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Herbicide Use and Chemical Inputs Doubled on VT Dairy Farms with GE Crops

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2016) A new report published by Regeneration Vermont finds that herbicide and chemical fertilizer use on Vermont dairy farms nearly doubled from 2002 to 2012, increasing from 1.54 to 3.01 pounds of herbicide per acre, respectively. The report, Vermont’s GMO Legacy: Pesticides, Polluted Water & Climate Destruction, by Will Allen, Ph.D. of Regeneration Vermont and Cedar Circle Farm, focuses on the failed promises of genetically engineered (GE, or GMO) crops to reduce chemical inputs required for crop production. While Vermont leads the nation on the GE labeling front, with its  law set to go into effect on July 1, the report, which highlights the flawed exemption on dairy and meat products, is a sobering reminder that this is only a part of the solution to the effects of GE crops and chemical-intensive agriculture. “While the law will force mainstream food corporations to label GMOs in products like Cheetos and Spaghetti-os before coming into the state, it turns a blind eye to the GMO-derived dairy that is the primary ingredient in, for example, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Cabot’s cheddar cheese,” says Dr. Allen. “This is about more than the consumer’s right to know. It’s also […]

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Emergency Exemption Granted to Allow Fluridone on GE Cotton

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2012) In response to an emergency exemption granted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow the unregistered use of the herbicide fluridone on cotton in order to control glyphosate-resistant weeds, the agency announced in the Federal Register Monday that it is establishing time-limited tolerances for residues of the chemical on food. Because resistance to herbicides in genetically engineered crops is predictable and expected, Beyond Pesticides has challenged EPA’s use of the emergency exemption provision of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Section 18, in this and other similar cases. According to EPA, of the glyphosate-resistant weeds, Palmer amaranth has become the most severe weed problem in Arkansas cotton production. It can reduce yields of cotton by more than 50 percent if there is a density of at least 10 of these weeds per row. Over 95% of Arkansas cotton and 80% of soybeans is genetically engineered (GE) to be glyphosate tolerant. Because glyphosate is the base herbicide used for weed control in this region, economic loss is expected on nearly 25% of acres grown. Over-reliance on herbicide-tolerant GE crops have caused the spread of resistant weeds that force farmers on the pesticide […]

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“Super-Weeds” on the Rise Due to Spread of Genetically Engineered Crops

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2011) At least 21 different species of weeds are found to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly sold as Roundup and used across thousands of acres of “RoundUp Ready” genetically engineered (GE) crops, according to a series of studies in the current issue of Weed Science. Palmer amaranth, one of the weeds discussed in the journal, can reduce yields of cotton by more than 50 percent if there is a density of at least 10 of these weeds per row. Fifty-two counties in the state of Georgia had infestations of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth last year. Studies confirm that the weed, which also competes with soybean, corn, grain sorghum and peanut crops, is also resistant to the herbicide phrithiobac in addition to glyphosate. Over-application and over-reliance by farmers on glyphosate to solve all of their weed problems has led to the proliferation of so-called “super weeds,” which have evolved to survive the treatments through repeated exposure. The most common species which have evolved these traits include pigweed (palmer amaranth), mare’s tail, and ryegrass. The spread of resistance is what has led farmers to increasingly rely on more toxic alternative mixtures, including weed killers like atrazine. There […]

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Despite Industry Claims, Herbicide Use Fails to Decline with GE Crops

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2011) According to the 2010 Agricultural Chemical Use Report released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), use of the herbicide glyphosate, associated with genetically engineered (GE) crops, has dramatically increased over the last several years, while the use of other even more toxic chemicals such as atrazine has not declined. Contrary to common claims from chemical manufacturers and proponents of GE technology that the proliferation of herbicide tolerant GE crops would result in lower pesticide use rates, the data show that overall use of pesticides has remained relatively steady, while glyphosate use has skyrocketed to more than double the amount used just five years ago. The 2010 Agricultural Chemical Use Report shows that, in the states surveyed, 57 million pounds of glyphosate were applied last year on corn fields. Ten years prior, in 2000, this number was only 4.4 million pounds, and in 2005, it was still less than half of current numbers at 23 million pounds. Intense corn growing regions have experienced an even greater increase in glyphosate applications. Glyphosate use in the state of Nebraska increased by more than five times in just seven years, going […]

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EPA Report Shows Modest Decrease in U.S. Pesticide Use

Friday, February 25th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new report detailing sales and usage of pesticides in the U.S. for the years 2006 and 2007 and showing a modest decrease in pesticide use. The report compiles data from EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other sources in order to track pesticide trends and monitor usage. Previous industry use reports had been published every two years between 1994 and 2001; however, the last report was published ten years ago, in 2001, leaving a gap in the data. In one of the more promising findings, the report shows that pesticide use in the country did decrease throughout most of the last decade. Use of conventional pesticides, measured in pounds applied, decreased about 3% from 2002 to 2007 and 11% from 1997 to 2007. However, the total pounds of pesticide use decreased only by approximately 8% — from 1.2 to 1.1 billion pounds — during the years from 2000 to 2007. While any decrease in the use of toxic chemicals is a hopeful sign, this marginal reduction does not go far enough. The fact that chemicals which are known to adversely affect human health and […]

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New Study Links Pesticide Use to Thyroid Disease in Women

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2010) Wives of agricultural pesticide applicators have a significantly increased risk of developing thyroid disease, according to the new study, “Pesticide Use and Thyroid Disease Among Women in the Agricultural Health Study,” published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Using data collected from more than 16,500 female spouses from Iowa and North Carolina enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study from 1993 to 1997, the researchers show that 12.5 percent of the women have thyroid disease, 6.9 percent have hypothyroidism and 2.1 percent have hyperthyroidism; whereas, the national average is 5 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Thyroid disease is more common in women than men and is the second most common hormone disorder affecting women of childbearing age. According to the study results, ever use of a fungicide shows a slight increased risk (odds ratio (OR) 1.4) and ever use of an organochlorine insecticide shows a 1.2 OR for hypothyroidism. Ever use of the fungicide benomyl shows a more than tripling of risk to hypothyroidism, whereas the fungicides maneb and mancozeb show a more than doubling and the herbicide paraquat shows a nearly doubling of risk. Maneb and mancozeb also show a more than doubling of risk […]

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Study Finds Low Pesticide Concentrations Can Become Toxic Mixture

Monday, November 17th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2008) A toxic soup of the most commonly used pesticides frequently detected in nature can adversely affect the environment and decimate amphibian populations even if the concentration of the individual chemicals are within limits considered safe, according to University of Pittsburgh research published in the online edition of Oecologia. The results of this study build on a nine-year effort to understand potential links between the global decline in amphibians, routine pesticide use, and the possible threat to humans in the future. Amphibians are considered an environmental indicator species because of their unique sensitivity to pollutants. Their demise from pesticide exposure could foreshadow the fate of less sensitive animals, according to study author Dr. Rick Relyea, Ph.D., an associate professor of biological sciences in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Arts and Sciences. Leopard frogs, in particular, are vulnerable to contamination; once plentiful across North America, their population has declined in recent years as pollution and deforestation has increased. Dr. Relyea exposed gray tree frog and leopard frog tadpoles to small amounts of the ten pesticides that are widely used throughout the world. Dr. Relyea selected five insecticides: carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, endosulfan, and malathion; and five herbicides: […]

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Gender-Bending Herbicide Contaminates Lakes Far from Use Sites

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2008) According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s 2007 Water Quality Monitoring Report, released in August 2008, the endocrine disrupting herbicide atrazine is detected in pristine lakes in northern Minnesota far from the agricultural fields where it is applied. Metolachlor, acetochlor and dimethenamid are also frequent contaminants, according to the statewide sampling. The report, which uses data collected by a collaborative program between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, analyzed samples from 55 of the state’s lakes. Atrazine was detected in approximately 87% of the 2007 samples, an increase from 2006. The presence of atrazine in such a large percentage of the lakes, many of which are located in non-agricultural areas of northern Minnesota, suggests widespread atmospheric deposition of this chemical (movement through wind and rain). “To some people, it is a bit of a surprise, but the concentrations are low, very low,” Steven Heiskary, a research scientist with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) told the Star Tribune. Unfortunately, this is not very reassuring, given the fact that many of the developmental impacts linked to atrazine are seen at very low levels, sometimes at just […]

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Pesticides and Degradates Widely Detected in USGS Chesapeake Bay Study

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2008) In a five-year study of the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found that, “Synthetic organic pesticides and their degradation products have been widely detected at low levels in the watershed, including emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and hormones.“ The report finds that concentrations of DDT, while still present, have declined since the 1970s when it was phased out. The findings are contained in a report entitled Synthesis of U.S. Geological Survey Science for the Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem and Implications for Environmental Management. The study is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), which is a multi-agency partnership working to restore the Bay ecosystem. According to the report introduction, “In 2005, which represented the mid-point of the Chesapeake 2000 agreement, there was growing concern at all levels of government and by the public that ecological conditions in the Bay and its watershed had not significantly improved. The slow rate of improvement, coupled with the projected human-population increase in the Bay watershed, implied that many desired ecological conditions will not be achieved by 2010. The Government Accountability Office (2005) recommended that the CBP complete efforts for an integrated assessment approach […]

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Industry Scientists Persuade State To Implement More Lenient Pesticide Regulation

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2008) Agribusiness giants Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto have successfully persuaded the state of Minnesota to reconsider their water-quality limit for the chemical, acetochlor. Scientists representing the industry presented their own studies to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and explained that the state’s original draft limit for acetochlor was too strict. Despite three years of research conducted by the state, scientists from Dow and Monsanto presented officials at the MCPA with six published studies- one of them in Chinese- which they claimed were overlooked by the state when determining the standard for acetochlor in waterways. As a result, the MPCA has decided to allow 3.6 parts per billion of acetochlor in rivers, more than twice the concentration of the 1.7 parts per billion previously proposed. As a result, three of five streams classified as ”˜impaired’ by acetochlor, including a popular trout stream in southeastern Minnesota, can no longer be considered polluted. Some environmental advocacy groups question whether the MPCA gave favorable treatment to the pesticide makers, claiming that other research that suggest that the chemical can cause ecological damage have not been seriously considered. “It looks like there’s a double standard, that industry can come in […]

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Pesticides Linked to Rising Autism Rates

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

November 13, 2007) Autism is on the rise, both in prevalence and incidence, and there is growing evidence that environmental insults, such as pesticides, are linked to this developmental disability. According to the latest study, published in the October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, children born to mothers living near fields where pesticides are applied are more likely to develop autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The authors of “Maternal Residence Near Agricultural Pesticide Applications and Autism Spectrum Disorders among Children in the California Central Valley” compared maternal pesticide exposure for 465 children with ASDs and 6,975 children without ASDs living in the same area. The research reveals that mothers who lived within 500 meters of fields sprayed with organochlorine pesticides, specifically endosulfan and dicofol, during their first trimester of pregnancy had a six times higher chance of having children with autism compared to mothers who did not live near the fields. Mark Horton, M.D., director of the California Department of Health, said the findings are exploratory and indicate that more research of the relationship between organochlorines and ASDs is needed. (See Daily News Blog posting from July 31, 2007 for further reactions from health care officials and more details about this […]

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Honeybees Vanish, Threatening Crops and Livelihoods

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2007) In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have been shocked to find that bees have been inexplicably disappearing at an alarming rate, according to an article in the New York Times last week. This loss of honeybees threatens not only beekeeper livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable crops. Although the reasons for the honeybee disappearances are unknown, pesticides may be one of the culprits. “I have never seen anything like it,” David Bradshaw, a California beekeeper, said. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.” Last month he discovered that half of his 100 million bees were missing. Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction. Bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold. As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call “colony collapse disorder,” growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability […]

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