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35th National Pesticide Forum Begins Today at University of Minnesota!

Friday, April 28th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2017) Beyond Pesticides’ 35th National Pesticide forum, Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, begins today and continues until tomorrow night at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis, MN! Walk-in registration begins this afternoon at 4:00pm, and the first session, Pesticides 101, starts at 4:30pm. Speakers during the conference range from distinguished scientists, professors, lawyers, public servants, farmers, and environmental organizers. You won’t want to miss out on this important opportunity to share in efforts to build local, state and national strategies to protect human health and the environment. Registration is $45 for the general rate and $20 for students, which includes access to all sessions as well as organic food and beverages. In addition to spending time with scientists and experts on the cutting edge of research, and the opportunity to network, we will serve light hors d’oeuvres and organic beer and wine tonight, and organic breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks tomorrow. Again, walk-in registrations are encouraged. Tonight’s events will include two keynote sessions and a book signing. The speakers are as follows: Jim Riddle, an organic farmer, gardener, inspector, educator, policy analyst, author and avid organic eater. Jim […]

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Dow Urges Trump Administration to Ignore Pesticide Impacts on Endangered Species

Monday, April 24th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2017) After contributing $1 million to Donald Trump’s presidential festivities, pesticide maker Dow Chemical Co. is asking the Administration to set aside previous findings of federal scientists across multiple agencies that confirm the risks that organophosphate pesticides pose to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species. This comes after the Administration abandoned plans to restrict the brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos, also an organophosphate pesticide created by Dow, despite mountains of evidence that show the chemical’s neurotoxic impacts on children’s brains. In letters sent to government officials, lawyers for Dow urge Administration officials and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set aside “biological evaluations” that detail how three highly toxic organophosphate insecticides –chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon– harm nearly all 1,800 threatened and endangered animals and plants, claiming the process to be “fundamentally flawed.” Federal agencies tasked with protecting endangered species –EPA, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture– have worked for years to identify the risks posed by pesticides to threatened and endangered species under to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under Section 7 of ESA, states that any agency action must find that it “is not likely to jeopardize […]

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One Week Until the 35th National Pesticide Conference: Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land

Friday, April 21st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2017) We are one week away from our 35th National Pesticide Forum, Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration! Don’t miss out on an opportunity to listen to and interact with a range of grassroots advocates, scientists, and policy makers. The 35th National Pesticide Forum, held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, runs from the afternoon of April 28 through the evening of April 29. Registration, which is $45 for the general rate, and $20 for students, includes access to all sessions as well as organic food and beverages. In addition to spending time with scientists and experts on the cutting edge of research, and the opportunity to network, we will serve light hors d’oeuvres and organic beer and wine Friday night, and organic breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks on Saturday. Walk-in registrations will be welcome, but to ensure that we have enough food and drink, we encourage you to REGISTER TODAY! Learn from Leading Experts: The conference speakers are leading authorities in their fields, which offers participants a unique opportunity to discuss cutting-edge issues focused on protecting human health and the environment. At the Forum, you’ll have […]

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International Legal Opinion Details Monsanto’s Violation of Human Rights

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2017) On Tuesday, the judges presiding over the International Monsanto Tribunal presented their legal opinion, delivering conclusions on the multinational corporation’s impact on issues ranging from human rights, food access, environmental health, to scientific research. In addition to Monsanto’s impact on human rights, the judges concluded that if ecocide were recognized as an international criminal law, the corporation would possibly be found guilty. According to the Organic Consumers Association’s press release, one of the organizing groups behind the creation of the Tribunal, “It is likely that the [legal] conclusions will lead to more liability cases against Monsanto and similar companies. This will shine a light on the true cost of production and will affect Monsanto (Bayer) shareholder value in the long run.” The international judges determined that, based on a legal analysis of the questions asked, Monsanto has engaged in practices that have negatively affected the right to a healthy environment, to food, and to health. In addition to these infringement of rights, Monsanto has had a negative effect on the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research with “conduct such as intimidation, discrediting independent scientific research, [and] suborning false research reports.” In the third part of its […]

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Anchorage, Alaska Passes Law Restricting Toxic Pesticide Use in Public Spaces

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2017) Last week, the Assembly of Anchorage, Alaska voted 10-1 to pass AO2017-59, an ordinance instituting a pesticide-free program on public parks, lands, and properties. The measure codifies and strengthens important protections for public health, particularly children’s health, water quality and the wider environment from the hazards of toxic pesticide use. “Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles should not have to worry whether their child will be exposed to a harmful pesticide that could have long-term health consequences when they visit public parks to enjoy the great Alaska outdoors,” stated Pamela Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), which helped galvanize community support for the measure. The new law, introduced by Assembly chair Elvi Gray-Jackson and vice chair Dick Traini, was the product of months of community stakeholder meetings and input. “That’s the way I like to do business in this community,” Ms. Gray-Jackson said to KTUU on the night the bill was passed. “Bring all the stakeholders together and have them work it out so we don’t waste a lot of time at this level.” Like recent policies passed in Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, MD and South Portland, ME, the law establishes a […]

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Study Shows Women and Education Reduce Pesticide Use

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2017) With pesticide use rising in Southeast Asia, a new study is highlighting the importance of education and social dynamics in driving farmers’ decisions to spray. When women oversee agricultural pesticide use, according to the study, these farms use approximately 42% less pesticide than other farms. The research, published in Science of the Total Environment this month, aims to provide insight on methods that may be used to intervene and reduce pesticide dependence. The investigation comes at a critical time, as international bodies like the United Nations indicate that rampant pesticide use has the potential to negatively impact human rights, especially in developing countries. In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, pesticide imports are growing at an annual rate of 61%, 55%, and 10%, respectively. These trends have international implications, as food imported from these countries is subsequently found contaminated with pesticides, with for example, 33% of crops imported to the European Union from Vietnam containing pesticide residue above maximum acceptable limits. To uncover the factors driving increased pesticide use in the region, researchers queried 900 vegetable farming households on their knowledge, attitude, and practices. Knowledge included understanding about best practices in agriculture, such as the difference between […]

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Maryland Passes Ban of Bee Toxic Pesticides on State Managed Pollinator Habitat

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2017) Earlier this week, the Maryland General Assembly took action to protect pollinators found in designated state pollinator habitat by passing SB 386/HB 830, Pollinator Habitat Plans- Plan Contents- Requirements and Prohibition, with bipartisan support. With this bill, the legislature will require pollinator habitat plans developed by any state agency to be as protective of pollinators as the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s managed pollinator protection plan requires. This translates to prohibiting, with some exceptions, the use of neonicotinoid pesticides or neonicotinoid-treated seeds or plants on state land designated as pollinator habitat. The bill’s passage represents the third major legislative victory to protect bees and other pollinators coming out of Maryland in the past year. Last spring, in a historic move, the Maryland legislature voted to become the first state in the nation to ban consumers from using products containing neonicotinoid pesticides, a class of bee-toxic chemicals that has been linked to the startling decline in bees and other pollinators around the world. The Maryland Pollinator Protection Act (Senate Bill 198/House Bill 211), which also received bipartisan support, stipulates that consumers will not be allowed to buy pesticide products containing neonicotinoids starting in 2018. However, the legislation’s reach does not extend […]

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Glyphosate Use Could be Linked to Pregnancy Problems

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2017) New data presented last week at a children’s health conference show that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular Roundup weed killer, is detected in pregnant women and could lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including shorter gestation times and lower birth weights. The researchers here are calling for more biomonitoring of the presence of glyphosate in the public, in spite of industry and government efforts to undermine the science surrounding the human health impacts of the herbicide. Researchers tested and tracked 69 expectant mothers and found that the presence of glyphosate levels in their bodily fluids correlated with unfavorable birth outcomes. The research is still in preliminary stages and is a project of the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN), which is studying the reproductive and children’s health impacts of rising herbicide use in the Midwest. The preliminary results were presented at CEHN’s conference last Thursday in Washington DC. Learn more about the project here. This is a huge issue,” said Paul Winchester, M.D., member of the research team involved with this study, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the Franciscan St. Francis Health system and professor of clinical pediatrics at Riley Hospital for […]

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Environmental Groups Turn Back to the Courts to Ban Chlorpyrifos

Friday, April 7th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2017) On Wednesday, Earthjustice, representing the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) turned to the courts to order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban chlorpyrifos. Their action comes on the heels of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision last week to reject the conclusions of EPA scientists and reverse a proposed agency decision to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos. In the new petition, the environmental groups assert that, “Because EPA has sidestepped this Court’s orders and failed to act on the substance of the petition, PAN/NRDC respectfully ask the Court to [give] EPA 30 days to act on its findings that chlorpyrifos exposures are unsafe and to establish deadlines for the next steps in the revocation and cancellation process.” In an interview with The Intercept, Patti Goldman, managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Northwest regional office in Seattle, WA, stated that, “It’s outrageous that the new EPA administrator would reject the scientific findings of its own agency and defy the law and court orders to keep this nasty pesticide on the market.” In its most recent analysis of chlorpyrifos, EPA determined that children between one and two years of age […]

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Study Finds Neonicotinoids in Water Straight from the Tap

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 5, 2017) A new study, Occurrence of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Finished Drinking Water and Fate during Drinking Water Treatment, has detected neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides known for their detrimental effects on bees, in treated drinking water. This marks the first time that these insecticides have been found in water sourced straight from the tap. Federal regulators have not yet addressed safe levels of neonicotinoids in drinking water, so at this point, any detection of these chemicals is cause for concern. The study authors “report for the first time the presence of three neonicotinoids in finished drinking water and demonstrate their general persistence during conventional water treatment.” Drinking water samples “collected along the University of Iowa treatment train” over a seven week period, May through July, 2016 directly after corn and soy planting, find three neonicotinoids, clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam at levels ranging from 0.24 to 57.3 ng/L (nanogams per liter). The University of Iowa tap water is run through a water treatment plant that uses conventional treatment methods.  In contrast, the Iowa City water treatment methods (granular activated carbon filtration) result in substantially lower levels of the neonicotinoids. Additionally, the researchers found that extensive transformation of clothianidin […]

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Pyrethroid Insecticides Cause Premature Puberty in Boys

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 4, 2017) Exposure to commonly used pyrethroid insecticides results in the early onset of puberty in boys, according to a study presented at the 99th meeting of the Endocrine Society in Orlando, Florida this week. Pyrethroids, which exhibit endocrine disrupting properties, have the ability to interfere with the proper regulation of the human body’s hormonal system. This research is the first to investigate not only the association between pyrethroids and accelerated puberty, but also the causal mechanisms involved in the physiological changes taking place within the human body. For the study, Jing Liu, PhD, and colleagues from Zhejuang University in China, analyzed the urine in 463 Chinese boys aged 9 to 16 for the presence of metabolites from the pyrethroid insecticide cypermethrin. Results show that a 10% increase in the metabolite 3-PBA is associated with a roughly 4% increase in luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones, which facilitate puberty and sperm production. The author’s note that, “Boys with increased urinary levels of 3-PBA have a significantly increased risk of earlier pubertal onset, in which the odds of being in an advanced pubertal stage are increase by 73% to 110%.” The study, acknowledging the limitation in determining causality, further investigates the […]

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Dow-Dupont Mega-Merger Moving Forward In the EU, Raising Food Security Concerns

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 3, 2017) The European Union (EU) has approved a $130 billion mega-merger between two agrochemical giants, Dow Chemical Company and DuPont Company, heralding a new round of takeovers that environmental and farm groups fear will reduce farmer choice, seed diversity, and endanger the future of sustainable food production. The consent to the merger was given with the requirement that Dow sells off its pesticide business, which it plans to do as part of a $1.6 billion asset swap with the FMC Corporation, a pesticide manufacturer. The Dow Chemical-DuPont deal is one in a series of mergers in the agriculture-chemicals sector being considered in the EU and also the U.S. The Dow-DuPont merger is happening alongside proposed mergers of Bayer and Monsanto, and Syngenta and ChemChina. On March 27th, a letter signed by 200 organizations across Europe was delivered to European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestage. The letter says that about 60% of commercial seed supplies will be centralized in the hands of just three multinational corporations if the mergers are all approved, and calls on EU regulators to step in and stop the deals and protect European farmers, and the European food system. The letter, organized by Friends of the Earth […]

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EPA Reverses Course and Allows Continued Use of Highly Neurotoxic Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos

Friday, March 31st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2017) On Wednesday, Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), rejected the conclusions of EPA scientists, and independent scientific literature, and reversed a tentative decision from 2015 to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos due to the chemical’s neurotoxic impacts. This would have effectively banned chlorpyrifos from agriculture. This decision stemmed from a petition and lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)  ten years ago, calling for EPA to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances and cancel all registrations. A Federal Appeals court mandated that EPA take final action by March 31, 2017. Mr. Pruitt’s decision leaves the door open for continued neurotoxic dangers for humans, especially children, who have been shown to be especially vulnerable to chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos is part of the organophosphate (OPs) class of pesticides, which were used in World War II as nerve agents. As potent neurotoxicants, organophosphates are extremely harmful to the nervous system, given that they are cholinesterase inhibitors and bind irreversibly to the active site of an enzyme essential for normal nerve impulse transmission. The scientific evidence of neurotoxic dangers associated with chlorpyrifos exposure is extensive and consistent. Epidemiological data also […]

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U.S. House Passes Bill that Supports EPA’s Pesticide Regulatory Program

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2017) The U.S.  House of Representatives voted last week to pass H.R. 1029, the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act of 2017 (PREA), reauthorizing the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2003 (PRIA) under the nation’s pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). When passed in 2003, PRIA established the legal authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect fees from pesticide makers for safety reviews and market approval. Over time, PRIA has been supported by pesticide manufacturers that are seeking approval for pesticide products, and public health and environmental groups seeking rigorous review and restriction of pesticides to protect human health and the environment. In a time of great uncertainty for the future of EPA, given proposed large-scale budget cuts, swift passage of H.R. 1029 with bipartisan support may signal acknowledgement by Congress that EPA performs a regulatory function that all sides agree is necessary, even though there is rarely agreement on the positions that the agency may take. Proposed reductions in EPA staff speak to the idiosyncrasies inherent in the Trump administration’s promise to reduce regulatory burdens while simultaneously making sweeping cuts to agency staff. E&E News points out that Trump’s plan to […]

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USDA Cancels Plans to Test for Glyphosate Residues in U.S. Food this Year

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2017) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has abandoned its plans to test the U.S. food supply for the presence of glyphosate residues, according to a story from veteran reporter Carrey Gillam in The Huffington Post. The decision comes amid heated controversy over the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, which was cleared by a California judge for listing under California’s Prop 65 earlier this year. The federal government’s pesticide monitoring program, which is run jointly by USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was criticized by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2014 for its failure to test for the widely used herbicide. In early 2016, Beyond Pesticides met with EPA regulators to discuss testing for glyphosate residues in the U.S. food supply. At the time, officials said that FDA was testing honey, and USDA would be conducting more extensive food testing beginning in 2017. USDA had tested soybeans for glyphosate residue in 2011, finding that 90% of samples contained residues between .26 ppm and 18.5 ppm, barely under the allowed food tolerance level of 20ppm. A 2014 Boston University study had indicated that both organic and conventional honey contained glyphosate concentrations despite […]

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European Commission Urges Full Ban of Neonicotinoids

Monday, March 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2017) The European Commission (EC) has proposed a complete ban of agricultural uses of the widely used bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides across Europe under draft regulations. The EC cites neonicotinoids’ “high acute risks to bees.” In 2013, three neonicotinoids were temporarily banned because of concerns about their high toxicity to bees. A vote by member states can happen as early as May 2017. According to Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, the European Commission has presented to Member States its draft regulations to ban the neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Three draft regulations to ban the three bee-toxic neonicotinoids across the entire EU were submitted to the Standing Committee on Plant, Animal, Food and Feed. These will be open to comments from Member States and a first vote on the Commission’s proposal could take place in May 2017. The new proposals are for a complete ban on the three neonicotinoid uses in fields, with the only exception being for plants grown in greenhouses.  There would need to be a positive vote from 55% of the Member States representing 65% of EU citizens (qualified majority) to implement the proposal. In 2013, the European Commission voted to suspend the use of […]

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Just Over a Month until Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land Conference in Minneapolis!

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2017) We’re just over a month away from Beyond Pesticides’ 35th National Pesticide Forum! Join us for Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 28-29, 2017. Click here to register now! Register Today: Get the Early Bird Discount (available until March 28)! As an Early Bird buyer, you can get a general rate for $40, a student rate for $20, or a business rate for $170. Scholarships are also available. All ticket price rates include organic meals: on Friday, organic beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvre; on Saturday, organic breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus organic beer and wine at the evening reception. For more details about registration, click here. Forum Overview: The national forum highlights nationally renowned scientists, including professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University, Don Huber, Ph.D., whose agricultural research has focused on the  epidemiology and control of soil borne plant pathogens with emphasis on microbial ecology, cultural and biological controls, and physiology of host-parasite relationships; Vera Krischik, Ph.D., a tenured faculty in the Entomology Department at the University of Minnesota whose lab does research on insect exposure to various insecticides, […]

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Environmental and Farm Groups Challenge Toxic Pesticides Used in Genetically Engineered Crops

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2017) Today, a coalition of farmers and environmental and public health organizations filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approving agrochemical giant Dow Chemical’s toxic pesticide combo, Enlist Duo, among the newer more highly toxic pesticide mixtures used in genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-tolerant crops. Comprised of glyphosate and 2,4-D (50% of the mixture in the warfare defoliant Agent Orange), Enlist Duo is typically marketed alongside commercial crops like corn, cotton and soybeans that are engineered to withstand pesticide exposure, leading to problems of resistance and driving the evolution of super weeds. This is the third lawsuit challenging EPA approval of Enlist Duo by petitioners, which include Beyond Pesticides, National Family Farm Coalition, Family Farm Defenders, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity, represented jointly by legal counsel from Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety. The lawsuit charges that approval of Enlist Duo “will lead to sharply increased spraying of toxic pesticides, harming farmers, neighboring crops, and wildlife.” Specifically farmers’ health and financial positions stand to be heavily impacted by the approval of Enlist Duo, as increased use will result in increased pesticide drift, an alarming concern especially […]

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Monsanto and EPA Collude to Fight Cancer Classification of Roundup (Glyphosate), according to Court Released Documents

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2017) In a lawsuit filed by cancer victims, a federal judge on Tuesday unsealed documents that raise questions of collusion between officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Monsanto to fight a cancer classification for the company’s flagship product, Roundup (glyphosate). The judge’s ruling comes in a lawsuit against Monsanto, charging that the company’s herbicide caused the plaintiffs’ non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According to the New York Times, the court documents “include Monsanto’s internal emails and email traffic between the company and federal regulators [and] suggested that Monsanto had ghostwritten research that was later attributed to academics.” The California lawsuit was brought on following the determination and listing of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015. The released files show that Monsanto was “tipped off to the [IARC] determination by a deputy division director at the EPA, Jess Rowland, months beforehand. That led the company to prepare a public relations assault on the finding well in advance of its publication,” according to the released documents. According to Monsanto’s internal emails, Mr. Rowland had promised to fend off efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services […]

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EPA to Investigate Civil Rights Abuses Over Pesticide Use in Hawaii

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2017)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is opening an investigation into whether the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and the state Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) are discriminating against Native Hawaiians in their administration of the state’s pesticide program. The investigation comes after a number of local community groups, represented by the nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice, filed a complaint in September 2016 asking EPA to take action against systemic abuses of Native Hawaiian peoples. Local efforts to protect pesticide-exposed communities have been repeatedly stymied by giant pesticide corporations operating on the island, which filed lawsuits that ultimately struck down local laws. EPA’s investigation will focus on the state’s activity on the islands of Kauai and Moloka’i. “The External Civil Rights Compliance Office will investigate whether in administering the pesticides program and the leasing and licensing of the state land program the HDOA and/or ADC discriminated on the basis of race and/or national origin against farm workers and residents of West Kauai and Molokai, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and EPA’s implementing regulation,” wrote Lilian Dorka, director of EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office(ERCO), in a letter to Earthjustice. Under Title […]

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Organic Agriculture Offers Clear Human Health Benefits, According to European Report

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2017) A recent European Parliament (EP) report concludes that organic agriculture and food offer clear human health benefits over chemical-intensive agriculture. The report, Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture, which was written by scientists from universities across Europe, used existing scientific literature to assess the human health effects from organic agricultural systems. The authors determined that organic agriculture has considerable benefits, including reduction in antibiotic resistance, lowered levels of cadmium in organic crops, and decreased dietary pesticide exposure levels. According to the EP report, “Overall, consumption of organic food substantially decreases the consumer’s dietary pesticide exposure, as well as acute and chronic risks from such exposure.” Organic farming is a systems approach that values healthy, biologically active soils to support plant life and provide critical environmental benefits, such as improved water infiltration, pest suppression, and carbon storage. It is through this preventive, systems approach that organic agriculture eliminates the necessity for pesticides, and instead relies upon soil health to prevent the problems that chemical-intensive agriculture cannot. This report adds to the growing body of evidence on impaired learning and lowered IQs in children prenatally exposed to low levels of certain pesticides, such as organophosphates. The […]

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UN Report Finds that Pesticide Use Negatively Impacts Human Rights

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2017) A report released by the United Nations finds that human rights are adversely affected by pesticide use. With chemicals, like pesticides, long advanced by the synthetic pesticide and fertilizer industry as the answer to feeding the world, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food report concludes that industrialized agriculture has not succeeded in eliminating world hunger, and has only hurt human health and the environment in its wake. The report will be presented before the Human Rights Council today, and aims to give the international governing body an in-depth understanding of the state of global pesticide use in agriculture and its impact on human rights, specifically as it relates to food security. It also looks at the impact of pesticides on the environment, highlighting the need for a transition to more sustainable agricultural practices on a global scale. Authors of the report, Hilal Elver, Ph.D., the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, and Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s special rapporteur on toxics, highlight the overarching problem with their observation that “reliance on hazardous pesticides is a short-term solution that undermines the rights to adequate food and health for present and future generations.” They begin the report by […]

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Common Household Pesticides Again Linked to Behavioral Problems in Children

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2017) Another study, published by a team of French scientists in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, links childhood behavioral problems to pyrethroid insecticide exposure. Synthetic pyrethroids are a class of insecticides that have increased in use over the past decade due to assumptions that they pose fewer risks to human health than older pesticide chemistries, such as organophosphates. However, this latest study is part of a growing body of research showing that pyrethroids share similar neurocognitive health concerns as these older pesticides. .   In this research, scientists investigate the interplay between pyrethroid exposure and behavioral problems through a longitudinal cohort study, which tracks levels of pyrethroid metabolites, or breakdown products, in the urine of mothers beginning between six and 19 gestational weeks and then in their children up through six years of age. Children’s behavior is measured through a screening questionnaire known as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). SDQ measures how social a child is (altruism), whether the child has difficulty sharing problems or asking for help (internalizing disorders), as well as how defiant or disruptive a child is (externalizing disorders). The study controls for a number of confounding factors, such as weight, education, location (rural or […]

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