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Now Available: Videos to Promote Healthy Communities

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2016) Beyond Pesticides is pleased to announce that videos are now available from Cultivating Community and Environmental Health: Models for sustainable and organic strategies to protect ecosystems, pollinators and waterways, the 34th National Pesticide Forum! The videos cover the range of topics that were discussed at the Forum and include keynote speeches, panel discussions, and workshops. This year’s forum focused on the adoption of policies to protect human health and the environment, and organic land and building management strategies. Beyond Pesticides encourages activists, community leaders, scientists, and policy makers to attend its annual National Pesticide Forum in person to get together, share information, and strategize create communities that are healthy and free of toxic pesticides. For those who are unable to attend in person, these videos expand the incredible knowledge of the experts to the broader public to help inspire and inform community action. Watch the videos here. You can access the playlist, which includes all of the available videos of the 2016 forum, as well as previous years, on Beyond Pesticides’ YouTube page. Notable presentations include: Pollinators, Biodiversity and Scientific Integrity, by Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D. Dr. Lundgren is an agroecologist, director of ECDYSIS Foundation, and […]

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EPA Finds Atrazine Threatens Ecological Health

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2016) Following an apparent accidental release of documents relating to the safety of the herbicide glyphosate, late last month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also released and then retracted a preliminary ecological risk assessment of another toxic herbicide, atrazine. Under federal law, every pesticide registered in the United States is required to undergo a 15-year registration review to analyze human health and environmental impacts and determine whether the chemical’s use should continue another 15 years. The last decade and a half have seen plethora of studies underscoring that atrazine is harmful to human health, and poses unreasonable adverse risks to ecological health, despite attempts by its major manufacturer, Syngenta, to silence and discredit its critics. EPA’s preliminary ecological risk assessment finds that for current uses at prescribed label rates, atrazine may pose a chronic risk to fish, amphibians, and aquatic vertebrate animals. Where use is heavy, the agency indicates that chronic exposure through built-up concentrations in waterways is likely to adversely impact aquatic plant communities.  Levels of concern, a wonky equation that EPA produces to measure risk, were exceeded for birds by 22x, fish by 62x, and mammals by 198x. Even reduced label rates were […]

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EPA Releases then Pulls Its Report that Disputes Cancer Finding for Glyphosate (Roundup)

Friday, May 6th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2016) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a long  awaited review of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, concluding that the chemical is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans —then the agency removed the review from its website. After  pulling the report, the agency stated that the document was not final. In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released its findings that show  glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen. The 86-page report was published Friday on  regulations.gov by EPA’s cancer assessment review committee (CARC) and was reviewed  by Reuters. While the report finds  that glyphosate is  not likely to be carcinogenic to humans, EPA told Reuters that it took the action it did because the assessment was not final. According to Reuters, “The agency said the documents were ”˜preliminary’ and that they were published ”˜inadvertently.’” But, a cover memo, which was part of the assessment, described the report as CARC’s final cancer assessment document. “Final” was printed on each page of the report, which was dated October 1, 2015. This only furthers speculation that EPA has concluded that it will  renew glyphosate’s registration. The European Union […]

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500,000 Petitioners Demand EPA End Glyphosate Use

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2016) Yesterday, a large coalition of national organizations delivered over 500,000 petitions to EPA that demands an end to glyphosate use in the U.S. The groups held a rally outside the White House before marching over to EPA headquarters. The event, organized by Moms Across America and Care2, was also joined by Beyond Pesticides, Organic Consumers Association, Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs, and CREDO Action. Glyphosate  is a pervasive and toxic chemical found in Monsanto’s popular Roundup weedkiller and was classified by the  International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)  as a probable human carcinogen in 2015. This comes the week after news reports of the European Union indicating it  will re-approve glyphosate’s registration in the EU,  despite fierce public outcry, for another 10 years. Because EPA has not changed its classification of glyphosate as “not likely to be a carcinogen,” it is expected that  EPA will renew the registration  of glyphosate. (The report concluding that glyphosate is not likely  to be carcinogenic to humans was posted online  by EPA on Friday,  but taken down  the following Monday, pending the agency’s completion of its reevaluation.) “The current science confirms that glyphosate and Roundup are anything but […]

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Glyphosate Residues Found in Common Breakfast Foods

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2016) A report released Tuesday by the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) shows that glyphosate residues are widely distributed in common breakfast foods, such as bagels, cereals, creamers, and eggs. Glyphosate is a pervasive and toxic chemical found in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller and was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a probable human carcinogen in 2015. The report looks at conventional and organic-certified versions of 12  popular breakfast foods and ingredients (a total of 24 items) and finds that many of the sample foods or ingredients contain detectable levels of glyphosate. Testing was done by an independent laboratory using the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) method. Categories tested were: flour, corn flakes, instant oatmeal, bagels, yogurt, bread, frozen hash browns, potatoes, cream of wheat, eggs, non-dairy creamers, and dairy based coffee creamers. Of note is the finding that a sample of organic cage-free eggs contain more glyphosate than the allowable tolerance level. The lab found glyphosate residue levels of 169 parts per billion (ppb), while the allowable tolerance level is only 50ppb. The report acknowledges that the effects of other chemical ingredients in glyphosate formulations have not been evaluated, and the consequences […]

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National Conference on Pesticides and Non-Toxic Alternatives Convenes in Portland, ME Tonight!

Friday, April 15th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2016) Beyond Pesticides’ 34th National Pesticide Forum begins tonight at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine. As pesticide use in communities is being debated in the Portland area, throughout Maine, and across the country, Cultivating Community and Environmental Health, the 34th National Pesticide Forum, is being held at the University of Southern Maine Abromson Center, April 15-16, 2016. Click here to register now! Registration, which is $45 for activists and $25 for students, includes access to all sessions as well as organic food and beverages. Join us tonight for a special performance of A Sense of Wonder, by Kaiulani Lee, followed by a talk and book signing by Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us. Special Friday night only tickets are available for $10. A Sense of Wonder, which is a one-woman play written, produced, and performed by Kaiulani Lee, in which the actor portrays  Rachel Carson’s  love for the natural world and her fight to defend it, much of it taking place in Maine! It is the story of the extremely private Ms. Carson thrust into the role of controversial public figure with the publication of Silent Spring. This powerful two-act […]

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Majority of Europeans Want Glyphosate Banned, Use Continues

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2016) Two-thirds of Europeans support a ban on glyphosate, the  most widely used agricultural chemical in the world, according to a new poll. This as Germany plans to formally support a European Union (EU) plan to re-license the use of the chemical. Monsanto’s glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller, Roundup, has been classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), is detected in food, breast milk, and urine, and is increasingly used on genetically engineered (GE) crops, leading to the proliferation of resistant “superweeds” and environmental contamination. The poll conducted by Yougov, an international internet-based market research firm, surveyed more than 7,000 people across the EU’s five biggest countries and find  three-quarters of Italians, 70% of Germans, 60% of French and 56% of Britons support a ban on glyphosate. Despite this, the EU is moving forward on whether to approve a European Commission proposal to extend the authorization of glyphosate for another 15 years until 2031. The existing authorization is due to lapse in June 2016. The decision was delayed after the IARC classified glyphosate as a  Group 2a “probable” human carcinogen  based on […]

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EPA Finds 97% of Endangered Species Threatened by Common Pesticides

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2016) Two commonly used pesticides are “likely to adversely affect” 97% of species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), according to a first of its kind national assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The determination is part of a settlement reached by EPA and the Center for Biological Diversity, which requires the agency to complete a review of the impact of organophosphate pesticides chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon by December 2017, and two carbamate class pesticides, methomyl and carbaryl, by the end of 2018. Under ESA Section 7, any agency action that it  authorizes, funds, or carries out must find that it  “is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat.” Under ESA, EPA is required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) when registering a pesticide, in order to mitigate risks to endangered species. However, EPA routinely disregards this requirement, and has been sued numerous times for failing to ensure adequate protections for endangered species. Although CBD’s original lawsuit targeted potential pesticide impacts on California’s threatened red-legged frog, […]

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Glyphosate Found to Contaminate California Wine

Friday, March 25th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2016) Glyphosate is found to contaminate California wines, according to a new report from the non-profit group Moms Across America. Glyphosate is pervasive and toxic chemical found in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller and was classified in 2015  as a probable carcinogen  by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The report finds that all of the ten wines tested positive for glyphosate. The highest level of glyphosate detected was nearly 30 times higher (at 18.74 parts-per-billion, or ppb) than other wines from a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon  sourced from a conventional, chemically farmed vineyard. The lowest level (.659 ppb) was from a biodynamic and organic vineyard, a 2013 Syrah. According to the owner, the vineyard has never been sprayed, indicating the possibility of pesticide drift from conventional agriculture, which has been a real and persistent problem for organic growers. EPA has done little to protect organic growers, who often bear the burden, both economic and otherwise, of pesticides applied to nearby conventional farmlands and vineyards. The report also points out that “the detection of glyphosate is an indicator of the presence of many other co-formulants in glyphosate-based herbicides, which have recently been shown”¦to be endocrine hormone disruptors […]

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More Companies To Label for GE Ingredients, While Maintaining Their Safety

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2016) This week, four major food manufacturing companies, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Mars, and ConAgra, committed to labeling food containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, while exclaiming the safety of GE food. Each company released statements citing the new Vermont labeling law, set to take effect this summer. The four companies joined Campbell Soup Company, which announced its  own label on GE ingredients in January. At the time,  Agri-Pulse reported, “Campbell made clear that it still supported the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, but said that there is a need for national labeling standards that would preempt state standards.” A summary of the companies’  releases are as follows: Kellogg’s Kellogg’s North America President, Paul Norman, insists upon the adoption of a “federal solution for the labeling of GMOs.” Until that happens, he says, “We will start labeling some of our products nationwide for the presence of  GMOs beginning in mid-to-late April. We chose nationwide labeling because a special label for Vermont would be logistically unmanageable and even more costly for us and our consumers.” In addition to a label, Kellogg’s launched OpenForBreakfast.com, which invites consumers to ask questions and learn more about products that include GE ingredients. […]

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Boulder County, Colorado to Phase Out GE Crops on Public Land

Monday, March 21st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2016) Last Thursday, Boulder County (CO) commissioners directed staff to draft up a plan to phase out genetically engineered (GE) crops on all farmland owned  by the county. The county’s current policy, adopted in 2011, allows tenant farmers to grow certain types of GE corn and sugar beets on land leased through Boulder County, and will remain in effect at least until the end of the year. The five-year policy old has frequently come under fire from individuals and environmental groups that challenge the safety of GE crop production systems, and their effect on human health, water quality, soil health, and the overall environment. The Boulder County commissioners heard  recommendations from the county’s advisory committees, including the county’s Croplands Policy Advisory Group, the Food and Agriculture Policy Group, and the Parks and Open Space Advisory Group. A public hearing was held on Feb. 29  also provided public input on whether to continue or change the current approval in Section 6.1 of the Boulder County Parks & Open Space Cropland Policy that allows for the use of certain genetically engineered (GE) crops on Open Space land. That approval expires on December 20, 2016. More than 100 people […]

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Senate Blocks Vote on Bill To Stop GE Labeling

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2016)  Yesterday,  the U.S. Senate  voted to block a vote  on a food labeling bill that would eliminate consumers’ right to know whether genetically engineered (GE) ingredients are in the food they purchase. Senate Amendment  3450,  National Voluntary Bioengineered Food Labeling Standard, proposed by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), failed to garner the  60 votes necessary for cloture, which would have ended the debate and allowed a vote on the bill. The  vote of 48-49 effectively killed the Senate bill. The amendment is the Senate version of H.R. 1599, Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, sponsored by  Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS).  Opponents have dubbed the legislation the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act (DARK Act). The bill passed the House in July, 2015 on  a  vote of 275-150. In addition to  preempting the ability of all  states to impose mandatory labeling standards, the bill imposes a weak voluntary federal scheme in its place. Backed largely by House Republicans, the DARK Act makes it harder for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require mandatory national labeling of products containing GE ingredients, and safeguard current policies that allow companies to voluntarily decide whether to label foods containing […]

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“Muzzled” USDA Scientist to Speak at National Pesticide Forum

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2016) Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D., a top U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist who received a prestigious national award for civic courage  for his work on neonicotinoids and pollinator decline in the face of agency attempts to suppress his work, will be speaking at Cultivating Community and Environmental Health, the 34th National Pesticide Forum, April 15-16, 2016 in Portland, ME. Dr. Lundgren will join other top scientists and leaders who have stood up to protect human and environmental health, despite facing industry backlash and scientific suppression. His story was recently featured in Sunday’s The Washington Post Magazine, Was a USDA Scientist Muzzled Because of His Bee Research, as censorship of federal scientists has grown. As a Senior Research Entomologist and Lab Supervisor for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in South Dakota, Dr. Lundgren had worked for USDA for eleven years with great success, with his research drawing national attention and international recognition. However, in October 2015, Dr. Lundgren, represented by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a whistleblower complaint charging the agency with suppression of research findings that challenged the safety and efficacy of a widely used class of pesticides, neonicotinoids. In April 2015, PEER filed […]

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Senate Democrats Introduce Bill Requiring GE Food Labeling, Includes Preemption of States

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides March 9, 2016) Last week, Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation to  require  that consumer food packaging  displays genetically engineered (GE) ingredient labeling. The Senators’ legislation, the Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act  (S.2621), presents an alternative to the primarily Republican-backed Biotechnology Labeling Solutions Bill that recently passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on a 14-6 vote. The Biotechnology Labeling Solutions Bill, which embodies several provisions of the much opposed DARK Act, will  hide ingredient information from consumers by overturning state GE labeling laws like that of Vermont’s. “Rather than blocking consumers’ access to information they want, the U.S. Senate should move forward with a solution that works for businesses and consumers alike,” said Senator Merkley. “There is a way to give consumers the information they are asking for without placing unfair or conflicting requirements on food producers. This legislation provides the common-sense pathway forward.” The  Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act  will allow American consumers to see whether a food has been prepared with GE ingredients, while offering food manufacturers several options for including this information on or near the ingredients list. This framework meets the needs of […]

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Study Finds Majority of Germans Have Glyphosate in their Bodies

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2016) A vast majority of German citizens are contaminated with the herbicide glyphosate, according to a report from the Heinrich Boll Foundation. The findings come just one week after another environmental group in Germany, the Munich Environmental Institute, found traces of the popular weed killer in popular German beers. The results of this study add concern to EU-wide deliberations regarding the renewal of glyphosate’s registration. According to the study, 99.6% of the 2,009 German citizens monitored have some level of glyphosate found in their urine. Over 75% of these individuals have  concentrations that are higher than the EU’s legal level for glyphosate in drinking water. Further, children up to age 19 are found to exhibit  higher levels of urinary glyphosate than older adults. Individuals living near agricultural areas also show elevated concentrations compared to those that did not. Given recent data finding glyphosate to be the most widely used herbicide on the globe, it is not surprising that the chemical is near ubiquitous in human bodies. Similar results are expected in the United States. A pilot study conducted by the group Moms Across America in 2014 found that glyphosate may also bioaccumulate in the human body, […]

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Fish and Wildlife Service to Assess Harm from Glyphosate and Atrazine on Endangered Species

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2016) Under the terms of an agreement reached lasted month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will begin studying the effects of four commonly used herbicides on the health of 1,500 endangered species in the United States. Based on the terms of the settlement, the result of a series of lawsuits launched by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), FWS must develop a  plan to mitigate the effects of glyphosate, atrazine, and its chemical cousins propazine and simazine, on any threatened or endangered species. “This agreement will result in long-overdue protections for our country’s most endangered species,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at CBD. “Once the Fish and Wildlife Service completes its analysis, and the public finally learns just how toxic and deadly these pesticides are to endangered species, we hope that the government will ultimately take most of these products off the shelf.” Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to consult with FWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on the impacts of pesticides on endangered species when it registers a chemical under federal pesticide law (the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, or […]

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Glyphosate Residues in Popular German Beers

Monday, February 29th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 29, 2016) Last Thursday, the Munich Environmental Institute stated that it had found traces of glyphosate, the widely used and controversial weed-killer, in 14 of Germany’s most popular beers. These findings are a potential blow to Germany’s Beer Purity Law, which is highly regarded in German beer culture. Industry and German government immediately sought to downplay the results, saying that the levels found did not pose a risk to humans. However, according to the study’s results, all levels found were above the glyphosate residue level allowed in drinking water. Consumers have a right to be worried about the findings, as glyphosate was classified in March 2015  as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The results, published  in German, are broken down by beer and by micrograms per liter in picture format. The researchers cite the laboratory test results of the 14 beers, which found glyphosate levels  between 0.46 and 29.74 micrograms per liter. The highest reading is 300 times the legal limit for drinking water in Germany, which is 0.1 microgram per cubic meter. Hasseroeder, a beer brewed in Saxony-Anhalt in eastern Germany and owned by Anheuser Busch Inbev, contained the […]

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Feminine Hygiene Products Tainted with Glyphosate, Other Toxic Chemicals

Friday, February 26th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2016) Feminine care products sold in France may contain “potentially toxic residues,” according to a study conducted by 60 Millions de Consommateurs, a French consumer rights group. The study finds  traces of chemicals, such as dioxins and insecticides, in 5 of 11 products tested. A separate analysis conducted by Corman, a manufacturer of feminine care products, also finds  residues of the weedkiller glyphosate, which was classified in March 2015  as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Researchers at 60 Millions  reported finidng traces of halogenated waste, a by-product related to the processing of raw materials, in Tampax Compak Active Regular Fresh tampons. The researchers also detected residues of organochlorine and pyrethroid pesticides, linked to a wide range of adverse health impacts, in some Always sanitary towels. Highly toxic dioxins, which can be cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems and damage the immune system, according to the World Health Organization, were also found in products by OB and the European Nett brands. Corman, which makes Organyc panty liners, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency that it conducted its own analysis that confirmed the trace amounts of glyphosate, the active ingredient […]

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Irvine, CA Adopts Organic Management Policy for City Property

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2016)  On Tuesday, the City Council of Irvine, California, with a population of over 250,000 people, voted unanimously to stop the use of hazardous pesticides on city property. The Council adopted an  organic  management policy that limits  the use of synthetic pesticides on city property, which includes 570 acres of parks, more than 800 acres of right-of-way, 70,000 trees and nearly 1.5 million square feet of facilities. The policy permits pesticides   “only when deemed necessary to protect public health and economic impact.” The vote capped a campaign led by  the local advocacy group Non Toxic Irvine, which has been advocating that the city  nix synthetic pesticides in favor of better plant management and materials compatible with organic practices. The group is led by local mothers concerned about the synthetic pesticide health risks related to children.  Kathleen Hallal, a leader with Non Toxic Irvine, said, “It is not radical for a city to use organic methods. It’s radical to use toxic methods to control weeds and pests around our children.” According to the Orange County Register, in May 2015, the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) agreed to end the use of glyphosate (RoundUp) on all school […]

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Scientists Express Concern Over Widespread Use of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2016) A scientific review was released last week by a group of fourteen scientists in which they expressed concern over the widespread use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), the lack of understanding regarding human exposure, and the potential health impacts. Along with the reasons for concern, the scientific panel called for increased government scrutiny of glyphosate and further testing. In an excerpt from the review, the scientists’ state that,“A thorough and modern assessment of GBH toxicity will encompass potential endocrine disruption, impacts on the gut microbiome, carcinogenicity, and multigenerational effects looking at reproductive capability and frequency of birth defects.” The study, published in the journal Environmental Health, was authored by 14 health scientists mostly from universities. Pete Myers, founder and chief scientist at Environmental Health Sciences is the lead author of the report. “It’s time to call on the global science and regulatory community to step back and take a fresh look at glyphosate since everyone on the planet is or will be exposed,” said senior author Charles Benbrook, an agricultural economist and consultant at Benbrook Consulting Services. According to the report, federal health agencies, such as the U.S. National Toxicology Program, the U.S. Centers for Disease […]

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Congressional Reps Want EPA Review of Glyphosate-2,4-D Mixture Enlist Duo

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2016) Last week, 35 members of Congress, led by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) and Peter DeFazio (OR-4), signed a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, challenging  EPA’s review process for the  glyphosate  and  2,4-D  herbicide mixture, known as Enlist Duo. It is produced by Dow AgroSciences for use in genetically engineered  crops. The letter requests “more information about EPA’s plan to reevaluate Enlist Duo’s health and environmental risks.” The letter comes just weeks after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from EPA to vacate its own decision to  approve the  toxic herbicide cocktail. Because of the court’s decision, EPA is solely responsible for the decision about Enlist Duo’s registration. “This is part of a vicious cycle that is leading to more potent, dangerous chemicals being widely used on crops across the United States,” said  Rep. Blumenauer. He continued, “With the rise of herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops, herbicides are more widely sprayed causing weeds to grow more resistant — ultimately, requiring the application of even stronger herbicides. EPA must take action to make sure products entering the market to be used on our food are safe for human health and […]

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Loss of Soil Microbial Diversity Negatively Affects Ecosystem Services

Monday, February 8th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2016) A recent study has revealed that a decrease in soil biota, resulting from an increase in arid zones due to climate change, impacts the services that soil provides, from decomposition of organic matter to nutrient cycling and carbon fixing. “As the  aridity of soils goes up, the microbial diversity and abundance is reduced,” Brajesh Singh, Ph.D., a professor at Western Sydney University and an author of the paper, said. “As the soils’ multi-functions are reduced, so there are social and economic consequences.” Unfortunately, climate change is not the only cause for concern.  Studies have shown that conventional agriculture, intrinsically linked with the dependence on  pesticides, can also reduce diversity in soil biota. The study, published in Nature Communications, used two large-scale databases with contrasting geographic coverage (from 78 global drylands and from 179 locations across Scotland) and found that soil microbial diversity  positively relates to multi-functionality in terrestrial ecosystems. Put simply, when soil diversity is high, the soil can function more efficiently and provide a multitude of ecosystem services. The researcher’s models indicate that microbial diversity was as important as or more important than other multifunctionality predictors, such as mean annual temperature and altitude in […]

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Monsanto’s Glyphosate (RoundUp) Reported Most Used Herbicide Globally

Friday, February 5th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2016) According to a report published earlier this week, Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and Globally, glyphosate, manufactured by Monsanto and known by its product name Roundup, is the most widely and heavily applied weed-killer in the history of chemical-intensive agriculture both in the U.S. and globally. Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., author of the study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe, reports that to date 18.9 billion pounds (8.6 billion kilograms) of glyphosate have been used globally, with an estimated 19% of the use coming from the U.S. The report also points out that glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since “Roundup Ready” genetically engineered crops (GE) were introduced in 1996. Dr. Benbrook’s research concludes that, “Genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops now account for about 56 % of global glyphosate use. In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use.” According to the report, two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10  years. And, in 2014, enough glyphosate was sprayed to leave more than three-quarters of a pound of […]

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