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Got Organic? USDA Proposes Organic Check-Off Program, Family Farmers Question Value

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2017) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened a 60-public comment period January 17 on a controversial proposal to establish a federal research and promotion check-off program that has split the organic community, with many family farmers and small farm operators disagreeing with the larger organic industry groups, represented by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), on the benefits that they will derive from a mandatory payment requirement. The application to USDA for a check-off, originally submitted by OTA in 2015, has drawn sharp division on questions of benefits and cost to farmers. OTA believes that the check-off will generate resources to lift the organic market. This program is different from traditional check-off programs, which promote individual commodities. USDA oversees check-off programs under the Commodity, Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. According to OTA, the check-off creates an industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for certified organic products, whose overarching goal is to strengthen the position of certified organic products in the marketplace. OTA says this would be achieved by funding research to benefit the organic industry, improving access to information and data across the organic sector, and educating consumers about the benefits of organic, resulting in increased demand for organic […]

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EPA Ignores Risks and Expands Uses of Toxic Herbicide Enlist Duo

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2017) Despite science affirming its hazards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has expanded the registration of the toxic herbicide mixture, Enlist Duo, which contains 2,4-D and glyphosate, for use on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and extended its use on GE corn, soybean, and cotton from 15 to 34 states. This approval late last week comes at a time when widespread chemical use is threatening public health and the environment and weed resistance continues to grow, threatening farmers’ productivity and profitability. Over 600 public comments were submitted to EPA on this issue, with many comments vehemently opposing the current uses and the proposed expansion of uses. In its decision, EPA stated that Enlist Duo “meets the safety standard for the public, agricultural workers, and non-target plants and animal species.” However, as Beyond Pesticides stated in comments to the agency, EPA has not fully considered all the environmental costs, including the cost of tackling increased 2,4-D resistant weeds, crop and non-target damages from uncontrolled drift, as well as unanswered questions regarding synergistic chemical effects in non-plant species. Advocates predict weed resistance to Enlist Duo and have urged EPA to reject its continued use and incentive sustainable organic practices. Additionally, […]

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EPA Announcement on Bee-Toxic Pesticides At Odds with Latest Independent Science on Neonicotinoids

Friday, January 13th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2016) Just prior to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement on January 12 that several neonicotinoid insecticides “do not pose significant risks to bee colonies,” the preprint version of a new review of neonics identified the range of lethal and sublethal effects of the chemicals on non-target organisms.  The review, The Environmental Risks of Neonicotinoid Pesticides: a review of the evidence post-2013, authored by Dave Goulson, PhD, and Thomas James Wood, a PhD candidate, concludes that studies published since the 2013 European Food Safety (EFSA) published risk assessments show even greater risks. The EFSA assessment, which led to a moratorium on neonicotinoid uses, found that certain neonics on specific flowering crops pose a high risk to bees. With reference to the 2013 EFSA risk assessment conclusions as their baseline, the researchers summarize the difference in risk for certain categories, including: “Risk of exposure from and uptake of neonicotinoids in non-crop plants. Uptake of neonicotinoids by non-target plants was considered likely to be negligible, though a data gap was identified. Many studies have since been published demonstrating extensive uptake of neonicotinoids and their presence in the pollen, nectar and foliage of wild plants. Exposure from non-target plants clearly represents a Greater […]

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Glyphosate Implicated in Fatty Liver Disease

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2017) Ultra-low doses of glyphosate formulations fed to rats is linked to an increased likelihood of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to a recently published study in the journal Nature. A lead author of the study, Michael Antoniou, PhD, stated that the findings are “very worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease.” The findings point to the growing need to eliminate the widespread use of this herbicide, as it has already been implicated in endocrine disruption, reproductive effects, and kidney and liver damage. The researchers analyzed female rat livers obtained from a previous 2-year study on Roundup toxicity using molecular profiling techniques. These rats were administered Roundup via drinking water at a concentration of 0.1 ppb, which is an allowable level within both the U.S. and the European Union. The molecular analyses conducted by researchers on the internal organs of the rats fed Roundup included testing of liver cell disturbances. Overall, ultra-low dose glyphosate-formulation exposure led to observations of biomarkers also seen in fatty liver disease. These findings have human health implications “since NAFLD is predicted to be the […]

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Neurotoxic Flea Collar Pesticide Upheld, EPA Issues Warning on Children’s Exposure

Monday, January 9th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2017) After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its recent human health risk assessment for the organophosphate insecticide (OP) tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) on December 21, 2016, the agency announced it was allowing the continued use of the neurotoxic chemical to which children are widely exposed through pets’ flea collars and other flea treatments. According to EPA, ” TCVP is used as a direct animal treatment to livestock (i.e., cattle, horses, poultry and swine) and their premises, in kennels, outdoors as a perimeter treatment, and as a flea treatment [including flea collars] on cats and dogs.” In its announcement on January 4, 2017, EPA states, “We advise consumers to take certain precautions when handling TCVP products in residential areas. These precautions are listed on TCVP product labels, including: not allowing children to play with TCVP pet collar products, keeping TCVP spray and powder products out of reach of children, and washing hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling.” Advocates have raised concerns related to similar decisions on flea collars in the past in which EPA has issued warnings to mitigate risks, despite its inability to ensure children’s safety. Children typically come into close contact with pets and their […]

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Introducing Polli-NATION: Celebrating Unsung Pollinator Heroes

Friday, January 6th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2017) When it comes to pollination, bees tend to get all of the buzz. While they are crucial to pollinating many crops, it is important to note that bees aren’t the only pollinators working hard to provide the ecosystem services we rely on to support our food system. In fact, one out of every three bites of food we take is made possible by pollinators. In order to raise awareness for the unsung pollinator heroes all around us, Beyond Pesticides created the Polli-NATION Campaign, which highlights the important work of a relatively unknown pollinator each month. With it, we will raise public awareness about these pollinators, their contribution to plant health and productivity and the preservation of natural resources, and the threats they face in their daily lives, including toxic pesticides and habitat loss. Polli-NATION members include species like butterflies, wasps, flies, beetles, birds, bats, and more. By taking the time to read about our featured Polli-NATION pollinator, you will not only learn about the many diverse species we call pollinators, but also discover what you can do in your daily life to help ensure their survival. Our pollinator of the month is the bee fly! […]

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Texas Winemakers Concerned about Crop Damage from New Herbicides

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2017) Winegrowers in the Texas High Plains region are concerned that approval of new herbicides by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will devastate their profitable industry due to chemical damage from pesticide drift. Wine producers in this region of Texas have witnessed chemical damage to their vineyards that they blame on the toxic herbicides, dicamba and 2,4-D, used on cereal crops and pastures on surrounding agricultural land. A new herbicide formulation containing dicamba, XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, was approved by EPA, and the agency has recently proposed to register and expand the use of Enlist Duo, a herbicide that contains 2,4-D. EPA’s final decision on registration of Enlist Duo is expected in early 2017. According to Paul Bonarrigo, owner of Messina Hof Winery in Texas, the “approval of these formulations will wind up affecting every vineyard up there.” This will have ramifications across Texas, as the wine industry contributed $1.88 billion to the state’s economy in 2013. Advocates say that the new herbicide formulations present unreasonable adverse risks to humans and the environment in addition to harming the livelihood of farmers. Following on these concerns, Garrett Irwin, owner of Cerro Santo vineyard, stated,“If we get […]

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Herbicide Atrazine Affects Estuarine Phytoplankton Productivity, Threatens Aquatic Life

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2017)  A study published in December 2016 in Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, entitled The Effect of Atrazine on Louisiana Gulf Coast Estuarine Phytoplankton, finds that phytoplankton in estuaries in close proximity to agricultural operations are less productive than phytoplankton in an uncontaminated environment. The study examines three different estuaries of the Mississippi river in Louisiana and also evaluates microcosms with different concentrations of atrazine. Phytoplankton, incredibly important to estuary ecosystems and aquatic life, are an integral part of the aquatic food web and ultimately critical to the wild seafood market. As photosynthetic microorganisms, phytoplankton harness the sun’s energy for metabolism and create as a byproduct of photosynthesis dissolved oxygen, which oxygen-breathing sea life require. For the study, the researchers created microcosms, or large containers that are able to closely mimic ecosystems, so that they can observe the effects of independent variables. On average, phytoplankton in the microcosms are less productive at producing chlorophyll a in the presence of atrazine. The microcosm study design is important because it is difficult to separate and measure the effects of chemicals like atrazine in the environment, given the range of potential causes of phytoplankton decline. A variety of factors, like freshwater discharge rates, precipitation, […]

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72 Toxic Inert Ingredients No Longer Used in Pesticide Products Cancelled, 300 Others Still Not Listed on Labels

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2016) The Environmental Agency (EPA) has finalized a proposal to ban 72 inert (or secret hazardous) ingredients from use in pesticide formulations following a long fight with environmentalists who, in 2006, asked that pesticide product labels disclose any of 371 inert ingredients that could be in products. While this finalization is a step in the right direction, ultimately the move is viewed by advocates as inadequate. The original petition, submitted by Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, along with Beyond Pesticides, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and nearly 20 other organizations, called on the agency to require disclosure of inerts. To put the announcement in perspective, EPA is acting on 72 inert ingredients that are no longer being used, such as turpentine oil, and nitrous oxide. An inert ingredient is defined as any ingredient that is “not active,” or specifically targeted to kill a pest. According to a 2000 report produced by the New York State Attorney General, The Secret Ingredients in Pesticides: Reducing the Risk, 72 percent of pesticide products available to consumers contain over 95 percent inert ingredients and fewer than 10 percent of pesticide products list any inert ingredients on their labels. The report also found […]

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Cases of Pesticide Poisoning Up in California, Including Agricultural and Residential Areas

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2016) A California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) report of all pesticide related illnesses in the state in 2014 identifies 1,685 cases “potentially involving health effects from pesticide exposure,” combining exposures from agricultural and non-agricultural use. Of the 798 cases associated with non-agricultural use, 18% of them (146 cases) involved exposure in children under 18 years old. The exposure rates are alarming, and only strengthen efforts by local activists in counties like Tulare to protect children from pesticide exposure. According to the report, Tulare County has the highest number of reported illnesses related to pesticide exposure at 78, followed by Santa Cruz County with 67. The report, Summary of Results from the California Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program 2014, provides a summary of illnesses identified by the Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program (PISP), a program under DPR. Of the 1,685 cases potentially involving health effects from pesticide exposure reported, DPR epidemiologists determined that 1,073 of those cases were “at least possibly associated” with pesticide exposure, representing a 5% decrease from 2013. However, even though the number of associated cases decreased in 2014, PISP did see a 14% rise in the number of associated episodes, defined as “an event in which a single source […]

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Syngenta Research Farm Fined $4.8 Million for Illegal Pesticide Use

Monday, December 19th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week filed a complaint against a Syngenta research farm in Kauai, Hawaii for exposing a dozen agricultural workers to an unregistered insecticide on the farm in early 2016. Syngenta Seeds, LLC is facing over $4.8 million in fines from EPA for allegedly violating multiple federal pesticide regulations meant to protect agricultural workers. At the time of the incident, 19 agricultural workers went to work on fields freshly sprayed with the insecticide chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide. The incident with this highly neurotoxic chemical sent 10 workers to the hospital for medical treatment. EPA’s complaint states that Syngenta Hawaii LLC misused the pesticide “Lorsban Advanced” and that violated EPA’s worker protection standard. Due to its neurotoxicity, EPA banned chlorpyrifos for residential uses in 2000, but retained most agricultural use. EPA maintains that Syngenta failed to provide a waiting period for the workers to re-enter the fields. Additionally, Syngenta did not provide workers with personal protective equipment, as well as proper decontamination supplies once the exposure had occurred. At the time of the incident, an inspector from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) was present on the Syngenta farm, which triggered an immediate investigation from the […]

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By Killing Beneficial Insects, Neonic-Coated Seeds Increase Pesticide Dependency, Just Like Other Insecticide Applications

Friday, December 16th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 16, 2016) A new meta-analysis has challenged the belief that neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticide seed coatings have little to no effect on the health of beneficial predatory insect populations —on the contrary, researchers have found that the seed coatings impact predatory insects as much as broadcast applications of other insecticides. The study, authored by Margaret Douglas, PhD and John Tooker, PhD, of Penn State University, solidifies previous work that shows beneficial predators are affected through secondary poisoning as a result of neonicotinoid seed coatings. For their meta-analysis, the researchers combined the results of approximately 1,000 observations for field studies across North America and Europe that had looked at the effect of neonicotinoid seed coatings on predatory insects. The researchers compiled datasets that compare predatory insect abundance in plots that are planted with coated seeds to control plots, which are either managed without insecticides, or managed with pyrethroid insecticides. As predicted, the population of predatory insects are reduced in the plots where coated seeds are planted, compared to the plots that are untreated by insecticides. Additionally, the meta-analysis finds that coated seeds affected predatory insect populations similarly to soil and broadcast applications of pyrethroids. Generally, these findings indicate that the […]

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Report Finds EPA “Sugarcoating” Effects of Hazardous Neonic Seed Coatings

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2016) Net Loss, a new report released by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), indicates the use of neonicotinoid-coated seeds is exactly that, an economic drain for farmers that only results in the indiscriminate poisoning for non-target wildlife, such as pollinators. The report is a follow up to a 2014 report, Heavy Costs: Weighing the Value of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Agriculture, which concluded  that neonic seeds bring greater costs than benefits to farmers. Later that year, a study published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which  looks specifically at the economic value of neonic coated soybeans, made similar determinations —insecticide seed coating provide little or no overall benefit in controlling insects or improving yield or quality. CFS’s new report cites  numerous new studies published over the past several years that reinforce the group’s original determination on the realized benefits pesticide-coated seeds provide to farmers. Front and center in the report are preliminary results from the European Union’s suspension on the use of neonics on certain agricultural crops. The report finds that after the 2013 EU moratorium, despite cries from the agrichemical industry of rampant crop failures, yields actually increased. For maize, the EU saw a […]

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Bader Farms v. Monsanto, An Epic Duel Over Illegal Spraying of Herbicide Dicamba

Monday, December 12th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides,  December 12, 2016)   On November 23, Bill Bader of  Bader farms, Missouri’s largest peach farm with over 1,000 acres and 110,000 peach trees, filed a suit against the multinational, agrichemical giant Monsanto. Mr. Bader seeks compensation for extensive damags to his peach trees, which he blames on the illegal, or non-labeled, use of the toxic herbicide dicamba, brought on by sales of Monsanto’s new, genetically engineered (GE), dicamba-tolerant crops. Mr. Bader is projected to lose $1.5 million in revenue from the crop damage. The case was filed in the Circuit Court of Dunklin County, an area that has been hit especially hard by alleged illegal dicamba spraying. The farm’s insurance company refuses to cover damages from any illegal herbicide use. Without compensation for the damages, the farm risks going out of business. The illegal use of dicamba in this case is not an isolated incident. There have been many disputes in the Midwest over the  illegal spraying of dicamba and subsequent crop damage due to pesticide drift.  Numerous news reports over the past two  months in southern soybean growing regions have found that many farmers are, in response to weeds on their farms that have become resistant […]

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Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Lands Forum Set for Minneapolis, MN, April 28-29, 2017

Friday, December 9th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2016) Save the Date! Beyond Pesticides is pleased to announce the 35th National Pesticide Forum, Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Lands: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, which will be held April 28-29, 2017 at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Some of the lineup of the keynote speakers for the upcoming forum include: Liz Carlisle, author of Lentil Underground; Don Huber, PhD, professor emeritus of plant pathology and glyphosate expert, Purdue University; and Jim Riddle, organic farmer and former chair of the USDA National Organic Standards Board. The 2017 Forum is convened by Beyond Pesticides and Organic Consumers Association. We are collaborating with local groups, such as Pollinator Friendly Alliance, Giving Tree Gardens, Humming for Bees, Kids for Saving Earth, Blue Fruit Farm, Students for Sustainability, Birchwood Cafe, Seward Community Co-op and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). The Forum offers a unique opportunity during a critical time in our nation’s history to chart a course that upholds principles and values, policies and practices, that protect health and the environment. The Forum delves into key issues of the day, such as pollinator decline, a problem linked to  pesticide-intensive landscape and agricultural land management, and genetic engineered […]

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Local Pesticide Policy Reform Mapping Tool Launched; Sign Petition and Join the Campaign

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2016)  Two national non-profit advocacy groups, Beyond Pesticides and Organic Consumers Association (OCA), today launched the Map of Local Pesticide Reform Policies, a resource for communities and activists that documents pesticide policies adopted by local communities to protect people, pollinators and the environment. The map spotlights over 115 communities in 21 states that have taken local action to protect their communities from the adverse effects of pesticides by substituting a range of alternative tactics, from eliminating highly toxic chemicals to the adoption of organic practices. Beyond Pesticides are inviting people across the country to sign a national petition in support of the transition to organic land management. “The Map of Local Pesticide Reform Policies, a continuously updated resource, reflects the wave of change occurring nationwide as local and state policymakers take steps to provide protections to people and the environment that are not provided by federal policy,” said Drew Toher, public education associate for Beyond Pesticides. “The policies adopted so far reveal a strong desire by local governments to advance practices that promote nontoxic alternatives to the toxic weed- and pest-management practices increasingly seen as destructive to the health of humans and their environment.” “Meaningful change […]

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Pesticide Exposure Alters Bacterial Diversity in the Mouth

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2016) A new study released by researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle finds that exposure to organophosphate insecticides is associated with changes in oral bacterial diversity, particularly for exposed farmworkers. The study provides insight into the far-reaching changes pesticide exposure can cause to the human body, which are not captured by current risk assessment models used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although past research has investigated the impact of pesticide exposure on the gut microbiome, this is one of the first studies to look at oral bacterial diversity. For the study, scientists took oral swabs from 65 adult farmworkers and 52 non-farmworker adults in the Yakima Valley of Washington State. Swabs were taken both during the spring/summer, when exposure to pesticides is high, as well as winter, when lower exposure is expected. At the same time the swabs were taken, researchers also took blood samples of individuals in the study. Scientists focused on exposure to the organophosphate insecticide Azinphos-methyl (AZM), which at the time of the study (2005-2006) had not begun its cancellation proceedings. Results show that farmworkers have greater concentrations of AZM in their blood than non-farmworking adults in the area. It […]

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Help Protect California School Children from Pesticides in Communities Where Most U.S. Food is Grown: Send Comments by Dec. 9

Monday, December 5th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2016) People across the country can support farmworker children and rural communities by speaking up in support of better protection of California school children from pesticide exposure by December 9, 2016. Send a  short email to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) ([email protected]) to tell the Department it  must expand proposed buffers around schools to one-mile to protect school children during and after school hours, and expand the rule to cover all schools and daycare centers. Given that, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s latest statistics, “Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts [and a large share of dairy and livestock] are grown in California,” everyone who eats food in the U.S. has a stake in protecting children who live in the communities where the food is grown. Food purchasing decisions have a direct impact on the people who work on farms, their children, and the communities where they live. Support the more than 75 parents, teachers and advocates for social and environmental justice who marched in Tulare County to DPR’s draft rules for pesticides use near schools last week. Led by members of […]

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Arkansas Plant Board Advances Measures to Restrict Herbicide Dicamba, Linked to Crop Damage

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 2, 2016) Last week, the Arkansas Plant Board voted 12-0 to push measures that would ban or limit the use of certain forms of the toxic herbicide dicamba in the state. The hearing was called to address proposals that the board released for public comment on September 30, such as banning certain formulations of dicamba outright, creating restrictions on the time of year that other formulations of the herbicide can be used, and creating buffer zones in certain situations. This decision comes on the heels of a newly registered formulation of dicamba by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and widespread reports of crop damage across the Midwest and Southeast due to the illegal use of dicamba before it was registered. According to DTN Progressive Farmer, the three-hour public meeting was packed with almost 200 people, and approximately 20 of those testified. The testimonies highlighted the disputes and tensions that have arisen over the use of dicamba, as many remembered and spoke about Mike Wallace, a farmer who was tragically murdered on October 27 during an argument with a fellow farmer in Missouri over the illegal use of the chemical and subsequent crop damage. “We’ve seen exactly what […]

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European Court Decision Rules in Favor of Increased Pesticide Transparency

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2016)  A groundbreaking decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) last Wednesday ruled in favor of the environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) and Greenpeace Nederland, which had been denied access to industry studies and other information submitted by chemical companies to European regulators on the controversial weedkiller glyphosate  and the bee-toxic insecticide imidacloprid. In the two judgments  regarding public access to underlying environmental effects information on chemicals, ECJ clarified the meaning of “emissions into the environment” and “information on [or which relates to] emissions into the environment” within the EU regulation. The Court found that “emissions into the environment” includes releases from pesticide products or active ingredients contained in these products, as long as the release is possible under realistic conditions of use of this product. It interpreted the “information on emissions into the environment” to cover information relating to the nature, composition, and quantity of those emissions, but also “information enabling the public to check whether the assessment [is correct], as well as the data relating to the medium or long-term effects of those emissions.” This decision will allow for any interested party to obtain industry studies and underlying […]

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Health Canada Proposes to Ban Most Uses of the Toxic Insecticide Imidacloprid

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2016) Last week, Health Canada announced its intent to cancel nearly all uses of the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid after determining that the chemical poses unacceptable risks to the environment. Although imidacloprid and other pesticides in the neonicotinoid chemical class are  notorious for their harmful impact to pollinators, Health Canada’s decision to eliminate most uses of the chemical is based primarily on the danger it poses to aquatic insects. Environmental groups throughout the world are praising the proposal, but cautioning against the long, three to five year phase out period proposed by the agency. There is concern that the phase out  will permit continued environmental damage, and provide time for other toxic insecticides with similar systemic properties to replace imidacloprid. Advocates are urging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to complete its full assessment of imidacloprid and follow Canada’s lead in eliminating this toxic chemical. Imidacloprid  breaks down slowly in the environment and has a strong propensity to move through soil and into ground and surface water. Health Canada indicates that water quality monitoring data frequently detects the chemical in waterways at levels that poses unacceptable risks to aquatic insects. The agency was unable to attribute the source […]

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Choose Organic this Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2016)  With Thanksgiving just a day away, there is no better time to think about how we can more effectively join together as families and communities across divisions and different points of view to find a common purpose in protecting human health and the environment. Thanksgiving meals are commonly made with conventional agricultural products, which include a plethora of pesticides and genetically engineered (GE) ingredients that can affect  the health of consumers and agricultural workers alike. Read below to find out how you can combat the shortcomings of conventional agriculture with an organic Thanksgiving Day feast. Now, more than ever, it’s important to support organic and continue to demand agricultural practices that are protective of human and environmental health. According to GMO Inside, some common foods with GE ingredients purchased during Thanksgiving include: Campbell’s Tomato Soup, Wesson Canola Oil, Bruce’s Canned Yams, Hershey Milk Chocolate, Pepperidge Farm Crackers, Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing, Rice-a-Roni chicken flavored rice, Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce, and Kraft’s Stove Top Stuffing. Glyphosate, produced and sold as Roundup by Monsanto, is the most commonly used chemical in the U.S., primarily as a weedkiller in chemical-intensive agriculture. Glyphosate has been  found to cause changes […]

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Holistic Weed Management Benefits Farmers and the Environment

Monday, November 21st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2016) The potential benefits of “weeds” have long been ignored, but a new study attempts to quantify the benefits of all species within an agricultural system, including the undesirable ones. The study, Integrating Insect, Resistance, and Floral Resource Management in Weed Control Decision-Making, by Cornell University scientists, assesses and updates holistic integrated pest management practices. In a discussion with the Cornell Chronicle, lead author of the study, Antonio DiTommaso, Ph.D., states, “Managing crop pests without fully understanding the impacts of tactics —related to resistance and nontarget plants or insects— costs producers money.” The authors introduced a weed management decision framework that accounts for weed benefits and illustrates that by allowing low levels of weeds in a cropping system, a farmer can increase crop yields and provide numerous ecosystem services. In a case study of an herbicide-tolerant corn cropping system, which had been controlled primarily with glyphosate,  the authors demonstrated that the European corn borer (ECB) could be reduced  through holistic management decision making. The  data suggest that, “Milkweed plants harboring aphids provide a food source (honeydew) for parasitoid wasps, which attack ECB eggs.” By maintaining low densities of milkweed in the corn field, farmers allow beneficial […]

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