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Crop Damage from Monsanto’s Herbicide Dicamba Being Investigated in 17 States, Pointing to New Formulation Used in GE Fields

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 8, 2017) More than 1,400 official complaints of crop damage related to the herbicide dicamba have been recorded across 17 states this year, leading some to question a new formulation of the chemical used in genetically engineered (GE) fields. Dicamba, a toxic pesticide prone to drift off the target site, has been used in agriculture for decades. However, new GE crops developed by Monsanto must be paired with specific formulations of dicamba, and until now many believed these drift incidents were the result of illegal formulations of dicamba being applied to fields. But the extent of damage now being observed, covering over 2.5 million acres, is casting doubt on this theory, and raising more questions as to whether the new dicamba formulation is actually the cause of the widespread drift damage. Fruits and vegetables, as well as other crops that are not genetically engineered to tolerate dicamba are often left cupped and distorted when exposed to the chemical. Monsanto, DuPont Co. and BASF SE sell new formulations of the herbicide for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton, and state enforcement officials and farmers have attributed last year’s damage incidents to off-label uses of older dicamba products. Initial reports began to surface […]

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Petition Filed to Compel EPA to Review All Pesticide Product Ingredients

Monday, July 17th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2017) Last week, Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a legal petition demanding major updates and improvements to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current review of pesticides. The petition specifically seeks to compel EPA to require that pesticide companies provide safety data on all ingredients of a pesticide products, or formulations, both active and inert. The agency generally only requires data on a pesticide product’s active ingredient, despite evidence of potential hazards associated with synergism between ingredients, including inert (undisclosed) ingredients, and other pesticides applied in combination. According to Amy van Saun, attorney with CFS, “EPA’s job is to ensure pesticides are safe for children, families, and the environment, but numerous pesticides have other ingredients or combined effects that are causing significant risks and harm. EPA’s outdated and insufficient safety assessment endangers the public welfare and must be brought into the 21st century.” The CFS petition requests the following actions from EPA: Revise pesticide registration regulations to take into account all pesticide ingredients (active, inert and adjuvant) and their effects on the environment. Revise pesticide registration regulations to require whole pesticide formulation and tank mixture testing to take into account synergistic effects. Revise pesticide registration regulations to require inert […]

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Crops Damaged by Drift Widespread from Herbicide Dicamba Applied to GE Plants

Monday, June 12th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2017) Once again, there are reports that soybean and cotton fields are being damaged by off-site drift of the toxic herbicide dicamba. Last summer, farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee reported widespread crop damage from dicamba drift, which led to reduced yields. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a criminal investigation at several Missouri locations into what they said was the illegal spraying of dicamba in October 2016. This year, reports of dicamba drift and damage are already being reported in Arkansas, and 25 formal complaints have already been filed, according to the state Plant Board. In summer 2016, illegal applications of dicamba damaged thousands of acres of soybeans, cotton, ornamental trees and fruits and vegetables. After numerous complaints, EPA launched a criminal investigation into the illegal spraying of dicamba, an investigation that is still ongoing. Many suspect that farmers who planted Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® and XTENDFLEX® Cotton, the new dicamba-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) seeds in the region, when faced with a proliferation of pigweed, illegally sprayed dicamba across their fields leading to drift and off-site crop damage to other farmers. This year, although it is too early to say how many acres have been affected or what specific […]

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Court Revokes Federal Approval of Nanotech Pesticide

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, June 6, 2017) Last week, the U .S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to show that its conditional registration of the antimicrobial, nano-silver pesticide product “NSPW-L30SS” (previously “Nanosilva”) is in the public interest and revoked its registration. The case, brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), challenged the approval of the novel nanotechnology which was marketed for use in an unknown number of textiles and plastics. The decision underscores the need for EPA to ensure pesticide products, including nanomaterials, meet the standards of federal pesticide law. According to the Center for Food Safety, the Court’s decision is the first of its kind to address EPA’s responsibilities in issuing conditional registrations of new pesticide products like NSPW-L30SS. In its ruling, the Court ruled that EPA had failed to show that “conditional approval” of NSPW-L30SS as a new pesticide supported a public interest finding by the EPA with substantial evidence. EPA had conditionally registered the controversial pesticide back in 2015. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA can only conditionally register new active ingredients, such nanosilver particles, if EPA […]

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U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Rollback Waterway Protections

Friday, May 26th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2017) On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would reverse an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirement to obtain a permit before spraying pesticides on or near waterways. The passage of HR 953, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (known by environmentalists as the “Poison Our Waters Act”), is the latest update in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback commonsense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. It will now move forward to be considered by the Republican-majority Senate, where it will most likely pass and be signed into law. HR 953, if signed into law, would reverse a 2009 decision issued by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case of National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA, which held that pesticides applied to waterways should be considered pollutants under federal law and regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA), through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Prior to the decision, the EPA, under the Bush Administration, had allowed the weaker and more generalized standards under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to be followed. This allowed pesticides to be discharged […]

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Local Pesticide Ordinances Under Attack in the State of Maine

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2017) Local authority to restrict pesticides is under attack in Maine, as Governor Paul LePage has introduced a bill that would explicitly preempt the right of municipal governments to restrict pesticide use on private property. The bill, LD 1505, mirrors chemical industry efforts to suppress or preempt local democratic action to adopt public health and environmental protections in order to allow the unimpeded marketing of hazardous products. Those industry groups that are leading the charge to preempt local government action have a vested economic interest in selling toxic products and services and stifling the market from moving toward greener alternatives. Passage of the bill in Maine would serve as a huge blow to many local communities that currently regulate pesticides more stringently than the state, as the bill also includes language voiding any local regulations that predate the bill. Communities that restrict pesticides recognize that pesticides released in the environment know no boundaries, so that use can contaminate air, water, and land throughout the community. The effort in Maine to preempt local pesticide ordinances is likely being advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), given that the language is modeled after the organization’s State Pesticide Preemption Act, drafted […]

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Groups File Amicus in Support of Montgomery County, MD Pesticide Restrictions

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2017) Nine organizations filed an Amicus brief this week in support of a 2015 landmark Montgomery County, Maryland ordinance that restricts the use of toxic pesticides on public and private land within its jurisdiction. The law, intended to protect children, pets, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards of lawn and landscape pesticide use, is facing a legal challenge filed in November last year by the pesticide industry group Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE). The plaintiffs, which include local chemical lawn care companies and a few individuals, allege that the local ordinance is preempted by state law, despite the fact that Maryland is one of  seven states  that has not explicitly taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state. The law at issue, 52-14 (the Healthy Lawns Act), which restricts the cosmetic lawn care use of toxic pesticides on public and private land, protects over one million people, the largest number to be covered by any local jurisdiction to date. Passing the Montgomery County Council by a vote of 6-3, the bill allows time for transition, training, and a public education program over several years. In limiting the pesticides […]

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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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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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Got Antibiotics Straight from Your “100% Pure” Orange Juice? EPA Allows Them in Florida Citrus, Contributing to Bacterial Resistance Crisis

Monday, March 20th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 20, 2017) Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing residues of antibiotics in Florida orange juice, after approving an emergency exemption for the antibiotics streptomycin and oxytetracycline –allowing their use for a bacterial disease, citrus greening (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) bacterium that causes Huanglongbing), in Florida citrus crops through December of 2019, and further exacerbating bacterial resistance. The World Health Organization has called bacterial resistance “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.” The agency announced March 15, “EPA is issuing these tolerances without notice and opportunity for public comment as provided in FFDCA section 408(l)(6).” EPA states “time-limited tolerances are established for residues of streptomycin in or on fruit, citrus, group 10-10, at 2 ppm, and the dried pulp of these commodities at 6 ppm.” For oxytetracycline, EPA is allowing residues ” in or on all commodities of fruit, citrus, group 10-10, at 0.4 ppm.” [See below; organic standards do not allow antibiotic use.] In its review, EPA has determined that the toxicological endpoints of dietary exposure under the allowed tolerances meet the safety standard of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, but does not consider the public health impact of bacterial resistance to […]

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Oak Park and Evanston Act to Repeal Preemption, Assert Local Authority to Restrict Pesticides in Illinois

Friday, February 24th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2017) Over the last two weeks, both Oak Park and Evanston, IL have taken steps to repeal preemption of local authority to restrict community-wide pesticide use in the state of Illinois. The Village of Oak Park has approved a Resolution in Support of the Repeal of the State Pesticide Preemption, and the City of Evanston has approved a Resolution Urging the State of Illinois to Repeal Preemption of Local Regulation of Pesticides. Both of these actions urge the state of Illinois to repeal the preemption of local government regulation of pesticides and re-establish the right of local home rule governments to adopt pesticide restrictions on public and private land within their jurisdiction, as they deem appropriate. The push to pass these resolutions grew out of hard work from passionate residents and activists. For the Village of Oak Park, a local advocacy group, Go Green Oak Park, reached out to Beyond Pesticides (see PAY Mail section) for assistance in talking to itslocal board about these issues. Peggy Mcgrath, a member of Go Green Oak Park, said about the issue: “Big corporations are calling more and more of the shots. To protect our government ‘ Of The People,’ […]

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Take Action: Bill Will Eliminate Permit Requirement to Spray Pesticides into Waterways

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2016) The Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last week that will eliminate protections from toxic pesticides for the nation’s waterways. The bill now moves on to the full House for a vote and the public has an opportunity to let Representatives hear the concerns about weakening local protection of waterways from toxic pesticides. HR 953, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (code for the sponsors and supporters as legislation to eliminate environmental protection of water quality), is the committee’s latest effort in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback common sense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. The bill would repeal the Clean Water Act requirement that those who apply pesticides to waterways, with an exemption for farm use pesticides not directly deposited into waterways, obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Last May, at the height of fears over the Zika epidemic, the same Committee ushered through the same bill under another misleading name, The Zika Vector Control Act. Pensive lawmakers and the public saw through the ruse, and the bill was defeated. But, like previous iterations, including the 2015 Sensible Environmental […]

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Hundreds of Former EPA Employees Ask Senate to Block Pruitt Nomination

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2017) As the controversy surrounding the Trump Administration and GOP Congress’s plan for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to grow, a nonpartisan group of 447 former EPA employees united to write a strongly-worded letter urging the Senate to block Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as EPA Administrator. Citing EPA’s “fundamental obligation to act in the public’s interest based on current law and the best available science,” the group, whose members served under both Democratic and Republican presidents, calls into question Pruitt’s qualifications, given his longstanding record of opposing “longstanding tenets of U.S. environmental law.” This letter is just the latest in the constantly evolving debate over the need for environmental protection. In the past two weeks, the EPA has been under attack by the Trump Administration and Republican lawmakers who would continue to undermine the environmental protections required for clean water, clean air, and healthy natural resources. Myron Ebell, head of Trump’s EPA transition team, suggested last week that the agency’s already understaffed workforce be cut from about 15,000 employees to 5,000, with potentially more cuts to follow. Trump himself then issued an executive order proposing that for every new regulation promulgated, two must be repealed, an […]

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Common Pesticide Ingredient Labeled “Inert” Increases Honey Bee Susceptibility to Virus

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2017) A commonly used inert pesticide ingredient negatively affects the health of honey bees by making larvae more susceptible to a virus, according to a recently published study in the journal, Nature. One of the authors of the study, Julia Fine, PhD candidate, stated that the findings, “Mirror the symptoms observed in hives following almond pollination, when bees are exposed to organosilicone adjuvant residues in pollen, and viral pathogen prevalence is known to increase. In recent years, beekeepers have reported missing, dead and dying brood in their hives following almond pollination, and exposure to agrochemicals, like adjuvants, applied during bloom, has been suggested as a cause.” The study assessed honey bee larval development after exposure to a continuous low dose of Sylgard 309, a surfactant, in their diet. This organosilicone surfactant is commonly used on agricultural crops, including tree fruits, nuts, and grapes. Their results reveal that honey bee exposure to chemical surfactants such as Sylgard 309 led to higher levels of Black Queen Cell Virus and when the bee larvae were exposed to the surfactant and virus simultaneously, “the effect on their mortality was synergistic rather than additive.” This research comes at a time when […]

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North Miami Passes IPM Plan in Response to Local Activism

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2017) Last week in North Miami, the City Council took a significant step that could reduce pesticide use in the community. The Council adopted an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy modeled after a plan developed by San Francisco in the mid-90’s. The plan does not ban pesticides and herbicides, but instead aims to reeducate citizens and county workers on least-toxic pest management strategies with the goal of eliminating toxic pesticide use on city property.  The IPM plan does not address pesticide use on private property, due to state preemption of local authority. With the passage of the North Miami’s resolution, city operatives will now be asked to give preference to available, safe and effective non-pesticide alternatives and cultural practices. As stated in the resolution’s Integrated Pesticide Management Program Guidelines, the goal of the policy is “to eliminate the application of all Toxicity Category I and Category II pesticide products by January 2018.” On top of eliminating certain pesticide categories, the resolution also calls for staff training and expert consultants, both of which have the potential to help ease the transition in pursuit of the 2018 goal, and priority will be given to efforts to reduce or eliminate pesticide use near […]

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Groups File Federal Lawsuit Against Registration of Herbicide Dicamba, Used in Genetically Engineered Crops

Friday, January 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2016) Last week, farmers, environmentalists, and conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit that challenges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of a new formulation of the toxic herbicide dicamba. The new formulation is called Xtendimax with Vapor Grip Technology, which is claimed to have lower volatility. The petitioners claim that EPA violated its duties under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in issuing a conditional registration, and that it did not adhere to duties under the Endangered Species Act that require EPA to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure registration would not harm any listed species. The organizations involved in the lawsuit are National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity, represented by legal counsel from Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety. Dicamba has caused a lot of controversy in the past. In August 2016, farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee confronted widespread crop damage and braced for lower yields as a result of agrichemical giant Monsanto’s botched roll-out of GE soybean and cotton crops. The company, whose current line of glyphosate-tolerant crops are failing to control weeds throughout […]

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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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Death of Four Texas Children Linked to Inadequately Regulated Pesticide, Follows Other Deaths

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2017) The New Year saw its first pesticide-related tragedy yesterday when four children, ranging in age from 7-17, died from a toxic pesticide treatment on their house in Amarillo, Texas. The pesticide at issue, aluminum phosphide, was illegally applied under a mobile home where at least ten people were living. The chemical, classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a restricted use pesticide (RUP), is restricted for use by certified applicators (and those under their supervision) and it is a violation to use it within 100 feet of residential structures. CNN reports that a family member used water to try and wash away the pesticide after it was applied, and the combination of water and aluminum phosphide increased the release of toxic phosphine gas. The incident demonstrates the deficiency of managing risks of highly toxic chemicals by labeling them “restricted use.” It has been Beyond Pesticides’ position that chemicals with aluminum phosphide’s level of toxicity should not be available on the market, even with restrictions. In making regulatory determinations on pesticide allowances, advocates have urged EPA to calculate the reality of misuse and accidents, instead of assuming 100% compliance with product label instructions. With this approach, the agency would […]

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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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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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EPA Rule Tightens Use of Highest Toxicity Pesticides as Advocates Question Their Use

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2016) On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Certification of Pesticide Applicators final rule on restricted use pesticides (RUP) for publication in the Federal Register. According to EPA, the rule creates a national minimum age requirement of 18 for certified applicators, requires all applicators to renew their certifications every five years, and establishes “first time annual safety training for persons working under the direct supervision of a certified applicator.” States have up to three years to create their programs to implement the new rules for RUPs, and can build upon existing programs if they are equivalent or exceed the updated standards. While EPA’s rule represents a tightening of the restricted use provision, critics have long maintained that all persons handling restricted use pesticides —including those who work for companies that work in and around  homes and communities— should be certified because the supervision requirement does not ensure adequate oversight and protection. Those supervising non-certified applicators are not required to be on site, but, can be in telephone contact. Restricted use pesticides are not available for purchase by the general public, and may only be applied by a certified pesticide applicator or a non-certified […]

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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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Industry Challenges Local Maryland Restrictions of Lawn Pesticides as Preempted by State

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2016) A landmark Montgomery County, Maryland ordinance, which protects children, pets, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards of unnecessary lawn and landscape pesticide use, is facing a legal challenge filed last week by the industry group Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE). The plaintiffs, which include local chemical lawn care companies and a few individuals, allege that the local ordinance is preempted by state law, despite the fact that Maryland is one of  seven states  that has not explicitly taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state. This challenge comes on the heels of a recent decision by the 9th  U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down local laws in Hawaii aimed at protecting the environment from toxic pesticide use. An industry victory in Maryland state court would significantly impact the ability of local communities in Maryland to exercise their democratic right to adopt local public health and environmental protections that go above and beyond state and federal regulations that are deemed inadequate. The bill at issue, 52-14, which bans the cosmetic lawn care use of toxic pesticides on public and private land, protects over one […]

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