Action of the week is intended to provide you, our supporters and network, with one concrete action that you can take each week to have your voice heard on governmental actions that are harmful to the environment and public and worker health, increase overall pesticide use, or undermine the advancement of organic, sustainable, and regenerative practices and policies. As an example, topics may include toxic chemical use, pollinator protection, organic agriculture and land use, global climate change, and regulatory or enforcement violations.
Send a message to your members of Congress telling them to take action to oppose the corporate influence of Dow Chemical over the Trump Administration!
Last week, reports came out about the corporate influence of Dow Chemical over the Trump Administration and its work to undermine science across multiple federal agencies. After contributing $1 million to Donald Trump’s presidential festivities, pesticide maker Dow Chemical 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.
According to the Associated Press, “lawyers representing Dow, whose CEO is a close adviser to Trump, and two other manufacturers of organophosphates sent letters last week to the heads of three of Trump's Cabinet agencies. The companies asked them "to set aside" the results of government studies the companies contend are fundamentally flawed.” The agencies being targeted are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which have compiled more than 10,000 pages on official record about chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion, indicating that these pesticides pose a risk to almost every endangered species being assessed.
While these agencies are not without flaws in their regulatory practices, the clear attacks on public health and the environment by the Trump Administration through corporate collusion demands urgent action. We must ensure that the public health and environmental protections that we depend upon for clean water, clean air, and healthy natural resources are not undermined by the new administration and the corporations which have the ear of Trump and his agency heads.
As a constituent, your voice, joined by others around the country, will make a difference!
Take Action to Restrict the Use of Neonicotinoids to Protect Human and Environmental Health!
With new findings of neonicotinoid (neonics) insecticides in waterways and in drinking water, it is imperative that action be taken to restrict the contamination of our waters by these persistent chemicals.
As pollinators nationwide suffer severe declines tied to widespread exposure to neonics, a new report released last week by Beyond Pesticides details the chemicals’ dramatic impacts on aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity. This report coincides with findings of neonicotinoids in drinking water.
An early 2017 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) preliminary risk assessment on one of the most widely used neonics, imidacloprid, reports levels in streams, rivers, lakes and drainage canals that routinely exceed acute and chronic toxicity endpoints derived for freshwater invertebrates. EPA has not released the risk assessment for public comment as planned, as planned.
Given the threat that imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids pose to the aquatic food web, it is critical that EPA moves ahead with its assessment. Use your voice to help ensure the use of neonics are adequately restricted by using the different levels of action below.
Federal level action:
>>Send a message to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt urging him to move ahead with the publication of the aquatic risk assessment of imidacloprid to ensure adequate protection of our nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes, as has been done in Canada, which recently proposed to phase-out uses.
State level action:
>>Send an email to your governor urging him/her to suspend the use of neonicotinoids in their state, citing risks to aquatic life and contamination of our waterways.
>>If you haven’t already seen our action from last week, send an email to Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, telling him to protect pollinators by removing neonicotinoid products from its website!
Thank you for taking action to restrict the use of neonicotinoids to protect human and environmental health!
On March 30, Beyond Pesticides and over 30 environmental and public health groups, joined by several environmentally responsible businesses, sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, urging him to remove products linked to pollinator declines from the retailer’s website. Citing federal inertia that has allowed pollinator declines to continue at alarming rates, the groups pointed to the need for action from private companies to combat known threats to pollinators, in this case a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are found in many home and garden products, and have been determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be highly toxic to bees. According to the letter, “Independent scientific literature associates the use of bee-toxic pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, with impaired pollinator health and decline, including reduced populations of native bees, butterflies and other beneficial organisms.”
The groups call on Amazon “to use its influence as the largest online retailer in the U.S. to lead marketplace change and protect pollinators by prohibiting the sale of pollinator-toxic neonicotinoid pesticide products, educating consumers on the availability of safer, pollinator friendly” alternatives.”
This ask comes on the heels of the decision by the federal government to officially list the rusty patch bumblebee as an endangered species – the first ever bumblebee, and first bee overall in the continental U.S. Without swift and meaningful action by companies like Amazon, these environmental groups allege that the rusty patch bumblebee may be the “canary in the coal mine” for larger and further reaching pollinator losses.
Thank you for sending a message of concern to Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos!
Tell EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to Protect Human Health and the Environment over Corporate Interests!
This past Wednesday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Scott Pruitt, rejected the conclusions of EPA scientists and independent scientific literature, and reversed a proposed decision from 2015 that 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. The lawsuit required EPA to respond to the petition by March 31, 2017. Mr. Pruitt’s decision allows continued neurotoxic dangers for humans, especially children, who have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to chlorpyrifos.
Let your voice be heard on this. It is not a waste of our energy to continue to communicate with federal agencies that are not upholding their responsibility to protect people and the environment. Our communications against decisions like this will be noticed, just as our failure to communicate will be viewed as an indicator of support.
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.
According to the EPA press release regarding the decision to reject the petition to ban chlorpyrifos, Mr. Pruitt cited the “…need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment.” Sheryl Kunickis, the director of the Office of Pesticide Management Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) supported the decision and went on to say that the decision would benefit both farmers and consumers.EPA’s own science and extensive independent science contradict these statements.
Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides, responded to EPA’s decision to retain uses of chlorpyrifos.
EPA’s decision is a warning to consumers that we live in a buyer beware country, where consumers and those who may use or work around pesticides must be on the lookout to protect themselves and their families, given that lack of protection from EPA. The best solution is to avoid food grown with toxic pesticides by buying certified organic food, test and filter drinking water for residues, and ensure that lawn and garden practices and products used in homes, parks, and school yards are organic compatible. The EPA’s announcement is a signal that the public cannot trust the safety of the food supply grown with toxic pesticides and pesticides available in stores and used in communities across the country.
Thank you for sending a message of concern to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt!
On March 21, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) officially listed the rusty patched bumblebee under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), after months of turmoil due to the Trump Administration’s temporary freeze on federal regulations adopted at the end of the Obama Administration. This historic protection comes at a critical moment for this important pollinator, which has vanished from 90 percent of its range since the 1990s.
According to FWS, “Causes of the decline in rusty patched bumble bee populations are believed to be loss of habitat; disease and parasites; use of pesticides that directly or indirectly kill the bees; climate change, which can affect the availability of the flowers they depend on; and extremely small population size. Most likely, a combination of these factors has caused the decline in rusty patched bumble bees.” There is substantial research demonstrating that neonicotinoid insecticides, working either individually or synergistically, play a critical role in the ongoing decline of bees and other pollinators.
Although there may be weaknesses in the ultimate protection, environmental groups and other concerned parties can unify around strenuously enforcing this decision. As EPA makes decisions on allowable pesticide use, it must ensure that the approved pesticide uses do not “take” or “harm” the listed species. Groups will keep a lookout for new lawsuits coming from industry to challenge this decision. While attacks against ESA listings are likely to become more frequent over the next several years, the importance of wild pollinators, both to agricultural productivity and for their intrinsic value, has become more widely understood, as domesticated and native bees suffer dramatic declines in their population.
In addition to the rusty patched bumblebee, a recent report from the Center for Biological Diversity found that nearly 1 in 4 species of native bee is imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction. Many studies link pesticide use to these declines. Neonicotinoids have been shown to impair bee foraging and learning behavior, reproduction, and suppress bee immune systems making them more susceptible to disease and parasites.
Thank you for sending a message of support to FWS officials!
Contact your Members of Congress and demand an investigation into the collusion between EPA and Monsanto about Roundup’s safety!
Documents unveiled last Tuesday reveal 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. According to the New York Times, the released files show that Monsanto was “tipped off to the [International Agency for Research on Cancer] determination by a deputy division director at EPA, Jess Rowland, months beforehand. That led the company to prepare a public relations assault on the finding well in advance of its publication.”
>>Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator or Representative. Tell them you demand an immediate investigation into collusion between EPA and Monsanto using the call script below!
In response to the released files and questions on glyphosate safety, Congressman Ted Lieu issued this statement:
Reports suggest that a senior official at the EPA worked to suppress a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review of glyphosate, and may have leaked information to Monsanto. I believe that a Department of Justice investigation is warranted to look into any potential misconduct by employees of the EPA. I also believe a congressional hearing is immediately warranted.
All Senators and Representatives should be concerned about this level of collusion between government officials and chemical companies and must demand an investigation. The very agency that is tasked with protecting human health and the environment has been found to be protecting corporate interests instead and it must be stopped.
>>Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator or Representative. Tell them you demand an immediate investigation into collusion between EPA and Monsanto using the call script below!
Hi [Senator or Representative], my name is [ ] and I am a constituent in [home state]. I am calling to ask you to join with Representative Lieu in demanding an immediate Department of Justice investigation into potential misconduct by EPA employees surrounding the safety of glyphosate (Roundup). Recent reports suggest that a top official at EPA worked to suppress a Department of Health and Human Services review of the pesticide and leaked confidential information to Monsanto.
Please join with Representative Lieu in demanding an immediate congressional hearing and investigation of potential collusion between EPA officials and Monsanto that may have misled the public on the health risks from Roundup. Thank you, and I will be following your actions on this in the coming weeks.
With spring right around the corner, now is the time to educate your neighbors on the importance of pesticide-free lawn care.
You don’t need to use toxic lawn chemicals to have a safe and healthy green lawn. But it’s not always easy to talk to people about pesticides. Our Safe Lawn Door-Hanger helps concerned neighbors spread the word about lawn pesticides and alternatives with minimal confrontation. It can be used as an icebreaker for conversation or just hung on the front door or other visible spot of the homes you know or suspect use pesticides. The information on the hanger leads them to helpful resources on safe lawn care from every region of the country.
The back of the doorknob hanger states, “You don’t need to use toxic lawn chemicals to have a safe and healthy green lawn” and “It’s never too late to have a naturally green lawn. Spring, Summer, or Fall, there are simple steps you can take to prevent weeds, nurture soil, and never use dangerous lawn pesticides. It’s worth it!”.
A growing body of evidence in scientific literature shows that pesticide exposure adversely affects neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems in humans, even at low levels. Children are especially sensitive to pesticide exposure as they take in more pesticides relative to their body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify harmful chemicals. People with pre-existing health problems have elevated risk factors. Fortunately, there are proven safe, effective, and affordable ways to maintain attractive lawns and playable fields without the use of toxic pesticides.
For more information on Toxic-Free Lawn Care, call Beyond Pesticides at 202-543-5450 or visit us on the web at www.pesticidefreelawns.org.
Want to take it a step further than educating your neighbors? Think about working with community members to enact a policy that takes a stand against the use of toxic pesticides on lawns and landscapes. For ideas on how to effectively organize and prepare for action to protect human and environmental health, look back at our Action of the Week from February 27th.
Help make sure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the funds to operate effectively and address critical issues of health in our community.
As an often fierce critic of many EPA policies that fall short of the actions that Beyond Pesticides advocates, we feel strongly that EPA must function to protect health and the environment against polluters. Therefore, we strenuously oppose undermining EPA’s authorities or dismantling its programs. EPA plays a critical role in evaluating scientific findings and issuing rules that protect human health and the environment.
But, EPA does not have a chance to accomplish what it should without a reasonable budget. Your members of Congress have a direct role in the final budget level, as they will have a vote on the funding levels in the coming weeks through the federal appropriations process.
While EPA is not without flaws in the way it regulates pesticides, the clear attacks on public health and the environment through proposed budget cuts by the Trump administration and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt demands urgent action. We must ensure that the public health and environmental protections that we depend upon for clean water, clean air, and healthy natural resources are not slashed under the new administration.
According to the Washington Post, the proposed plan created by the Trump administration would slash staff from 15,000 to 12,000 and cut state grants and air and water program funding by 30 percent. EPA was established in 1970 by President Nixon and has made significant strides in cleaning up common-pool resources like air and water since its inception. It has much more work to do in protecting American citizens from toxic pesticides, air pollution, and water contamination, and will not be able to carry out these important roles if its budget is slashed.
As a constituent, your voice, joined by others throughout the state, will make a difference! Thanks for taking action!
>>Send a letter to your members of Congress and tell them that you adamantly oppose any budget cuts to EPA!
Here’s how to prepare for effective action.
In response to your concern about all of the rollbacks to human health and environmental protections that are beginning to occur in Congress and with the Trump Administration, Beyond Pesticides is providing the tools for you to take action.
There are many issues that may be under attack in the coming months and years, including dismantling organic standards, polluting our air and water, and undoing endangered species protections. Starting with grassroots action in your community is a powerful way to effect change and set up a course for protecting these standards against efforts to weaken them and positive reform.
Beyond Pesticides has worked successfully with community residents nationwide to start local movements to get toxic chemicals out of their towns, cities, counties, and schools, replacing them with organic and sustainable practices. As you know, pesticide use is a public health and environmental concern, so joining with others through local action means that your community is working to stop chemical use that pollutes air, water, and land and contribute to global climate change. Ensuring that we maintain a legitimate certification process in the marketplace, the USDA organic seal, means that we have a choice to support and help expand practices that are good for health and the environment.
With all of the issues facing our environment, human health, and the food system, it is critical to organize with these broad concerns in mind, while targeting specific actions. Remember, as a constituent of elected officials, your voice, your experience, the health of you and your family is powerful and critical in our current political environment. In order to most effectively engage with Members of Congress and local officials, it is important to gather more widespread support to organize for positive change.
Level One - Make your voice heard.
Level Two - Build a network of voices.
Level Three - Develop a community presence.
Go to community meetings with your network.
In addition to the above suggestions, here are things to remember when attending a town hall meeting or another event hosted by your Members of Congress:
Thanks for taking action and please tell us how your community organizing efforts progress!
Corporate control of the food system is already bad enough—the proposed mega-mergers of Dow Chemical with DuPont, Monsanto with Bayer AG, and Syngenta with ChemChina would make it even worse! That's why Beyond Pesticides and 323 allied groups sent a letter last week to new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding the enforcement of antitrust law and that he put consumer and farmer interests above corporations. The letter was also delivered to members of Congress and state attorneys general.
Call your state attorney general and ask if they have joined the federal antitrust probe of the proposed mergers between DuPont-Dow and Bayer AG-Monsanto, and if they have not, urge them to do so immediately. Participation by the state attorneys general in investigating these mega-mergers will increase overall scrutiny and will improve the chances of these mergers being rejected.
>>Contact your state attorney general and tell them that you adamantly oppose the proposed agrochemical mergers using the template below!
The letter sent last week points to the adverse and wide-ranging consequences of these mergers stating that, “Conglomerates of such massive scale, breadth and reach, such as those proposed by these mergers, pose a real risk to our economy, to our agricultural sector, to public health, to food security, to the environment and to the general health of the agricultural and food business climate.” More concentration of power will result in fewer choices in the marketplace for seeds, inputs and foods, at a time when the consumer demand for ecologically sound technologies that are cost-effective and sustainable is ever-increasing.
Hi Attorney General [ ], my name is [ ] and I am a constituent in [home state]. I am calling to see if you have joined the federal antitrust probe of the proposed mergers between DuPont-Dow and Bayer AG-Monsanto. I am very concerned about these mega-mergers of agrochemical companies and the negative impact they would have on public health, the environment, and our agricultural sector.
I support sustainable and organic practices and am alarmed at corporate consolidation and the effect it will have on consumer and farmer choice. Please join other state attorneys general in investigating these mega-mergers and protecting consumers in this state. Thank you and I will be following your actions on this in the coming weeks.
If Monsanto and Bayer, Dow and DuPont and Syngenta and ChemChina form their respective proposed partnerships, the three resulting corporations will control nearly 70 percent of the world’s pesticide market, more than 61 percent of commercial seed sales and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market. This would have serious consequences for the market by limiting options to farmers, consumers and further tilt the balance away from independent science and the health and safety of the American people. The mergers pose significant potential threats to U.S. security interests; undermines food security in the United States and worldwide; disrupts trade flows; accelerates the international consolidation of the food and agribusiness industries to the detriment of American farmers, rural communities, and consumers.
This past Wednesday night, a report came out revealing that the Trump administration is considering closing the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA). By breaking up or dismantling this important office, the enforcement responsibility would then fall on individual program offices, likely resulting in less civil and criminal enforcement of our nation’s environmental laws.
Additionally, several weeks ago the President signed an executive order mandating that federal agencies zero out costs to regulated entities, while ignoring benefits to the public, environment, and natural resources. The so-called “Two for One” order requires agencies to propose the repeal of two regulations for every new regulation that is proposed.
>>Use the template below and send a message to the President and his administration to hold them accountable!
Message Template (copy and paste):
Dear Mr. President,
I call on you to cancel plans to close the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. This office of the Environmental Protection Agency serves a vital function in enforcing environmental laws and maintaining compliance and must not be dismantled.
I also urge you to retract your executive order that directs federal agencies to repeal two regulations for every new one created. This “Two for One” order would roll back crucial human health and environmental protections that have benefitted the American public.
It is possible to have clean water, clean air, and other environmental protections while not undermining economic growth and fiscal responsibility that your administration is concerned about. I ask that you work with your Cabinet to protect public health and the environment and not undermine the work of important agencies like EPA.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my concerns.
According to EPA, OECA addresses pollution problems that affect communities through civil and criminal enforcement action. OECA works to protect vulnerable communities from environmental hazards and advance environmental justice. OECA works with EPA regional offices, state and tribal governments, and other federal agencies to enforce laws including the Toxic Substances Control Act, Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act.
An example of a successful enforcement action by OECA occurred in 2010, when EPA announced that Monsanto Company Inc. had agreed to pay $2.5 million for misbranding violations related to the sale and distribution of cotton seed products containing genetically engineered pesticides. OECA was instrumental in following through with this civil administrative penalty settlement that upheld the law and maintained compliance with sale and distribution of pesticide products.
The Trump Administration continues to undermine scientific integrity and agency oversight by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Send a message to your U.S. Representative and Senators by signing this letter!
EPA plays a critical role in reviewing independent science and issuing rules that protect human health and environment. While they are not without flaw in the way they regulate pesticides, a fact Beyond Pesticides continues to critique, the clear attacks on this agency’s mission through stifling of science-based communications over the past two weeks demands urgent action. We must ensure that public health and environmental protections that we depend upon for clean water, clean air, and healthy natural resources are not immediately slashed under the new administration.
>>Take action now!
According the NPR, the Trump administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team stated on Tuesday, January 24 that scientists will now face “an unspecified vetting process before sharing their work outside the agency.” However, this kind of review is at odds with EPA’s own scientific integrity policy, which “prohibits all EPA employees, including scientists, managers, and other Agency leadership, from suppressing, altering, or otherwise impeding the timely release of scientific findings or conclusions.”
This comes on the heels of an announcement by the administration several days after Trump was sworn in issuing scientific grant and hiring freezes at EPA nationwide, along with effectively banning science communications through social media platforms. These grant freezes have since been walked back on.
If suppressing public communication of science-based information continues, it will further politicize and degrade the vital role of EPA. Please let your elected representatives in Congress know that the Trump administration’s silencing of EPA will not be tolerated and you demand transparency and science-based standards going forward. Urge your elected representatives to oppose any efforts by the Trump administration to weaken environmental standards and undercut science communications.
>>Send a message to your U.S. Representative and Senators now!
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a federal agency with an annual budget of just over $8 billion with 15,376 employees as of 2016. To accomplish their mission of protecting human health and the environment, EPA develops and enforces regulations, gives grants, studies environmental issues, sponsors partnerships, teach about environmental issues, and publishes information. The statute that Beyond Pesticides works with most closely, The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), is a regulatory and licensing law that oversees the registration of pesticides and their application.
Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s nomination to head EPA, has worked for years to dismantle environmental protections in his home state of Oklahoma. If confirmed, Mr. Pruitt will head the agency whose mission is to protect human health and the environment, not the polluters that he sought to protect as Oklahoma Attorney General. Mr. Pruitt sued EPA over a dozen times during his tenure as OK’s Attorney General, challenging regulation of the oil and gas industry, coal-fired power generation plants and Natural Gas fracking, and EPA actions under the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. Mr. Pruitt raised campaign funds from many of the industries regulated under these laws.
Call your U.S. Senators and tell them that you adamantly oppose Scott Pruitt becoming the leader of EPA. His history of blocking air and water regulations around the country highlight his inability to be an unbiased and science-driven defender of EPA’s mission.
If you live in a state with a Senator on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, contact them now using the numbers below, as they will be casting their votes on Scott Pruitt on Wednesday, February 1.
Call script: Hi Senator [ ], my name is [ ] and I am a constituent in [home state]. I urge you to oppose Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator. His anti-environment and anti-human health record as Oklahoma Attorney General reveals his inability to effectively separate his corporate interests from the interests of the people he serves. He has opposed clean water and air standards in his home state in addition to opposing limits on water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Please vote no on Scott Pruitt and demand a candidate who will protect our environment and public health. Thank you and I will be following your actions on this in the coming days.
You can also go to the Twitter or website of your Senator and leave your message there.
Thanks for taking action!