquat and rotenone are neurotoxins that, when given to animals, reproduce features of Parkinson’s in the brain. Previous findings show that exposure to pesticides within 500 meters of an individual’s home increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s by 75 percent.

The authors studied 110 people with Parkinson’s disease and 358 matched controls from the Farming and Movement Evaluation (FAME) Study to investigate the relationship between Parkinson’s disease and exposure to pesticides or other agents that are toxic to nerve tissue. FAME is a case-control study that is part of the larger Agricultural Health Study, a study of farming and health in approximately 90,000 licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses. The investigators diagnosed Parkinson’s disease by agreement of movement disorder specialists and assessed the lifelong use of pesticides using detailed interviews.

Paraquat is a weedkiller that is known to increase the production of certain proteins in the brain that damages cells that produce dopamine. People with Parkinson’s have a dopamine shortage that causes the motor problems, muscle tremors, and rigidity that characterize Parkinson’s. Rotenone inhibits the function of mitochondria in the brain, which is responsible for regenerating certain brain cells. Both pesticides are largely restricted, due to concerns about links to Parkinson’s. Paraquat is restricted to certified applicators and rotenone is only permitted to kill invasive fish species.

For more information, read Beyond Pesticides’ report “Pesticides Trigger Parkinson’s Disease,” a review of published toxicological and epidemiological studies that link exposure to pesticides, as well as gene-pesticide interactions, to Parkinson’s disease.

The Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database captures the range of diseases linked to pesticides through epidemiologic studies. The database, which currently contains 383 entries of epidemiologic and laboratory exposure studies, will be continually updated to track the emerging findings and trends.


Sources:
Environmental Health News
Associated Free Press

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15
Feb

More Speakers Announced – Sustainable Community Conference, April 8-9 in Denver

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2011) What do an organic CEO, the lawyer leading the fight to ban GE alfalfa, a scientist who linked pesticide exposure to ADHD, and a beekeeper who exposed leaked EPA documents have in common? They will all be speaking at Sustainable Community: Practical solutions for health and the environment, the 29th National Pesticide Forum, April 8-9 at the Colorado School of Public Health in Denver (Aurora), Colorado. This national environmental conference will cover topics such as pesticides and health, pollinators, organic food and farming, genetically engineered crops, healthy communities, organic land care, non-toxic bed bug control, and more.

The event is open to the public and registration starts at $35. Limited scholarships are available, contact Beyond Pesticides for information.

Speaker highlights (see full list)

Maria Rodale – author of Organic Manifesto, CEO of Rodale Inc. -publisher of Organic Gardening and Prevention magazines, and co-chair of the research-based Rodale Institute’s board of directors.

Dana Boyd Barr, PhD – Emory University researcher whose studies have linked pesticide exposure to ADHD and other learning problems, reduced birth weight, diminished sperm quality and more.

Theo Colborn, PhD – honored by Time magazine as a global Environmental Hero, Dr. Colborn is co-author of Our Stolen Future and president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX).

James Frazier, PhD – professor of entomology at Penn State University leading the national research into the disappearance of honeybees, known as colony collapse disorder (CCD).

George Kimbrell – Center for Food Safety lawyer leading the fight to ban genetically engineered alfalfa, sugar beets, and more.

Lani Malmberg – the self-described “gypsy” goat herder combating invasive weeds and restoring the land across 10 western states.

Marygael Meister – backyard beekeeper and founder of the urban beekeeping group Denver Bee who helped change the law to leagalize urban beekeeping in Denver.

Chip Osborne – founder and president of Osborne Organics, Mr. Osborne is a nationally-recognized expert in organic turf management.

Christine Parks, PhD – epidemiologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) focused on the link between pesticides and autoimmune disorders.

Benjamin Ross, PhD – author of The Polluters: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment, an acclaimed book detailing the history of the chemical industry and its undue influence on policy.

Timothy Scott – author of Invasive Plant Medicine: The Ecological Benefits and Healing Abilities of Invasives.

Tom Theobald – the beekeeper who exposed a leaked EPA memo disclosing a critically flawed science was used to register (legalize) the bee-killing pesticide clothianidin.

Changlu Wang, PhD – an entomologist and extension specialist at Rutgers University and national expert in environmentally-friendly on bed bug control and pesticide resistance.

Registration

Recession Rate: $35 (grassroots activists and Colorado residents), Student/Senior Rate: $35, Standard Rate: $75 (includes membership for non-members), Business rate: $175. Avoid the $25 late fee by registering before March 8th. Registration includes: keynote speakers and panel discussions; interactive, discussion-based workshops; tour and hands-on demonstrations; networking opportunities; organic food and drink (breakfast, lunch and two receptions); Forum packets, printed materials and more. Register online or call 202-543-5450 to register by phone.

Forum Sponsors

Beyond Pesticides, Denver Bee, Colorado School of Public Health – Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Grow Local Colorado, Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center, Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club, University of Colorado Environmental Center. We are still seeking sponsors, please email info@beyondpesticides.org or call 202-543-5450 for more information.

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14
Feb

Stricter Revisions for Water Quality Standards Proposed in Oregon

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2011) The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hosted a public hearing on February 10 on a proposal to give Oregon the nation’s strictest water quality standards. The proposal filed by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) is currently tied in great measure to human consumption of fish. The change intends to improve water quality by changing the state’s assumption of how much fish people eat. Current rules describe for water clean enough to let each Oregon resident eat 6.5 grams of fish per day, however the new rule would raise that amount to 175 grams per day.

According to The World Newspaper, N. Kathryn Brigham, secretary of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, said that members of her tribe consume 389 grams of fish per day, mostly salmon. The 175-gram proposal resulted from negotiations among the department, tribes, and industries.

“The higher fish consumption rate is designed to better protect Oregon’s more sensitive fish consumers,” said Leo Steward, vice-chair of CTUIR board of trustees. “In the past, water quality standards did not protect Indian People. They did not protect our children, our women, our mothers. We must think of the next Seven Generations -what we will pass on them- what they will inherit. They should not face greater health risks for exercising their Treaty Rights-for practicing their religion and for continuing our culture.”

Tribal member Myrna William Tovey has served on the Yellowhawk health board and said she believes toxic chemicals are likely to blame for the high number of tribal members who have cancer. The revised rule will affect cities and facilities that discharge one or more regulated pollutants to state waters. These pollutants would tighten the criteria for 114 toxic pollutants including pesticides. Pesticides are linked to a vast array of serious health problems including birth defects, autism, learning disabilities, reproductive dysfunction, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. See Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide Induced Disease Database for more information.

“These proposed revisions are necessary to protect human health,” said DEQ Director Dick Pedersen. “Toxic pollutants can accumulate in fish that people may eat. Some of these substances may lead to cancer, hinder human development and cause other health problems. These pollutants can also affect the quality of water that communities rely on for drinking water. Reducing the level of these toxics in our water makes for healthier, more livable communities and, as a result, a healthier economy. It is important that any water quality rules are implementable, and we believe through working with a broad group of stakeholders we have a proposed rule package that achieves that end.”

The new standard might also help restore the wild salmon population in Oregon. According to a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 2010, EPA have failed to restrict the pesticides from entering wild salmon habitat in Oregon, Washington and California and studies have shown that Wild Salmon exposure to commonly used pesticides continue to detriment the recovery of the salmons’ populations. The researchers concluded that improving water quality conditions by reducing common pollutants could potentially increase the rate of recovery.

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission will vote on the tougher toxic rules in June.

Beyond Pesticides believes that, in principle, tightening the water quality standards to protect sensitive populations will help reduce the hazards posed by pesticide use, but does not eliminate the use of toxic pesticides that are not necessary given the availability of less and non-toxic methods and products. Pesticide use at any level creates hazardous agricultural practices for the farmworkers and farm families, environmental degradation, and health effects linked to residues in food. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides’ Threatened Waters brochure.

Take Action: Several documents about this rulemaking proposal are available for public comment and may be accessed through DEQ’s website at http://www.deq.state.or.us/wq/standards/toxics.htm (scroll down to “toxics rulemaking”).

The deadline for all comments is Monday, March 21. Comments may be e-mailed, mailed or faxed to DEQ. Send e-mail comments to ToxicsRuleMaking@deq.state.or.us. Mail comments to Andrea Matzke, Oregon DEQ, Water Quality Division, 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204. Fax comments to Andrea Matzke at 503-229-6037.

Sources: East Oregonian
Oregon DEQ Press Release
The World

Photo Courtesy: Ezra Poundcake

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11
Feb

WV Residents Sue Bayer, Court Orders Temporary Injunction on Chemical Production

(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2011) In response to a lawsuit that residents in the town of Institute, WV filed against the chemical manufacturer Bayer CropScience, Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin ordered the company to stop production of the highly toxic chemical methyl isocyanate (MIC) -responsible for killing tens of thousands and chronically injuring over 100,000 people when a Bhopal, India plant leaked the chemical in 1984. Specifically, the judge issued a 14-day restraining order, explaining that the residents who are suing the company are likely to win the case and would be “likely to suffer irreparable harm” without relief from the court. Judge Goodwin also cited Bayer’s history of safety violations and misrepresentations to the public about prior incidents at the plant. The announcement was made February 10, 2010; the judges order can be read here.

Area residents filed suit on Tuesday, February 8, seeking to prevent the company from producing any MIC until the manufacturing plant is inspected for safety and environmental compliance by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

MIC is an intermediate chemical used in the production of aldicarb and other carbamate pesticides. These pesticides have been linked to such serious health risks as disruption of enzymes in the nervous system to gastrointestinal disturbances, unconsciousness, blurred vision, excessive salivation, seizures, and disorientation. The substance on its own is also highly volatile and dangerous.

The residents’ lawsuit, quoted in the Charleston Gazette, specifically states that “The risks associated with restarting the Bayer MIC facility far outweigh any social benefit.” Specifically, the suit has a list of conditions that it requires before the plant begins using MIC again. These include, according to the Gazette:

• “Completion of a National Academy of Sciences study of the safety of making and storing large amounts of a chemical as dangerous as MIC near a major population center.
• The state and county create a new chemical accident prevention program proposed by the Chemical Safety Board.
• Local emergency planners enact all of the recommendations in the CSB report for improving their handling of toxic chemical accidents.
• EPA and OSHA both conduct comprehensive safety inspections of the entire Bayer facility.”

Local residents have long been concerned about the manufacture and storage of such a dangerous chemical so close to home. This concern is partially due to the explosion at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India in 1984 which led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people as a result of exposure to MIC. Bayer has used its plant in Institute as a place to stockpile large reserves of MIC, at times keeping as much as 250,000 pounds of the chemical at the plant.

On August 28, 2008, a pesticide waste tank exploded at the Institute plant killing two workers. The blast was heard in Mink Shoals, more than ten miles away. Despite individual accounts of the resulting air pollution, Bayer officials assured the public that no chemicals had escaped the plant; however an investigation of Bayer’s safety history and the area’s emergency response revealed a shaky safety record.

One year later, the company announced plans to reduce the storage of MIC in Institute by 80%. Even with the reduction however, 50,000 pounds of the chemical would still be allowed on site, which is similar to the amount of chemical present in the Bhopal, India explosion.

Congressional investigators reported that debris from that explosion could have easily hit and damaged another MIC storage tank, causing a disaster that “could have eclipsed” Bhopal. The explosion was “potentially a serious near miss, the results of which might have been catastrophic for workers, responders and the public,” explains the federal Chemical Safety Board Chairman John Bresland.

Bayer had stopped producing MIC after modifying its production process, but is about to resume production in order to use up remaining stores. The company says that it plans to operate the production for no more than 18 months.

EPA announced an agreement with Bayer in August 2010 in which it said it would voluntarily cancel aldicarb. This followed the completion of an EPA revised risk assessment indicating that the pesticide did not meet the agency’s food safety standards. In October EPA announced, “To address the most significant risks, Bayer has agreed to first end aldicarb use on citrus and potatoes, and will adopt risk mitigation measures for other uses to protect groundwater resources. The company will voluntarily phase out production of aldicarb by December 31, 2014. All remaining aldicarb uses will end no later than August 2018.”

A previous announcement by Bayer suggested that company’s timetable for ending aldicarb product sales would be shortened from the initial EPA deadline of 2016. Without the production of MIC and with the closure of part of the Institute site by mid 2012, Bayer plans to stop selling products containing aldicarb by the end of 2014.

This story was updated to reflect new information.

Sources: Charleston Gazette

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10
Feb

Indian Government Resists Ban on Endosulfan, A Chemical It Manufactures

(Beyond Pesticides, February 10, 2011) Despite the numerous scientific data on the devastating health and environmental consequences of endosulfan –a pesticide so toxic that is banned in over 60 countries including the U.S., officials in India say that a ban on the widely used chemical would put the country’s food security at risk and harm the welfare of farmers. However, thousands of villagers in Kerala, India, who have become disabled due to the use of the pesticide, pushed for a state ban in 2004 and have since joined the global movement to ban endosulfan. Doctors say that over 550 deaths and health problems in over 6,000 people in the region are related to the aerial spraying of the pesticide over cashew farms between 1979 and 2000.

“Six thousand patients living with disabilities is not enough scientific evidence to enforce a national ban?,” asked B.C. Kumar, to the Washington Post. Kumar’s father, a cashew farm laborer, died of cancer.

The endosulfan industry in India is estmiated to be worth over $100 million, making it the world’s largest producer, exporter and user of the product. The three companies that produce the product in India, including one that is partially government-owned, claim that pesticide manufacturers in Europe are driving the push for the ban in an effort to promote their products.

Endosulfan is an organochlorine insecticide that was first registered for use in the U.S. in the 1950s. It is an endocrine disruptor and exposure in male children may delay sexual maturity and interfere with sex hormone synthesis. Male school children exposed to the highly toxic insecticide endosulfan showed delayed sexual maturity compared with similar children who were not exposed. Endosulfan also appears to interfere with sex hormone synthesis in males aged 10-19 years in a community of cashew plantations in northern Kerala, India.

In June, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would take action to end all uses of the insecticide endosulfan, after deciding that new data presented to the agency in response to its 2002 Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED), which shows that risks faced by workers are greater than previously known. In completing revised assessments, EPA concluded that endosulfan’s significant risks to wildlife and agricultural workers outweigh its limited benefits to growers and consumers. EPA also found that there are risks above the agency’s level of concern for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, as well as birds and mammals that consume aquatic prey which have ingested endosulfan.

EPA’s decision followed a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of environmental and farmworker groups, including Beyond Pesticides, on July 24, 2008. The suit cited EPA’s glaring omission in not considering risks to children: a 2007 study found that children exposed to endosulfan in the first trimester of pregnancy had a significantly greater risk for developing autism spectrum disorders. It also poses risks to school children in agricultural communities where it has been detected at unsafe levels in the air. In addition, endosulfan has been found in food supplies, drinking water, and in the tissues and breast milk of pregnant mothers.

As a potent environmental pollutant, endosulfan is especially toxic to fish and other aquatic life. It also affects birds, bees, earthworms, and other beneficial insects. Endosulfan is volatile, persistent, and has a high potential to bio-accumulate in aquatic and terrestrial organisms. A large body of scientific literature documents endosulfan’s medium- and long-range transport on a global scale and subsequent accumulation in nearly all environmental media. Through the process of global distillation, endosulfan is present in air, water, sediment, and biota thousands of miles from use areas. Endosulfan travels such long distances that it has been found in Sierra Nevada lakes and on Mt. Everest. This persistent pesticide can also migrate to the Poles on wind and ocean currents where Arctic communities have documented contamination. It is one of the most abundant organochlorine pesticides found in the Arctic, and has also been detected in the Great Lakes and various mountainous areas including the National Parks in the western United States, distant from use sites. Because of its presence in remote locations, endosulfan may be considered a persistent organic pollutant that may result in human exposure via the food web.

This April, a group of 172 nations is scheduled to make a final decision on whether or not endosulfan will be declared as a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) following recommendations from the December 2009 Stockholm Convention Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC). The committee recommends urgent “global action” to address health and environmental impacts of the toxic pesticide. Scientific experts at the POPRC concluded that endosulfan is likely to cause significant adverse human health and environmental effects as a result of the chemical’s medium- and long-range transport on a global scale and subsequent accumulation in nearly all environmental media.

Despite this and the fact that 60 countries, including 27 in the European Union, 21 in Africa and the U.S., progress continues to be obstructed by the Government of India. As Dr. Meriel Watts, Coordinator of Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand observes: “In India, the Government itself manufactures endosulfan –it owns Hindustan Insecticides which manufactures endosulfan, and then the Indian Government acts in the international conventions to stop endosulfan’s listing. It has members on both the Stockholm Convention’s POPS Review Committee and the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee. This is a “clear conflict of interest,” she says. “A manufacturer is using its power to veto international agreements on a chemical.”

Source: Washington Post

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09
Feb

Groups to Sue USDA Over GE Alfalfa as Agency Announces Partial Deregulation of GE Sugar Beets

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2011) Last Friday the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced plans to allow the U.S. sugar beet industry to continue growing Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets, despite the incompletion of an environmental impact statement (EIS). This comes one week after USDA decided to fully deregulate GE alfalfa seed, despite the risks it poses to both organic and conventional farmers. On Monday, Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, Sierra Club and Cornucopia Institute formally filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the agency concerning its decision to allow unrestricted deregulation of GE alfalfa.

The 60-day notice of intent to sue, filed February 7, 2011, officially notifies USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the groups’ intent to sue pursuant to the citizen suit provision of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), citing APHIS’ violation of Section 7 of the ESA in failing to ensure that the deregulation of GE alfalfa is not likely to jeopardize threatened or endangered species and their habitat. According to Section 7, APHIS must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to ensure that agency actions do not impact threatened or endangered species. The notice charges that there is no evidence that APHIS consulted with FWS prior to its decision to deregulate GE alfalfa; APHIS unilaterally determined that there would be “no effect” on endangered species. Alfalfa is grown on about 20 million acres in almost every state in the U.S. and is the fourth largest field crop behind corn, soybeans and wheat.

The January 27, 2011 decision to deregulate GE alfalfa follows USDA’s completion of the court-mandated environmental impact statement (EIS). At first, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called for “coexistence” among GE, organic and conventional non-GE farmers, despite the clear recognition in the EIS that GE contamination of organic and conventionally grown crops presents a huge problem. The EIS fails to take into account the documented increase in herbicide-resistant “super weeds” that is requiring the use of highly toxic herbicide cocktails for weed control on conventional farms. Likewise, USDA has not shown that contamination-free coexistence with deregulated GE alfalfa is likely or possible. GE alfalfa would not have to be labeled, nor would meat from livestock fed GE alfalfa.

On January 31, 2011, a coalition of organic companies and environmental organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, released an open letter and call to action on the USDA’s decision to deregulate GE alfalfa, allowing its unrestricted cultivation and threatening organic and non-GE conventional farmers. It sets a precedent for future deregulation of GE crops. The letter encourages individuals to write to President Obama opposing the decision and asking that the administration reconsider its position.

Partial Deregulation of GE Sugar Beets

On February 4, 2011, APHIS issued a new decision to allow the U.S. sugar beet industry to continue growing Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready,” GE sugar beets. The decision will be immediately challenged in court by a coalition of farmers and conservation groups. Last August, APHIS’ previous decision to allow planting of GE sugar beets was thrown out because it violated environmental laws. The coalition declared the new decision unlawful as well, and vowed to overturn it. Like GE alfalfa, GE sugar beets are genetically engineered by Monsanto to tolerate repeated applications of that company’s weed killer Roundup, or glyphosate.

Monsanto Company (Monsanto) and KWS SAAT AG (KWS) requested that APHIS examine whether the agency could deregulate in part to allow the continued cultivation of Roundup Ready® sugar beets. Monsanto is faced with heavy financial loses if its GE crops are not planted before they expire. But some farmers said there might not be enough non-engineered seed available to satisfy demand. The government projected a possible 20 percent reduction in American sugar production. As a result, USDA was under pressure to allow the genetically engineered beets to be grown, and to do so in time for the spring 2011 planting season.

APHIS conducted an environmental assessment (EA) and published it in November 2010. The EA evaluated a range of options, including authorizing production of GE sugar beets under APHIS permit conditions. APHIS, without completing an EIS, concluded that the GE sugar beet root crop, when grown under APHIS “imposed conditions,” can be partially deregulated without posing a plant pest risk or having a significant effect on the environment. See USDA’s documents for GE sugar beets. This conclusion is at sharp odds with earlier court rulings and the views of growers of organic and non-GE crops, who will likely see their crops contaminated by the GE sugar beets, threatening their livelihoods and the ability of farmers and consumers to choose non-GE foods. APHIS is currently developing an EIS prior to making any further decision on the petition for a full deregulation of GE sugar beet. APHIS expects to complete the EIS by the end of May 2012. Sugar beets are a fairly small crop, planted on a little over one million acres, mainly in northern states, and worth somewhat more than $1 billion. Beets account for roughly half of the American sugar supply, with the rest coming from sugar cane. The GE beets accounted for more than 90 percent of the sugar beets grown last year.

In 2008, the groups sued USDA for deregulating Monsanto’s GE sugar beets without complying with the National Environmental Policy Act’s requirement of an EIS before deregulating the crop. On August 13, 2010, the federal court banned the crop until USDA fully analyzed the impacts of the GE plant on the environment, farmers and the public in an EIS. Three weeks later, despite the court’s ruling, and without any prior environmental analysis, USDA issued permits to seed growers to again grow the genetically modified sugar beets. The groups again sued USDA. On November 30, 2010, the court granted the groups’ motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered the seed crop destroyed. That order was stayed pending appeal, which is scheduled for argument on February 15, 2011.

In a related announcement last month, FWS said that it has agreed to stop planting GE crops on all its refuges in a dozen Northeastern states, according to a settlement agreement in a lawsuit brought by conservation and food safety groups. Because the federal government would not agree to end illegal GE agriculture in refuges nationally, new litigation is being prepared in other regions where as many as 75 other national wildlife refuges now growing GE crops are vulnerable to similar suits.

The lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Delaware, filed by the Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic on behalf of Delaware Audubon Society, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), and Center for Food Safety, charged that FWS had illegally entered into Cooperative Farming Agreements with private parties, allowing hundreds of acres on its Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware to be plowed over without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In settling the suit, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service promised to revoke any authorization for further GE agriculture at Bombay Hook and the four other refuges with GE crops.

Genetic engineering is often touted by chemical manufacturers as a way to reduce pesticide usage and increase disease resistance. In reality, it has actually been shown to increase pesticide usage, while disease resistant varieties are still largely in the experimental stages. Most GE crops currently on the market are genetically modified to be resistant to pests and pesticides through the incorporation of genes into food crops from a natural bacterium insecticide (Bt) or the development of herbicide-resistant crops. Thus, there are serious public health and pest resistance problems associated with GE crops. For instance, in a recent study by University of Notre Dame, scientists found that streams throughout the Midwest are contaminated with GE materials from corn crop byproducts, even six months after harvest. The long-term health effects of consuming GE food are still unknown. GE crops are also known to contaminate conventional non-GE and organic crops through “genetic drift” and take a toll on the environment by increasing resistant insects and weeds, contaminating water and affecting pollinators and other non-target organisms.

Currently, there are no regulations requiring GE foods to be labeled as such. The best way for consumers to avoid GE foods is to choose organic products.

Center for Food Safety’s senior attorney and counsel for the lawsuit to be filed against the USDA regarding GE alfalfa, George Kimbrell, is scheduled to speak at Beyond Pesticides’ 29th National Pesticide Forum, “Sustainable Community – Practical solutions for health and the environment,” April 8-9 in Denver, CO. Among other cases, Mr. Kimbrell was counsel in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms (2010), the first case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on the impacts of GE crops.

For more information on this issue, see Beyond Pesticides’ page on genetic engineering and see our related Daily News entries.

Take Action!
Call or email President Obama and USDA and tell them NOT to deregulate GE alfalfa or GE Sugar Beets. Join the coalition of those opposing the decision including upcoming National Pesticide Forum keynote Maria Rodale (CEO, Rodale, Inc. and author of Organic Manifesto), National Organic Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Organic Trade Association, Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farm, and more. Ask the Administration reconsider its position:

Write to President Obama
• Call or email USDA,
Email: biotechquery@aphis.usda.gov
or call (301) 851-2300 and record your comments

Sources:
Center for Food Safety
USDA
NYTimes

Photo Courtesy: USDA APHIS

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08
Feb

Study Links Prenatal Exposure to Pyrethroid Insecticides and Learning Problems

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2011) Research published February 7, 2011 in the online edition of the journal Peditatrics shows that children more highly exposed to pyrethroid insecticides and piperonyl butoxide (PBO), a synergist added to increase the potency of pyrethroids, are three times as likely to have a mental delay compared to children with lower levels. The study, “Impact of Prenatal Exposure to Piperonyl Butoxide and Permethrin on 36-Month Neurodevelopment,” measured exposure to pesticides using maternal and umbilical cord plasma samples and in personal air samples, collected using backpack air monitors during pregnancy. Children were then tested for cognitive and motor development (using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development) at three years of age. Children with the highest prenatal exposures scored about 4 points lower on the test.

That’s about the same intelligence loss caused by lead, Philip Landrigan, MD, a pediatrics professor and environmental health expert at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told USA Today. Pyrethroid pesticides kill bugs by “being toxic to the developing brain,” Dr. Landrigan says. The results are “very believable and should be taken seriously.”

Pyrethroid pesticides have increased in popularity over the past decade due in large part to the phase-out of most residential uses of once-popular organophosphate insecticides, which were removed from the market because of concerns of neurotixicity and children’s health. However, pyrethroid insecticides are potential neurodevelopmental toxicants, but have not been widely evaluated for developmental toxicity. The researchers’ objective was to explore the association between prenatal exposure to permethrin, a commonly used pyrethroid insecticide for termites, ants and other household insects, and neurodevelopment at three years of age. They measured PBO rather than permethrin, which breaks down too quickly to give reliable data.

Synthetic pyrethroids are chemically formulated versions of the natural-based pesticide pyrethrum, made from extracts from plants in the chrysanthemum family. A widely used class of insecticides, synthetic pyrethroids are designed to be more toxic and longer lasting than pyrethrum, and therefore are more potent to insects and pose elevated risks to humans. Exposure to synthetic pyrethroids has been reported to lead to headaches, dizziness, nausea, irritation, and skin sensations. EPA classifies permethrin as a possible human carcinogen. Many synthetic pyrethroids have been linked to disruption of the endocrine system, which can adversely affect reproduction and sexual development, interfere with the immune system, and increase chances of breast cancer. Synthetic pyrethroids have also been linked to respiratory problems such as hypersensitization, and may be triggers for asthma attacks.

Rather than use pesticides, lead author Megan Horton, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, suggests that parents utilize common-sense measures to control pests, such as eating only in home eating areas, not bedrooms; keeping cracks and crevices in the house repaired to keep out pests; using trash cans with a lid and liner to contain garbage; and, storing food properly.

For more information on permethrin, see the Pesticide Gateway. For least toxic methods for controlling household insects, see Beyond Pesticides’ “Have a Pest Problem?” webpage.

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07
Feb

Court Sides with Environmental Groups on Clean Air in California

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2011) As a result of a petition filed by community groups, the Ninth U.S. District Court of Appeals says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must review its approval of California’s standards for air pollution caused by ozone and pesticides. Specifically, the groups are protesting a final action by EPA approving in part and disapproving in part revisions to California’s “State Implementation Plan” for meeting air quality standards under the federal Clean Air Act.

Los Angeles Smog, Photo Courtesy University of Michigan

Los Angeles Smog, Photo Courtesy University of Michigan

The petition, Association of Irritated Residents v. EPA, was filed by the Association of Irritated Residents, El Comite para el Bienestar de Earlimart, Community of Children’s Advocates Against Pesticide Poisoning, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

One of the issues the groups raise for review is EPA’s approval of a plan designed to reduce emission from pesticide application. The group argues that it violates the Clean Air Act because the plan lacks enforceable commitments.

The Court was also critical of the plan for its inclusion of unenforceable measures to clean up smog-forming emissions from pesticide pollution. The Court found that these plans cannot include superficial measures, but rather must include real strategies to reduce harmful pollution.

Pesticide pollution has a significant role in creating smog. After application, pesticides give off large quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOC), which contribute to the formation of smog. According to the plaintiffs represented by the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment (CPRE) in 2005, an environmental justice litigation organization based in San Francisco, pesticides are the fourth largest source of smog-forming VOC emissions in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Smog can cause a variety of adverse health effects that include respiratory diseases such as asthma, susceptibility to various diseases, and heart disease. Children are of special concern. Because the lungs of children are not yet fully developed and because children inhale more air per unit of body weight than adults, they are more susceptible to adverse respiratory health effects.

The other two issues the groups raise in their petition for review is EPA’s violation of the Clean Air Act by failing to require transportation control measurea to combat any increase in vehicle miles traveled and EPA’s failure to order California to submit a revised attainment plan for the South Coast (Los Angeles) area after it disapproved a 2003 attainment plan.

In a detailed analysis, the appellate decision calls the EPA’s actions “arbitrary and capricious.” It also states that EPA has “unlimited discretion to ignore evidence indicating an existing State Implementation Plan might be substantially inadequate and choose to do nothing.”

In a similar case in August 2008, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 2006 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (Sacramento) that required California to establish limits on air pollution associated with pesticide use. The Appeals Court found that the lower court did not have jurisdiction to impose solutions under the Clean Air Act. Prior to 2005, the state did not regulate this source of pollution, even though the state had made a promise to reduce VOC emissions from pesticides in its smog clean-up plan adopted pursuant to the Clean Air Act. In April 2006, Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled in their favor, requiring California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to implement regulations to reduce VOC emissions from pesticides by 20% from 1990 levels by January 1, 2008.

For more information read our past news article, “Court-Imposed Pesticide Air Pollution Standard Reversed on Appeal.

Sources: Central Valley Business Times

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04
Feb

States Take Action on Toxics, Congress to Review Federal Law

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2011) In response to continued public concern over the presence of dangerous chemicals in common household products, legislators and advocates in 30 states across the country and the District of Columbia have announced legislation aimed at protecting children and families from harmful chemicals. Despite well-funded opposition from the chemical industry, 18 state legislatures have already passed 71 chemical safety laws in the last eight years by an overwhelming, bipartisan margin – with more to come this year.

Congress has also begun to take action on the matter, after being criticized for lagging behind, in the form of initiating a review of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) this week. The TSCA is the federal law that governs the control of chemicals that pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment.

Dangerous chemicals, including pesticides, can be commonly found in household products ranging from cosmetics to toys to fabrics. One of the most prevalent of these substances, the antimicrobial triclosan, has been linked to a range of adverse health and environmental effects including skin irritation, allergy susceptibility, endocrine disruption, and increased risk of antibiotic resistance to tainted water, dioxin contamination, and destruction of fragile aquatic ecosystems.

“With over half of state legislatures introducing policies that protect kids and families from toxic chemicals, Congress and chemical industry lobbyists should take notice. As long as toxic chemicals such as cadmium and BPA remain in consumer products, states will continue to pass commonsense policies to address this serious public health threat,” said Laurie Valeriano, Policy Director at the Washington Toxics Coalition in Seattle, Washington.

Increasing rates of chronic diseases linked to toxic chemical exposure, including cancer, asthma, and infertility, have created an urgency in state capitols to enact policies to get harmful chemicals off the market. To learn more about how pesticides are linked to serious health concerns, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide Induced Diseases database.

Bills to be considered in the 30 states include: bans on BPA and hazardous flame retardants in consumer products; requirements that children’s product manufacturers use only the safest chemicals; and resolutions urging Congress to overhaul the TSCA.

“A substantial body of scientific research shows that the public is exposed to chemicals that increase the risk of serious health threats, including cancer, asthma, infertility, and learning and developmental disabilities,” said Dr. Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, Science Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network. “For most chemicals, no Government agency has the authority to require safety testing before they are put into widespread use. It’s an uncontrolled experiment, and individuals and families across the country are paying the price.”

Despite overwhelming public support for stronger laws on toxic chemicals, Congress has largely heeded the aggressive opposition of chemical industry lobbyists in the past, rather than the support of the American electorate, and failed to pass TSCA reform legislation three times in the last six years.

However, the battle will continue at the federal level in 2011, starting with the review of the TSCA announced this week. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D – NJ) scheduled a hearing to be held yesterday, February 3, with members of the chemical industry and public health experts. Public health groups, such as Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families – a coalition of nearly 300 environmental health groups – are urging Congress to strengthen the law by restricting chemicals known to be dangerous and requiring testing of new and existing chemicals to ensure that they are safe.

Beyond Pesticides, in addressing these issues, has called for alternatives assessment in environmental rulemaking that creates a regulatory trigger to adopt alternatives and drive the market to go green. The alternatives assessment approach differs most dramatically from risk assessment in rejecting uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations, but unnecessary because of the availability of safer alternatives. For example, in agriculture, where the Pesticide Induced Diseases database shows clear links to pesticide use and multiple types of cancer, it would no longer be possible to use hazardous pesticides, as it is with risk assessment-based policy (under laws such as the Food Quality Protection Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide act), when there are clearly effective organic systems with competitive yields that, in fact, outperform chemical-intensive agriculture in drought years. This same analysis can be applied to home and garden use of pesticides where households using pesticides suffer elevated rates of cancer.

A map of the U.S. showing states that are introducing reform can be found here.

Take Action: The deadline has been extended for the public to comment on Beyond Pesticides’ petition calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban triclosan. Individuals now have until April 8, 2011 to submit comments.

Click here to send an email directly to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. The link (sponsored by Organic Consumers Association) sends an automated message to Lisa Jackson, or;
Submit your own comments to the docket directly by clicking here. Fill in the form to submit your comments to the Federal Register (this method offers different levels of privacy). For a more impactful statement, use your own language.

Want to do more? You can also join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge to stop using triclosan today. Avoid products containing triclosan, and encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan.

Source: Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families press release

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03
Feb

Another Company Pulls Triclosan from Products; Public Comment Period Extended

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2011) Following numerous developments on the antibacterial pesticide triclosan in consumer products over the last year, including several published studies highlighting the serious adverse effects of exposure, the submission of a federal petition calling for the ban of the chemical, and increased consumer awareness, experts are urging companies to take precautions and remove the ingredient from their products. Newest on the list of companies to remove triclosan is GlaxoSmithKline, which has removed the chemical from its Aquafresh and Sensodyne toothpastes, as well as its Corsodyl mouthwash. Recently Colgate-Palmolive, makers of Colgate Total and Softsoap antibacterial hand soaps, has removed triclosan from most of its products, excluding its Total brand toothpaste, a line that the company claims fights gingivitis. However, as Elizabeth Salter Green, director of ChemTrust, a UK-based health and environmental organization, says in Cosmetics Design: “If one eats the right foods and maintains correct dental hygiene, then triclosan, or other antibacterial agents are not needed.”

Antibacterial Soap: Public Health Survey

In response to a recent survey on antibacterial soap by the chemical industry, Beyond Pesticides has released its own survey questions about the health and environmental issues surrounding antibacterial cleansers and asks that you share the link (http://triclosan.questionpro.com) with your friends and family. The industry survey, supported by the Personal Care Products Council in partnership with the American Cleaning Institute, reported that 56 percent of American consumers use antibacterial soap on a regular basis and 83 percent would like to retain the choice to purchase them. This is no surprise given that consumers do not know all the facts –health and environmental impacts– surrounding the use of antibacterial products and antibacterial agents like triclosan; facts that this industry poll failed to mention.

The truth is antibacterial products available to consumers like antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers do not provide any added health benefits over regular soap. Antibacterial agents like triclosan, found in many antibacterial products, are linked to a host of adverse health and environmental effects including hormone disruption, possible impaired fetal development, and water and food contamination. This chemical is currently under scrutiny at the FDA and is the focus of petitions submitted to both FDA and EPA calling for its ban. If consumers knew all the facts, would they think differently about purchasing antibacterial products? We think they would.

We are looking for individuals to complete this short, multiple choice survey. Please share the survey (http://triclosan.questionpro.com) with your family and friends, as well as any relevant blogs or email lists. It is important to educate the public and see an accurate picture of consumer knowledge and preference.

Extension Announced for Ban Triclosan Petition

In a letter submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dated January 22, 2011, Beyond Pesticides and Food & Water Watch requested a 60 day extension to the comment period. EPA announced that it is extending the comment period – originally set to end on February 7, 2011 – to April 8, 2011.

The petition, filed on January 14, 2010, identifies pervasive and widespread use of triclosan and a failure of EPA to: (i) address the impacts posed by triclosan’s degradation products on human health and the environment, (ii) conduct separate assessment for triclosan residues in contaminated drinking water and food, and (iii) evaluate concerns related to antibacterial resistance and endocrine disruption. The petition cites violations of numerous environmental statutes, including laws on pesticide registration, the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. It also documents that triclosan is no more effective than regular soap and water in removing germs and therefore creates an unnecessary hazardous exposure for people and the environment.

You can also help get the word out by asking your network to let EPA know that triclosan must be banned to protect the public, workers and the environment. See Beyond Pesticide’s triclosan page for more information.

Click here to send an email directly to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. The link (sponsored by Organic Consumers Association) sends an automated message to Lisa Jackson, or;
Submit your own comments to the docket directly by clicking here. Fill in the form to submit your comments to the Federal Register (this method offers different levels of privacy). For a more impactful statement, use your own language.

Want to do more? You can also join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge to stop using triclosan today. Avoid products containing triclosan, and encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan.

 

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02
Feb

New Jersey Bill Prohibits Pesticides on School Lawns

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2011) A bill that would make the state of New Jersey a national leader in banning pesticides on all school grounds was passed in a Senate environment committee Monday with unanimous bi-partisan support. The measure, dubbed The Child Safe Playing Field Act, would prohibit the use of most lawn pesticides on public and private school playgrounds, recreational fields, and day-care centers.

Legislators voted (unanimous bi-partisan support 5-0) to release The Child Safe Playing Field Act, S.2610 at a NJ Senate Environment Committee hearing. The bill would prohibit lawn pesticide use on all day care, school, municipal, county and state playgrounds and playing fields. Low-impact organic pesticide applications would be allowed, and there is an exception that allows stronger pesticides during emergencies.

If New Jersey’s proposal were to become law, all but a small class of lawn pesticides would be banned from public and private school grounds, including high schools; recreation fields owned by municipalities, counties, or the state. Pesticides would only be allowed in emergencies to eliminate “an immediate threat to human health.”

“This legislation is important to protect children’s health where they play. At least 40 towns and many schools have declared their parks pesticide free, now it’s time to make all playgrounds and playing fields pesticide-free.” Jane Nogaki, Vice Chair, NJ Environmental Federation.

The proposal would be the most far-reaching in the nation. A similar law in New York state covers just school grounds where students are in kindergarten through 12th grade, while Connecticut’s version is limited to K-8 schools. Only Canada has a more extensive prohibition: No cosmetic pesticide use is allowed, said John Boechner of the New Jersey Green Industry Council, which represents the lawn-care and pest-management industries and opposes the measure.

The New Jersey bill expands a 2002 law requiring schools to develop Integrated Pest Management plans that combine pest control, building maintenance, and sanitation practices. That law encourages the use of low-impact pesticides and requires notification before applications.

Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club, who testified in support of the bill, said the new proposal strengthens the existing law, which was groundbreaking at the time. “Children are our most vulnerable population as far as pesticides go,” Mr. Tittel said. “Our first goal should be ‘do no harm,’ and this bill does that.”

New Hampshire and Maine have introduced similar legislation.Training programs are in place to educate grounds maintenance people on the basics of sound turf management – building healthy soil, planting appropriate grass seed, using compost or aeration to reduce compaction.

This state bill would support over 30 communities in New Jersey that have already made their parks pesticide-free zones and have adopted an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for managing town property by passing a resolution adopting a pesticide reduction policy including Burlington and Cape May Counties, and the townships of Bernards, Chatham, Cherry Hill, Collingswood, Asbury Park, East and West Windsor, Hightstown, Montclair, Ocean City, Dennis, Colts Neck, Hazlet, Neptune, Red Bank, Pine Beach and Wall Townships.

Many scientific studies indicate that pesticides threaten the public’s health by increasing the risk of cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and reproductive problems. These chemicals can also poison animals, pollute local streams and rivers and seep through the ground into underground aquifers. Every body of water tested in New Jersey has evidence of pesticide contamination, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Children are especially sensitive and vulnerable because of their rapid development and behavior patterns. Currently New Jersey uses about four million pounds of pesticides annually for lawn care, mosquito control, agricultural production, and golf course maintenance.

For more information on non-toxic lawn care and “Pesticide Free Zone” ladybug logo yard signs see NJEF’s Pesticide Campaign and Beyond Pesticides’ Lawn Care Program webpages.

Source:
NJ Environmental Federation

Associated Press

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01
Feb

Coalition Letter Opposes USDA GE Alfalfa Decision, Calls for Action

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 20011) On January 31, 2011, a coalition of organic companies and environmental organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, released an open letter and call to action on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) January 27 decision to deregulate “RoundUp Ready” (glyphosa te-tolerant) genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, allowing its unrestricted cultivation and threatening organic and non-GE conventional farmers. It sets a precedent for future deregulation of GE crops. The letter encourages individuals to write to President Obama opposing the decision and asking that the administration reconsider its position. Other signatories include upcoming National Pesticide Forum keynote Maria Rodale (CEO, Rodale, Inc. and author of Organic Manifesto), National Organic Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Organic Trade Association, Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farm, and more.

The decision to deregulate GE alfalfa follows USDA’s completion of the court-mandated environmental impact statement (EIS). Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called for “coexistence” among GE, organic and conventional non-GE farmers, despite the clear recognition in the EIS that GE contamination of organic and conventionally grown crops presents a huge problem. The EIS also fails to take into account the documented increase in herbicide-resistant “super weeds” that is requiring the use of highly toxic herbicide cocktails for weed control on conventional farms. Likewise, USDA has not shown that contamination-free coexistence with deregulated GE alfalfa is likely or possible. GE alfalfa would not have to be labeled, nor would meat from livestock fed GE alfalfa.

The letter concludes with a call to action: As we move forward, we are united in opposing genetically engineered organisms in food production and believe that pressure to stop the proliferation of this contaminating technology must be focused on the White House and Congress. The companies responsible for this situation are the biotech companies whose GE technology causes genetic drift and environmental hazards that are not contained as the deregulation of genetically engineered alfalfa goes forward. The organic community stands together with consumer, farmer, environmental and business interests to ensure practices that are protective of health and the environment. We urge you to join us today: Take Action.

Other critics of the announcement, cosponsors of the original Organic Foods Productions Act, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), said, “This long approval process began as a search for a workable compromise, but it has ended as a surrender to business as usual for the biotech industry. USDA officials had an opportunity to address the concerns of all farmers, whether they choose to farm genetically altered crops, conventional crops, or organic crops, and to find a way for them to coexist. Instead, what we now have is a setback for the nation’s organic and conventional agriculture sectors.”

Alfalfa is the nation’s 4th largest crop, planted on over 21 million acres. Forage and hay are primary feed crops for dairy cows and beef cattle as well as pork, lamb, and sheep. It’s not just for livestock -some vegetable farmers use the hay as mulch and alfalfa meal as a beneficial soil amendment. Alfalfa sprouts constitute an important sector of the salad market and alfalfa also plays a major role in honey production.

Genetic engineering is often touted by chemical manufacturers as a way to reduce pesticide usage and increase disease resistance. In reality, it has actually been shown to increase pesticide usage, while disease resistant varieties are still largely in the experimental stages. Most GE crops currently on the market are genetically modified to be resistant to pests and pesticides through the incorporation of genes into food crops from a natural bacterium insecticide (Bt) or the development of herbicide-resistant crops. Thus, there are serious public health and pest resistance problems associated with GE crops. For instance, in a recent study by University of Notre Dame, scientists found that streams throughout the Midwest are contaminated with GE materials from corn crop byproducts, even six months after harvest. The long-term health effects of consuming GE food are still unknown. GE crops are also known to contaminate conventional non-GE and organic crops through “genetic drift” and take a toll on the environment by increasing resistant insects and weeds, contaminating water and affecting pollinators and other non-target organisms.

Learn more on Beyond Pesticides GE program page.

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31
Jan

Bill to Overturn State Preemption Introduced in Connecticut

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2011) A bill introduced in the Connecticut legislature will, if passed, allow municipalities to ban and regulate the use of lawn care pesticides, overturning a state preemption law which currently prohibits local governments from imposing pesticide restrictions on private property. Currently, 41 states, including Connecticut, prohibit local jurisdictions from restricting pesticides. Senator Edward Meyer introduced Bill S.B. 244, which has been referred to the state Senate’s Joint Committee on Environment. No hearing date has been set, however the official status of the bill is posted on the state’s General Assembly website.

It is important to note, as Nancy Alderman, President of Environment and Human Health, Inc., states, “This bill will not mandate towns to do anything -they would just have the option to treat the lawns in their towns in stricter ways than the state- if they so chose.”

Connecticut state law prohibits the application of pesticides on kindergarten through 8th grade school grounds, thanks to a bill that was sponsored by Sen. Meyer in 2007. In 2009, another bill was subsequently passed to expand on the first by banning pesticides on day care center grounds as well. In response to the 2007 mandate, the town of Greenwich, CT went a step further by banning pesticides on all town-owned athletic fields. Though Connecticut’s state pesticide law is instrumental in improving protection from pesticides, with the preemption law that is currently in place, it can only extend as far as government-owned property and cannot restrict the use of toxic chemicals by landowners.

The issue of federal preemption of local ordinances made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1991 that federal law (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, FIFRA) does not preempt local jurisdictions from restricting the use of pesticides (Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Ralph Mortier). However, the ability of states to take away local authority was left in place. The pesticide lobby immediately formed a coalition, called the Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy, and developed model state legislation that restricts local municipalities from passing ordinances regarding the use or sale of pesticides. The Coalition lobbyists descended upon states across the country seeking and passing, in most cases, preemption legislation that was often identical to the coalition’s wording. Nine states did not pass the measure. Congress has toyed with the idea of restricting local jurisdictions’ authority in FIFRA since the 1980s, but industry lobbyists have always been beaten back.

For more information, please see Beyond Pesticides’ fact sheet on state preemption laws.

TAKE ACTION:
Locally: If you live in Connecticut, please contact your Mayor and ask them to support bill S.B. 244. Mayors and First Selectman will need to provide either written testimony or show up to voice their opinion and those testifying will need to bring 50 copies of their written testimony with them. There is no maximum length for testimony; however there will only be 3 minutes allotted to speak.

Nationally: To see what pesticide laws are enacted in your state see Beyond Pesticides’ state pages. Know of a policy that’s not listed, or do you know of efforts to change policy in your state or community? Send and email to info@beyondpesticides.org.

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28
Jan

USDA Deregulates Genetically Engineered Alfalfa and Groups Pledge To Sue, While Interior Pulls GE Crops from Northeast Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2011) Environmental and public interest groups are extremely disappointed with the announcement late Thursday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to fully deregulate genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa seed, despite the risks it poses to both organic and conventional farmers. Among those upset with the announcement are the cosponsors of the original Organic Foods Productions Act, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who have weighed in with their criticism of USDA’s decision.

This decision follows the agency’s completion of the court-mandated environmental impact statement (EIS) for GE alfalfa. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called for “coexistence” among GE, organic and conventional non-GE farmers, despite the clear recognition in the EIS that GE contamination of organic and conventionally grown crops presents a huge problem. The EIS also fails to take into account the documented increase in herbicide-resistant “super weeds” that is requiring the use of highly toxic herbicide cocktails for weed control on conventional farms. Likewise, USDA has not shown that contamination-free coexistence with deregulated GE alfalfa is likely or possible.

“We’re disappointed with USDA’s decision and we will be back in court representing the interest of farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety (CFS). “USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.” The National Organic Coalition (NOC), of which Beyond Pesticides is a member, issued a statement criticizing the decision.

Alfalfa is the nation’s 4th largest crop, planted on over 21 million acres. Forage and hay are primary feed crops for dairy cows and beef cattle as well as pork, lamb, and sheep. It’s not just for livestock -some vegetable farmers use the hay as mulch and alfalfa meal as a beneficial soil amendment. Alfalfa sprouts constitute an important sector of the salad market and alfalfa also plays a major role in honey production.

Genetic engineering is often touted by chemical manufacturers as a way to reduce pesticide usage and increase disease resistance. In reality, it has actually been shown to increase pesticide usage, while disease resistant varieties are still largely in the experimental stages. Most GE crops currently on the market are genetically modified to be resistant to pests and pesticides through the incorporation of genes into food crops from a natural bacterium insecticide (Bt) or the development of herbicide-resistant crops. Thus, there are serious public health and pest resistance problems associated with GE crops. For instance, in a recent study by University of Notre Dame, scientists found that streams throughout the Midwest are contaminated with GE materials from corn crop byproducts, even six months after harvest. The long-term health effects of consuming GE food are still unknown. GE crops are also known to contaminate conventional non-GE and organic crops through “genetic drift” and take a toll on the environment by increasing resistant insects and weeds, contaminating water and affecting pollinators and other non-target organisms.

In a related announcement earlier this month, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said that it has agreed to stop planting genetically engineered (GE) crops on all its refuges in a dozen Northeastern states, according to a settlement agreement in a lawsuit brought by conservation and food safety groups. Because the federal government would not agree to end illegal GE agriculture in refuges nationally, new litigation is being prepared in other regions where as many as 75 other national wildlife refuges now growing GE crops are vulnerable to similar suits.

The lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Delaware, filed by the Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic on behalf of Delaware Audubon Society, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and CFS, charged that the Fish & Wildlife Service had illegally entered into Cooperative Farming Agreements with private parties, allowing hundreds of acres on its Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware to be plowed over without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

In settling the suit, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service promised to revoke any authorization for further GE agriculture at Bombay Hook and the four other refuges with GE crops: the Rappahannock River Valley Refuge and the Eastern Shore of Virginia Refuge, Montezuma Refuge in New York and Blackwater Refuge of Maryland, unless and until an appropriate NEPA analysis is completed – a condition that has yet to be met for GE agriculture on a National Wildlife Refuge.

“For Delawareans, this is a victory for the protection of vital public resources in our state,” said Mark Martell, President of the Delaware Audubon Society. “Our aim was to end illegal and destructive agriculture on the Delaware refuges but we are delighted to have this victory extended to other refuges along the Great Eastern Flyway.”

In March 2009, the same groups won a similar lawsuit against GE plantings on Delaware’s Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. In August 2009, several environmental groups led by CFS and PEER wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to alert him to the implications of the Prime Hook ruling, asking him to “issue a moratorium on all GE crop cultivation in National Wildlife Refuges.” But Secretary Salazar never responded to the letter and his agency, which oversees the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, was unwilling to extend the Bombay Hook settlement beyond the Northeast region.

“Planting genetically engineered crops on wildlife refuges is resource management malpractice,” stated PEER Senior Counsel and Beyond Pesticides board member Paula Dinerstein, noting that Fish and Wildlife Service policy explicitly forbids “genetically modified agricultural crops in refuge management unless [they] determine their use is essential to accomplishing refuge purpose(s).” “GE crops serve no legitimate refuge purpose, thus refuge officials must resort to outright fictions to claim these crops benefit wildlife.”

National wildlife refuges have allowed farming for decades, but in recent years refuge farming has been converted to GE crops because that is only seed farmers can obtain. Today, the vast majority of crops grown on refuges are genetically engineered. Scientists warn that GE crops can lead to increased pesticide use on refuges and can harm birds, aquatic animals, and other wildlife.

For more information on this issue, see Beyond Pesticides’ page on genetic engineering and see our related Daily News entries.

Take Action – Call or email President Obama and USDA and tell them NOT to deregulate GE alfalfa

Please send your own comments (see suggested language below) and notify your networks, listserves, faith organizations, etc. and post on your website, urging other people/organizations to comment.

Suggested Language (add in your own):

“I am ___________, a farmer/citizen in (your state). Please do not to allow the commercial release of GE alfalfa. Before any release can happen, there must be independent scientific evaluation of public health, environmental, and economic consequences of that release, ongoing government oversight and protection, and a plan for compensation of those harmed by accidental contamination.”

Sincerely,
Your Name
Organization, Concerned Citizen, etc.

President Obama
Comment line: (202) 456-1111
Fax: (202) 456-2461
Email: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

USDA
Email: biotechquery@aphis.usda.gov
or call (301) 851-2300 and record your comments

Sources: Center for Food Safety Press Release, CFS/PEER Press Release

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27
Jan

EPA Proposes Stronger Protections for Human Testing

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expanded protections for humans used as subjects in pesticide studies on January 19, 2011, making it harder for the chemical industry to experiment on people. EPA has proposed dramatic changes in how studies that intentionally expose people to pesticides can be conducted and in what studies it will accept. These proposed changes should force the chemical industry to avoid these types of studies altogether.

EPA’s proposal is posted on the agency’s website and will soon be published in the Federal Register under Docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0785. Following this, the proposal will be open to a 60-day public comment period per a June 17, 2010 settlement agreement reached between EPA and a coalition of public health groups, farm worker advocates and environmental organizations.

In 2006, the coalition, led by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), filed a lawsuit against EPA, claiming that the agency’s 2006 rule violated a law Congress passed in 2005 requiring strict ethical and scientific protections for pesticide testing on humans. Attorneys with NRDC, Earthjustice, and Farmworker Justice served as legal counsel for the coalition.

Specifically, the 2006 rule followed a temporary ban on human testing put in place by Congress. It also allowed experiments in which people were intentionally dosed with pesticides to assess the chemicals’ toxicity and allowed EPA to use such experiment to set allowable exposure standards. In such experiments, people have been paid to eat or drink pesticides, to enter pesticide vapor “chambers,” and to have pesticides sprayed into their eyes or rubbed onto their skin. The pesticide industry has used such experiments to argue for weaker regulation of harmful chemicals.

“With this new proposal, EPA has cut the incentive for pesticide manufacturers to conduct unethical, and often unscientific, human experiments.” said NRDC Senior Attorney Michael Wall. “While it does not ban human testing outright, it sets the bar high enough that studies on people should not be an attractive option as evidence submitted to EPA. We don’t want to see anyone getting paid to dose themselves with toxic pesticides, but if EPA is going to continue to consider studies that use humans when it regulates pesticides, the research needs to adhere to these stricter rules,” Mr. Wall said.

Human testing, which was stopped by a moratorium in 1998, was reintroduced in 2003 by a court ruling on a pesticide industry suit. Following the reintroduction of human studies, EPA began to develop a rule for such testing. This came despite flaws found in such studies, and took into account industry pressure to approve testing in children, among other allowances. EPA released its final rule in 2006, despite the Congressional Report decrying human testing in 2005. At the time, committee member Rep. Henry Waxman stated, “What we’ve found is that the human pesticide experiments that the Bush Administration intends to use to set federal pesticide policies are rife with ethical and scientific defects.”

Beyond Pesticides rejects human testing as unethical and dangerous to both test participants and agricultural workers exposed to toxic, approved pesticides. For more information on the timeline of human testing regulation, click here.

Source: Earthjustice Press Release

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26
Jan

California to Take a Hard Look at Nano-Substances

(Beyond Pesticides, January 26, 2011) California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is asking in-state nanotechnology companies and researchers to share how they’re keeping tabs on several nano-sized metals, as evidence continues to emerge that these substances may have long-term implications for the environment. Nano-sized materials, now incorporated into many consumer products including paper wrapping, clothing and cosmetics, are currently not regulated and have not been assessed for hazards that have the potential to impact public health and the environment.
Photo Courtesy Oregon State University

Late last month, the DTSC put out a request for information about nano-sized silver, zero valent iron, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, cerium oxide and quantum dots. Specifically, the agency wants to know what tools companies and researchers are using to analyze these materials—a key question for regulators across the country in the effort to understand the impact of the substances—over a broad range of areas, including air, water, soil, sewage sludge and urine.

Nanotechnology, which capitalizes on unique properties of super-small particles, is already in use in manufacturing items like bike frames, skin creams and cancer treatments. As these tiny materials hit the market, there are huge gaps in what scientists know about their properties. Jeffrey Wong, DTSC’s chief scientist, said in an interview that his agency’s call for information —its second such request, after a similar move involving carbon nanotubes two years ago— is aimed at informing consumers. California, with its concentration of high-tech companies, is a hotbed for nanotechnology, Mr. Wong said, and the DTSC wants to push as much information into the public sphere as possible.

The basic question the agency is asking, Mr. Wong said, is, “What do you know about your materials?” Several of the metals, such as nanosilver and titanium dioxide, are of interest because they’re being used in consumer products. Nanosilver, for example, is used as an antibacterial agent in athletic clothing, while titanium dioxide is in some sunscreens.

Some studies have shown that these materials are turning up in end-stage sewage sludge, raising questions about long-term problems. Other materials on the list are even closer to the water supply, for example: zero valent iron is being used as an ingredient in efforts to clean up polluted groundwater. “The wastewater agencies have no clue” how to measure the amount of these metals, or what to do to get them out if they do pose a hazard, Mr. Wong said.

Prompted by a petition submitted in 2008 calling for the regulation of nanomaterials and to stop the sale of 250+ consumer products now using nanosized versions of silver, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that an active or inert ingredient would be considered “new” if it is a nanoscale material. The new policy would apply even when a non-nanoscale form of that same active or inert is already in a product registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA is in the process of preparing a Federal Register notice on nanomaterials and pesticide products. The notice will announce a new interpretation of FIFRA Section 6(a)(2) regulations, that the presence of a nanoscale material is reportable under FIFRA Section 6(a)(2) for environmental effects. This controversial interpretation would apply to already registered products, as well as products pending registration. However, this new policy has not been finalized or put into effect, while under review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Many attribut the holdup to industry backlash. Pesticide manufacturers routinely fail to inform EPA when their products contain nanoscale particles. Consumers are left in the dark about their potential exposure as these products are currently being marketed under ambiguous labels.

Nanotechnology is a powerful new platform technology for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the atomic and molecular level. Just as the size and chemical characteristics of manufactured nanoparticles can give them unique properties, those same new properties –tiny size, vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, high reactivity– can also create unique and unpredictable human health and environmental risks. Scientists and researchers are becoming increasingly concerned with the potential impacts of these particles on public health and the environment. A new study by scientists from Oregon State University (OSU) and the European Union (EU) highlights the major regulatory and educational issues that they believe should be considered before nanoparticles are used in pesticides.

While silver is known to be toxic to fish and aquatic organisms, recent scientific studies have shown that nanosilver is much more toxic and can cause damage in new ways. Exposures are occurring during use and disposal. Concerns over nanosilver were first raised by national wastewater utilities in early 2006. A 2008 study shows that washing nanosilver socks releases substantial amounts of the nanosilver into the laundry discharge water, which will ultimately reach natural waterways and potentially poison fish and other aquatic organisms. Another 2008 study finds that releases of nanosilver can destroy benign bacteria used in wastewater treatment.

Copper nanoparticles could be released from the treated wood during sawing or machining, cleaning, through normal wear and tear, or from product decomposition, and then become available for potential inhalation or ingestion. Reports stated in early 2009 that over five billion board feet of wood have been treated with its “micronized” copper products, so the potential for consumer exposure to nanoscale copper particles could be quite large.

In 2007, a broad international coalition of 40 consumer, public health, environmental, and labor organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, released the Principles for the Oversight of Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials, calling for strong, comprehensive oversight of the new technology and its products. Beyond Pesticides has since advocated for a precautionary course of action in order to prevent unnecessary risks to the public, workers and the environment. For more information on nano pesticides visit the antimicrobial webpage.

Source: New Haven Independent
OMB Watch

Photo Courtesy Oregon State University

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25
Jan

USDA Research Links Neonicotinoid Pesticides to Bee Deaths

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2011) Research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Bee Research Laboratory and Penn State University shows that the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid contribute –at extremely low levels– to bee deaths and possibly colony collapse disorder (CCD), the widespread disappearance of honey bees that has killed off more than a third of commercial honey bees in the U.S. While the study has not been published yet, the UK’s The Independent newspaper reports that honeybees exposed to imidacloprid are more susceptible to the fungal pathogen Nosema.

This is the first study to show that neonicotinoids impact the survival of bees at levels below the level of detection, meaning that field studies would not have considered the role of the pesticide, because they would not have detected it. USDA researcher Jeffrey Pettis, PhD and Penn State University researcher Dennis Van Engelsdorp, PhD explained their research in the 2010 documentary, The Strange Disappearance of the Honeybees (transcript courtesy of Grist.org):

[Pettis] I’ve done a recent study actually in collaboration with Dennis van Engelsdorp and some other researchers, where we exposed whole colonies to very low levels of neo-nicotinoids in this case, and then ‘challenged’ bees from those colonies, with Nosema – a pathogen – a gut pathogen. And we saw an increase, even if we fed the pesticide at very low levels– an increase in Nosema levels – in direct response to the low level feeding of neonicotinoids– as compared with the ones which were fed normal protein.

[Van Engelsdorp] You measure that effect (Nosema infection) at levels that you could not detect the pesticides – and so that brings up the question: if it’s having an effect at that low dosage –we would not have discovered it in our study because it was below the limit of detection. The only reason we knew the bees HAD exposure (to nicotinoid pesticides) is because we exposed them; otherwise we would never have known they had been exposed (to neonicotinoids).

[Pettis] The take-home message is that interactions may be the key. Bee Health is very complex and that these interactions are often overlooked and are hard to tease apart. So in this case we were manipulating ONE pesticide (Imidacloprid) and one pathogen (Nosema Ceranae) and we clearly see the interaction.

Dr. Pettis told The Independent his research had now been put forward for publication. “[It] was completed almost two years ago but it has been too long in getting out,” he said. “I have submitted my manuscript to a new journal but cannot give a publication date or share more of this with you at this time.”

Since the publication of The Independent story and leak of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) memo in December showing the agency used flawed science to approve another bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticide, clothianidin, lawmakers in the UK have begun calling for a full ban of all neonicotinoids. Member of Parliament Martin Caton, a former agricultural scientist, told The Independent that the evidence was growing that neonicotinoids are a problem, and that the testing required in Britain and European Union was not rigorous enough. “I think they should be suspended on the precautionary principle while we improve it,” Mr. Caton said. The House of Commons is expected to debate the issue this week, although a full ban is unlikely.

Beekeepers and environmentalists called on EPA December 8, to remove a pesticide linked to CCD, citing the leaked EPA memo that discloses a critically flawed scientific support study.

Clothianidin and imidicloprid are members of the neonicotinoid family of systemic pesticides, which are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen, nectar and gutation droplets from which bees then forage and drink. Neonicotinoids kill sucking and chewing insects by disrupting their nervous systems. Beginning in the late 1990s, these systemic insecticides began to take over the seed treatment market. Clothianidin is Bayer’s successor product to imidacloprid, which recently went off patent. Both are known to be toxic to insect pollinators, and are lead suspects as causal factors in CCD. Together, the two products accounted for over a billion dollars in sales for Bayer Crop Science in 2009. Imidacloprid is the company’s best-selling product and among the most widely used insecticides in the U.S. Starting in about 2004, seed companies in the U.S. began to market seeds treated with a 5-X rate of neonicotinoids (1.25mg/seed, compared with the traditional 0.25 mg/seed).

Colony Collapse Disorder is the name given to the mysterious decline of honeybee populations around the world beginning around 2006. Each winter since, one-third of the U.S. honeybee population has died off or disappeared (more than twice what is normal). While CCD appears to have multiple interacting causes including pathogens, a range of evidence points to sub-lethal pesticide exposures as important contributing factors. Neonicotinoids are a particularly suspect class of insecticides, especially in combination with the dozens of other pesticides found in honeybee hives. Key symptoms of CCD include: 1) inexplicable disappearance of the hive’s worker bees; 2) presence of the queen bee and absence of invaders; 3) presence of food stores and a capped brood.

The impact of pesticides on honeybees and other pollinators will be a featured topic at Beyond Pesticides 29th National Pesticide Forum, Sustainable Community: Practical solutions for health and the environment, April 8-9 in Denver, CO. Researchers and beekeepers, including Tom Theobald who first exposed the EPA memo, will be speaking at the event. Watch a video of Mr. Theobald discussing the leaked memo below.

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24
Jan

Agency Sued for Failure to Protect Endangered Species from Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2011) Citing the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency’s failure to protect over 200 endangered species from pesticides under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), two national environmental groups filed on January 20, 2011 a lawsuit to force agency implementation of the act. In what is penned by the groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), as the most comprehensive legal action ever brought under ESA, the lawsuit specifically challenges EPA’s failure to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service on the impacts of hundreds of EPA-registered pesticides that are known to be harmful to endangered and threatened species.

“For decades, the EPA has turned a blind eye to the disastrous effects pesticides can have on some of America’s rarest species,” said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center. “This lawsuit is intended to force the EPA to follow the law and ensure that harmful chemicals are not sprayed in endangered species habitats.”

According to EPA, the Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies, in consultation with FWS and/or the NOAA Fisheries Service, “to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species.” Despite extensive scientific evidence of widespread pesticide contamination in groundwater, drinking water and wildlife habitats across the country, however, EPA has registered over 18,000 different pesticides for use and over a billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S.

“The EPA authorizes pesticide uses that result in millions of pounds of toxins, including carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, entering our waterways each year, polluting our soil and poisoning our drinking water,” said Mr. Miller. “Common-sense restrictions on pesticide use that protect endangered species can also safeguard human health.”

The Center cites the re-registration of the herbicide atrazine as one example of EPA’s failure to protect people and the environment. Atrazine is a major threat to wildlife. It harms the immune, hormone, and reproductive systems of aquatic animals. Fish and amphibians exposed to atrazine can exhibit hermaphrodism. Male frogs exposed to atrazine concentrations within federal standards can become so completely female that they can mate and lay viable eggs. Atrazine is linked to cancer, birth defects and endocrine disruption in humans, as well as significant harm to wildlife.

The lawsuit seeks protection for 214 endangered and threatened species throughout the United States, including the Florida panther, California condor, piping plover, black-footed ferret, arroyo toad, Indiana bat, bonytail chub and Alabama sturgeon.

The Center for Biological Diversity previously notified EPA back in February 2010 of its intent to sue the agency when it approved 394 pesticides known to be harmful to humans and wildlife, without consulting with wildlife regulatory agencies as to the pesticides’ effects on endangered species. The Center has filed previous suites to protect endangered species from pesticides, including the California red legged frog, and the polar bear.

In 2004, the Center Silent Spring Revisited: Pesticide Use and Endangered Species. The study describes how EPA has consistently disregarded the regulations put forth under the Endangered Species Act, and put the interests of the agrochemical industry above the natural environment and human health.

Source: Center for Biological Diversity Press Release

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