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Action of the Week Archive

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.

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05/24/2024 — Regenerative Agriculture Must Start with Organic Agriculture

Comments to CDFA are due by May 29, 2024.

In view of the reliance on a loosely defined notion of “regenerative agriculture” that is becoming accepted as encompassing solutions to mitigate climate change, improve soil health, restore biodiversity, enhance ecosystems, and contribute to human health, it is refreshing to see the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) embark on a process of formulating a definition. However, past experience with poorly defined and unenforceable terms like Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Sustainable Agriculture raises issues of concern that this well-intentioned effort to define regenerative could undermine the growth and continuous improvement in the widespread transition to certified organic practices that are necessary to eliminate the use of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers and meet the existential environmental and health crises of our time. Given that 40 percent of all vegetables grown in the U.S. come from California, virtually all consumers of food have a stake in this debate on regenerative in the state. 

>>Tell CDFA and USDA that regenerative agriculture starts with organic. Comments to CDFA are due May 29, 2024.

CDFA's Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel (SAP) proposes a framework for developing a definition: 

  • Being applicable, relevant, and useful for California Agriculture. 
  • Leading to positive impacts on California's environmental, social, human health, and economic goals, including climate goals. 
  • Providing measurable and verifiable outcomes, keeping in mind variability throughout the state, and – emphasizing outcomes farmers and ranchers can easily measure and that are not economically burdensome to measure. 
  • Allowing for context-specific outcomes (in terms of scale, geographic location, diverse and/or innovative agricultural systems, goals, etc.) 
  • Include the idea that building soil health, including elements of physical quality, carbon sequestered, soil biodiversity, and alleviation of climate change (e.g., practices funded by the CDFA Healthy Soils Program) as a foundational element. 

However, that framework will be ineffective if definitions, policies, and rules fail to meet the following criteria: 

  • Definition clarity and enforceability; 
  • Systems plan (establishes baseline for management practices intended to create resiliency and prevent pests); 
  • Rigorous standard for allowed/prohibited substances list with mechanism for incorporating real-time data on hazards and alternatives into reevaluation of allowed list; 
  • Certification and enforcement system (third party enforcement); 
  • Process for public participation to ensure a feedback loop for continuous improvement; and 
  • Funding to ensure elements are carried out in a robust way. 

Regenerative agriculture must be organic. Organic agriculture, which has been widely adopted in California, fits the framework proposed by the SAP as well as the criteria above.  

Organic agriculture can mitigate climate change. Agriculture is a major contributor to climate change. In a recent article in Science, Clark et al. show that even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately, emissions from the global food system alone would make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5°C and difficult even to realize the 2°C target. According to the International Panel of Climate Change, agriculture and forestry account for as much as 25% of human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The contribution of animal agriculture has been estimated at 14.5% to 87% or more of total GHG emissions. These estimates include emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ammonia. The carbon dioxide contribution largely comes from converting land from natural forest to pasture or cropland. 

“Regenerative” agriculture is widely considered to be a solution for reducing or even reversing these impacts. Unfortunately, a movement by promoters of chemical-intensive agriculture has fooled some environmentalists into supporting toxic “regenerative” agriculture. While recognizing practices that sequester carbon in the soil—practices that are central to organic agriculture—the so-called “regenerative agriculture” promoted by these groups ignores the direct climate impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the damage to soil health caused by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and the fact that pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing is dependent on fossil fuels—as key ingredients as well as for the heat and energy driving chemical reactions. It is important to see through this deception. 

Organic practices preserve natural lands and biodiversity. Natural forests are more effective than tree plantations in sequestering carbon. Preserving natural land increases biodiversity, which also reduces dependence on petroleum-based pesticides. Organic farms are required to “comprehensively conserve biodiversity by maintaining or improving all natural resources, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife, as required by § 205.200 of the regulations and per the § 205.2 definition of Natural resources of the operation.” 

Organic agriculture benefits human healthBy avoiding the use of antibiotics and toxic pesticides, organic agriculture protects farmworkers and consumers. In addition, studies have found organically grown plant foods and milk to be nutritionally superior to those produced by chemical-intensive agriculture. 

The National Organic Program provides for clarity and enforceability, while providing processes that are open and transparent to growers, consumers, and the public at large. As an established program, it also has its own funding mechanism. CDFA should start by defining “regenerative” as—at a minimum—meeting organic standards. 

It is crucial, as we move forward with a plan to harness agriculture in the fight against climate change, biodiversity collapse, and health problems, that we not be misled into promoting the same practices that have created the problem. As aptly stated by Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute, "We believe that in order to be regenerative, you have to start by being organic. It's a little disingenuous to say you can regenerate soil health and sequester carbon and still use nitrogen fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. What you're really saying is equivalent to saying 'I want to be healthy as a person, but I still want to smoke cigarettes.'" 

>>Tell CDFA and USDA that regenerative agriculture starts with organic. Comments to CDFA are due May 29, 2024.

The target for this Action is the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Proposed letter to CDFA's SAP (if not using our form, please email [email protected])

We support the urgent need to adopt regenerative agricultural practices that mitigate climate change, improve soil health, restore biodiversity, enhance ecosystems, and contribute to human health. Past experience with poorly defined and unenforceable terms like Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Sustainable Agriculture raises serious problems that well-intentioned efforts to define regenerative could repeat and, in the process, stifle the growth and continuous improvement of certified organic practices. Organic is a necessary baseline or foundation of a new regenerative standard because it eliminates the use of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers in meeting the existential environmental and health crises of our time. A standard for “regenerative” must do this as well if it is to be helpful and not harmful in advancing the critical changes needed in this time of crises.

CDFA’s Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel (SAP) proposes a framework for developing a definition. However, that framework will be ineffective if definitions, policies, and rules fail to meet these criteria:

  1. Definition clarity and enforceability;
  2. Systems plan (establishes baseline for management practices intended to create resiliency and prevent pests);
  3. Rigorous standard for allowed/prohibited substances list with a mechanism for incorporating real-time data on hazards and alternatives into reevaluation of allowed list;
  4. Certification and enforcement system (third party enforcement);
  5. Process for public participation to ensure a feedback loop for continuous improvement; and
  6. Funding to ensure elements are carried out in a robust way.


Regenerative agriculture must be organic.
Organic agriculture, which has been widely adopted in California, fits the issues in the framework proposed by the SAP as well as the criteria above.

Organic agriculture can mitigate climate change.
Agriculture is a major contributor to climate change. In a recent article in Science, Clark et al. show that even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately, emissions from the global food system alone would make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5°C and difficult even to realize the 2°C target. According to the International Panel of Climate Change, agriculture and forestry account for as much as 25% of human-induced GHG emissions. The contribution of animal agriculture has been estimated at 14.5% to 87% or more of total GHG emissions. These estimates include emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ammonia. The carbon dioxide contribution largely comes from converting land from natural forest to pasture or cropland.

While recognizing practices that sequester carbon in the soil “regenerative agriculture” employing toxic chemicals ignores the direct climate impacts of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, the damage to soil health caused by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and the fact thatpesticide and fertilizer manufacturing is dependent on fossil fuels—as key ingredients as well as for the heat and energy driving chemical reactions. It is important to see through this deception.

Organic practices preserve natural lands and biodiversity. Natural forests are more effective than tree plantations in sequestering carbon. Preserving natural land increases biodiversity, which also reduces dependence on petroleum-based pesticides. Organic farms are required to “comprehensively conserve biodiversity by maintaining or improving all natural resources, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.

Organic agriculture benefits human health. By avoiding the use of antibiotics and toxic pesticides, organic agriculture protects farmworkers and consumers.

The USDA organic seal is backed by an enforceable inspection system. CDFA should start by defining “regenerative” as—at a minimum—meeting organic standards.

Thank you.

Letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack 

I am concerned that “regenerative” agriculture, which is widely considered to be a solution for reducing or even reversing climate change, will have negative impacts if not properly defined. Unfortunately, a movement by promoters of chemical-intensive agriculture has fooled some environmentalists into supporting toxic “regenerative” agriculture. The so-called “regenerative agriculture” promoted by these groups ignores the direct climate impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the damage to soil health caused by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and the fact that pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing is dependent on fossil fuels—as key ingredients as well as for the heat and energy driving chemical reactions. It is important to see through this deception. 

The climate crisis and the devastating decline in biodiversity are escalating because of uncontrolled and unnecessary reliance on toxic chemicals. These threats to life require a meaningful holistic strategy to end our fossil fuel dependence and use of materials that release harmful levels of noxious gases (including greenhouse gases).  

Agriculture must—across the board and on an expedited five-year schedule—shift to organic practices. Organic practices both sequester carbon and eliminate petroleum-based pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Importantly, the data show that organic agriculture now operates without sacrificing productivity or profitability. While the vested economic interests in the petroleum and chemical industry cling to the status quo, there are good jobs and money to be made in a green economy. 

We need a national plan to shift to 100% organic farming. Organic land management is more effective at reducing emissions and sequesters carbon in the soil. There is already a national program for certifying farms that meet organic standards. Organic operations must “comprehensively conserve biodiversity by maintaining or improving all natural resources, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.”  

Undefined “regenerative” agriculture falls short by ignoring the direct climate impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the damage to soil health and ecosystem services caused by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and the fact that pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing is dependent on fossil fuels—as key ingredients and for the heat and energy-driving chemical reactions.   

We need a national land management plan.  Preserving natural land increases biodiversity, reducing dependence on petroleum-based pesticides, and is more effective in sequestering carbon. Biodiversity buffers against damage from climate change—for example, by protecting shorelines from storm damage.  

Preserving natural lands and transitioning farms to organic production should be the cornerstones to combating climate change.  

Thank you. 

05/22/2024 — UPDATE—Reject CA Legislation Enshrining Pesticide Use when Organic Alternatives Exist!

Passed to the CA Senate—Reject Legislation Enshrining Pesticide Use when Organic Alternatives Exist!
The bill is on to the Senate! Following up on our previous action in the Assembly!
Please take a few minutes to take action and contact your elected officials!

At a time when serious measures are desperately needed to shift away from toxic pesticides to organic management systems, the California Assembly voted on Wednesday, May 22, 2024 to move forward with legislation that will codify continued reliance on hazardous materials that are no longer necessary. This is the wrong legislation to meet the existential challenges that are threatening our health, biodiversity, and the climate. The bill, AB2509, will enshrine in law integrated pest management (IPM) as a methodology for land management that continues to rely on hazardous materials that are unnecessary to achieving the pest management goal. If passed, not only will this bill fail to solve the long-term problems associated with vegetation management, but it will also contribute to the escalating and existential crises of our time.

Please contact your state senator as soon as you read this by clicking on the >> link below!

You can read Beyond Pesticides' written testimony on the bill before it passed out of committee here

>> Tell your state legislators to move beyond the IPM model and demand a vegetation management plan in alignment with an organic management system.

AB2509 contains two elements that must be corrected in light of state and national reliance on petrochemical pesticides (including herbicides) that are a threat to the health of the residents of California and the long-term sustainability of its environment. Those who have been involved in IPM as practitioners and academics have concluded that the approach and its definition have not lived up to the expectations that it would eliminate, rather than just “reduce,” the use of hazardous pesticides and fertilizers and replace them with practices and materials in sync with nature. 

Published in Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 41(38), 2021, researchers wrote an article entitled "Integrated pest management: good intentions, hard realities"—a review in which the authors state, “More than half a century after its conception, IPM has not been adopted to a satisfactory extent and has largely failed to deliver on its promise. Despite six decades of good intentions, harsh realities need to be faced for the future... IPM has arguably reached its limits.” The research team, all of whom have worked as IPM scientists and proponents, seems to mourn that IPM has “lost its way” over the decades—moving from ecological and health concerns as primary to its current state, in which (usually chemical) control methods are central. 

>> Tell your state legislators to move beyond the IPM model and demand a vegetation management plan in alignment with an organic management system. 

In contrast to AB2509, language is needed that specifically requires a systems approach to land management and the use of mechanical, biological, and a list of allowed materials compatible with the ecological systems approach governed by a systems-based land management plan. As we consistently and repeatedly say, sustainable management systems are needed that address the existential health and environmental crises of our time with carefully defined allowed materials in alignment with National Organics Standards and the List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. Please see the Keeping Organic Strong page on our website for additional information.

A plan for a sustained solution, therefore, requires an emphasis on healing the disturbance (to which end, so-called “invasives” may sometimes be helpful), rather than killing the opportunist colonizer. Removal of such opportunist colonizers may be necessary based on an ecological assessment and an evaluation of the options to ensure a long-term solution compatible with environmental health, but the use of toxic chemicals is no longer justified in the process. 

Communities and land managers confront species that are defined by law or in the common parlance as “invasive.” While the solution has been to identify those species and then allow the toxic pesticide use exemption under community land management policies and state law, a sustained solution protective of health and the environment requires a more analytical approach that evaluates the species, the problem it poses, and the underlying causes that have invited and support the unwanted organism.  

In this context, the threshold for action, the type of action, and the health of the ecosystem in which the organism lives are factors that require consideration. When confronted with an unwanted plant, consideration must be given to both the short- and long-term solution, ensuring that the immediate action does not create a greater problem in the future.  

The tools exist to effect a strategy for managing unwanted plants that is protective of our health and the environment. It starts with asking the right questions. 

>> Tell your state legislators to move beyond the IPM model and demand a vegetation management plan in alignment with an organic management system.

The target for this Action is the California State Senate, previously the California State Assembly.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to state legislators:

Letter to the state senators (40):

I am writing to express opposition to AB2509 passed in the Assembly on May 22, 2024, because the bill will enshrine in law standards that will increase pesticide use—not solve the long-term problems associated with vegetation management—and contribute to the escalating and existential crises of chemical-induced diseases, biodiversity collapse, and the climate threat.

As defined in the legislation, integrated pest management (IPM) will enshrine in law land management practices that continue to rely on hazardous materials that are not necessary to achieve the pest management goal. The central problem with IPM is its lack of (i) prioritization for nonchemical practices that prevent unwanted organisms, whether insects or plants, and (ii) an allowed list of substances that are compatible with ecosystems and holistic management practices.

AB2509 meets neither of these basic criteria for effective and safe management systems.

It should be in the record that leaders in the IPM community, both practitioners and academics, have concluded that the approach and its definition have not lived up to the expectations that it would eliminate, rather than just “reduce,” the use of hazardous pesticides and fertilizers and replace them with practices and materials in sync with nature.

Published in Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 41(38), 2021, researchers wrote an article entitled “Integrated pest management: good intentions, hard realities,” a review in which the authors state, “More than half a century after its conception, IPM has not been adopted to a satisfactory extent and has largely failed to deliver on its promise... Despite six decades of good intentions, harsh realities need to be faced for the future....IPM has arguably reached its limits.”

The research team, all of whom have worked as IPM scientists and proponents, seems to mourn that IPM has “lost its way” over the decades — moving from ecological and health concerns as primary to its current state, in which (usually chemical) control methods are central.

To remedy the pitfalls of IPM, sustainable management systems are needed that address the existential health and environmental crises of our time with carefully defined allowed materials. In this context, we suggest language that requires organic systems plans for land management with allowed materials that include the following definition:

1. Synthetic substances are prohibited unless specifically listed as “allowed” on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (the “National List”), 7 U.S.C. Sec. 6517;
2. Non-synthetic substances are allowed unless specifically listed as “prohibited” on the National List;
3. Pesticides determined to be “minimum risk pesticides” pursuant to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and listed in 40 C.F.R. § 152.25(f)(1) or (2), as may be amended from time to time, are Allowed.

Communities and land managers confront species that are defined by law or in the common parlance as “invasive.” When confronted with an unwanted plant, consideration must be given to both the short- and long-term solutions, ensuring that the immediate action does not create a greater crisis in the future. Poor decisions arise out of crisis. Crisis encourages herbicide use because it addresses the symptoms and does not involve an analysis of underlying causes. Reliance on herbicides leads to resistance, which furthers dependency on additional toxic chemicals in the long term. This is not a sustainable solution.

AB2509 codifies an IPM approach that has failed us and does not ask the right questions. It is time to incorporate more holistic thinking and approaches into the law, not affirm past mistakes that have not solved the issues.

Thank you for your consideration of our comments.

05/18/2024 — In the Farm Bill, Reject Attack on Democracy, Support Organic Agriculture

A global transition to organic agriculture and land care is necessary if we are to seriously take on the challenges of the public health crisis, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency. Approximately every five years, Congress passes a Farm Bill, a comprehensive omnibus bill setting policy and funding for agricultural and food programs. The Farm Bill offers an opportunity to grow organic agriculture; however, this cannot be done at the expense of attacking the rights of states and local governments to restrict pesticides and protect public health and the environment. 

>>Tell your U.S. Congressional Representative and Senators to support organic agriculture in the Farm Bill, but not at the expense of undermining local and state authority to enact more stringent restrictions of pesticides.

The attack on local and state authority to restrict pesticides is a bottom-line issue. As momentum builds for local restrictions on pesticide use in the face of ongoing poisoning and contamination, it is clear that effective land management does not require toxic pesticide use. Historically, local municipalities have exercised their democratic right to protect public health and safety where state and federal standards are not adequately protective of their residents. Congress should not be stepping into states to tell local governments that they cannot exercise this right, as they have done with smoking, recycling, dog waste, and other standards. The House Republican bill states boldly that, “A political subdivision of a state shall not impose any requirement relating to the sale, distribution, labeling, application, or use of any pesticide or device,” challenging the right of states and localities to exercise local governance and the democratic process. This language, at this point, is not in the Senate Democrats' bill. 

While Farm Bill negotiations have been stalled for months, the Democrat-led Senate and Republican-led House of Representatives presented their respective visions to amend the 2024 Farm Bill. The office of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released an initial Senate framework for the (now 2024) Farm Bill. At the same time, U.S. Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA), chair of the House Agriculture Committee, released an outline of the House version, then followed up with more details and legislative language ("Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024"). 

While the anti-democratic Republican language in the House makes the overall bill unacceptable, the Senate Democrats' proposal includes robust support for expanding and strengthening organic product supply chains and domestic production, recognizing their economic, ecological, and public health benefits. House Republican language in support of organic is undermined by a framework that preempts local restrictions of pesticides.  

With the chemical industry and allied companies pushing for the preemption of state authority over local democratic decision making, contained in the House Republican bill, advocates are concerned that the same industry lobby will seek to shield the producers and users of toxic pesticides from liability lawsuits associated with the harm that their products cause. This would block lawsuits like those successfully advanced against Bayer/Monsanto for adverse health effects, like cancer, associated with exposure to their products and companies' failure to warn about these effects. 

Advocates are seeking to eliminate provisions in the House Republican bill that preempt a state and local government's right to restrict pesticides, while supporting the following elements in the Senate and House framework that nurtures the growth of organic agriculture by: 

  • Addressing organic certification costs; 
  • Funding organic oversight and enforcement; 
  • Supporting organic transition; 
  • Addressing bottlenecks in organic regulatory actions; 
  • Providing mandatory funding for organic research and data collection; 
  • Making organic programs work for organic farmers; and 
  • Establishing an Organic Agriculture Research Coordinator who will coordinate and establish annual strategic priorities. 

The bipartisan consensus that organic supply chains and markets must continue to be nurtured as recognition of their importance to sustainability, rather than put on the legislative chopping block, is welcomed. Certified organic agriculture has grown over the past four decades from a voluntary standard—organized by farmers and grassroots consumers and organizations representing farmers, environmentalists, community leaders, physicians, and rural and urban communities—to a $70 billion industry. In the same period, considerable scientific literature continues to underscore the significance of a wholesale transition to organic from chemical-intensive food systems to adequately address the cascading crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and public health. 

With the chemical industry and those who use their products in agriculture and land management increasing their lobbying efforts, the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act (ALUA) and Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act (EATS Act) have effectively been included in the 2024 House Republican Farm Bill provisions that inevitably undermine local and state authority to enact more stringent agricultural and land management policies that would support public health, biodiversity, and climate action. The EATS Act's stated purpose is to “prevent States and local jurisdictions from interfering with the production and distribution of agricultural products,” effectively preempting local and state health and environmental concerns regarding agricultural land use. Meanwhile, ALUA threatens to undermine local and state authority to protect the health of their residents from toxic pesticide use on public land—effectively overturning decades of Supreme Court precedent. 

>>Tell your U.S. Congressional Representative and Senators to support organic agriculture in the Farm Bill, but not at the expense of undermining local and state authority to enact more stringent restrictions of pesticides.

The target for this Action is the U.S. Congress.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to U.S. Senators and Representatives: 

I am writing to ask you to support a Farm Bill that helps to grow organic agriculture, but does not undermine, or preempt, state and local authority to restrict toxic pesticides. A global transition to organic methods is necessary if we are to seriously take on the challenges of the public health crisis, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency. We cannot achieve these changes with organic if preemption language in the House Republican bill is adopted.   

The attack on local and state authority to restrict pesticides is a bottom-line issue. As momentum builds for local restrictions on pesticide use in the face of ongoing poisoning and contamination, it is clear that effective land management does not require toxic pesticide use. Historically, localities have exercised their democratic right to protect public health and safety where state and federal standards are not adequately protective of their residents. Congress should not be stepping into states to tell local governments that they cannot exercise this right, as they have done with smoking, recycling, dog waste, and other standards. The House Republican bill states boldly that, “A political subdivision of a state shall not impose any requirement relating to the sale, distribution, labeling, application, or use of any pesticide or device,” challenging the right of states and localities to exercise local governance and the democratic process. This language, at this point, is not in the Senate Democrats’ bill.  

While the anti-democratic Republican language in the House makes the overall House bill unacceptable, the Senate Democrats’ proposal includes robust support for expanding and strengthening organic product supply chains and domestic production, recognizing its economic, ecological, and public health benefits. House Republican language in support of organic is undermined by a framework that preempts local restrictions of pesticides.   

Please seek to eliminate provisions in the House Republican bill that preempt the state and local government’s right to restrict pesticides while supporting the following elements in the Senate and House framework that nurtures the growth of organic agriculture by:  

*Addressing organic certification costs;  
*Funding organic oversight and enforcement;  
*Supporting organic transition;  
*Addressing bottlenecks in organic regulatory actions;  
*Providing mandatory funding for organic research and data collection;  
*Making organic programs work for organic farmers; and  
*Establishing an Organic Agriculture Research Coordinator who will coordinate and establish annual strategic priorities.  

Let’s make the Farm Bill a bipartisan consensus bill that builds a positive future, by growing organic supply chains and markets with the recognition of their importance to sustainability. Certified organic agriculture has grown over the past four decades from a voluntary standard organized by farmers and grassroots consumers and organizations representing farmers, environmentalists, community leaders, physicians, and rural and urban communities to a $70 billion industry. In the same period, considerable scientific literature continues to underscore the significance of a wholesale transition to organic from chemical-intensive food systems as a way to adequately address the cascading crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and public health.   

Please support organic agriculture in the Farm Bill and reject language that undermines, or preempts, local and state authority to enact more stringent land management policies that protect health and the environment.  

Thank you. 

05/10/2024 — Tell the Governor To Protect NH Families and Pollinators from Pesticide Exposures—Veto HB 1698-FN!

Please join us today by calling on New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu to veto House Bill (HB) 1698. This bill would allow the aerial spraying of pesticides by drones up to 20 feet in the air without notifying the public, threatening the well-being of pollinators, wildlife, and New Hampshire residents who may cross their path. HB 1698 passed both the House and Senate as of last week, and it is slated to cross the Governor's desk potentially within the week! 

>> Tell Governor Sununu to veto HB 1698-FN exempting aerial application of pesticides using drones from notification processes, exposing Granite State families and pollinators to poisons hazardous to our health. 

House Bill 1698 exempts the application of pesticides using drones from notification procedures. The bill adds a new paragraph to RSA 430:34-a, stating that the notification requirements for aerial pesticide application do not apply to the aerial application of pesticides by a person with a valid certificate of registration or permit, while using unmanned aircraft for agricultural purposes at a height not exceeding 20 feet above ground level. The bill will take effect 60 days after its passage. 

There was an attempt to add a floor amendment in the 11th hour that would have established a notification provision if drone spraying occurred within 200 feet of an apiary site, however it failed to pass. Without this provision, there will be no notification requirements if the bill were to be passed into law in its current form. 

This proposed legislation language flies in the face of what can and should be New Hampshire's comprehensive approach to ensure those at greatest risk from pesticide exposure—childrenthose with preexisting health conditions, essential workers, and landscapers—are fully protected. The bill's language is unacceptable, given the known harms of pesticide drift through the air, waterways, and soil.   

Beyond Pesticides opposes HB 1698-FN based on decades of experience reviewing the latest scientific analysis regarding commonly used toxic pesticides in public and private spaces. Beekeepers across the state, including New Hampshire Beekeepers' Association, have expressed sharp opposition to this bill as a threat to their livelihoods and surrounding ecosystems that depend on pollinators.  

Click here to view Beyond Pesticides' testimony in opposition to the bill.

Please urge the Governor to take action today—thank you for your help protecting public health in New Hampshire! 

>> Tell Governor Sununu to veto HB 1698-FN exempting aerial application of pesticides using drones from notification processes, exposing Granite State families and pollinators to poisons hazardous to our health.

The target for this Action is the New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu.

Letter to Governor Sununu:

As a constituent, I urge you to take immediate action to veto HB 1698-FN, which would harm New Hampshire's pollinators and environment. Pesticide drift, which is inevitable in aerial spraying, can cause acute poisoning and/or chronic health impacts in New Hampshire farmworkers, their families, or residents in the application area or working in nearby treated fields, including schools, playgrounds, recreational fields, and other facilities frequented by young children.  

House Bill 1698 exempts the application of pesticides using drones from notification procedures when they are sprayed up to 20 feet in the air. Any language short of notification at any height will muddy the waters and leave communities open to public health risks. There was an attempt to add a floor amendment in the 11th hour that would have established a notification provision if drone spraying occurred within 200 feet of an apiary site, however it failed to pass. Without this provision or one like it, there would be no notification requirements if the bill were to be enacted into law in its current form.

This bill exempts the aerial application of pesticides using drones from notification processes, potentially endangering pollinators crucial for our food system and biodiversity due to pesticide drift. Pesticides harm pollinators and pose risks to human health and wildlife.

With federal officials' complete inaction, the Granite State must play a critical role in protecting its residents’ public health and unique local environment. Let's come together to protect our pollinators and ecosystems. Your voice will make a difference in safeguarding New Hampshire's natural heritage.

I appreciate your commitment to this vital cause. Together, we can advocate for policies that prioritize the well-being of our ecosystems.  

Please veto HB 1698-FN in its entirety. Thank you for your leadership!

05/08/2024 — Late Breaking—Tell USDA To Ensure that Certified Organic Fungi and Pet Food Are Truly Organic

Comments closed on Friday, May 10, 2024, at 11:59 PM Eastern.
Due to updates to the Regulations website, we are now able to offer a click-and-submit form
to the Regulations docket! Please fill out the form linked below to submit!

USDA is proposing new regulations for organic certification of mushrooms and pet food. While the proposals are needed and long overdue, there are problems that need correcting: (i) re. mushrooms—more closely follow the 2001 recommendation of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), as well as current biological knowledge and the organic marketplace; and, (ii) re. pet food—conform to organic livestock standards, but do not allow the synthetic amino acid taurine for which there are natural sources. 

>>Tell USDA to ensure that certified organic fungi and pet food are truly organic. 

Mushrooms: Mushrooms are fungi, a separate biological kingdom from plants and animals. Whereas plants make their own energy through photosynthesis and over 95% of their bodies are comprised carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen gained from carbon dioxide and water (with less than 5% comprised of nutrients gleaned from soil), fungi are comprised entirely of digested substrate. In this sense, fungi are more similar to animals than plants. Obviously, they are a poor fit for the livestock standards, which require outdoor access and attention to animal welfare. But because of their unique biology and heterotrophic nature, they are a poor fit for the crop standards as well. Fungi deserve, and need, their own scope of certification which recognizes their unique biology and can foster consistency in their cultivation and certification. 

Additionally, there are already some organic fungal products in the marketplace that are not mushrooms, such as drink powders made from lion's mane mycelium as well as the fruiting body and mycelium extract dietary supplements. Yeasts produced for direct consumption (such as nutritional yeast) are currently overseen as organic handling but would fit better under a separate fungi scope. Framing new production standards to include only mushrooms would unnecessarily exclude these products from certification (or leave them without consistent production standards) and make it harder for future innovative products to become certified. Conversely, framing new production standards to include all fungi would not only provide a better fit for current organic fungal products, but provide ample room for additional markets to develop. 

In 2001, the NOSB recommended that organic mushrooms must be grown on organic substrate. Since fungi are composed of digested substrate, only mushrooms grown on organic substrate—manure derived from organic sources or untreated wood that is grown without prohibited substances—can validly claim the organic seal. 

Pet Food: While Beyond Pesticides supports bringing organic pet food production into conformance with livestock standards, when incorporating meat into its products, it disagrees with the NOSB recommendation and USDA's proposal to allow the use of synthetic taurine for all pet food. The allowance of any synthetic material to be added to pet food must be based on a recommendation from the NOSB that, in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act, specifies the species that will be consuming the food. While the science is clear that carnivorous pets, especially cats, require taurine, the question is whether there is a natural source. Since natural taurine is already being marketed commercially by a manufacturer, it is difficult to argue that it is not available in its natural form. As Nature's Logic® states on its website: 

Since our foods are made from high levels of animal protein, all Nature's Logic diets naturally contain sufficient levels of the Omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They also exceed AAFCO*'s protein amino acid requirements for arginine, histidine, isoleucine leucine, lysine, methionine-cystine, methionine, phenylalanine-tyrosine, phylalanine, taurine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. 

Therefore, Beyond Pesticides is urging USDA to reject the recommendation to add taurine to the National List for pet food. Note that synthetic taurine has been petitioned and rejected for allowance in baby formula. 

>>Tell USDA to ensure that certified organic fungi and pet food are truly organic.

The target for this Action is the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with public comments via Regulations.gov.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Proposed comment to the USDA:

USDA’s proposed regulations for organic certification of mushrooms and pet food are needed and long overdue, but there are problems that need correcting: (i) re. mushrooms—more closely follow the 2001 recommendation of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), as well as current biological knowledge and the organic marketplace; and, (ii) re. pet food—conform to organic livestock standards, but do not allow the synthetic amino acid taurine for which there are natural sources. 

Mushrooms. Mushrooms are fungi, a separate biological kingdom from plants and animals. Whereas plants make their own energy through photosynthesis and over 95% of their bodies are comprised of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen gained from carbon dioxide and water (with less than 5% comprised of nutrients gleaned from soil), fungi are comprised entirely of digested substrate. In this sense, fungi are more similar to animals than plants. Obviously, they are a poor fit for the livestock standards, which require outdoor access and attention to animal welfare. But because of their unique biology and heterotrophic nature, they are a poor fit for the crop standards. They require their own scope of standards, recognizing their unique biology, which fosters consistency in their cultivation and certification. 

There are already organic fungal products in the marketplace that are not mushrooms, but made from mycelium, such as drink powders and dietary supplements. Yeasts produced for direct consumption (such as nutritional yeast) are currently overseen as organic handling, but would fit better under a separate fungi scope. New production standards including only mushrooms would unnecessarily exclude these products from certification (or leave them without consistent production standards) and make it harder for innovative products to become certified. Framing new production standards to include all fungi would not only provide a better fit for current organic fungal products, but provide ample room for additional markets to develop. 

In 2001, the NOSB recommended that organic mushrooms must be grown on organic substrate. Since fungi are composed of digested substrate, only mushrooms grown on organic substrate—manure derived from organic sources or untreated wood that is grown without prohibited substances—can validly claim the organic seal. 

Please modify the proposed mushroom standard to: 1) give fungi—not mushrooms—a separate scope; 2) cover all fungi forms; and 3) require that certified organic fungi be grown on organic substrate. 

Pet Food: The pet food rule attempts to bring pet food production and materials standards in line with organic standards. It also adds an allowed synthetic amino acid, taurine, to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. Some pet food manufacturers maintain that the amino acid is necessary to fulfill a macronutrient requirement for cats and dogs.  

I support bringing organic pet food production into conformance with organic standards and incorporating meat into its products. However, I disagree with USDA’s proposal to allow the use of synthetic taurine for all pet food. The allowance of any synthetic material to be added to pet food must be based on a recommendation from the NOSB that, in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act, specifies the species that will be consuming the food. While the science is clear that carnivorous pets, especially cats, require taurine, the question is whether there is a natural source. Since natural taurine is already being marketed commercially by at least one manufacturer—Nature’s Logic®—it is difficult to argue that the substance is not available in its natural form. The original recommendation to add taurine for pet food was made in 2008, and it should be revisited by the NOSB before adding it into the regulations. 

I urge USDA to reject the recommendation to add taurine to the National List for pet food.  

Thank you. 

05/03/2024 — If Organic Can Do It, Toxic Pesticides Are Not Needed

According to a new analysis by Consumer Reports (CR), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary has once again failed to accurately portray the safety of some of the most commonly sold fruits and vegetables in the United States. CR reviewed seven years of PDP data, finding that 20% of the foods tested pose a “high risk” to the public and 12 specific commodities are so dangerous that children or pregnant people should not eat more than one serving per day. CR's results are based on Consumer Reports-adjusted reference doses for all pesticides, including those linked to endocrine disruption, as mandated by the Food Quality Protect Act (FQPA) of 1996. As a result, CR is petitioning EPA to cancel the registrations of organophosphate (OP) and carbamate pesticides. 

To sign on and support Consumer Report's petition, please make sure to click the check box at the bottom of the form linked below!

>>Support CR's petition and tell EPA / Congress to ban all toxic pesticides when the crop can be produced organically.

EPA's failure to consider endocrine disruption is only one of many problems with relying on the agency's tolerances as an indication of acceptable risk of pesticide use. EPA also fails to consider vulnerable population groups, exposure to mixtures, and synergistic interactions in setting allowable food residues. In addition, pesticides contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farmworkers, and kill bees, birds, fish, and other wildlife. 

Notably, USDA certified organic food products are not permitted to be produced with the pesticides identified by the report. Pesticide residues found in organic, with rare exception, are a result of the off-target chemical-intensive agriculture pollution through pesticide drift, water contamination, or background soil residues. Not only is the production of organic food better for human health and the environment than chemical-intensive production, but emerging science reveals also what organic advocates have been saying for a long time—in addition to lacking the toxic residues of conventional foods, organic food is more nutritious and it does not poison the people and contaminate the communities where the food is grown. 

study published by The Organic Center reveals that organic food is higher in certain key areas, such as total antioxidant capacity, total polyphenols, and two key flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol, all of which are nutritionally beneficial. Another study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry looks specifically at the total phenolic content of marionberries, strawberries, and corn, and found that organically grown products contain higher total phenolics. Phenolics are important for plant health (defense against insects and diseases), and human health for their “potent antioxidant activity and wide range of pharmacologic properties, including anticancer, antioxidant, and platelet aggregation inhibition activity.”   

In view of the advantages of organic production, EPA must use organic production as the yardstick when weighing risks and benefits of pesticides. No pesticide should be allowed to be used if the crop can be produced organically. 

>> Support CR's petition and tell EPA / Congress to ban all toxic pesticides when the crop can be produced organically.

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Congress, with an option to support Consumer Report's petition.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to EPA: 

According to a new analysis by Consumer Reports (CR), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary has once again failed to accurately portray the safety of some of the most commonly sold fruits and vegetables in the United States. CR reviewed seven years of PDP data, finding that 20% of the foods tested pose a “high risk” to the public and 12 specific commodities are so dangerous that children or pregnant people should not eat more than one serving per day. CR’s results are based on including endocrine disruption, as mandated by the Food Quality Protect Act (FQPA) of 1996. As a result, CR is petitioning EPA to cancel the registrations of organophosphate (OP) and carbamate pesticides. I support CR’s petition, and request that EPA further evaluate pesticides compared to the organic production of crops. 

EPA’s failure to consider endocrine disruption is only one of many problems with relying on the agency’s tolerances as an indication of acceptable risk of pesticide use. EPA also fails to consider vulnerable population groups, exposure to mixtures, and synergistic interactions in setting allowable food residues. In addition, pesticides contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farmworkers, and kill bees, birds, fish, and other wildlife. 

Notably, USDA certified organic food products are not permitted to be produced with the pesticides identified by the report. Pesticide residues found in organic, with rare exception, are a result of the off-target chemical-intensive agriculture pollution through pesticide drift, water contamination, or background soil residues. Not only is the production of organic food better for human health and the environment than chemical-intensive production, but emerging science reveals also what organic advocates have been saying for a long time—in addition to lacking the toxic residues of conventional foods, organic food is more nutritious. 

A study published by The Organic Center reveals that organic food is higher in certain key areas, such as total antioxidant capacity, total polyphenols, and two key flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol, all of which are nutritionally beneficial. Another study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry looks specifically at the total phenolic content of marionberries, strawberries, and corn, and found that organically grown products contained higher total phenolics. Phenolics are important for plant health (defense against insects and diseases), and human health for their “potent antioxidant activity and wide range of pharmacologic properties including anticancer, antioxidant, and platelet aggregation inhibition activity.”   

In view of the advantages of organic production, EPA must use organic production as the yardstick when weighing risks and benefits of pesticides. No pesticide should be allowed to be used if the crop can be produced organically. 

Thank you. 

Letter to U.S. Representative and Senators:

According to a new analysis by Consumer Reports (CR), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary has once again failed to accurately portray the safety of some of the most commonly sold fruits and vegetables in the United States. CR reviewed seven years of PDP data, finding that 20% of the foods tested pose a “high risk” to the public and 12 specific commodities are so dangerous that children or pregnant people should not eat more than one serving per day. CR’s results are based on including endocrine disruption, as mandated by the Food Quality Protect Act (FQPA) of 1996. As a result, CR is petitioning EPA to cancel the registrations of organophosphate (OP) and carbamate pesticides. I support CR’s petition, and request that EPA further evaluate pesticides compared to the organic production of crops. 

EPA’s failure to consider endocrine disruption is only one of many problems with relying on the agency’s tolerances as an indication of acceptable risk of pesticide use. EPA also fails to consider vulnerable population groups, exposure to mixtures, and synergistic interactions in setting allowable food residues. In addition, pesticides contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farmworkers, and kill bees, birds, fish, and other wildlife. 

Notably, USDA certified organic food products are not permitted to be produced with the pesticides identified by the report. Pesticide residues found in organic, with rare exception, are a result of the off-target chemical-intensive agriculture pollution through pesticide drift, water contamination, or background soil residues. Not only is the production of organic food better for human health and the environment than chemical-intensive production, but emerging science reveals also what organic advocates have been saying for a long time—in addition to lacking the toxic residues of conventional foods, organic food is more nutritious. 

A study published by The Organic Center reveals that organic food is higher in certain key areas, such as total antioxidant capacity, total polyphenols, and two key flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol, all of which are nutritionally beneficial. Another study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry looks specifically at the total phenolic content of marionberries, strawberries, and corn, and found that organically grown products contained higher total phenolics. Phenolics are important for plant health (defense against insects and diseases), and human health for their “potent antioxidant activity and wide range of pharmacologic properties including anticancer, antioxidant, and platelet aggregation inhibition activity.”   

In view of the advantages of organic production, EPA must use organic production as the yardstick when weighing risks and benefits of pesticides. No pesticide should be allowed to be used if the crop can be produced organically. 

Thank you. 

04/27/2024 — Tell EPA To Eliminate Risks from Wood Treatment Plants by Eliminating Toxic Wood Preservatives

recent report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds that due to inadequate institutional controls at the American Creosote Works Superfund site in Pensacola, FL, “the public remains at risk of exposure to residual contamination in the groundwater and soil” points to the unending dangers of sites contaminated with persistent toxic chemicals.  

>> Tell EPA to cancel the registration of highly toxic wood preservatives, including creosote, chromated arsenicals, and copper compounds, and urge the U.S. Congress to ensure the prevention of future site contaminations.

Engineering solutions, such as removing soil, sludge, and sediment and installing a temporary cap over the contaminated materials, have reduced the risk of contamination by dioxins, creosote, and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. However, protecting human health and the environment requires ongoing institutional controls—administrative and legal measures, such as zoning, public advisories about contamination at a site, and restrictions on permitted uses of private property. OIG finds, “The institutional controls that the EPA has established at the American Creosote Works Inc. (Pensacola Plant) Superfund site in Pensacola, Florida, related to contaminated groundwater and soil are not sufficient to prevent potential exposure to contamination.” 

Superfund, or the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was enacted in response to growing public awareness of the dangers of hazardous waste sites, such as Love Canal. CERCLA created the Hazardous Substance Response Trust Fund (or “Superfund”) to collect taxes, cost recoveries, and fines and penalties to be used to finance emergency responses and cleanups. Ultimately, the costs should be reimbursed by responsible parties, if they can be located. Cleanup is expensive, but necessary. However, cleanup needs to be coupled with actions to prevent future contaminated sites. 

It is no surprise that many Superfund sites are past or current sites of wood preservation. Since wood is a potential food source for organisms ranging from bacteria and fungi to insects and birds, and treated wood is expected to survive for years or decades when exposed to the elements, the ideal wood preservative chemical is broadly toxic and persistent. EPA must make connections between decisions that promote environmental contamination and programs that must clean up the toxic mess. For example, in 2021, EPA Administrator Michael Regan visited Houston, Texas to tour a petroleum facility owned by Union Pacific Railroad Company as thousands of surrounding community members sued the corporation for adverse health effects allegedly caused by creosote contamination. Yet, Administrator Regan failed to see the connection between the lived experiences of frontline communities impacted by creosote wood preservatives since the EPA moved forward with its decision to reauthorize creosote use for another 15 years. 

Furthermore, alternatives exist—such as concrete or steel utility poles. If EPA is to prevent future sites contaminated with toxic wood preservatives, it must cease the use of these highly toxic persistent chemicals. 

>> Tell EPA to cancel the registration of highly toxic wood preservatives, including creosote, chromated arsenicals, and copper compounds, and urge the U.S. Congress to ensure the prevention of future site contaminations.

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Congress.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

04/26/2024 — Stop Quickly Moving Legislation in MO Giving Chemical Manufacturers Immunity from Harm!

Pesticide and chemical manufacturers have descended on state legislators in Missouri with legislation to shield them from liability lawsuits filed by people injured from exposure to their products. The chemical industry is asking for immunity from lawsuits on adverse effects that are not fully disclosed and legislation has already moved through the Missouri House of Representatives.  

So far, the industry has successfully introduced its bill in at least four states. This activity is spurred on by the thousands of successful cases involving the weed killer Roundup/glyphosate that have resulted in large jury awards against Bayer/Monsanto in the billions of dollars. While sponsors of these bills claim that the labels on pesticide products provide sufficient warning of hazards, users have been misled by advertising that falsely touts product safety. In fact, pesticides are registered by EPA under standards of what the agency calculates as “acceptable” harm, despite the availability of less or nontoxic alternatives. Reminiscent of previous battles, the chemical industry is now leaning on elected officials, both in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress, to do its bidding in blocking, or preempting, court action.  

>>Tell your state legislators to protect the right of citizens to seek redress against pesticide manufacturers from harm caused by their products.  

In 1991, after losing the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier, which upheld the right of local governments to restrict pesticide use under federal pesticide law, the pesticide industry went to every state legislature to preempt local authority. Preemption language was quickly enshrined in the state law of 43 states. Now, after being rebuffed by the Supreme Court in 2022 in an attempt to overturn large liability judgments against Monsanto/Bayer for glyphosate hazards, the industry is asking state legislatures to block future liability for pesticide manufacturers whose products cause harm. So far, similar bills to limit liability have been introduced in four states, and more are expected.    

As an example of such legislation, a bill recently approved by the Missouri House will provide pesticide manufacturers with legal protection from “failure-to-warn" liability. This legal approach has been pivotal for those who have used pesticide products and are seeking redress because of harm caused.  

The Missouri House, by a slim margin, voted in favor of HB 2763. The companion bill, SB 1416, if passed by the Missouri Senate, will provide legal protection to pesticide manufacturers from “failure-to-warn" liability.  

While other causes of action are often pursued, the overwhelming majority of successful cases for pesticide injury lawsuits fall under “failure-to-warn" claims. Brigit Rollins, a National Agricultural Law Center staff attorney, describes this liability framework as “a type of civil tort that is frequently raised in product liability cases. Unlike negligence and design defect...failure to warn does not argue that a product has physical faults. Instead, a plaintiff typically raises failure to warn claims to allege that a product manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the safe use of a product.” Under the new push in Missouri and several state legislatures, this legal framework would be moot, leaving victims around the United States without effective legal recourse and releasing industry actors such as Bayer/Monsanto from billions of dollars in ongoing and future settlements. As of 2022, Bayer settled over 1,000 lawsuits, paying out approximately $11 billion, and faces an additional 30,000 lawsuits now pending.  

Glyphosate litigation is a notable example of why the dependence on EPA's labels provides inadequate protection—in this case, for users of the pesticide, but also for neighboring farms, farmworkers and bystanders, consumers of contaminated food and water, and the biosphere. Legislators who choose to restrict the right of injured parties to seek recompense from pesticide manufacturers are doing their constituents a tremendous disservice. 

>>Tell your state legislators to protect the right of citizens to seek redress against pesticide manufacturers from harm caused by their products.

The target for this Action is the Missouri State Legislature. 

Letter to Missouri state legislators:

I am writing to ask you to oppose SB 1416 because it would shield pesticide and toxic chemical manufacturers from lawsuits when users of their products are injured from their exposure to the chemicals.  

Legislation like this is popping up around the country and is unfair to people who have been harmed, despite their compliance with product labels. As you may know, numerous cases against Bayer/Monsanto involving the weed killer glyphosate (RoundupTM) have resulted in large jury awards and settlements for those who have been harmed. The manufacturer has appealed verdicts to the U.S. Supreme Court twice and has been rebuffed each time, so they are now asking states to prevent victims from seeking compensation. Although sponsors of these bills claim that the pesticide label is a sufficient warning, users have been misled by advertising touting the products’ safety. 

The Missouri House voted in favor of HB 2763 by a slim margin. If the companion bill, SB 1416, passes the Missouri Senate, it will provide legal protection to pesticide manufacturers from “failure-to-warn" liability. This legal approach has been pivotal for pesticide users seeking redress from exposure to glyphosate-based herbicide products such as Roundup and other toxic pesticide products.  

While other causes of action are often pursued, the overwhelming majority of successful cases for pesticide injury lawsuits fall under “failure-to-warn" claims. Brigit Rollins, a National Agricultural Law Center staff attorney, describes this liability framework as “a type of civil tort that is frequently raised in products liability cases. Unlike negligence and design defect...failure to warn does not argue that a product has physical faults. Instead, a plaintiff typically raises failure to warn claims to allege that a product manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the safe use of a product.” Under the new push in the Missouri legislature, this legal framework would be moot, leaving victims without effective legal recourse and releasing industry actors such as Bayer from billions of dollars in ongoing and future settlements. As of 2022, Bayer settled over 1,000 lawsuits paying out approximately $11 billion and faces an additional 30,000 lawsuits pending. 

Glyphosate litigation is a notable example of why the dependence on EPA’s labels provides inadequate protection—in this case, for users of the pesticide, but also for neighboring farms, farmworkers and bystanders, consumers of contaminated food and water, and the biosphere. Legislators who choose to restrict the right of injured parties to seek compensation from pesticide manufacturers are doing their constituents a tremendous disservice. 

I urge you to oppose SB 1416 as it will restrict the rights of injured parties in our state—whether they be users of the pesticide, neighboring farms, farmworkers, landscapers, bystanders, consumers of contaminated food and water, or defenders of nature—to recover damages from pesticide manufacturers. 

Thank you. 

04/20/2024 — Take Action—Protect Children from Pesticides

While medical advancements have resulted in greater survival, childhood cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease among children. Furthermore, childhood cancer survivors can suffer from chronic or long-term health complications that may be life-threatening. Many studies demonstrate an association between environmental or occupational pesticide exposure and the risk of childhood cancer in offspring. 

>> Tell EPA to ban carcinogenic pesticides. Tell your Congressional Representative and Senators to support S. 269 and H.R. 5085, the Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2023 (PACTPA).

Many studies indicate prenatal and early-life exposure to environmental toxicants increases disease susceptibility. For decades, studies have long demonstrated that childhood and in-utero exposure to the U.S.-banned insecticide DDT increases the risk of developing breast cancer later in life. Risks from exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals during pregnancy include pesticides and children's sleep disordersprenatal exposures to a multitude of chemicalsinsecticides and childhood leukemia; and insecticides and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

A study published in Environmental Research suggests occupational (work-related) exposure to pesticides among nonpregnant women and men may increase childhood cancer risk for offspring. Low levels of pesticide exposure during pregnancy or childhood cause adverse health effects, from metabolic disorders to mental and physical disabilities. Moreover, several studies demonstrate an association between environmental or occupational pesticide exposure and the risk of childhood cancer, specifically focusing on leukemiaAcute leukemia is the most common type of childhood cancer, accounting for one of three cancer cases in children ages 0 to 14. Although the disease is rare, incidents have been steadily increasing among adolescents over the last 30 years.  

Researchers at the National Institute of Pediatrics and National Polytechnic Institute found positive associations between pesticide exposure and heightened risk of certain childhood cancers. The finding is derived from a meta-analysis of 174 studies published between 2013 and 2023 and reported in the International Journal of Molecular Science. The authors note, “Although [pesticide exposure] association with childhood cancer has not been fully demonstrated, we found that more than 80% of the epidemiological studies show positive associations [with forms of childhood cancer].” 

Even household cleaners, many of which are pesticides, can increase nephroblastoma (kidney cancer) and brain tumor risk in children. Furthermore, long-term exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides increases adverse health and cancer risks, specifically among women. Since DDT and its metabolite DDE residues, current-use pesticides, and other chemical pollutants contaminate the environment, exposure to these chemical mixtures can synergize to increase toxicity and disease effects. 

A literature review published in Ciência & Saúde Coletiva finds that environmental exposure to all classes of pesticides (fungicides, herbicides, insecticides) is associated with childhood astrocytoma (brain/central nervous system [CNS] tumor). CNS tumors represent half of all malignant neoplasms (tumors) in children. 

>> Tell EPA to ban carcinogenic pesticides. Tell your Congressional Representative and Senators to support S. 269 and H.R. 5085, the Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2023 (PACTPA).

A 2024 Environmental Research study found an association between adverse neurodevelopment (brain function and development) among infants and exposure to the herbicide glyphosate during pregnancy, which becomes more pronounced at 24 months. Glyphosate-based herbicides were also found to induce oxidative stress-induced damage in the brain after prenatal, early life, and postnatal exposure, leading to reduced melatonin levels that ultimately disrupt circadian rhythm and lead to sleep disorders later in life, according to a 2023 study in Antioxidants

In addition to maternal/prenatal exposure to herbicides, children experience exposure to pyrethroid insecticides early in life as levels significantly increase after birth leading to degenerative neurotoxic impacts later in life, according to a study published in Frontiers in Public Health in 2023. Moreover, pediatricians strongly agree that pregnant mothers and young children should avoid pesticide exposure during critical development periods.

The state of pesticide regulation and of research into pesticide impacts is inadequate and like nothing so much as a game of “whack-a-mole.” A single pesticide or class of pesticides is studied, a paper is written, and policymakers and regulators may or may not pay attention. Then another one happens, and another, and another, ad infinitum. The pattern of “progress” is similar on the regulation side: individual pesticides registered (aka, approved) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are reviewed “on the regular” — but only every 15 years, barring an emergent and urgent concern. Given the cascade of discovery of harmful impacts over the past couple of decades, 15 years has become a very long window to allow continued use without review. 

When EPA undertakes a more timely review due to an urgent concern, it still considers one chemical at a time. Even more fundamentally, its approach to regulation, in the face of evidence of harm, is often characterized by tweaking the use of toxic pesticides “at the margins” — requiring a change to the text on a pesticide label, reducing the time frame in which a compound can be used, restricting application to trained applicators, or other piecemeal actions that are generally wholly inadequate to reducing the health and environmental harms of these compounds being unleashed into the environment. 

EPA also continues to fall short on multiple research and regulatory fronts, failing to consider synergistic impacts, multiple exposure vectors, and endocrine disruption effects, among other things. In addition, the agency is far too dependent on industry-generated research, influenced by agrochemical industry lobbying and sometimes in downright collusion with industry

It is unconscionable to continue tweaking restrictions on pesticides with known hazards and broad uncertainties about the effect of mixtures, synergistic effects, and cumulative risk, given the availability of organic systems that eliminate those hazards economically and solve the looming environmental threats. Buying, growing, and supporting organic land management can reduce human and environmental contamination from pesticides. Organic agriculture has many health and environmental benefits, which curtail the need for chemical-intensive agricultural practices. Numerous studies find that pesticide metabolite levels in urine significantly decrease when switching to an all-organic diet. 

Globally, cancer is one of the leading causes of death, with over eight million people succumbing to the disease every year. Notably, the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) predicts a 67.4 percent rise in new cancer cases by 2030. Thus, it is critical that both government officials and the public understand the health implications of pesticide use and exposure on humans, especially when pesticides increase chronic disease risk. 

Some elected officials are attempting to take action. The Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2023 (PACTPA), S. 269 and H.R. 5085, addresses many of the controversial issues with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which governs the registration and use of pesticides in the U.S. 

>> Tell EPA to ban carcinogenic pesticides. Tell your Congressional Representative and Senators to support S. 269 and H.R. 5085, the Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2023 (PACTPA).

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Congress.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to EPA:

Occupational exposure to pesticides among nonpregnant women and men may increase childhood cancer risk for offspring. Studies demonstrate an association between environmental or occupational pesticide exposure and the risk of childhood cancer, specifically leukemia. Acute leukemia is the most common type of childhood cancer, accounting for one of three cancer cases in children ages 0 to 14, and incidence has been steadily increasing among adolescents over the last 30 years.   

Even household cleaners, many of which are pesticides, can increase kidney and brain cancer risk in children. Long-term exposure to organophosphate pesticides increases adverse health and cancer risks. A literature review published found environmental exposure to all classes of pesticides is associated with childhood brain/central nervous system tumors, representing half of all malignant tumors in children.  

Adverse neurodevelopment among infants is associated with exposure to glyphosate during pregnancy. Glyphosate-based herbicides were also found to induce oxidative stress-induced damage in the brain after prenatal, early life, and postnatal exposure. In addition to maternal/prenatal exposure to herbicides, children experience exposure to pyrethroid insecticides early in life as levels significantly increase after birth leading to degenerative neurotoxic impacts later in life.   

Moreover, pediatricians strongly agree that pregnant mothers and young children should avoid pesticide exposure during critical development periods.  

The state of pesticide regulation and research into pesticide impacts is inadequate and resembles a game of “whack-a-mole,” in which single pesticides or a class of pesticides are studied for specific effects. The EPA only considers one chemical at a time, ignoring research showing that the synergy of exposure to multiple chemicals in the environment increases toxicity and disease effects. All of these effects have environmental justice implications since farmworkers are most exposed.  

More fundamentally, the approach to regulation in the face of evidence of harm, characterized by tweaking the use of toxic pesticides—requiring a change to the text on a pesticide label, reducing the time frame in which a compound can be used, restricting application to trained applicators, or other piecemeal actions—is wholly inadequate to reduce the health and environmental harms of these compounds being unleashed into the environment.  

It is unconscionable to continue tweaking restrictions on pesticides with known hazards and broad uncertainties about the effect of mixtures, synergistic effects, and cumulative risk, given the availability of organic systems that eliminate those hazards economically and solve the looming environmental threats. Organic agriculture has many health and environmental benefits, which curtail the need for chemical-intensive agricultural practices. 

Our children’s health requires the elimination of cancer-causing pesticides.  

Thank you. 

Letter to U.S. Representative and Senators who are co-sponsors of PACTPA: 

I am writing out of concern that our pesticide law is failing to protect children from cancer caused by exposure to pesticides. While medical advancements have resulted in greater survival, childhood cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease among children. Furthermore, childhood cancer survivors can suffer from chronic or long-term health complications that may be life-threatening. Many studies demonstrate an association between environmental or occupational pesticide exposure and the risk of childhood cancer in offspring, as well as greater disease susceptibility and neurological effects. 

The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2023 (PACTPA), S.269 and H.R 5085, addresses many of the issues with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which governs the registration and use of pesticides in the U.S. I am happy to see that you have joined this effort to protect our nation’s children. In addition to thanking you for your co-sponsorship of the legislation, I’m writing to ask you to also seek broader protections, especially necessary to protect children. 

Despite an impressive list of corrections, PACTPA does not touch the toxic core of FIFRA, which permits the unnecessary dispersal of toxic chemicals in the environment. To eliminate this toxic core, please consider amending the legislation to: 

* Prohibit the registration and use of pesticides that do not meet these criteria: 
- Necessary to prevent harm to humans and the environment based on an analysis of all alternatives; 
- Cause no harm to humans and the environment; and 
- Protect against the existential crises of biodiversity collapse, runaway climate change, and chronic and acute health threats. 

* Require all supporting data to be submitted and examined by the public before registration (including the elimination of conditional registration). 

* Deny and cancel all pesticide registrations not supported by studies demonstrating a lack of endocrine-disrupting effects.  

* Deny and cancel registrations of all pesticides posing a threat to life in the soil—and hence threatening the climate. 

* Deny and cancel registrations of all pesticides posing a threat to any endangered species. 

Thank you for your consideration and sponsorship of this legislation. 

Letter to U.S. Representative and Senators who are NOT co-sponsors of PACTPA: 

I am writing out of concern that our pesticide law is failing to protect children from cancer caused by exposure to pesticides. While medical advancements have resulted in greater survival, childhood cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease among children. Furthermore, childhood cancer survivors can suffer from chronic or long-term health complications that may be life-threatening. Many studies demonstrate an association between environmental or occupational pesticide exposure and the risk of childhood cancer in offspring, as well as greater disease susceptibility and neurological effects.  

The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2023 (PACTPA), S.269 and H.R 5085, addresses many of the problems with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which governs the registration and use of pesticides in the U.S.  

PACTPA would provide some desperately needed improvements to FIFRA to better protect people and the environment, including:  

* Bans some of the most damaging pesticides scientifically known to cause significant harm to people and the environment:  
- Organophosphate insecticides, which have been linked to neurodevelopmental damage in children;  
- Neonicotinoid insecticides, which have been shown to cause developmental defects, heart deformations, and muscle tremors in unborn children;  
- Paraquat, one of the most acutely toxic herbicides in the world—already banned in 32 countries, including the European Union.  

* Removes dangerous pesticides from the market by:  

- Creating a petition process to enable individual citizens to petition the EPA to identify dangerous pesticides so that dangerous pesticides would not remain on the market indefinitely;  
- Closing loopholes that have allowed the EPA to issue emergency exemptions and conditional registrations to use pesticides before they have gone through full health and safety review;  
- Enabling local communities to enact protective legislation and other policies without being vetoed or preempted by state law;  
- Suspending the use of pesticides deemed unsafe by the E.U. or Canada until they are thoroughly reviewed by the EPA.  

* Provides protections for frontline communities that bear the burden of pesticide exposure by:  
- Requiring employers of farmworkers to report all pesticide-caused injuries to the EPA, with strong penalties for failure to report injuries or retaliating against workers;  
- Directing the EPA to review pesticide injury reports and work with pesticide manufacturers to prevent future injury;  
- Requiring that all pesticide label instructions be written in Spanish and in any language spoken by more than 500 pesticide applicators.  

Despite this impressive list of corrections, PACTPA does not touch the toxic core of FIFRA, which permits the unnecessary dispersal of toxic chemicals in the environment.

To eliminate this toxic core, please support legislation to:  

* Prohibit the registration and use of pesticides that do not meet these criteria:  
- Necessary to prevent harm to humans and the environment based on an analysis of all alternatives;  
- Cause no harm to humans and the environment; and  
- Protect against the existential crises of biodiversity collapse, runaway climate change, and chronic and acute health threats.  

* Require all supporting data to be submitted and examined by the public before registration (including the elimination of conditional registration).  

* Deny and cancel all pesticide registrations not supported by studies demonstrating a lack of endocrine-disrupting effects.   

* Deny and cancel registrations of all pesticides posing a threat to life in the soil—hence threatening the climate.  

* Deny and cancel registrations of all pesticides posing a threat to any endangered species.  

Thank you. 

 

04/17/2024 — Protect Granite State families and pollinators from poisonous pesticide exposures—Oppose HB 1698-FN!

Please join us today by calling on state senators in New Hampshire to oppose House Bill (HB) 1698. This bill would allow the aerial spraying of pesticides by drones up to 20 feet in the air without notifying the public, threatening the well-being of pollinators, wildlife, and humans who may cross their path. The hearing for HB 1698 is scheduled for April 18, 2024, at 1:20 PM in Room 103, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. To sign up to testify, please see the NH Calendar linked here

>> Tell your state senator to oppose HB 1698-FN exempting aerial application of pesticides using drones from notification processes, exposing Granite State families and pollinators to poisons hazardous to our health. 

House Bill 1698 exempts the application of pesticides using drones from notification procedures. The bill adds a new paragraph to RSA 430:34-a, stating that the notification requirements for aerial pesticide application do not apply to the aerial application of pesticides by a person with a valid certificate of registration or permit, while using unmanned aircraft for agricultural purposes at a height not exceeding 50 feet above ground level. The bill will take effect 60 days after its passage. 

This proposed legislation language flies in the face of what can and should be New Hampshire's comprehensive approach to ensure those at greatest risk from pesticide exposure—childrenthose with preexisting health conditions, essential workers, and landscapers—are fully protected. The bill's language is unacceptable, given the known harms of pesticide drift through the air, waterways, and soil.  

Beyond Pesticides opposes HB 1698-FN based on decades of experience reviewing the latest scientific analysis regarding commonly used toxic pesticides in public and private spaces. Click here to view Beyond Pesticides' testimony in opposition to the bill.

Please take action today—thank you for your help protecting public health in New Hampshire!

>> Tell your state senator to oppose HB 1698-FN exempting aerial application of pesticides using drones from notification processes, exposing Granite State families and pollinators to poisons hazardous to our health.

The target for this Action is the N.H. State Senate, including members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Letter to state senators:

As a constituent, I urge you to take immediate action to oppose HB 1698-FN and its amendment, which would harm New Hampshire's pollinators and environment. House Bill 1698 exempts the application of pesticides using drones from notification procedures when they are sprayed up to 50 feet in the air (up to 20 feet in the air in the amendment). I further urge you not to compromise on decreasing the height, given that any language short of notification at any height will muddy the waters and leave communities open to public health risks.

This bill exempts the aerial application of pesticides using drones from notification processes, potentially endangering pollinators crucial for our food system and biodiversity due to pesticide drift. Pesticides harm pollinators and pose risks to human health and wildlife. Pesticide drift can cause acute poisoning and/or chronic health impacts in farmworkers, their families, or anyone in the application area or working in nearby treated fields, including schools, playgrounds, recreational fields, and other facilities frequented by young children.

With federal officials' complete inaction, the Granite State government must play a critical role in protecting its residents’ public health and unique local environment. Let's come together to protect our pollinators and ecosystems. Your voice can make a difference in safeguarding New Hampshire's natural heritage.

I appreciate your commitment to this vital cause. Together, we can advocate for policies that prioritize the well-being of our ecosystems.

Please oppose HB 1698-FN in its entirety. Thank you for your consideration!

04/13/2024 — EPA Must Protect, Not Just Warn, Farmworkers

In a move that defies the most basic principles of worker and public health protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned farmworkers of the risks of the weed killer dacthal (dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate or DCPA) instead of taking immediate steps necessary to eliminate exposure to the chemical. EPA's press release says, “EPA is warning people of the significant health risks to pregnant individuals and their developing babies exposed to DCPA and will be pursuing action to address the serious, permanent, and irreversible health risks associated with the pesticide as quickly as possible.”

>>Tell EPA to immediately suspend the registration of dacthal, while Congress must urge the agency to take immediate action.

EPA states that it “found concerning evidence of health risks associated with DCPA use and application, even when personal protective equipment and engineering controls are used. The most serious risks extend to the developing babies of pregnant individuals. EPA estimates that some pregnant individuals handling DCPA products could be subjected to exposures from four to 20 times greater than what current DCPA product label use instructions indicate is considered safe. EPA is concerned that pregnant women exposed to DCPA could experience changes to fetal thyroid hormone levels, and these changes are generally linked to low birth weight, impaired brain development, decreased IQ, and impaired motor skills later in life.” 

Although it suggests several measures that it might take—including an immediate suspension order—EPA says it is “considering these tools as it moves forward with the DCPA registration review, but in light of the serious risks posed by DCPA, chose to warn the public of them at this time as it continues its work.” EPA's press release gives an astonishing history of the agency's failure to act, acknowledging that DCPA use on turf was voluntarily canceled in December 2023, while “unacceptable risks from agricultural use remained.” The uses voluntarily cancelled include "non-golf turf uses; sod farms, commercial turf, and golf course roughs.” Continued use allowances, like those retained under the voluntary action, cause disproportionate harm to farmworkers who work around or apply the pesticides in agriculture as well as their families living nearby—making this an act of environmental racism. 

EPA's reliance on voluntary cancellations—which arises because of the cumbersome cancellation process established in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)—has been identified as a major problem in eliminating problem chemicals. EPA does have imminent hazard authority, which it can use to remove pesticides from use while it works through the legal process. Voluntary actions by the companies are highly compromised and do not include agency determinations or findings—allowing false claims of safety, offering a shield from liability, and unencumbered international marketing.  

Although it has not yet acted, EPA accepted comments on its dacthal pesticide registration review last year, particularly soliciting comments on the environmental justice implications. A report released in January, "US pesticide regulation is failing the hardest-hit communities. It's time to fix it," finds “people of color and low-income communities in the United States and around the world continue to shoulder the societal burden of harmful pollution.” More specifically, the authors state that “ongoing environmental injustice is the disproportionate impact these communities suffer from pesticides, among the most widespread environmental pollutants.” The report follows an earlier article by the same lead authors and others (see earlier coverage) on the long history of documented hazards and government failure to protect farmworkers from pesticide use in agriculture. In a piece posted earlier this year by Beyond Pesticides, the serious weaknesses in the worker protection standard for farmworkers are documented.   

In view of the serious health risks acknowledged by EPA, the agency must immediately suspend the registration of dacthal, pending any other actions. 

>>Tell EPA to immediately suspend the registration of dacthal, while Congress must urge the agency to take immediate action.

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Congress.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to EPA: 

In a move that defies the most basic principles of worker and public health protection, EPA has warned farmworkers of the risks of dacthal (dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate or DCPA), instead of taking steps to eliminate the risks. EPA’s press release says, “EPA is warning people of the significant health risks to pregnant individuals and their developing babies exposed to DCPA and will be pursuing action to address the serious, permanent, and irreversible health risks associated with the pesticide as quickly as possible.” 

EPA states that it “found concerning evidence of health risks associated with DCPA use and application, even when personal protective equipment and engineering controls are used. The most serious risks extend to the developing babies of pregnant individuals. EPA estimates that some pregnant individuals handling DCPA products could be subjected to exposures from four to 20 times greater than what current DCPA product label use instructions indicate is considered safe. EPA is concerned that pregnant women exposed to DCPA could experience changes to fetal thyroid hormone levels, and these changes are generally linked to low birth weight, impaired brain development, decreased IQ, and impaired motor skills later in life.”  

Despite suggesting several measures that it might take—including an immediate suspension order—EPA says it is “considering these tools as it moves forward with the DCPA registration review, but in light of the serious risks posed by DCPA, chose to warn the public of them at this time as it continues its work.” EPA’s press release gives an astonishing history of the agency’s failure to act, admitting that DCPA use on turf was voluntarily canceled by in December 2023, while “unacceptable risks from agricultural use remained.” The uses voluntarily cancelled include "non-golf turf uses; sod farms, commercial turf and golf course roughs.” Continued use allowances, like those retained under the voluntary action, cause disproportionate harm to farmworkers who work around or apply the pesticides in agriculture as well as their families living nearby—making this an act of environmental racism.

EPA’s reliance on voluntary cancellations—which arises because of the cumbersome cancellation process established in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)—has been identified as a major problem in eliminating problem chemicals. Voluntary actions by the companies are highly compromised and do not include agency determinations or findings—allowing false claims of safety, offering a shield from liability, and unencumbered international marketing. 

Although it has not yet acted, EPA accepted comments on its dacthal pesticide registration review last year, particularly soliciting comments on the environmental justice implications. A report released in January, US pesticide regulation is failing the hardest-hit communities: It’s time to fix it, finds “people of color and low-income communities in the United States and around the world continue to shoulder the societal burden of harmful pollution.” More specifically, the authors state that “ongoing environmental injustice is the disproportionate impact these communities suffer from pesticides, among the most widespread environmental pollutants.” The report follows an earlier article by the same lead authors and others on the long history of documented hazards and government failure to protect farmworkers from pesticide use in agriculture. The serious weaknesses in the worker protection standard for farmworkers have also been documented.   

In view of the serious health risks acknowledged by EPA, the agency must immediately suspend the registration of dacthal pending any other actions. 

Thank you for considering these comments. 

Letter to Congress: 

In a move that defies the most basic principles of worker and public health protection, EPA has warned farmworkers of the risks of the weed killer dacthal (dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate or DCPA), instead of taking steps to eliminate the risks. EPA’s press release says, “EPA is warning people of the significant health risks to pregnant individuals and their developing babies exposed to DCPA and will be pursuing action to address the serious, permanent, and irreversible health risks associated with the pesticide as quickly as possible.” In view of the serious health risks acknowledged by EPA, please urge EPA to immediately suspend the registration of dacthal, pending any other actions. 

EPA states that it “found concerning evidence of health risks associated with DCPA use and application, even when personal protective equipment and engineering controls are used. The most serious risks extend to the developing babies of pregnant individuals. EPA estimates that some pregnant individuals handling DCPA products could be subjected to exposures from four to 20 times greater than what current DCPA product label use instructions indicate is considered safe. EPA is concerned that pregnant women exposed to DCPA could experience changes to fetal thyroid hormone levels, and these changes are generally linked to low birth weight, impaired brain development, decreased IQ, and impaired motor skills later in life.” 

Despite suggesting several measures that it might take—including an immediate suspension order—EPA says it is “considering these tools as it moves forward with the DCPA registration review, but in light of the serious risks posed by DCPA, chose to warn the public of them at this time as it continues its work.” EPA’s press release gives an astonishing history of the agency’s failure to act, admitting that DCPA use on turf was voluntarily canceled by in December 2023, while “unacceptable risks from agricultural use remained.” The uses voluntarily cancelled include "non-golf turf uses; sod farms, commercial turf and golf course roughs.” Continued use allowances, like those retained under the voluntary action, cause disproportionate harm to farmworkers who work around or apply the pesticides in agriculture as well as their families living nearby—making this an act of environmental racism. 

EPA’s reliance on voluntary cancellations—which arises because of the cumbersome cancellation process established in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)—has been identified as a major problem in eliminating problem chemicals. Voluntary actions by the companies are highly compromised and do not include agency determinations or findings—allowing false claims of safety, offering a shield from liability, and unencumbered international marketing. 

Although it has not yet acted, EPA accepted comments on its dacthal pesticide registration review last year, particularly soliciting comments on the environmental justice implications. A report released in January, US pesticide regulation is failing the hardest-hit communities: It’s time to fix it, finds “people of color and low-income communities in the United States and around the world continue to shoulder the societal burden of harmful pollution.” More specifically, the authors state that “ongoing environmental injustice is the disproportionate impact these communities suffer from pesticides, among the most widespread environmental pollutants.” The report follows an earlier article by the same lead authors and others on the long history of documented hazards and government failure to protect farmworkers from pesticide use in agriculture. The serious weaknesses in the worker protection standard for farmworkers have also been documented.   

Thank you for consideration of my request. 

04/06/2024 — The U.S. Must Not Oppose Mexico’s Ban on Imported GE Corn

Corporate interests continue to rule environmental and economic policies, the latest example being a U.S.-initiated trade war that threatens the sovereignty of Mexico in its effort to protect health and the environment with the country's ban on imported genetically engineered (GE or GM) corn and the use of the deadly herbicide glyphosate. Mexico has already announced a delay in the planned April 1 ban on the importation, production, distribution, and use of glyphosate. This is all taking place with pressure from the United States government and U.S. corporations under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the trade agreement that replaced the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 2020. This is all happening despite reports that the Biden administration is seeking to “tackle corporate abuses,” apparently limited to tax reform and encouraging competition

>>Tell the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Secretary of State to withdraw opposition to Mexico's ban on imported GE corn.

Mexico's 2023 decision to stop importation of GE corn into its country is examined in a report by CBAN, which highlights the scientific rationale underpinning Mexico's decision to “safeguard the integrity of native corn from GM contamination and to protect human health.” Mexico's decision is meant to “protect the rights to health and a healthy environment, native corn, the milpa, biocultural wealth, peasant communities and gastronomic heritage, as well as to ensure a nutritious, sufficient and quality diet.” The phase-out of GE corn imports into Mexico was immediately challenged by the U.S. and Canadian governments as a trade violation under USMCA. In August 2023, the U.S. Trade Representative set up a dispute settlement panel under USMCA to stop Mexico from going forward with its ban. So far, no public update from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has been released. 

Within Mexico, there is over a decade of judicial and executive actions against the spread of GE crops, as well as the use of toxic petrochemical pesticides. In 2013, a judge in Mexico issued an injunction against the planting and selling of GE corn seed, effective immediately, within the country's borders. The decision came nearly two years after the Mexican government temporarily rejected the expansion of GE corn testing, citing the need for more research and prohibited agrichemical biotech companies, including Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, PHI Mexico, and Dow AgroSciences, from planting or selling GE corn seed in Mexico. Then in 2020, Mexico announced the phaseout of glyphosate from use or importation into the country by 2024, joining other nations that have issued bans, including Germany, Luxembourg, and Vietnam.  

With such a history, why challenge this action, which affects only a small proportion of corn—white corn used for human consumption, as opposed to yellow feed corn or seed corn? Under the USMCA, “[E]ach Party has the right to adopt measures necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health, called Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, and is clear that such measures should be “based on scientific principles.” The GE/chemical industry intervenes whenever decisions are published finding that GE crops or the chemical on which they depend are harmful, often leading to U.S. government and corporate agribusiness pressure on other governments when they move to ban glyphosate use or advance restrictions on genetically engineered or modified crops. When U.S. government agencies, such as USDA, EPA, and FDA, have bought the line of corporations—many linked to those agencies through the revolving door—the fingerprints of those corporations are all over policies, including labeling, agriculture policy, pesticide registration, food tolerances, and foreign policy. 

In fact, in deciding to ban GE corn, Mexico has established a scientific basis for its decision. The government hosts a database of scientific studies that document the health impacts on insects, pollinators, and animals fed GE corn, as well as the adverse health impacts of glyphosate on humans. In addition to herbicide-tolerant GE crops, the CBAN report states, “Most GM corn plants are genetically modified to kill insect pests. The GM plants express a toxin from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that is known to harm the guts of specific types of insects but not others. Farmers have long used Bt as a spray to kill pests but the Bt toxins in GM crops are different from this natural Bt in structure, function, and biological effects.” The report continues, “In fact, peer-reviewed studies across the scientific literature continue to find that Bt toxins in GM plants can harm insects (spiders, wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings, for example) that are not the intended targets.” 

>>Tell the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Secretary of State to withdraw opposition to Mexico's ban on imported GE corn.

Message: I am writing to ask you to please withdraw U.S. opposition to Mexico's ban on imported GE corn. Despite reports that the administration seeks to “tackle corporate abuses,” it appears limited to tax reform and encouraging competition, while corporate interests continue to override existential health and environmental concerns. The attempt to stop Mexico's ban is a case in point. Mexico's decision is meant to “protect the rights to health and a healthy environment, native corn, the milpa, biocultural wealth, peasant communities and gastronomic heritage, as well as to ensure a nutritious, sufficient and quality diet.” The U.S. immediately challenged the phase-out of GE corn imports as a trade violation under USMCA. Over the last decade, Mexico has taken judicial and executive actions against the spread of GE crops and the use of toxic petrochemical pesticides, from an injunction two years after prohibiting agrichemical biotech companies from planting or selling GE corn seed to announcing a glyphosate phaseout by 2024. With such a history, why challenge this action, which affects only a small proportion of corn—white corn used for human consumption, as opposed to yellow feed corn or seed corn? Under USMCA, “[E]ach Party has the right to adopt measures necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health, called Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, and is clear that such measures should be “based on scientific principles.” Mexico's decision has a scientific basis—most GE corn plants are genetically modified to kill insect pests via a toxin from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis that differs from its natural form and can harm nontarget arthropods. The industry often challenges decisions finding that GE crops (or the chemical they depend on) are harmful, often leading to U.S. government and corporate agribusiness to pressure other governments. Please do not continue the cycle and immediately cease U.S. opposition. Thank you.

>>Tell the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Secretary of State to withdraw opposition to Mexico's ban on imported GE corn.

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, with an option to send a message to the Office of the President of the United States.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai 

I am writing to ask you to withdraw U.S. opposition to Mexico’s ban on imported GE corn. Despite reports that the Biden administration seeks to “tackle corporate abuses,” the actions of the U.S. government appear to be limited to tax reform and encouraging competition, while corporate interests continue to override existential health and environmental concerns. A case in point is the attempt to stop Mexico’s ban on imported genetically engineered (GE or GM) corn.  

In 2023, Mexico decided to stop importation of GE corn into its country. Mexico’s decision is meant to “protect the rights to health and a healthy environment, native corn, the milpa, biocultural wealth, peasant communities and gastronomic heritage, as well as to ensure a nutritious, sufficient and quality diet.” The phase-out of GE corn imports into Mexico was immediately challenged by the U.S. and Canadian governments as a trade violation under the 2020 U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). In August 2023, the U.S. Trade Representative set up a dispute settlement panel under USMCA to stop Mexico from going forward with its ban.  

Over the last decade, Mexico has taken judicial and executive actions against the spread of GE crops and the use of toxic petrochemical pesticides. In 2013, a judge in Mexico issued an injunction against the planting and selling of GE corn seed within the country’s borders. The decision came nearly two years after the Mexican government temporarily rejected the expansion of GE corn testing, and prohibited agrichemical biotech companies from planting or selling GE corn seed in Mexico, citing the need for more research. In 2020, Mexico announced a phase-out of glyphosate’s use or importation into the country by 2024, joining other nations that have issued bans, including Germany, Luxembourg, and Vietnam.   

With such a history, why challenge this action, which affects only a small proportion of corn—white corn used for human consumption, as opposed to yellow feed corn or seed corn? Under the USMCA, “[E]ach Party has the right to adopt measures necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health, called Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, and is clear that such measures should be “based on scientific principles.” The GE/chemical industry challenges decisions finding that GE crops or the chemical on which they depend are harmful, often leading to U.S. government and corporate agribusiness pressure on other governments when they move to ban glyphosate use or restrict GE crops. When U.S. government agencies, such as USDA, EPA, and FDA, have bought the line of corporations—many linked to those agencies through the revolving door—the fingerprints of those corporations are all over policies, including labeling, agriculture policy, pesticide registration, food tolerances, and foreign policy.  

In fact, in deciding to ban GE corn, Mexico has established a scientific basis for its decision. The government hosts a database of scientific studies that document the health impacts on insects, pollinators, and animals fed GE corn, as well as the adverse health impacts of glyphosate on humans. In addition to herbicide-tolerant GE crops, most GE corn plants are genetically modified to kill insect pests, expressing a toxin from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that is known to harm the guts of specific types of insects. Farmers have long used Bt as a spray to kill pests but the Bt toxins in GM crops differ from this natural Bt in structure, function, and biological effects. In fact, peer-reviewed studies continue to find that Bt toxins in GM plants can harm nontarget arthropods, including spiders, wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings.  

Please immediately cease U.S. opposition to Mexico’s ban on imported GE corn.  

Thank you. 

Letter to Secretary Blinken: 

I am writing to ask you to withdraw U.S. opposition to Mexico’s ban on imported GE corn. Despite reports that the administration seeks to “tackle corporate abuses,” these actions appear to be limited to tax reform and encouraging competition, while corporate interests continue to override existential health and environmental concerns. A case in point is the attempt to stop Mexico’s ban on imported genetically engineered (GE or GM) corn.  

In 2023, Mexico decided to stop the importation of GE corn into its country. Mexico’s decision is meant to “protect the rights to health and a healthy environment, native corn, the milpa, biocultural wealth, peasant communities and gastronomic heritage, as well as to ensure a nutritious, sufficient and quality diet.” The phase-out of GE corn imports into Mexico was immediately challenged by the U.S. and Canadian governments as a trade violation under the 2020 U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). In August 2023, the U.S. Trade Representative set up a dispute settlement panel under USMCA to stop Mexico from going forward with its ban.  

Over the last decade, Mexico has taken judicial and executive actions against the spread of GE crops and the use of toxic petrochemical pesticides. In 2013, a judge in Mexico issued an injunction against the planting and selling of GE corn seed within the country’s borders. The decision came nearly two years after the Mexican government temporarily rejected the expansion of GE corn testing, and prohibited agrichemical biotech companies from planting or selling GE corn seed in Mexico, citing the need for more research. In 2020, Mexico announced a phase-out of glyphosate’s use or importation into the country by 2024, joining other nations that have issued bans, including Germany, Luxembourg, and Vietnam.   

With such a history, why challenge this action, which affects only a small proportion of corn—white corn used for human consumption, as opposed to yellow feed corn or seed corn? Under the USMCA, “[E]ach Party has the right to adopt measures necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health, called Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, and is clear that such measures should be “based on scientific principles.” The GE/chemical industry challenges decisions finding that GE crops or the chemical on which they depend are harmful, often leading to U.S. government and corporate agribusiness pressure on other governments when they move to ban glyphosate use or restrict GE crops. When U.S. government agencies, such as USDA, EPA, and FDA, have bought the line of corporations—many linked to those agencies through the revolving door—the fingerprints of those corporations are all over policies, including labeling, agriculture policy, pesticide registration, food tolerances, and foreign policy.  

In fact, in deciding to ban GE corn, Mexico has established a scientific basis for its decision. The government hosts a database of scientific studies that document the health impacts on insects, pollinators, and animals fed GE corn, as well as the adverse health impacts of glyphosate on humans. In addition to herbicide-tolerant GE crops, most GE corn plants are genetically modified to kill insect pests, expressing a toxin from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that is known to harm the guts of specific types of insects. Farmers have long used Bt as a spray to kill pests but the Bt toxins in GM crops differ from this natural Bt in structure, function, and biological effects. In fact, peer-reviewed studies continue to find that Bt toxins in GM plants can harm nontarget arthropods, including spiders, wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings.  

Please immediately cease U.S. opposition to Mexico’s ban on imported GE corn.  

Thank you. 

 

03/29/2024 — Last Chance This Spring To Tell the NOSB To Uphold Organic Integrity

Contribute Your Voice to a Strong Organic! Comments closed at 11:59 pm EDT on April 3, 2024.
Due to updates to the Regulations website, we are now able to offer a click-and-submit form
to the Regulations docket! >> Please fill out the form linked here and below to submit!

Join Beyond Pesticides in commenting on priority issues that protect health and the environment for the upcoming meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The NOSB is receiving written comments from the public on key issues. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on April 23 and 25 and deliberative hearing April 29 through May 1—concerning how organic food is produced. >>Written comments must be submitted by 11:59 pm EDT April 3 through the link provided here and below! Sign up for a 3-minute comment to let U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) know how important organic is at the webinar by April 3. Links to the virtual comment webinars will be provided approximately one week before the webinars.  

As a means of taking on the challenges of health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency, the review and updating of organic standards requires public involvement in the current public comment period. This is required to keep organic strong and continually improving. Organic maintains a unique place in the food system because of its high standards and the ongoing opportunity for continuous improvement through transparency and public involvement. But we will only keep organic strong and growing stronger if we participate in voicing our position on key issues to the stakeholder advisory board, the NOSB. We have identified key issues for the upcoming NOSB meeting below. 

>>Click here to submit your written comment to the National Organic Standard Board by April 3.

The NOSB is responsible for guiding USDA in its administration of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), including the materials allowed to be used in organic production and handling. The role of the NOSB is especially important as we depend on organic production to protect our ecosystem, mitigate climate change, and enhance our health. There is no other food label category that is defined and codified in federal law, fully embraces health and biodiversity protection and enhancement, offers ongoing opportunities for public input and oversight, and is enforced with an inspection and certification system. Your comments help to make our food system what we need it to be for health, regenerative practices, and sustainability of the planet. 

A draft meeting agenda is available here.  And a detailed agenda, along with the proposals, are available here

Written comments are due by 11:59 pm ET on Wednesday, April 3, 2024as well as registration for oral comments. Oral comment sign-ups fill up fast! >> Sign up for oral comments here.  

The NOSB plays an important role in bringing the views of organic consumers and producers to bear on USDA, which is not always in sync with organic principles and not giving sufficient support to the critical need to end the use of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers. There are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Spring. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong and the Spring 2024 Beyond Pesticides' issues webpage.  

Here are some of our high priority issues for the upcoming NOSB meeting (see others here):

  • Make elimination of plastic in organic a research priority. Plastic is found in every facet of organic production and handling. Yet, the human and environmental health implications of plastic are becoming increasingly well documented. We need research into ways to replace all forms of plastic in organic production and handling.

    Microplastics—plastic fragments less than 5 mm in size—are of increasing concern because they can cause harmful effects to humans and other organisms and act as carriers of toxic chemicals that are adsorbed to their surface. Studies on fish have shown that microplastics and their associated toxic chemicals bioaccumulate, resulting in intestinal damage and changes in metabolism. Microplastics can increase the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment. 

    Plastics are introduced into the environment directly from sources like plastic mulches (including biodegradable bioplastic). Soil organisms and edible plants ingest microplastic particles. Earthworms can move microplastics through the soil and through the food chain to human food. Their wide range of negative impacts on the soil include reduction in growth and reproduction of soil microfauna. They can carry toxic chemicals and can increase the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in water and sediments. Highly hazardous PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are leaching out of plastic containers and contaminating food products.

    The average liter of three brands of bottled water in the U.S. contains almost a quarter of a million bits of microplastics (of which 90% are at the nanoscale) with a majority containing unidentifiable chemicals. The number of individual chemical compounds varies wildly among products, ranging from 114 to 2,456 in one study. Another study analyzed components of 50 items in common use, finding many hazardous chemicals in the plastics as well as many that could not be identified because they were not listed in the major chemical substance databases. When they exposed cod eggs, embryos, and larvae to water containing microplastics, toxic effects included spinal deformities reminiscent of scoliosis in humans.

    Polyethylene was detected in carotid artery plaque of 150 out of a total of 257 patients (58.4%), with a mean level of 2% of plaque; 31 patients (12.1%) also had measurable amounts of polyvinyl chloride, with a mean level of 0.5% of plaque. Microplastic particles have been found in human lungs, blood, feces, breast milk, and placenta

  • Remove toxic nonylphenol ethoxylates from teat dips. Iodine, whose use in teat dips will be considered for relisting, is frequently formulated as iodophors—with surfactants or complexing agents. Iodophors containing nonylphenols (NPs) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), in the class known as alkylphenols and their ethoxylates, are strong endocrine disruptors with impacts on many species, including gender changes. A number of alternatives are available. NPEs were banned in Europe ten years ago (in all products), and China has banned dairy product imports with NPE residues above 10 ppb. There are many commercially available non-NPE iodine-based disinfectants and teat dips that can be used instead. Iodine “without alkylphenols or alkylphenol ethoxylates” should only be listed. 

  • Improve the science upon which the NOSB bases decisions. The NOSB Policy and Procedures Manual (PPM) states, “A Subcommittee cannot proceed with a recommendation to list a material if it is determined that there is insufficient valid scientific information on that material's impact on the environment, human health and its compatibility with organic principles.” When proposals have been based on Technical Reviews using the current template, they have frequently contained inadequate scientific support. These shortcomings often involve ancillary substances, nanoparticles, and excluded (GE) methods. The changes proposed on the agenda will improve the NOSB's ability to make decisions based on science. 

>> Click here to submit your written comment to the National Organic Standard Board by April 3. 

The targets for this Action are the U.S. National Organic Standards Board, a federal advisory board of dedicated public volunteers from across the organic community under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Comment to the NOSB:

Dear NOSB, 

Please consider the following: 

(1) Make elimination of plastic in organic a research priority. 

Plastic is found in every facet of organic production and handling despite adverse effects to human and environmental health. We need research to replace all forms of plastic in organic. 

Microplastics—plastic fragments less than 5 mm in size—are of increasing concern because they can cause harmful effects to humans and other organisms and act as carriers of toxic chemicals that are adsorbed to their surface. Studies on fish have shown that microplastics and their associated toxic chemicals bioaccumulate, resulting in intestinal damage and changes in metabolism. Microplastics can increase the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment.  

Plastics are introduced into the environment directly from sources like plastic mulches (including biodegradable bioplastic). Soil organisms and edible plants ingest microplastic particles. Earthworms can move microplastics through the soil and through the food chain to human food. Their wide range of negative impacts on the soil include reduction in growth and reproduction of soil microfauna. They can carry toxic chemicals and can increase the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in water and sediments. Highly hazardous PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are leaching out of plastic containers and contaminating food products. 

A bottled water study finds almost a quarter of a million bits of microplastics (of which 90% are at the nanoscale) with a majority containing unidentifiable chemicals. The number of individual chemical compounds varies wildly among products, ranging from 114 to 2,456 in one study. Another study analyzed components of 50 items in common use, finding many hazardous chemicals in the plastics as well as many that could not be identified. When cod eggs, embryos, and larvae are exposed to water containing microplastics, toxic effects included spinal deformities reminiscent of scoliosis in humans. 

Polyethylene was detected in carotid artery plaque of 150 out of a total of 257 patients (58.4%), with a mean level of 2% of plaque; 31 patients (12.1%) also had measurable amounts of polyvinyl chloride, with a mean level of 0.5% of plaque. Microplastic particles have been found in human lungs, blood, feces, breast milk, and placenta. 

(2) Remove toxic nonylphenol ethoxylates from teat dips. 

Iodine, whose use in teat dips will be considered for relisting, is frequently formulated as iodophorswith surfactants or complexing agents. Iodophors containing nonylphenols (NPs) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), in the class known as alkylphenols and their ethoxylates, are strong endocrine disruptors with impacts on many species, including gender changes. A number of alternatives are available. NPEs were banned in Europe ten years ago (in all products), and China has banned dairy product imports with NPE residues above 10 ppb. There are many commercially available non-NPE iodine-based disinfectants and teat dips that can be used instead. Iodine “without alkylphenols or alkylphenol ethoxylates” should only be listed. 

(3) Improve the science upon which the NOSB bases decisions. 

The NOSB Policy and Procedures Manual (PPM) states, “A Subcommittee cannot proceed with a recommendation to list a material if it is determined that there is insufficient valid scientific information on that material’s impact on the environment, human health and its compatibility with organic principles.” When proposals have been based on Technical Reviews using the current template, they have frequently contained inadequate scientific support. These shortcomings often involve ancillary substances, nanoparticles, and excluded (GE) methods. The changes proposed on the agenda will improve the NOSB’s ability to make decisions based on science. 

Thank you for your consideration of my comments. 

03/23/2024 — Health Risks from Plastics and Adhered Pesticides Necessitate a Whole-Government Strategy

Plastics are everywhere—and that includes the human body. Pesticides and other toxic chemicals are absorbed (adhered) to microplastics, resulting in bioaccumulation and widespread contamination. This adds to the complexity of the problem, which is largely ignored by federal regulatory agencies. As we learn about the risks associated with plastics and related contamination, it becomes urgently necessary for all government agencies to participate in a comprehensive strategy to eliminate them. 

>>Tell USDA, EPA, and FDA to create strong restrictions on plastics in farming, water, and food.

The human and environmental health implications of plastic and related contamination are becoming increasingly well-documented. Scientists are increasingly concerned about the impacts of microplastics—plastic fragments less than 5 mm in size—on a wide range of organisms. Microplastics can cause harmful effects to humans and other organisms through physical entanglement and physical impacts of ingestion. They also act as carriers of toxic chemicals that are adsorbed to their surface. Studies on fish have shown that microplastics and their associated toxic chemicals bioaccumulate, resulting in intestinal damage and changes in metabolism. Microplastics can increase the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment.  

Research continues to raise alarms about the hazards associated with the use of plastic, including the microplastic particles that are distributed in alarming amounts throughout the environment and taken up by organisms, including humans. A study published by researchers at Columbia and Rutgers universities in the January 2024 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that the average liter of three brands of bottled water in the U.S. contains almost a quarter of a million bits of microplastics, of which 90 percent are at the nanoscale. The other ten percent are slightly larger, at microscale.  

Researchers at Norway's MicroLEACH project published a study analyzing the components of 50 common-use items—plastic bags, disposable cups, dishwashing gloves, car tire granules, children's toys and balloons. They found, as in previous studies, that many hazardous chemicals are in the plastics as well as many that could not be identified because they were not listed in the major chemical substance databases. Only 30 percent of the chemical compounds identified in the study were present in two or more products, suggesting that most plastics contain many unidentified chemicals far beyond the known impurities, metabolites, and degradation products. Further, it suggests that in the environment plastics are chemically reactive and forming new compounds no one has anticipated and whose toxicity is unknown. 

In the Columbia/Rutgers study, the researchers checked for seven types of plastic, but they were only able to identify about ten percent of the nanoparticles they found. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was a common ingredient, probably because many water bottles are made of it. However, they also found polyamide, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, and polymethyl methacrylate. (Tap water also contains microplastics in many places, although in much lower concentrations.) The team found that the number of individual chemical compounds varied wildly among products, ranging from 114 to 2,456, leading them to conclude that “assessing the toxicity of plastic chemicals present in a product based on testing individual target chemicals has limited value.” The Norwegian scientists also exposed cod eggs, embryos and larvae to water containing microplastics. The toxic effects they observed include spinal deformities reminiscent of scoliosis in humans. 

In other new studies, out of a total of 257 patients who completed the study, polyethylene was detected in carotid artery plaque of 150 patients (58.4%), with a mean level of 2% of plaque; 31 patients (12.1%) also had measurable amounts of polyvinyl chloride, with a mean level of 0.5% of plaque. Microplastic particles have been found in human lungs, blood, feces, and breast milk. They have even shown up in the brain as well as the placenta

Highly hazardous PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are leaching out of plastic containers and contaminating food products, according to research published in Environment Technology and Letters. The data confirm the results of prior research focused on the propensity of PFAS to contaminate various pesticide products through the storage containers. 

>>Tell USDA, EPA, and FDA to create strong restrictions on plastics in farming, water, and food.

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to EPA: 

Because of the absorption of pesticides and other toxic chemicals to microplastics and resulting bioaccumulation, among other health threats, I am writing to ask EPA to develop drinking water standards and ambient water quality standards for microplastics. Plastics are everywhere, including the human body. As we learn about the risks associated with plastics, it becomes crucial for all government agencies to participate in a comprehensive strategy to eliminate them.  

Scientists are increasingly concerned about the impacts of microplastics—plastic fragments less than 5 mm in size. Microplastics can cause harmful effects to humans and other organisms through physical entanglement and physical impacts of ingestion. They also act as carriers of toxic chemicals that are absorbed to their surface. Studies on fish show that microplastics and their associated toxic chemicals bioaccumulate, resulting in intestinal damage and changes in metabolism. Microplastics can increase the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment.   

Researchers at Columbia and Rutgers universities in the January 2024 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report that the average liter of three brands of bottled water in the U.S. contains almost a quarter of a million bits of microplastics, of which 90 percent are at the nanoscale. The other ten percent are slightly larger, at microscale. Researchers checked for seven types of plastic but were only able to identify about ten percent of the nanoparticles they found. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was a common ingredient, probably because many water bottles are made of it. However, they also found polyamide, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, and polymethyl methacrylate. Tap water also contains microplastics in many places. The team found that the number of individual chemical compounds varied wildly among products, ranging from 114 to 2,456, leading them to conclude that “assessing the toxicity of plastic chemicals present in a product based on testing individual target chemicals has limited value.”   

Researchers at Norway’s MicroLEACH project analyzed the components of 50 items in common use—plastic bags, disposable cups, dishwashing gloves, car tire granules, children’s toys, and balloons, finding many hazardous chemicals in the plastics as well as many that could not be identified because they were not listed in the major chemical substance databases. Only 30 percent of the chemical compounds identified in the study were present in two or more products, suggesting that most plastics contain many unidentified chemicals far beyond the known impurities, metabolites, and degradation products. Further, it suggests that in the environment plastics are chemically reactive and forming new compounds no one has anticipated and whose toxicity is unknown. They also exposed cod eggs, embryos, and larvae to water containing microplastics, observing toxic effects, including spinal deformities reminiscent of scoliosis in humans.  

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that out of a total of 257 patients completing the study, polyethylene was detected in carotid artery plaque of 150 patients (58.4%), with a mean level of 2% of plaque; 31 patients (12.1%) also had measurable amounts of polyvinyl chloride, with a mean level of 0.5% of plaque. Microplastic has also been found in human lungs, blood, feces, breast milk, the brain, and the placenta.  

Highly hazardous PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) leach out of plastic containers and contaminate food products, according to research published in Environment Technology and Letters. The data confirm the results of prior research focused on the propensity of PFAS to contaminate various pesticide products through the storage containers.  

Please do your part to eliminate microplastics from our water supplies.  

Thank you. 

Letter to USDA: 

Because of the absorption of pesticides and other toxic chemicals to microplastics and resulting bioaccumulation, among other health threats, I am writing to ask USDA to discourage the use of plastic in agriculture. Plastics are everywhere, including the human body. As we learn about the risks associated with plastics, it becomes crucial for all government agencies to participate in a comprehensive strategy to eliminate them.  

Scientists are increasingly concerned about the impacts of microplastics—plastic fragments less than 5 mm in size. They can cause harmful effects to humans and other organisms through physical entanglement and physical impacts of ingestion. They also act as carriers of toxic chemicals that are absorbed to their surface. Studies on fish show that microplastics and their associated toxic chemicals bioaccumulate, resulting in intestinal damage and changes in metabolism. Microplastics can increase the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment.   

Soil organisms and edible plants have been shown to ingest microplastic particles. Earthworms can move microplastics through the soil, and microplastics can move through the food chain to human food. Microplastics can have a wide range of negative impacts on the soil, which are only beginning to be studied but include a reduction in the growth and reproduction of soil microfauna.   

Researchers at Norway’s MicroLEACH project analyzed the components of 50 items in common use—plastic bags, disposable cups, dishwashing gloves, car tire granules, children’s toys, and balloons, finding many hazardous chemicals in the plastics as well as many that could not be identified because they were not listed in the major chemical substance databases. Only 30 percent of the chemical compounds identified in the study were present in two or more products, suggesting that most plastics contain many unidentified chemicals far beyond the known impurities, metabolites, and degradation products. Further, it suggests that in the environment plastics are chemically reactive and forming new compounds no one has anticipated and whose toxicity is unknown. The scientists also exposed cod eggs, embryos, and larvae to water containing microplastics, observing toxic effects, including spinal deformities reminiscent of scoliosis in humans.  

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that out of a total of 257 patients completing the study, polyethylene was detected in carotid artery plaque of 150 patients (58.4%), with a mean level of 2% of plaque; 31 patients (12.1%) also had measurable amounts of polyvinyl chloride, with a mean level of 0.5% of plaque. Microplastic has also been found in human lungs, blood, feces, breast milk, the brain, and the placenta.  

Highly hazardous PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are leaching out of plastic containers and contaminating food products, according to research published in Environment Technology and Letters. The data confirm the results of prior research focused on the propensity of PFAS to contaminate various pesticide products through the storage containers.  

Please do your part to eliminate microplastics from our food and environment by discouraging the use of plastic mulch and other plastics in agriculture.  

Thank you. 

Letter to FDA: 

Because of the absorption of pesticides and other toxic chemicals to microplastics and resulting bioaccumulation, among other health threats, I am writing to ask FDA to develop standards for food containers and food contact materials to eliminate movement of plastics and associated contaminants into food and bottled water. Plastics are everywhere, including the human body. As we learn about the risks associated with plastics, it becomes crucial for all government agencies to participate in a comprehensive strategy to eliminate them. 

Scientists are increasingly concerned about the impacts of microplastics—plastic fragments less than 5 mm in size—which can cause harmful effects to humans and other organisms through physical entanglement and physical impacts of ingestion. They also act as carriers of toxic chemicals that are absorbed to their surface. Studies on fish show that microplastics and their associated toxic chemicals bioaccumulate, resulting in intestinal damage and changes in metabolism. Microplastics can increase the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment.  

A study published by researchers at Columbia and Rutgers universities reports that the average liter of three brands of bottled water in the U.S. contains almost a quarter of a million bits of microplastics, of which 90 percent are at the nanoscale. The other ten percent are slightly larger, at microscale. Researchers were only able to identify about ten percent of the nanoparticles they found. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was a common ingredient, probably because many water bottles are made of it. However, they also found polyamide, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, and polymethyl methacrylate. Tap water also contains microplastics in many places, although in much lower concentrations. The team found that the number of individual chemical compounds varied wildly among products, ranging from 114 to 2,456, leading them to conclude that “assessing the toxicity of plastic chemicals present in a product based on testing individual target chemicals has limited value.”  

Researchers at Norway’s MicroLEACH project analyzed the components of 50 items in common use—plastic bags, disposable cups, dishwashing gloves, car tire granules, children’s toys, and balloons, finding many hazardous chemicals in the plastics as well as many that could not be identified because they were not listed in the major chemical substance databases. Only 30 percent of the chemical compounds identified in the study were present in two or more products, suggesting that most plastics contain many unidentified chemicals far beyond the known impurities, metabolites, and degradation products. The scientists also exposed cod eggs, embryos, and larvae to water containing microplastics, observing toxic effects, including spinal deformities reminiscent of scoliosis in humans. 

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that out of a total of 257 patients completing the study, polyethylene was detected in carotid artery plaque of 150 patients (58.4%), with a mean level of 2% of plaque; 31 patients (12.1%) also had measurable amounts of polyvinyl chloride, with a mean level of 0.5% of plaque. Microplastic has also been found in human lungs, blood, feces, breast milk, the brain, and the placenta. 

Highly hazardous PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are leaching out of plastic containers and contaminating food products, according to research published in Environment Technology and Letters. The data confirm the results of prior research focused on the propensity of PFAS to contaminate various pesticide products through the storage containers. 

Please do your part to eliminate microplastics from our food and water supplies. 

Thank you. 

03/22/2024 — Tell Michigan State Senators to Notify the Public of Pesticide Spraying!

Move SB645 Forward with an Amendment to Cover all Pesticides!

Our team would like to share testimony that Beyond Pesticide developed for a hearing in the Michigan Senate on a provision in the state's pesticide law that provides for notification of pesticide use to members of the public on the state's notification registry. While we do not believe that notification of pesticide spray events is adequately protective when nontoxic alternatives could and should be used, we thought this was an opportunity to expand the notification rules to all people, not just those with a medical condition. We also thought it was important to notify legislators that notification should cover all pesticides, not just those classified as “restricted use” because of their high acute toxicity (headaches, nausea, dizziness, rashes, etc.). We shared with legislators our factsheets on the 40 Most Commonly Used Lawn Pesticides (appended to our testimony) to make the point that so-call “general use” pesticides can cause a range of acute and chronic health effects, including cancer, neurological, immunological, endocrine-disrupting, and reproductive health effects, and more. 

We just learned that the hearing on this legislation has been postponed, and may be cancelled, so we sent the testimony to the chair of the Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture, Senator Sue Shink

>>Tell your state senators to protect Michiganders and move SB 645 forward with an amendment to cover all pesticides

In our written testimony, we call for an amendment to exclude the words “other than a general-use pesticide” from the law (1994 PA 451, 324.8316b(1) Pesticide notification registry; notification requirements; exclusions; definitions). Our recommendation is based on the understanding that all pesticides are registered as poisons and can harm children, pets, and families, and public health protection from pesticides starts with notification for all pesticides, so that people can avoid exposure. 

While we appreciate that the legislation eliminates the requirement that those qualifying for the registry have a medical condition, not including notification for general use pesticides undercuts the purpose of the legislation because of the science identifying adverse effects associated with the use of these chemicals. Given the poisonous nature of pesticides, people have a right-to-know that they are going to be exposed so that they can try to take action to avoid exposure. Parents may want to remove their children from the area. Pet owners may want to remove their pets. People may want to close windows or turn off units that circulate outside air to the indoor environment. 

Our "click-and-submit" form linked will allow you to contact your state senator with the click of a mouse! For sponsors of the bill, (Sens. Sue Shink, Jeff Irwin, Rosemary Bayer, Mallory McMorrow, John Cherry, Stephanie Chang, and Erika Geiss), please thank and urge them to adopt our proposed amendment to SB645, as well as move the legislation forward. If your Senator has not yet co-sponsored the legislation, please call on them to cosponsor the legislation and support our proposed amendment.

Beyond this bill, please consider joining with Beyond Pesticides Parks for a Sustainable Future Program and take toxic petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, out of your community by adopting organic land management principles and practices. We work with local and city governments, and school districts and universities to transition playing fields, parks, and landscapes to organic land management. To learn more, see our Parks for a Sustainable Future page and contact Rika Gopinath ([email protected]), Community Policy and Action Manager at Beyond Pesticides who facilitates new and existing projects. 

>>Tell your state senators to protect Michiganders and move SB 645 forward with an amendment to cover all pesticides.

The target for this Action is the Michigan State Senate.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to cosponsors of SB 645:

I am writing to thank you for sponsoring SB 645 to provide for notification of pesticide use to members of the public on the state’s notification registry and urge you to move this legislation ahead this term with an amendment to cover all pesticides, including general use pesticides. I understand that the hearing on this legislation has been postponed or cancelled. Therefore, I respectfully request that SB 645 move forward with an amendment to cover all pesticides.

In terms of the amendment to SB 645, I am asking you to exclude the words “other than a general-use pesticide” from the law (1994 PA 451, 324.8316b(1) Pesticide notification registry; notification requirements; exclusions; definitions). My recommendation is based on the understanding that all pesticides are registered as poisons and can harm children, pets, and families, and public health protection from pesticides starts with notification for all pesticides, so that people can avoid exposure. “General use” pesticides can cause a range of acute and chronic health effects, including cancer, neurological, immunological, endocrine-disrupting, reproductive health effects, and more.

Given the poisonous nature of pesticides, people have a right-to-know that they are going to be exposed so that they can try to take action to avoid exposure. Parents may want to remove their children from the area. Pet owners may want to remove their pets. People may want to close windows or turn off units that circulate outside air to the indoor environment.

Thank you for seeking to move through the Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture!

Letter to state senators who are not cosponsors:

I am writing to ask you to cosponsor SB 645 to provide for notification of pesticide use to members of the public on the state’s notification registry and urge you to help move this legislation ahead with an amendment to cover all pesticides, including general use pesticides. Please urge that this legislation move through the legislative process this term.

In terms of the amendment to SB 645, I am asking you to exclude the words “other than a general-use pesticide” from the law (1994 PA 451, 324.8316b(1) Pesticide notification registry; notification requirements; exclusions; definitions). My recommendation is based on the understanding that all pesticides are registered as poisons and can harm children, pets, and families, and public health protection from pesticides starts with notification for all pesticides, so that people can avoid exposure. “General use” pesticides can cause a range of acute and chronic health effects, including cancer, neurological, immunological, endocrine-disrupting, and reproductive health effects, and more.

People have a right-to-know that they are going to be exposed to pesticides so that they can try to take action to avoid exposure. Parents may want to remove their children from the area. Pet owners may want to remove their pets. People may want to close windows or turn off units that circulate outside air to the indoor environment.

Thank you for your consideration of cosponsoring SB 645.

03/16/2024 — Keep Organic in the Forefront

Contribute Your Voice to a Strong Organic! Comments closed at 11:59 pm EDT on April 3, 2024.
Due to updates to the Regulations website, we are now able to offer a click-and-submit form
to the Regulations docket! Please fill out the form linked to submit!

As a means of taking on the challenges of health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency, the review and updating of organic standards requires public involvement in the current public comment period to keep organic strong and continually improving. Organic maintains a unique place in the food system because of its high standards and the ongoing opportunity for continuous improvement through transparency and public involvement. But, we will only keep organic strong and growing stronger if we participate in voicing our position on key issues to the stakeholder advisory board, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). We have identified key issues for the upcoming NOSB meeting below!

The NOSB is receiving written comments from the public on key issues through April 3, 2024. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on April 23 and 25 and the deliberative hearing on April 29 through May 1—concerning how organic food is produced. Written comments must be submitted by 11:59 pm EDT on April 3 through the "click-and-submit" form below or via Regulations.gov.

Sign up for a 3-minute comment to let U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) know how important organic is at the webinar by April 3. Links to the virtual comment webinars will be provided approximately one week before the webinars.  

>>Submit your written comment to the National Organic Standard Board by April 3. 

The NOSB is responsible for guiding USDA in its administration of The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), including the materials allowed to be used in organic production and handling. The role of the NOSB is especially important as we depend on organic production to protect our ecosystem, mitigate climate change, and enhance our health. 

A draft meeting agenda is available here.  And a detailed agenda, along with the proposals, are available here

Written comments are due by 11:59 pm ET on Wednesday, April 3, 2024as well as registration for oral comments. Oral comment sign-ups fill up fast! >> Sign up for oral comments here.  

The NOSB plays an important role in bringing the views of organic consumers and producers to bear on USDA, which is not always in sync with organic principles and not giving sufficient support to the critical need to end the use of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers. There are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Spring. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong and the Spring 2024 Beyond Pesticides' issues webpage.  

Some of our high priority issues for the upcoming NOSB meeting: 

  • Reject the petition to allow unspecified “compostable materials” in compost allowed in organic production. Compost made in organic production should use plant and animal waste, and not synthetic materials that could introduce hazardous contaminants like PFAS and microplastics. The current regulations require compost to be made from manure and plant wastes, allowing only synthetics on the National List—that is, those that have specifically been approved by the NOSB and USDA through a public comment process. The only synthetic inputs into compost that are currently allowed are newspaper and other paper. A petition seeks to allow “compost feedstocks” that might include, for example, “compostable” food containers. 

    Both organic and nonorganic farms have been taken out of production because of PFAS contamination, and microplastics can have a synergistic effect with PFAS. Even worse are potential contaminants we don't know. Current PFAS contamination came from past use of biosolids not known to be a source of “forever chemicals.” Biosolids—fortunately never allowed in organic production—should be a lesson to remember. 
  • Eliminate nonorganic ingredients in processed organic foods as a part of the sunset review. Materials listed in §205.606 in the organic regulations are nonorganic agricultural ingredients that may comprise 5% of organic-labeled processed foods. The intent of the law is to allow restricted nonorganic ingredients (fully disclosed and limited) only when their organic form is not available. However, materials should not remain on §205.606 if they can be supplied organically, and we can now grow virtually anything organically. The Handling Subcommittee needs to ask the question of potential suppliers, “Could you supply the need if the organic form is required?” The materials on §205.606 up for sunset review this year are made from agricultural products that can be supplied organically and thus should be taken off the National List of allowed materials. 
     
  • Ensure that so-called “inert” ingredients in the products used in organic production meet the criteria in OFPA with an NOSB assessment. The NOSB has passed repeated recommendations instructing USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) to replace the generic listings for “inerts” that may be biologically and chemically active (currently using EPA Lists 3, 4A, and 4B “inerts”) with specific substances approved for use. NOP must allocate resources for this project. Recent appropriations have increased for NOP, and some of this money must be used for the evaluation of “inert” ingredients to ensure compliance with the law and to maintain the integrity of the USDA organic label.

    OFPA provides stringent criteria for allowing synthetic materials to be used in organic production. In short, the NOSB must judge—by a supermajority—that the material would not be harmful to human health or the environment, is necessary to the production or handling of agricultural products, and is consistent with organic farming and handling. These criteria have been applied to “active” ingredients, but not to “inert” ingredients, which make up the largest part of pesticide products—up to 90% or more.

    A comparison of the hazards posed by active and “inert” ingredients used in organic production reveals that in seven of 11 categories of harm, more “inerts” than actives pose a hazard. The NOSB and NOP must act on “inerts” NOW and meet the standards of the Organic Foods Production Act. 

>>Submit your written comment to the National Organic Standard Board by April 3. 

The targets for this Action are the U.S. National Organic Standards Board, a federal advisory board of dedicated public volunteers from across the organic community under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Comments (via Regulations.gov)

I would like to address three priority issues in this comment that are of concern to me as a stakeholder in organic.

(1) Reject the petition to allow unspecified “compostable materials” in compost allowed in organic production.

Compost made in organic production should use plant and animal waste, and not synthetic materials that could introduce hazardous contaminants like PFAS and microplastics. The current regulations require compost to be made from manure and plant wastes, allowing only synthetics on the National List—that is, those that have specifically been approved by the NOSB and USDA through a public comment process. The only synthetic inputs into compost that are currently allowed are newspaper and other paper. A petition seeks to allow “compost feedstocks” that might include, for example, “compostable” food containers.

Both organic and nonorganic farms have been taken out of production because of PFAS contamination, and microplastics can have a synergistic effect with PFAS. Even worse are potential contaminants we don’t know. Current PFAS contamination came from past use of biosolids not known to be a source of “forever chemicals.” Biosolids—fortunately never allowed in organic production—should be a lesson to remember.

(2) Eliminate nonorganic ingredients in processed organic foods as a part of the sunset review.

Materials listed in §205.606 in the organic regulations are nonorganic agricultural ingredients that may comprise 5% of organic-labeled processed foods. The intent of the law is to allow restricted nonorganic ingredients (fully disclosed and limited) only when their organic form is not available. However, materials should not remain on §205.606 if they can be supplied organically, and we can now grow virtually anything organically. The Handling Subcommittee needs to ask the question of potential suppliers, “Could you supply the need if the organic form is required?” The materials on §205.606 up for sunset review this year are made from agricultural products that can be supplied organically and thus should be taken off the National List of allowed materials.

(3) Ensure that so-called “inert” ingredients in the products used in organic production meet the criteria in OFPA with an NOSB assessment.

The NOSB has passed repeated recommendations instructing USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) to replace the generic listings for “inerts” that may be biologically and chemically active (currently using EPA Lists 3, 4A, and 4B “inerts”) with specific substances approved for use. NOP must allocate resources for this project. Recent appropriations have increased for NOP, and some of this money must be used for the evaluation of “inert” ingredients to ensure compliance with the law and to maintain the integrity of the USDA organic label.

OFPA provides stringent criteria for allowing synthetic materials to be used in organic production. In short, the NOSB must judge—by a supermajority—that the material would not be harmful to human health or the environment, is necessary to the production or handling of agricultural products, and is consistent with organic farming and handling. These criteria have been applied to “active” ingredients, but not to “inert” ingredients, which make up the largest part of pesticide products—up to 90% or more.

A comparison of the hazards posed by active and “inert” ingredients used in organic production reveals that in seven of 11 categories of harm, more “inerts” than actives pose the hazard. The NOSB and NOP must act on “inerts” NOW and meet the standards of the Organic Foods Production Act.

Thank you for your consideration of my comments.

03/09/2024 — Tell EPA To Start Protecting People and Pets from Pesticide Poisoning

In light of a critical Office of Inspector General (OIG) report on multiple systemic failures by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) to protect people and their pets, it is time to elevate our sustained voice for change. And, as we point out serious regulatory and statutory problems, it helps to shift consumer demand for alternative practices and products that do not use petrochemical pesticides. Please continue to raise your voice with us!

>>Tell EPA to start protecting people and pets from pesticide poisoning. 

The most recent OIG report, published on February 29, 2024, The EPA Needs to Determine Whether Seresto Pet Collars Pose an Unreasonable Risk to Pet Health, concludes that the "EPA's response to reported pesticide incidents [poisonings and deaths] involving Seresto pet collars has not provided assurance that they can be used without posing unreasonable adverse effects to the environment, including pets." At the time the animal effects made headlines in 2021, the agency defended the product's registration, telling the media that, despite these incidents, EPA deemed Seresto collars “'eligible for continued registration' based on best available science, including incident data... No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk.” Despite the scathing criticism, EPA maintains the position that it conducted an adequate review of the two active insecticide ingredients in the pet collars— the neurotoxic insecticide flumethrin, and the notorious neonicotinoid imidacloprid with adverse effects on the endocrine system and environment.

Key to EPA's deficiency in regulating the chemicals in Seresto pet collars is the agency's failure to evaluate the full pesticide formulation in the collars and the synergistic effect of the mixture of chemicals. As Beyond Pesticides pointed out in 2021 when the poisonings and deaths made headlines, a 2012 study found [flumethrin and imidacloprid] have a 'synergistic effect,' meaning they are more toxic together on fleas...“ However, EPA consistently fails to evaluate the synergistic effects of pesticides, a 2016 EPA bulletin concluded: “The risk of the combination of the two active ingredients, flumethrin and imidacloprid, was not assessed because the two chemicals act in completely different ways.” Similarly, as Beyond Pesticides has pointed out repeatedly, EPA does not do an adequate job of evaluating the risks and harms of exposures to multiple pesticide compounds, as well as those of so-called  “inert” or “other” pesticide ingredients that are not disclosed on the product label.  

The OIG points out that EPA's handling of the flea and tick collars—implicated in 105,354 incident reports, including 3,000 pet deaths and nearly 900 reports of human injury—highlights known shortcomings in EPA's pesticide registration program, including (but not limited to)

  • Failure to address combined effects of multiple pesticides; 
  • Failure to investigate impacts on pets; 
  • Failure to adopt standard operating procedures and a methodology to determine when pet products may pose unreasonable adverse effects to the environment; 
  • Failure to collect complete incident data that would allow EPA to fully understand the risks and take appropriate action; and 
  • Failure to assure the public of the safety of the products. 

Furthermore, EPA continues to rely on labeling to reduce risk, despite its failure to protect petschildrenfarmworkerspollinators, and biodiversity. If the labeling is not protecting people, then the agency is not fulfilling its responsibility to protect public health and safety and the pesticide products should not be allowed on the market. This ongoing harm to humans and the biosphere must be taken as a sign that pesticide use must be eliminated. When faced with evidence of harm from a pesticide, EPA must take steps to halt its use.  

>>Tell EPA to start protecting people and pets from pesticide poisoning. 

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Congress.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to EPA: 

More proof of multiple systemic failures by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) to protect people and their pets from pesticides was presented in a report of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) report, published on February 29, 2024.  

The report, The EPA Needs to Determine Whether Seresto Pet Collars Pose an Unreasonable Risk to Pet Health, concludes that, “The EPA’s response to reported pesticide incidents involving Seresto pet collars has not provided assurance that they can be used without posing unreasonable adverse effects to the environment, including pets.” At the time the animal effects made headlines in 2021, the agency defended the product’s registration, telling the media that, despite these incidents, EPA deemed Seresto collars “‘eligible for continued registration’ based on best available science, including incident data... No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk.” Despite the scathing criticism, EPA maintains the position that it conducted an adequate review of the two active insecticide ingredients in the pet collars—the neurotoxic insecticide flumethrin, and the notorious neonicotinoid imidacloprid with adverse effects on the endocrine system and environment. 

The OIG points out that EPA’s handling of the flea and tick collars—implicated in 105,354 incident reports, including 3,000 pet deaths and nearly 900 reports of human injury—highlights known shortcomings in EPA’s pesticide registration program, including (but not limited to): 

  • Failure to address combined effects of multiple pesticides; 
  • Failure to investigate impacts on pets; 
  • Failure to adopt standard operating procedures and a methodology to determine when pet products may pose unreasonable adverse effects to the environment; 
  • Failure to collect complete incident data that would allow EPA to fully understand the risks and take appropriate action; and 
  • Failure to assure the public of the safety of the products. 

Furthermore, EPA continues to rely on labeling to reduce risk, despite its failure to protect pets, children, farmworkers, pollinators, and biodiversity. When EPA cannot protect against ongoing harm to humans and the biosphere with the labeling it approves on pesticide products, it must remove the pesticide product from the market. When faced with evidence of harm from a pesticide, despite its labeling restrictions and warnings, EPA must take steps to halt its use.  

The deaths and poisonings associated with Seresto animal collars requires EPA to immediately establish the necessary protocol to evaluate full formulations of products it allows on the market for additive and synergistic effects. When will you do this? 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Letter to Congress: 

More proof of multiple systemic failures by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) to protect people and their pets from pesticides was presented in a report of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) report, published on February 29, 2024.  
 
The report, The EPA Needs to Determine Whether Seresto Pet Collars Pose an Unreasonable Risk to Pet Health, concludes that, “The EPA’s response to reported pesticide incidents involving Seresto pet collars has not provided assurance that they can be used without posing unreasonable adverse effects to the environment, including pets.” At the time the animal effects made headlines in 2021, the agency defended the product’s registration, telling the media that, despite these incidents, EPA deemed Seresto collars “‘eligible for continued registration’ based on best available science, including incident data. . . . No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk.” Despite the scathing criticism, EPA maintains the position that it conducted an adequate review of the two active insecticide ingredients in the pet collars— the neurotoxic insecticide flumethrin, and the notorious neonicotinoid imidacloprid with adverse effects on the endocrine system and environment. 

The OIG points out that EPA’s handling of the flea and tick collars—implicated in 105,354 incident reports, including 3,000 pet deaths and nearly 900 reports of human injury—highlights known shortcomings in EPA’s pesticide registration program, including (but not limited to): 

  • Failure to address combined effects of multiple pesticides; 
  • Failure to investigate impacts on pets; 
  • Failure to adopt standard operating procedures and a methodology to determine when pet products may pose unreasonable adverse effects to the environment; 
  • Failure to collect complete incident data that would allow EPA to fully understand the risks and take appropriate action; and 
  • Failure to assure the public of the safety of the products. 

Furthermore, EPA continues to rely on labeling to reduce risk, despite its failure to protect pets, children, farmworkers, pollinators, and biodiversity. When EPA cannot protect against ongoing harm to humans and the biosphere with the labeling it approves on pesticide products, it must remove the pesticide product from the market. When faced with evidence of harm from a pesticide, despite its labeling restrictions and warnings, EPA must take steps to halt its use.  

Please let EPA know that the deaths and poisonings associated with Seresto animal collars requires it to immediately establish the necessary protocol to evaluate full formulations of products it allows on the market for additive and synergistic effects. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

03/07/2024 — Tell CO State Lawmakers to Expand Local Control Over Toxic Pesticides!

Please join us today by calling on state lawmakers in Colorado to support the Local Government Authority to Regulate Pesticides bill (HB24-1178), sponsored by Representatives Cathy Kipp and Meg Froelich and Senators Lisa Cutter and Sonya Jaquez Lewis. 

>>Urge Colorado legislators to assert local rights to address toxic pesticides!

Local control over pesticides has been prohibited by Colorado state law since 2006. HB24-1178 would offer local governments the tools to address disproportionate exposures through ordinances and regulations that provide solutions to align with specific community needs. 

Federal pesticide law establishes national standards for protection, allowing state and local governments the authority to regulate pesticide use more strictly. The U.S. Supreme Court specifically upheld this delegation of authority in the 1991 case of Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier, ruling that federal pesticide law does not prohibit or “preempt” local jurisdictions from restricting the use of pesticides more stringently than the federal government throughout their jurisdiction.

While federal law allows local governments the right to craft protections for the health and safety of their residents, state of Colorado law takes away that authority with a preemption provision. Therefore, under the current state law, communities are unable to tackle emerging local challenges to public health and environmental issues—especially important when neither the federal not state government is adequately protective. 

Expanded local control would allow communities to: 

  • Protect water sources 
  • Increase notification of pesticide applications 
  • Create buffer zones to protect sensitive natural resources 
  • Increase protections for vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and people of color 

HB24-1178 is vital as it would grant local communities the authority to ban petrochemical pesticides linked to our ongoing public health, biodiversity, and climate crises and return limited local control to municipalities.

Colorado communities today have their hands tied as petrochemical pesticides disproportionately impact people of color communities, harm children's health, devastate pollinator populations, and pollute waterways. With complete inaction by federal officials, and state agencies that merely rubber stamp EPA's toxic pesticide approvals, there is a critical role for local governments to play in the protection of their residents' public health and their unique local environment. 

Please take action today—thank you for your help promoting local democracy in Colorado!  

For more information, please see the following factsheets on local authority and HB 24-1178pesticides as an environmental justice issue, and pesticides and climate change.

>>Urge Colorado legislators to assert local rights to address toxic pesticides.

Co-sponsors: Representatives Andrew Boesenecker, Kyle Brown, Manny Rutinel, Stephanie Vigil, Mike Weissman, Steven Woodrow, Jenny Willford, and Junie Joseph, in addition to Senators Faith Winter and Kevin Priola.

The targets for this Action are the Colorado State House and the Colorado State Senate. 

Letter to the Colorado General Assembly: 

As your constituent, I am urging you to support the Local Government Authority to Regulate Pesticides bill (HB24-1178), establishing local control over pesticides. This legislation is critical as it will grant local communities the authority to restrict pesticides linked to our ongoing public health, biodiversity, and climate crises. I further urge you not to compromise on local community authority, given that any language short of a full repeal will muddy the waters and leave communities open to litigation.  

Currently, Colorado communities' hands are tied as petrochemical pesticides disproportionately impact people of color communities, harm children’s health, devastate pollinator populations, and pollute waterways. With complete inaction by federal officials, and a state agency with an unfortunate record of merely rubber stamping EPA’s toxic pesticide approvals, there is a critical role for local governments to play in the protection of their residents’ public health and their unique local environment.  

In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court found, “FIFRA nowhere seeks to establish an affirmative permit scheme for the actual use of pesticides,” and the law “does not equate registration and labeling requirements with a general approval to apply pesticides throughout the Nation without regard to regional and local factors, like climate, population, geography and water supply.” Local officials must have the right to protect their most vulnerable community members like children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised from toxic exposure. They know the playgrounds, local swimming areas, and drinking water sources, conservation areas with vulnerable species, and other sensitive or unique local environments that are in need of protection.    

Local pesticide ordinances are likely to increase the business of local and regional landscaping companies, as folks looking for natural land care methods will look to established experts or new green companies to manage their landscapes. Rather than hurt local companies, returning "limited local control" to municipalities has the potential to incentivize a new green, sustainable industry in communities.   

Please support HB24-1178 establishing local control over pesticides today. 

Thank you. 

Letter to sponsors and cosponsors: 

As your constituent, I would like to thank you for your sponsorship of the Local Government Authority to Regulate Pesticides bill (HB24-1178), establishing local control over pesticides. This legislation is critical as it will grant local communities the authority to restrict pesticides linked to our ongoing public health, biodiversity, and climate crises. I further urge you not to compromise on local community authority, given that any language short of a full repeal will muddy the waters and leave communities open to litigation.   

Currently, Colorado communities' hands are tied as petrochemical pesticides disproportionately impact people of color communities, harm children’s health, devastate pollinator populations, and pollute waterways. With complete inaction by federal officials, and a state agency with an unfortunate record of merely rubber stamping EPA’s toxic pesticide approvals, there is a critical role for local governments to play in the protection of their residents’ public health and their unique local environment.   

In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court found, “FIFRA nowhere seeks to establish an affirmative permit scheme for the actual use of pesticides,” and the law “does not equate registration and labeling requirements with a general approval to apply pesticides throughout the Nation without regard to regional and local factors, like climate, population, geography and water supply.” Local officials must have the right to protect their most vulnerable community members like children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised from toxic exposure. They know the playgrounds, local swimming areas, and drinking water sources, conservation areas with vulnerable species, and other sensitive or unique local environments that are in need of protection.     

Local pesticide ordinances are likely to increase the business of local and regional landscaping companies, as folks looking for natural land care methods will look to established experts or new green companies to manage their landscapes. Rather than hurt local companies, returning "limited local control" to municipalities has the potential to incentivize a new green, sustainable industry in communities.    

Thank you again for championing the health of our community! 

03/06/2024 — Tell Your Delegate to Protect Marylanders from “Forever” PFAS Pesticides

PFAS (Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances), commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” are of grave concern and should not be introduced through pesticides into the environment, our homes, and crop production. PFAS are found in many pesticides used in homes, emergency rooms, health care facilities, schools, and lawncare. Under Maryland's definition of PFAS, they also are active ingredients in 1,000 pesticides used in the state, contaminating our homes and gardens, food, water, and soil.

>>Tell your Delegate to protect Marylanders and eliminate PFAS pesticides in our state—vote for HB 1190!

PFAS is a group of harmful chemicals that stay in our bodies forever and are associated with serious illnesses such as cancer, reproductive damage, endocrine disruption, and developmental issues in children. In every case, there are natural practices and products that do not harm people and the environment.  

The Maryland General Assembly is considering a ban of PFAS pesticides. HB 1190 is a commonsense bill prohibiting by June 1, 2025 the sale and by December 31, 2025 the use of pesticides with PFAS as an active ingredient. 

Your Delegate needs to hear from you about how important it is for Maryland to adopt this legislation. Please contact your Delegate TODAY!  

"If the intent was to spread PFAS contamination across the globe, there would be few more effective methods than lacing pesticides with PFAS.” — Kyla Bennett, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) science policy director and attorney; scientist formerly with EPA.

>>Tell your legislators to protect Marylanders and eliminate PFAS pesticides in our state—vote for HB 1190. 

The targets for this Action are the Maryland State House delegates, including members of the Health and Government Operations Committee and the Public Health and Minority Health Disparities Subcommittee.

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to Delegates

I'm writing today to urge you to pass HB 1190 - "Pesticides – PFAS Chemicals – Prohibitions."

I am concerned that PFAS, known as "forever chemicals," are a growing and persistent threat to the health and safety of Marylanders and our environment. There are 14,000 EPA-identified toxic PFAS that stay in our bodies forever and are associated with serious illnesses such as cancer, reproductive damage, endocrine disruption, and developmental issues in children.

HB 1190 is a commonsense bill prohibiting the sale and use of pesticides in Maryland with PFAS listed as an active ingredient. This bill impacts less than 8% of pesticides sold in Maryland. It will not cause hardship since plenty of natural alternative products and practices are available.

PFAS are already in our drinking water—in the Chesapeake Bay and in our soil, food, and bodies. Maryland has issued fish advisories for PFAS in parts of the state. Every exposure adds to the impact on our bodies. It only makes sense to take this simple step to stop this unnecessary PFAS contamination source. Maine and Minnesota have already passed laws preventing pesticides containing these forever chemicals from being sold.

You have the opportunity to turn off this PFAS tap from pesticides and reduce their threat to Marylanders’ health, homes and gardens, farmland and water, while reducing the astronomical costs states and towns are bearing to clean up PFAS contamination.

I urge you to help stop the proliferation of PFAS pesticides in Maryland and support HB 1190.

Thank you!

Letter to Health and Government Operations Committee

Please see the above Delegate letter

03/03/2024 — Tackling Obesity Must Include Elimination of Obesogen Pesticides by EPA and Federal Food Programs

Contrary to popular opinion, the blame for the obesity epidemic cannot be attributed solely to diet broadly, but relates directly to pesticide and toxic chemical exposures, including residues in food, that may lead to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney failure, a breakdown of cartilage and bone within joints, and other metabolic disorders. An increasing body of research shows that exposure to certain pesticides and environmental contaminants initiates various changes in metabolism leading to obesity—not only in the exposed person, but also in offspring. According to medical researchers, obesity “is a complex disease which has reached pandemic dimensions” and has multigenerational effects. The prevalence of obesity increased three-fold from 1980 to 2019.    

>>Tell EPA not to register pesticides that contain obesogens. Tell USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to require organic school lunches.

Environmental obesogens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that “may increase adipose tissue deposition, expand adipocytic size, regulate appetite and satiety, and slow metabolism to induce the occurrence of obesity.” A recent review of the literature finds, “Environmental obesogens have the potential to induce adipogenesis, increase energy storage, and interfere with appetite and homeostasis within the neuroendocrine system, thereby promoting the development of obesity. Since the obesogen hypothesis was proposed in 2006, more than 50 chemicals have been identified as environmental obesogens. Furthermore, the increasing usage of newly developed chemical products has led to the detection of increasing amounts of new contaminants in the environment, which may have obesogenic effects and cause potential risks to human health.” 

The current list of identified environmental obesogens includes pesticide active ingredients such as chlorpyrifosatrazineorganotins, and triclosan, as well as contaminants and other ingredients that may be found in pesticide products such as dioxins, phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), alkylphenols, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In addition to the effects of a single obesogen, two or more obesogens may have a synergistic effect, as shown by the interaction of tributyltin (TBT) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS).  

The inability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prevent exposure to obesogens through the use of pesticides is one more failure of the agency to carry out its mandated consideration of endocrine disrupting pesticides. It is evidence of a failed pesticide regulatory system that does not consider and promote nontoxic and beneficial alternatives, such as organic agriculture—which the agency could do under its mandate to protect against “unreasonable adverse effects” to people and the environment in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

While childhood obesity is recognized as a serious problem, the National School Lunch Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—although improved by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010—still provides lunches laced with obesogenic pesticides. To take meaningful steps against childhood obesity, school lunches must be organic. 

>>Tell EPA not to register pesticides that contain obesogens. Tell USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to require organic school lunches. 

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Food and Nutrition Service), and the U.S. Congress.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to EPA: 

Contrary to popular opinion, the blame for the obesity epidemic cannot be attributed solely to diet broadly, but relates directly to pesticide and toxic chemical exposures, including residues in food, that may lead to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney failure, a breakdown of cartilage and bone within joints, and other metabolic disorders. An increasing body of research shows that exposure to certain pesticides and environmental contaminants initiates various changes in metabolism leading to obesity—not only in the exposed person, but also in offspring. According to medical researchers, obesity “is a complex disease which has reached pandemic dimensions” and has multigenerational effects. The prevalence of obesity increased three-fold from 1980 to 2019.  

Environmental obesogens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that “may increase adipose tissue deposition, expand adipocytic size, regulate appetite and satiety, and slow metabolism to induce the occurrence of obesity.” A recent review of the literature finds, “Environmental obesogens have the potential to induce adipogenesis, increase energy storage, and interfere with appetite and homeostasis within the neuroendocrine system, thereby promoting the development of obesity. Since the obesogen hypothesis was proposed in 2006, more than 50 chemicals have been identified as environmental obesogens. Furthermore, the increasing usage of newly developed chemical products has led to the detection of increasing amounts of new contaminants in the environment, which may have obesogenic effects and cause potential risks to human health.” 

The current list of identified environmental obesogens includes pesticide active ingredients such as chlorpyrifos, atrazine, organotins, and triclosan, as well as contaminants and other ingredients that may be found in pesticide products such as dioxins, phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), alkylphenols, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In addition to the effects of a single obesogen, two or more obesogens may have a synergistic effect, as shown by the interaction of tributyltin (TBT) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS).  

The inability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prevent exposure to obesogens through the use of pesticides is one more failure of the agency to carry out its mandated regulation of endocrine disrupting pesticides. It is evidence of a failed pesticide regulatory system that does not consider and promote nontoxic and beneficial alternatives, such as organic agriculture—which the agency could do under its mandate to protect against “unreasonable adverse effects” to people and the environment in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  

Please ensure that pesticide risk assessments include the harms arising from exposure to obesogens. Please also ensure that the baseline against which “benefits” of pesticides are measured is organic agriculture. 

Thank you. 

Letter to Food and Nutrition Service Deputy Under Secretary Stacy Dean, USDA Secretary Vilsack, and Members of Congress: 

Consistent with the mission of the Food and Nutrition Service to end hunger and obesity through the administration of 15 federal nutrition assistance programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and school meals, it is important that school lunches be free of chemical obesogens. The only way to ensure this is to require that school lunches be prepared with organic ingredients.

Contrary to popular opinion, the blame for the obesity epidemic cannot be attributed solely to diet broadly, but relates directly to pesticide and toxic chemical exposures, including residues in food, that are known as obesogens and associated with a number of related health conditionshigh blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels collectively known as the “metabolic syndrome.” Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Avoiding pesticide exposure is a good way to avoid obesogens, so organic food should be part of every strategy—including school lunch programs—designed to provide healthy nutrition to children.

Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the U.S., leading to a host of health problems in childhood and later in life. Juvenile obesity is highest in Hispanic, African American, and lower income groups, which provides an opportunity for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) school lunch program to have a positive impact.

Environmental obesogens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that “may increase adipose tissue deposition, expand adipocytic size, regulate appetite and satiety, and slow metabolism to induce the occurrence of obesity.” A recent review of the literature finds, “Environmental obesogens have the potential to induce adipogenesis, increase energy storage, and interfere with appetite and homeostasis within the neuroendocrine system, thereby promoting the development of obesity. Since the obesogen hypothesis was proposed in 2006, more than 50 chemicals have been identified as environmental obesogens. Furthermore, the increasing usage of newly developed chemical products has led to the detection of increasing amounts of new contaminants in the environment, which may have obesogenic effects and cause potential risks to human health.” 

The current list of identified environmental obesogens includes pesticide active ingredients such as chlorpyrifos, atrazine, organotins, and triclosan, as well as contaminants and other ingredients that may be found in pesticide products such as dioxins, phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), alkylphenols, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In addition to the effects of a single obesogen, two or more obesogens may have a synergistic effect, as shown by the interaction of tributyltin (TBT) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS). 

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP)—as a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions to provide “nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day”—must play a leadership role in removing hazardous chemicals from the meals it feeds to children. In providing free or reduced cost lunches to qualified children, NSLP is an excellent way to ensure that children can receive obesogen-free meals. However, since many pesticides are obesogens, those school lunches must be organic.

Please initiate a policy requiring organic school lunches. 

Thank you. 

02/24/2024 — States Must Protect Farmers, Gardeners, and Other Pesticide Applicators When EPA Fails

Pesticide and chemical manufacturers have descended on state legislators with legislation to shield them from liability lawsuits filed by people injured from exposure to their products. So far, the industry has been successful in getting their bill introduced in at least four states. This activity is spurred on by the thousands of cases involving Roundup/glyphosate that have resulted in large jury awards and settlements against Bayer/Monsanto in the billions of dollars. While sponsors of these bills claim that the labels on pesticide products provide sufficient warning of hazards, users have been misled by advertising that falsely touts product safety. Reminiscent of previous state legislative battles, the chemical industry is now leaning on elected officials, whether in state legislatures or the U.S. Congress, to do its bidding in blocking, or preempting, court action.

In 1991, after losing the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier that upheld the right of local governments to restrict pesticide use, the pesticide industry went to every state legislature to preempt local authority. Preemption language was quickly enshrined in the state law of 43 states. Now, after being rebuffed by the Supreme Court in 2022 in an attempt to overturn large liability judgments against Monsanto/Bayer for glyphosate hazards, the industry is asking state legislatures to block future liability for pesticide manufacturers whose products cause harm. So far, similar bills to limit liability have been introduced in four states, and more are expected.   

>>Tell your state legislators to protect the right of citizens to seek redress against pesticide manufacturers from harm caused by their products. 

Last week, the Idaho Senate rejected SB 1245, which would have provided legal protection to pesticide manufacturers from “failure-to-warn" liability. This legal framework has been pivotal not only for pesticide users seeking redress from exposure to glyphosate-based herbicide products such as Roundup, but also applies to any toxic pesticide products. Proponents of SB 1245 argue, “[This bill] protect[s] companies that produce safe pesticides critical to agriculture in Idaho and beyond.” Idaho Press continues,” Sen. Harris said the bill does not restrict lawsuits against pesticide manufacturers for a number of claims, including product defects, drift or misapplication, or if the manufacturer fraudulently conceals known facts about the product.”  

While other causes of action are often pursued, the overwhelming majority of successful cases for pesticide injury lawsuits fall under “failure-to-warn" claims. Brigit Rollins, a staff attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center, describes this liability framework as, “a type of civil tort that is frequently raised in products liability cases. Unlike negligence and design defect...failure to warn does not argue that a product has physical faults. Instead, a plaintiff typically raises failure to warn claims to allege that a product manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the safe use of a product.” Under the new push in several state legislatures, this legal framework would be moot, rendering victims around the United States without effective legal recourse and releasing industry actors such as Bayer from billions of dollars in ongoing and future settlements. As of 2022, Bayer settled over 1,000 lawsuits paying out approximately $11 billion and faces an additional 30,000 lawsuits pending. 

Glyphosate litigation is a notable example of why the dependence on EPA's labels provides inadequate protection—in this case, for users of the pesticide, but also for neighboring farmsfarmworkers and bystandersconsumers of contaminated food and water, and the biosphere. Legislators who choose to restrict the right of injured parties to seek recompense from pesticide manufacturers are doing their constituents a tremendous disservice.

>>Tell your state legislators to protect the right of citizens to seek redress against pesticide manufacturers from harm caused by their products.

The targets for this Action are the U.S. state legislatures, herein named via state law as the State Legislature, Legislature, General Assembly, General Court, and/or Legislative Assembly.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to state legislators:

I am writing to ask you to reject any legislation that may be introduced in the state legislature to shield pesticide and toxic chemical manufacturers from lawsuits when users of their products are injured from their exposure to the chemicals. Legislation like this is popping up around the country and is unfair to people who have been harmed, despite their compliance with product labels. As you may know, numerous cases against Bayer/Monsanto involving the weed killer glyphosate (RoundupTM) have resulted in large jury awards and settlements for those who have been harmed. The manufacturer has appealed verdicts to the U.S. Supreme Court twice and has been rebuffed each time, so they are now asking states to prevent victims from seeking compensation. Although sponsors of these bills claim that the pesticide label is a sufficient warning, users have been misled by advertising touting the products’ safety.

As an example of such legislation, a bill recently rejected by the Idaho Senate would have provided legal protection to pesticide manufacturers from “failure-to-warn" liability. This legal approach has been pivotal for pesticide users seeking redress from exposure to glyphosate-based herbicide products such as Roundup as well as other toxic pesticide products. Proponents of SB 1245 argue, “[This bill] protect[s] companies that produce safe pesticides critical to agriculture in Idaho and beyond.” Idaho Press continues,” Sen. Harris said the bill does not restrict lawsuits against pesticide manufacturers for a number of claims, including product defects, drift or misapplication, or if the manufacturer fraudulently conceals known facts about the product.”

While other causes of action are often pursued, the overwhelming majority of successful cases for pesticide injury lawsuits fall under “failure-to-warn" claims. Brigit Rollins, a staff attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center, describes this liability framework as, “a type of civil tort that is frequently raised in products liability cases. Unlike negligence and design defect...failure to warn does not argue that a product has physical faults. Instead, a plaintiff typically raises failure to warn claims to allege that a product manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the safe use of a product.” Under the new push in several state legislatures, this legal framework would be moot, rendering victims without effective legal recourse and releasing industry actors such as Bayer from billions of dollars in ongoing and future settlements. As of 2022, Bayer settled over 1,000 lawsuits paying out approximately $11 billion and faces an additional 30,000 lawsuits pending.

Glyphosate litigation is a notable example of why the dependence on EPA’s labels provides inadequate protection—in this case, for users of the pesticide, but also for neighboring farms, farmworkers and bystanders, consumers of contaminated food and water, and the biosphere. Legislators who choose to restrict the right of injured parties to seek recompense from pesticide manufacturers are doing their constituents a tremendous disservice.

I urge you to reject such legislation restricting the rights of injured parties in our state—whether they be users of the pesticide, neighboring farms, farmworkers, landscapers, bystanders, consumers of contaminated food and water, or defenders of nature—to recover damages from pesticide manufacturers.

Thank you.

02/17/2024 — Tell Congress To Protect Farmers and the Public from PFAS

The use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in industrial and commercial applications has led to widespread contamination of water and biosolids used for fertilizer, poisoning tens of millions of acres of land and posing a significant threat to the biosphere, public health, gardens, parks, and agricultural systems. Farmers and rural communities, in particular, bear the brunt of this contamination, as it affects their drinking water, soil quality, and livestock health.  

>>Tell Congress that the Farm Bill must include the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act and the Healthy H2O Act to protect farmers and rural communities from PFAS contamination. 

Led by Chellie Pingree (D-ME), U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Susan Collins (R-ME), a bipartisan and bicameral bill—the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act—has been introduced to provide assistance and relief to those affected by PFAS. A second bill, the Healthy H2O Act, introduced by Representatives Pingree and David Rouzer (R-NC) and Senators Baldwin and Collins, provides grants for water testing and treatment technology directly to individuals and non-profits in rural communities. 

There are more than 9,000 synthetic (human-made) chemical compounds in the PFAS family, which includes the most well-known subcategories, PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). These PFAS compounds have been dubbed “forever chemicals” for their persistence in the environment (largely because they comprise chains of bonded fluorine–carbon atoms, those bonds being among the strongest ever created). PFAS contamination of drinking water, surface and groundwater, waterways, soils, and the food supply, among other sources, is a ubiquitous and concerning contaminant across the globe. PFAS contamination of drinking water resources is a serious and growing issue for virtually all U.S. states, as Environmental Working Group (EWG) demonstrates via its interactive map, and for hydrologic ecosystems around the world

The widespread exposure to these compounds arises from multiple sources: 

  • Contamination of drinking water and wastewater treatment resulting in fertilizers produced from biosolids (processed output from treatment plants), as well as residues in food packaging some pesticides; 
  • extensive “legacy” (historic) use in fabric and leather coatings, household cleaning products, firefighting foams, stain-resistant carpeting, and other products; 
  • historic and current industrial uses in the aerospace, automotive, construction, and electronics sectors; and 
  • current uses in many personal care products (e.g., shampoo, dental flosses, makeup, nail polish, some hand sanitizers, sunscreens); water-and-stain-proof and -resistant fabrics and carpeting; food packaging; and non-stick cookware, among others. 

Although some of these uses and resulting contamination have been phased out, many persist, including several related to food processing and packaging. The flooding of the materials stream with thousands of persistent synthetic PFAS compounds since their first uses in the 1950s allows them to remain widespread in the environment and in human bodies. People can be exposed to PFAS compounds in a variety of ways, including occupationally, through food sources, via drinking contaminated water (another enormous emerging issue; see below), ingesting contaminated dust or soil, breathing contaminated air, and using products that contain, or are packaged in materials that use, the chemicals. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes, “[B]ecause of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment. PFAS are found in water, air, fish, and soil at locations across the nation and the globe. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.”

Among the potential health risks of some PFAS compounds for humans are: 

  • impacts on the immune system (including decreased vaccine responses); 
  • endocrine disruption; 
  • reproductive impacts, including lowered infant birth weight; 
  • developmental delays in children; 
  • increased risk of hypertension, including in pregnant people (eclampsia); 
  • alterations to liver enzymes; 
  • increased risk of some cancers, including prostate, kidney, and testicular; 
  • increase in circulatory cholesterol levels; 
  • increased risk of cardiometabolic diseases (via exposure during pregnancy); and 
  • possible increased risk of COVID-19 infection and severity

>>Tell Congress that the Farm Bill must include the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act and the Healthy H2O Act to protect farmers and rural communities from PFAS contamination. 

After years of advocate pressure, EPA has begun to take action under its PFAS Strategic Roadmap—including “designat[ing] two of the most widely used per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances [PFOA and PFOS] as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as 'Superfund;'” issuing interim updated drinking water health advisories for PFOA and PFOS); issuing final health advisories on two others that had been considered “replacement” chemicals for manufacturing uses—perfluorobutane sulfonic acid and its potassium salt (PFBS) and hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO) dimer acid and its ammonium salt (the so-called “GenX chemicals”). 

PFAS compounds have been found to contaminate water and irrigation sources, and soils themselves — often through the use of fertilizers made from so-called “biosludge” (biosolids) from local waste treatment plants. In addition, these plants may discharge millions of gallons of wastewater into waterways, contaminating them; current waste and water treatment generally does not eliminate PFAS compounds from the treated effluent water. Biosolids and wastewater have long been sources of exposure concerns related to pesticides, industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and household chemicals; PFAS contamination is now rising as a specific and concerning addition to that nasty list. 

These forever (and perhaps “everywhere”) compounds may be contaminating nearly 20 million acres of productive agricultural land in the U.S. A significant portion of farmers, perhaps 5%, is using biosludge from local treatment plants as fertilizer on their acreage. The use of biosludge was thought by many, a decade ago, to be a sensible use of the waste products from treatment; it was even encouraged by many state agricultural department programs, but now it is recognized that these products present threats when spread on fields that produce food—or anywhere that presents the possibility of human, organism, or environmental exposures to potentially toxic PFAS compounds. Notably, there are currently no federal requirements to test such sludge “fertilizers” for the presence of PFAS. 

Recognizing the impacts on the agricultural sector from PFAS, the state of Maine has taken the lead in both state and federal efforts to support farmers who have been affected by PFAS contamination, including the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act and the Healthy H2O Act.

In short, these bills would achieve the following: 

  • The Healthy H2O Act addresses PFAS contamination in water supplies by providing funding for water testing, treatment, and remediation. By allocating resources to support the implementation of effective PFAS filtration systems, it can ensure that farmers and rural communities have access to clean and safe water, protecting both human health and agricultural productivity. 
  • The Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act provides financial assistance and support to farmers affected by PFAS contamination. By establishing a comprehensive assistance program, we can help farmers mitigate the economic burdens resulting from PFAS-related disruptions and implement necessary remediation efforts. Additionally, this act supports research and education initiatives to enhance farmers' awareness and understanding of PFAS risks and best management practices. 

Meanwhile, we must not lose sight of the fact that PFAS chemicals are not the only legacy contaminants. Others include wood preservatives, DDT, dioxins, and the termiticide chlordane. Unfortunately, some of these continue to be added to the environment, sometimes inadvertently, but also intentionally, particularly through pesticide use. 

>>Tell Congress that the Farm Bill must include the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act and the Healthy H2O Act to protect farmers and rural communities from PFAS contamination.

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to Senators with request to cosponsor 

I am writing to urge you to cosponsor S.747, the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act, and S. 806, the Healthy H2O Act—and push for their inclusion in the Farm Bill—in order to help farmers who have been impacted by PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination. As indicated by the title of the bill, farmers have often been “hit with” legacy contaminants through no fault of their own, and the bill will authorize $500 million over FY 2023-2027 to the U.S Department of Agriculture to help farmers, including: more capacity for PFAS testing for soil or water sources; blood monitoring for individuals to make informed decisions about their health; equipment to ensure a farm remains profitable during or after known PFAS contamination; relocation of a commercial farm if the land is no longer viable; alternative cropping systems or remediation strategies; educational programs for farmers experiencing PFAS contamination; research on soil and water remediation systems, and the viability of those systems for farms; and improving rural drinking water. This money, if appropriated, comes from taxpayers, not those responsible for the contamination. 

PFAS chemicals, also known as “forever chemicals,” are legacy contaminants whose historical use, including many decades ago in some instances, has led to their toxic persistence in the environment and in organisms. However, PFAS chemicals are not the only legacy contaminants. Others include wood preservatives, DDT, dioxins, and the termiticide chlordane. Unfortunately, some of these continue to be added to the environment, sometimes inadvertently, but also intentionally, particularly through pesticide use. 

Since these legacy “forever chemicals” continue to be added to the environment, it is particularly important to stop their use. Many of them, like PFAS, are endocrine disrupting chemicals that have not been adequately restricted. Thus, while I urge you to pass these bills offering relief to farmers harmed by PFAS, we must also do all that we can to prevent further contamination. 

I urge you to use your oversight of EPA to ensure that persistent toxic pesticides and other chemicals are no longer allowed to be released into the environment. Ensure that EPA carries out its responsibility to ensure that PFAS and other endocrine disruptors are not released into the environment. 

Thank you. 

Letter to Senate sponsors/cosponsors [See below.] 

Thank you for cosponsoring S.747, the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act, and S. 806, the Healthy H2O Act, to help farmers who have been impacted by the scourge of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals. Please seek to have the provisions of these bill incorporated into the Farm Bill. As indicated by the title of the first bill, farmers have often been “hit with” legacy contaminants through no fault of their own, and the bill authorize $500 million over FY 2023-2027 to the U.S Department of Agriculture to help farmers, including: more capacity for PFAS testing for soil or water sources; blood monitoring for individuals to make informed decisions about their health; equipment to ensure a farm remains profitable during or after known PFAS contamination; relocation of a commercial farm if the land is no longer viable; alternative cropping systems or remediation strategies; educational programs for farmers experiencing PFAS contamination; research on soil and water remediation systems, and the viability of those systems for farms; and improving rural drinking water. This money, if appropriated, comes from taxpayers, not those responsible for the contamination. 

Again, please help to ensure that these pieces of legislation become part of the Farm Bill. 

However, PFAS chemicals are not the only legacy contaminants. Others include wood preservatives, DDT, dioxins, and the termiticide chlordane. Unfortunately, some of these continue to be added to the environment, sometimes inadvertently, but also intentionally, particularly through pesticide use. 

I urge you to use your oversight of EPA to ensure that persistent toxic chemicals are no longer allowed to be released into the environment. Ensure that EPA carries out its responsibility to ensure that PFAS and other endocrine disruptors are not released into the environment. 

Thank you. 

Letter to Representatives with request to cosponsor 

I am writing to urge you to cosponsor H.R. 1517, the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act, and H.R. 1721, the Healthy H2O Act—and push for their inclusion in the Farm Bill—in order to help farmers who have been impacted by the scourge of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals. As indicated by the title of the bill, farmers have often been “hit with” legacy contaminants through no fault of their own, and the bill will authorize $500 million over FY 2023-2027 to the U.S Department of Agriculture to help farmers, including: more capacity for PFAS testing for soil or water sources; blood monitoring for individuals to make informed decisions about their health; equipment to ensure a farm remains profitable during or after known PFAS contamination; relocation of a commercial farm if the land is no longer viable; alternative cropping systems or remediation strategies; educational programs for farmers experiencing PFAS contamination; research on soil and water remediation systems, and the viability of those systems for farms; and improving rural drinking water. This money, if appropriated, comes from taxpayers, not those responsible for the contamination. 

Again, please help to ensure that these pieces legislation become part of the Farm Bill. 

PFAS chemicals, also known as “forever chemicals,” are legacy contaminants whose historical use, including many decades ago in some instances, has led to their toxic persistence in the environment and in organisms. However, PFAS chemicals are not the only legacy contaminants. Others include wood preservatives, DDT, dioxins, and the termiticide chlordane. Unfortunately, some of these continue to be added to the environment, sometimes inadvertently, but also intentionally, particularly through pesticide use. 

Since these legacy “forever chemicals” continue to be added to the environment, it is particularly important to stop their use. Many of them, like PFAS, are endocrine disrupting chemicals that have not been adequately restricted. Thus, while I urge you to pass these bills offering relief to farmers harmed by PFAS, we must also do all that we can to prevent further contamination. 

I urge you to use your oversight of EPA to ensure that persistent toxic pesticides and other chemicals are no longer allowed to be released into the environment. Ensure that EPA carries out its responsibility to ensure that PFAS and other endocrine disruptors are not released into the environment. 

Thank you. 

Letter to Representative sponsors/cosponsors 

Thank you for cosponsoring H.R. 1517, the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act, and H.R. 1721, the Healthy H2O Act, to help farmers who have been impacted by the scourge of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals. As indicated by the title of the first bill, farmers have often been “hit with” legacy contaminants through no fault of their own, and the bill authorize $500 million over FY 2023-2027 to the U.S Department of Agriculture to help farmers, including: more capacity for PFAS testing for soil or water sources; blood monitoring for individuals to make informed decisions about their health; equipment to ensure a farm remains profitable during or after known PFAS contamination; relocation of a commercial farm if the land is no longer viable; alternative cropping systems or remediation strategies; educational programs for farmers experiencing PFAS contamination; research on soil and water remediation systems, and the viability of those systems for farms; and improving rural drinking water. This money, if appropriated, comes from taxpayers, not those responsible for the contamination. 

Again, please help to ensure that these pieces of legislation become part of the Farm Bill. 

However, PFAS chemicals are not the only legacy contaminants. Others include wood preservatives, DDT, dioxins, and the termiticide chlordane. Unfortunately, some of these continue to be added to the environment, sometimes inadvertently, but also intentionally, particularly through pesticide use. 

I urge you to use your oversight of EPA to ensure that persistent toxic pesticides and other chemicals are no longer allowed to be released into the environment. Ensure that EPA carries out its responsibility to ensure that PFAS and other endocrine disruptors are not released into the environment. 

Thank you. 

Senate cosponsors of S.747 (Sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins [R-ME]: Sen. King, Angus S., Jr. [I-ME]*, Sen. Shaheen, Jeanne [D-NH]*, Sen. Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [D-NY], Sen. Hassan, Margaret Wood [D-NH], Sen. Baldwin, Tammy [D-WI], Sen. Sanders, Bernard [I-VT], Sen. Lujan, Ben Ray [D-NM], Sen. Welch, Peter [D-VT], Sen. Heinrich, Martin [D-NM].

Senate cosponsors of S.806 Sponsored by Sen Tammy Baldwin [D-WI]: Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME]*, Sen. Smith, Tina [D-MN]*, Sen. Shaheen, Jeanne [D-NH]*, Sen. King, Angus S., Jr. [I-ME]*, Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR], Sen. Padilla, Alex [D-CA], Sen. Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [D-NY], Sen. Lujan, Ben Ray [D-NM], Sen. Welch, Peter [D-VT], Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD].

Representative cosponsors of HR.1517 Sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree [D-ME]: Rep. Golden, Jared F. [D-ME-2]*, Rep. Leger Fernandez, Teresa [D-NM-3]*, Rep. Slotkin, Elissa [D-MI-7], Rep. Perez, Marie Gluesenkamp [D-WA-3], Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2], Rep. Fitzpatrick, Brian K. [R-PA-1], Rep. Kuster, Ann M. [D-NH-2], Rep. Balint, Becca [D-VT-At Large], Rep. Hoyle, Val T. [D-OR-4].

Representative cosponsors of HR.1721 Sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree [D-ME]: Rep. Rouzer, David [R-NC-7]*, Rep. Gallagher, Mike [R-WI-8]*, Rep. Valadao, David G. [R-CA-22], Rep. McCollum, Betty [D-MN-4], Rep. Fitzpatrick, Brian K. [R-PA-1], Rep. Brown, Shontel M. [D-OH-11], Rep. Slotkin, Elissa [D-MI-7], Rep. Lawler, Michael [R-NY-17], Rep. Harder, Josh [D-CA-9], Rep. Levin, Mike [D-CA-49], Rep. Sorensen, Eric [D-IL-17], Rep. Rose, John W. [R-TN-6], Rep. Schiff, Adam B. [D-CA-30], Rep. Stansbury, Melanie Ann [D-NM-1], Rep. Vasquez, Gabe [D-NM-2], Rep. Van Orden, Derrick [R-WI-3], Rep. Molinaro, Marcus J. [R-NY-19], Rep. Caraveo, Yadira [D-CO-8], Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2], Rep. Craig, Angie [D-MN-2], Rep. Salinas, Andrea [D-OR-6], Rep. Crockett, Jasmine [D-TX-30], Rep. Kuster, Ann M. [D-NH-2], Rep. Perez, Marie Gluesenkamp [D-WA-3], Rep. McGovern, James P. [D-MA-2], Rep. Matsui, Doris O. [D-CA-7], Rep. Davis, Donald G. [D-NC-1], Rep. Tokuda, Jill N. [D-HI-2], Rep. Pappas, Chris [D-NH-1], Rep. Kilmer, Derek [D-WA-6].

02/16/2024 — Tell Your Senators to Support Efforts Against Pesticide Preemption

Please urge your senators to sign on and oppose efforts in Congress to take away local governments' ability to protect our residents and workers from harmful pesticides.

Targeted Action: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

There is still ongoing movement in federal Farm Bill negotiations to preempt local communities from restricting pesticides. So, we're requesting that you urge your senators to sign on to a “Dear Colleague” letter opposing federal preemption of local authority on pesticide use. The Congressional letter emphasizes the importance of preserving the rights of state, county, and local governments to protect their communities and enact policies that align with local needs. The letter argues that curtailing these powers would undermine public safety and jeopardize environmental and public health standards. 

It is critical that local governments have the authority to adopt pesticide restrictions that are more protective than those of the federal government, as affirmed by the 1991 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier. The court found that federal pesticide law (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act—FIFRA), as currently written, does not preempt local authority.  

As the Senate continues its work, please urge your senators to reject any and all harmful pesticide policy riders that would diminish local authority.

For more information, click here for additional background and prior coverage in the House!

Senators can directly access the letter to sign-on electronically via QUILL.

The target for this Action is the U.S. Senate.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to U.S. Senators Requesting Sign-On

I am writing to ask you to join with U.S. Senator Corey Booker and others in signing on to a “Dear Colleague” letter opposing any effort in the 2023 Farm Bill, an annual appropriations bill, or other legislation amendments that will limit local and state authority to protect our community from toxic pesticide exposure. The letter expresses strong opposition to any provisions or amendments to any legislative vehicle that limits existing state and local authority to regulate pesticides—including restrictions on state labeling requirements or state and local regulatory processes. This is a critically important issue of protecting our families’ health, our environment, and the democratic process to set policies that best suit our local needs.

My request grows out of my strong opposition to any efforts to limit longstanding state and local authority to protect people, animals, and the environment from pesticides. As you know, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) establishes the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to oversee the registration, distribution, sale, and use of pesticides in the United States. Congress has long understood FIFRA to set a federal floor for pesticide policy without impeding state, county, and local governments’ authority to enact supplementary standards. Hundreds of towns and cities have adopted laws and ordinances to keep their communities safe from pesticides. These include laws to restrict pesticide use at schools, parks, playgrounds, and workplaces, and protect drinking water supplies, pollinators, and wildlife. Overall, local authority also permits communities to address conditions unique to their jurisdictions, from vulnerable population groups to sensitive ecosystems.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1991 ruled that democratically elected local governments hold the power, under our current law, to address the specific needs of their communities. State and local governments are often best positioned to respond quickly to emerging risks within our communities, and proposals to weaken our ability to respond could have a significant adverse effect on public safety.

The Dear Colleague letter expresses strong opposition to language in a House bill, H.R. 4288, the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act, which forbids states from requiring manufacturers to disclose known risks about their pesticide products, such as carcinogenicity. This undermines transparency, informed choice in the market, and consumer redress when there is a failure to warn.

I again urge you to sign on to Senator Booker’s “Dear Colleague” letter. Senators may sign on through this QUILL link: https://quill.senate.gov/letters/letter/14965/opt-in/view/e04e0ed9-d650-4262-9971-978b715c9b8b/.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. I look forward to you letting me know that you are taking action on this critical matter.

Thank you to Sen. Booker (sponsor) and Sen Van Hollen, Jr.

Thank you for leading the charge with your “Dear Colleague” letter opposing any effort in the 2023 Farm Bill, an annual appropriations bill, or other legislation amendments that will limit local and state authority to protect our community from toxic pesticide exposure. I appreciate your strong opposition to any provisions or amendments to any legislative vehicle that limits existing state and local authority to regulate pesticides—including restrictions on state labeling requirements or state and local regulatory processes. This is a critically important issue of protecting our families’ health, our environment, and the democratic process to set policies that best suit our local needs.

I strongly oppose any efforts to limit longstanding state and local authority to protect people, animals, and the environment from pesticides. I appreciate your recognition of the hundreds of towns and cities that have adopted laws and ordinances to keep their communities safe from pesticides. These include laws to restrict pesticide use at schools, parks, playgrounds, and workplaces, and protect drinking water supplies, pollinators, and wildlife. As you know, local authority also permits communities to address conditions unique to their jurisdictions, from vulnerable population groups to sensitive ecosystems.

We know from the 1991 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that democratically elected local governments hold the power, under our current law, to address the specific needs of their communities. And, we know historically that state and local governments are often best positioned to respond quickly to emerging risks within our communities, and proposals to weaken our ability to respond could have a significant adverse effect on public safety.

I appreciate the Dear Colleague letter expressing strong opposition to language in a House bill, H.R. 4288, the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act, which forbids states from requiring manufacturers to disclose known risks about their pesticide products, such as carcinogenicity. This undermines transparency, informed choice in the market, and consumer redress when there is a failure to warn.

Thank you for your leadership on this important effort to protect health and the environment.

02/10/2024 — EPA Taking Public Comment on Scientific Integrity Amid Criticism by IG and Whistleblowers

The public comment period closed on February 23, 2024, at 11:59 PM Eastern!
Due to updates to the Regulations website, we are now able to offer a click-and-submit form
to the Regulations docket! Please fill out the form linked to submit!

In the wake of intense criticism of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's scientific integrity, the agency has announced updates to its scientific integrity guidelines and is asking for public comment until February 23, 2024. As the agency acknowledges in its 2012 Scientific Integrity Policy: “EPA's ability to protect human health and the environment depends upon the integrity of the science on which it relies. The EPA Scientific Integrity Policy provides both a vision and a roadmap for scientific integrity at the Agency. Issued in 2012, the Policy builds upon EPA's significant earlier scientific integrity efforts and addresses four areas: Promotion of a culture of scientific integrity at EPA; Release of scientific information to the public; Peer review and the use of federal advisory committees; Professional development of government scientists.” 

>> Tell EPA to address critical standards of scientific integrity at the agency.

It is one thing to have a policy—it is another to implement it with integrity. The EPA's Office of the Inspector General last year (2023), in its report on perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (a PFAS chemical), concluded that EPA's 2021 PFBS Toxicity Assessment failed to “uphold the agency's commitments to scientific integrity and information quality,” and that the agency's actions “left the public vulnerable to potential negative impacts on human health.” At the time of the report—The EPA's January 2021 PFBS Toxicity Assessment Did Not Uphold the Agency's Commitments to Scientific Integrity and Information Qualityagency officials disagreed with all five recommendations of the inspector general. However, EPA did provide very general aspirational responses to the OIG's report, which includes the updating of its scientific integrity policy in this latest proposal open to public comment. 

Earlier in 2021, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) had filed complaints with EPA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on behalf of four EPA whistleblower scientists, who said that, during the Trump administration, risk assessments for both new and existing chemicals were improperly changed by agency managers to eliminate or reduce risk calculations. At the time, Beyond Pesticides covered a report in The Intercept that examined the multiple aspects of undue industry influence on the regulation of pesticide chemicals. While the PEER complaints address regulation of toxic chemicals not classified as pesticides, the misconduct identified by OIG and The Intercept represents an agency-wide problem. Nevertheless, EPA considers its updated proposed policy an enhancement of existing processes in place, saying, “This policy replaces the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2012 Scientific Integrity Policy and reaffirms and reestablishes the expectations and procedures needed to maintain scientific integrity at EPA. It also reaffirms the scope and role of a Scientific Integrity Official (SIO), a standing committee of Agency-wide deputy SIOs (DSIOs), and establishes the role of the Chief Scientist.” 

EPA traces its history on scientific integrity back to 1983 and the “Fishbowl Memo” issued by the first EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus. Ruckelshaus, according to the agency, established a culture of integrity and openness for all employees by promising EPA would operate "in a fishbowl" and would "attempt to communicate with everyone from the environmentalists to those we regulate, and we will do so as openly as possible." Then, in 1999, EPA developed Principles of Scientific Integrity in consultation with a group, the National Partnership Council, which it describes as "a partnership of Agency labor unions and management." This document, EPA says, “set forth the Agency's commitment to conducting science objectively, presenting results fairly and accurately, and avoiding conflicts of interest.” Then, in 2003, EPA issued a policy and procedures to address “fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism.” The following events included a 2009 Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity, a 2010 Office of Science and Technology, followed by the agency's first Scientific Integrity Policy in 2012 and the appointment of the first full-time scientific integrity official in 2013. The SIO is a senior career employee who is tasked with championing and promoting “scientific integrity throughout the Agency, and to oversee implementation and iterative improvement of scientific integrity policies and processes.”

[The current SIO, since 2013, is Francesca Frifo, PhD[email protected]—with office hours on Wednesdays from 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM Eastern.]

>> Tell EPA to address critical standards of scientific integrity at the agency.

Then, nearly a decade after the establishment of the scientific integrity office, there was the issuance of the 2022 National Science and Technology Council Scientific Integrity Fast Track Action Committee report, Protecting the Integrity of Government Science (SI-FTAC Report) and the National Science and Technology Council 2023 Framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice. Most recently, EPA has adopted the official federal definition of scientific integrity from the National Science and Technology Council's 2023 Framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice:  

Scientific integrity is the adherence to professional practices, ethical behavior, and the principles of honesty and objectivity when conducting, managing, using the results of, and communicating about science and scientific activities. Inclusivity, transparency, and protection from inappropriate influence are hallmarks of scientific integrity. 

Despite the extensive efforts of EPA, as outlined above, scientific fraud in support of regulatory decisions has plagued the Office of Pesticide Programs for decades. During the 1970's and 1980's, there was the Industrial Biotest and Craven Laboratories scandals that brought to public attention fraudulent laboratory animal test data that supported the registration and tolerances (acceptable residues), respectively, of pesticides. At best, the scandals showed that EPA had inadequate oversight and audit procedures of those who produced the scientific data it used for pesticide registration. At worst, it represented EPA turning a blind eye to a culture of corruption. Things blew up in 1984 when Congress held hearings on another corruption blow-up dubbed the “cut-and-paste” scandal, where EPA staff were found to use verbatim chemical company toxicology review analyses, pasting them on to EPA letterhead as if they were independently reviewed by Office of Pesticide Programs staff.  

But, it is the more recent disclosure that raises modern-day concerns about scientific integrity at EPA. At the 2018 Beyond Pesticides 36th National Pesticide Forum, Carey Gilliam, a veteran journalist, then-research director for U.S. Right to Know, and author of Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, told participants:  

As a result of . . . litigation [associated with health effects of glyphosate/Roundup], Monsanto is forced to turn over millions of pages of internal reports, documents, emails, memos, and different studies. When you look at those along with documents that I and my colleagues at U.S. Right to Know have obtained through the Freedom of Information Act from EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and various state universities, it's a pretty incredible picture of collusion, deception, and deceit. 

The documents show all of these different things: ghost-written research papers that assert glyphosate's safety for publication and regulatory review; alternative assessments provided for studies that indicate harm. So if a regulator is looking at a study and says, “Gosh, this looks like it causes cancer,” Monsanto will then give them the rationale for how to interpret the data in a different way. They have networks of European and U.S. scientists that push the safety message to lawmakers and regulators. They appear to be independent, so they appear to be more authoritative and authentic. But behind the scenes we see documents that show that Monsanto is helping them or telling them what to say, or assigning them a task. 

They provide the EPA with talking points to address. That one got me when I saw that: “Talking points. From Monsanto to the EPA.” 

The influence that Monsanto has had over regulators and the stifling of independent science is, according to Ms. Gilliam, quite astounding. It plays out in successful attempts to squelch or slow down reviews. Click here to watch Ms. Gilliam's Forum presentation.

>> Tell EPA to address critical standards of scientific integrity at the agency.

The target for this Action is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency via Regulations.gov.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Comment to EPA:

Much of what EPA establishes to nurture scientific integrity and honesty of EPA staff is critical to creating a culture of true independent science, which is essential to public trust in the decisions of the agency.

Independent science—EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs does not adequately incorporate into its protocol the independent scientific literature that informs a more robust analytical review of potential adverse health and environmental effects. The integrity of its work products, including the registration of pesticides and registration review, requires the agency to closely track and incorporate into its evaluation emerging science in the independent peer reviewed literature.

Updating protocol to keep pace with new science—In 2018, then-director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Linda Birnbaum, PhD coauthored In PLOS Biology a review article of seven peer-reviewed studies of federal toxics regulation and found that “existing US regulations have not kept pace with scientific advances showing that widely used chemicals cause serious health problems at levels previously assumed to be safe.” The most vulnerable population, our children, face the highest risks.”

Addressing vulnerabilities of those at highest risk—Integrity requires attention to those who are disproportionately affected because of cumulative exposure and all vulnerabilities. For human threats, this requires an assessment of exposure associated with air, land, water, employment, location of residence and schools, and preexisting illnesses. Similarly, the constellation of ecosystem effects associated with endocrine disruptors, for example, requires EPA to address its failure to evaluate the full effect of pesticide use and disposal and undermines the scientific integrity of the agency’s registration of pesticides. The same holds for all pesticide active ingredients, inert ingredients, contaminants, and metabolites, if final agency actions are to be viewed as having scientific integrity. The lack of attention to synergistic effects adds to the limitations for which the agency is not transparent. Without a robust scientific review process, the value of the agency’s regulations and pesticide registrations lack integrity.

Safer alternatives in calculating unreasonable risk—Decisions that implement the standard to protect against unreasonable adverse effects under FIFRA must consider the availability of alternatives that may present lower risk. A failure to evaluate alternative practices and products to the proposed or existing pesticide registration results in a decision that lacks scientific integrity.

Disclose uncertainties associated with agency science or data gaps—Under the principle of transparency, a failure to disclose scientific uncertainties to the public lacks integrity.

Criminal penalties needed—The failure of EPA staff to meet the scientific integrity standards as set by agency policy, in light of the harm that is caused to human health and the environment, rises to the status of a criminal act and should be enforced as such.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

02/08/2024 — EPA Must Not Exempt Pesticide-Treated Seeds and Paint from Thorough Examination

LATE-BREAKING Action! Comment period closed on FRIDAY, February 9, at 11:59 PM Eastern!

Due to updates to the Regulations website, we are now able to offer a click-and-submit form to the Regulations docket! Please fill out the form below to submit!

EPA is accepting comments through Friday on its long-held policy of exempting “treated objects,” including seeds and paint, from pesticide registration. Although EPA does not ask the most important question—“Should pesticide-treated seeds and paint be exempt from the scrutiny given pesticide products?”—this comment period offers an opportunity to respond to EPA's questions and express our viewpoints. 

>>Tell EPA not to exempt pesticide-treated seeds and paint from thorough examination.

Coating seeds with pesticides is one of the most commonly used application methods—135.3 to 156.64 million acres of corn, soybean, and cotton acres were planted with insecticide and fungicide seed treatments in 2023, and approximately 46-57% of planted wheat seed was treated from 2012-2014. Seed treatments are used routinely and preventively—to protect the seed from rotting or, increasingly, as a systemic poison to protect the plant from insects. Routine pesticide applications promote resistance to the pesticide because the pest is constantly exposed, providing a high selection pressure. Preventive pesticide treatments are contrary to even the loosest definition of integrated pest management (IPM) (see Beyond Pesticides and EPA) because the pesticide is applied without knowing whether the pest is present or poses a threat to the crop. Nominally, EPA supports IPM

Although EPA points to the “comprehensive nature of assessments of pesticides that are intended for use in treating seeds which includes assessment of the impact with use of the treated seed,” its allowance of these poisoned seeds has wide-ranging impacts on all organisms and the entire ecosphere. Corn and soybean seed treatments represent the largest uses of neonicotinoids (neonics) in the U.S.—on somewhere between 34% and 50+% of the soybean crop and for nearly all field corn. This contrasts dramatically with metrics from the decade prior to the introduction of neonics to the marketplace, when a mere 5% of soybean acreage was treated with insecticides. Neonics are systemic pesticides that move through a plant's vascular system and are expressed in pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets (drops of sap exuded on the tips or edges of leaves of some vascular plants). They can also persist in the environment—in soil and water—for extended periods and harm the aquatic food web (see here and here).  

Neonics have come under intensive scrutiny in the past decade because of their persistence in the soil, ability to leach into the environment, high water solubility, and potential negative health implications for non-target organisms such as pollinators—especially bees of all sorts—as well as butterflies, bats, and birds. Indeed, a recent Science publication from researchers in Canada demonstrates that “low-level neonic exposure may delay the migrations of songbirds and harm their chances of mating.” Beyond Pesticides' video, Seeds That Poison, offers a succinct primer on the dangers of neonic-coated seeds. 

The actual utility of pesticides to achieve their purported goals is an under-recognized failing of the regulatory review of pesticide compounds for use. A study by Spyridon Mourtzinis et al. published in Scientific Reports exposes the faulty assumptions underlying the use of neonics—the most widely used category of insecticides worldwide. It examined a variety of factors in determining neonic efficacy, including weather patterns, soil pH, precipitation, pest abundance and timing, and yield for three experimental groups: soybeans treated with fungicides only, those treated with fungicides and neonicotinoids, and an untreated control group. Despite broad use, the practice of using fungicide-plus neonicotinoid seed treatment appears to have negligible benefit for most soybean producers. The researchers write, “These results demonstrate that the current widespread prophylactic use of NST [neonicotinoid seed treatment] in the key soybean-producing areas of the U.S. should be re-evaluated by producers and regulators alike.” 

This research finding repeats some of the findings of a 2014 EPA report, which said that use of treated soybean seed provides little-to-no overall benefit in controlling insects or improving yield or quality in soybean production. It notes the lack of observed pest management benefits of planting treated seeds and the disconnect between perceived crop vulnerability and neonicotinoid utility: “throughout most soybean-producing regions of the U.S., the period of pest protection provided by [use of neonic-treated seeds] does not align with [the presence of] economically significant pest populations. Absent economic infestations of pests, there is no opportunity for this plant protection strategy to provide benefit to most producers.” 

Citing other recent studies that have reported “weak relationships between NST use and effectiveness in preserving crop yield,” the authors continue: “A recent multi-state study of management tactics for the key pest in the [Midwest] region, the soybean aphid . . . demonstrated that crop yield benefits and overall economic returns were marginally affected by NST.” 

Thus, if EPA is to truly assess the pesticides used in treating seeds, it must take into account not only biodiversity collapse, including the insect apocalypse, but also the lack of benefits provided by the pesticides. 

Furthermore, the failure of EPA to suggest a means of disposing of spilled and excess treated seed is a fatal flaw. Previously, EPA included additional labeling instructions for management of spilled and excess treated seed in Proposed Interim Decisions (PIDs) and Interim Decisions (IDs) of several chemicals. This labeling included instructions on the collection and burial of spilled treated seed, incorporation of treated seed into soil, limiting the broadcast planting of treated seed, and proper disposal of excess treated seed. Although EPA previously approved labels for oil seed crops that allowed for the use of excess treated seeds in ethanol production, it now believes these measures may not be sufficient to protect against pesticide buildup after ethanol production and its labeling instructions include language to prohibit the use of excess treated seeds for ethanol production. However, given the persistence of neonics and other pesticides in the soil, the incorporation of systemic pesticides into plants, and the subsequent impacts on primary and secondary consumers of those plants, as well as the known propensity to contaminate waterways, any disposal in the soil poses unreasonable adverse effects. 

In addition, this request for comments includes pesticide-treated paints. EPA says that the pesticides in paints are exempt from regulation as pesticides because they are present to protect the paint, and not as an ingredient to protect the painted surface. Regardless of the intention, the presence of the pesticide can be hazardous to the painter through inhalation of fumes (gas) or particulates (in the case of spray application). Others in the vicinity may also be exposed to off-gassing. Clean-up or reuse of paint containers and application equipment may pose an environmental hazard. All of these factors—as well as the need for the pesticide additive—must be considered in the decision of whether to allow the addition of the toxic material to the paint. 

>>Tell EPA not to exempt pesticide-treated seeds and paint from thorough examination.

The target for this Action is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency via Regulations.gov.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Suggested Comments to EPA:

I am commenting as a citizen concerned about the impacts of pesticide-treated seeds and paints on health and the environment. I will address several of the questions posed by EPA.

1. EPA asks whether the treated article exemption should be amended so that treated seed manufacturers would be subject to FIFRA section 7 registration and reporting requirements.

Treated seeds should not be exempt from registration requirements. They should not be used unless it is shown that there are no unreasonable adverse effects associated with their use. If EPA is to truly assess the pesticides used in treating seeds, it must consider not only biodiversity collapse, including the insect apocalypse, but also the lack of benefits provided by the pesticides, as shown by EPA and independent research.

2. EPA asks about available data on the replacement or reduction of other types of pesticides with increasing use of treated seed, saying it would normally address replacement and use reduction on an individual chemical basis, taking into account alternative control strategies to seed treatment.

While many dangers posed by seed treatments are chemical-specific, they are accentuated by the sheer quantity of exposure to soil organisms, herbivores, and secondary consumers, as well as to the aquatic environment. Seed treatment also poses unique risks due to the routine and preventive nature of the application—such as increasing the threat of resistance and violating IPM principles. The near-universal treatment of certain types of seeds makes it almost impossible for organic producers to source untreated conventional seeds. Because EPA does not consider USDA-certified organic production practices and the efficacy of untreated seeds as alternatives, its evaluation of adverse effects associated is inadequate.

3. EPA asks whether additional instructions for spilled seed are needed.

Disposal is a fatal flaw. Given the persistence of neonics and other pesticides in the soil, the incorporation of systemic pesticides into plants, and the subsequent impacts on primary and secondary consumers of those plants, as well as the known propensity to contaminate waterways, any instructions that permit disposal in soil, landfills, or by incineration allow unreasonable adverse effects.

4. EPA requests comment on the severity of inhalation and dermal hazards of the chemicals in treated paint products and how to increase the clarity of the labeling and safe use for the end user and the environment.

Exposure to registered pesticides in treated articles, whether in paint, hairbrushes, cutting boards, fabrics, or underwear, is not safe, but represents a risk like any other pesticide use. If EPA deems the hazards associated with the use of the pesticide in the treated article acceptable, then the agency must require labeling on the treated articles specifying the potential harm associated with exposure to the specific chemical-related hazards, including cancer, neurological and immunological effects, reproductive hazards, respiratory harm, endocrine disrupting effects, as well as a warning to those with any of these preexisting conditions or in treatment for these illnesses. EPA must consider gaseous inhalation exposure, exposure to bystanders, and disposal of residues from cleaning paint containers and application equipment.

5. EPA asks whether use of FIFRA section 3(a) is necessary or appropriate to prevent unreasonable adverse effects on human health and the environment.

Both because of the problems relating to enforceability and the need to determine that pesticide-treated seeds and paints meet the statutory requirement of no unreasonable adverse effects on humans and the environment, these products should not be exempt from the requirement of registration or registration review.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.

02/03/2024 — EPA Proposal for Endocrine Disruption Testing of Pesticides Is Too Narrow in Scope

The comment period closed on Monday, February 26, 2024, at 11:59 PM Eastern.
Due to updates to the Regulations website, we are now able to offer a click-and-submit form to the Regulations docket! Please fill out the form linked to submit!

After failing to comply with the 1996 Congressional mandate to determine whether pesticides disrupt the endocrine system of humans and other organisms, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is revisiting its approach to the implementation of the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) with a new proposal that falls short of what is required to protect people and ecosystems. The proposal is open for public comment by February 26, 2024.

A detailed examination can be found in draft comments by Beyond Pesticides. 

>>Tell EPA that it must complete comprehensive data analysis concerning endocrine disruption and not register pesticides without it.

Because of its limited scope, the EPA's proposed framework for review of endocrine disrupting properties of pesticides is an abrogation of its responsibilities under the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act/Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FQPA/FFDCA) as well as the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The limitations in EPA's proposal, which do not comply with Congressional intent and statutory mandates, include: (i) applying EDSP to humans only; (ii) focusing on certain pesticide active ingredients only, and; (iii) restricting the types of data used to assess endocrine disruption (ED). The proposal reverses the advice of EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee (EDSTAC) and the agency's original EDSP implementation policy and science decisions. 

Under FIFRA, a pesticide is presumed to pose an unreasonable risk until reliable data demonstrate otherwise. Moreover, if the agency lacks the data and/or resources to fully evaluate endocrine risks to human health and wildlife, then the agency is obliged to suspend or deny any pesticide registration until it has sufficient data to demonstrate that the pesticide's registration is in compliance with the statutory standard, which is no “unreasonable adverse risk” of endocrine disruption. 

EPA cannot develop a strategy for evaluating pesticides without understanding the history and status of endocrine disruption research, which are summarized in Beyond Pesticides' draft comments. Evidence that synthetic chemicals can mimic or otherwise interfere with natural hormones has existed for over half a century. Although early attention was given to estrogen mimics, it soon became apparent that the homeostatic (stable) function of the endocrine system—which regulates and balances physiological functions—can be disrupted at many sites and hormone systems.  

Endocrine disruption as a phenomenon affecting humans and other species has been critically reviewed by several authors. A common thread across these reviews is the notion that chemicals that may disrupt the endocrine systems of humans and wildlife may be pervasive in contaminating their habitats. A pandemic of endocrine-related disorders can be connected with endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), including attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, diabetes, obesity, childhood cancers, testicular cancer in young men, infertility, male dysgenesis syndrome, hypospadias, low sperm count, loss of semen volume and sperm quality, and increased risk of testicular and prostate cancer. All these disorders have been increasing in incidence and can be traced back to prenatal exposure to EDCs. 

Endocrine pathways are largely conserved (identical or similar) across species and, thus, are not species—or taxa—specific. It is well known that thyroid endocrinology in particular is well conserved across vertebrate taxa. This includes aspects of thyroid hormone synthesis, metabolism, and mechanisms of action. Thyroid hormones are derived from the thyroid gland through regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, which is controlled through a complex mechanism of positive and negative feedback regulation. Multiple pathways contribute to the synthesis of thyroid-releasing hormone, including thyroid hormone signaling through feedback mechanisms; leptin and melanocortin signaling; body temperature regulation; and cardiovascular physiology. Each pathway directly targets thyroid-releasing hormone neurons. Based on the similarities sensitivity and requirements of endocrine pathways across vertebrate species, it is well understood that the ecological assays (the frog assay in particular) are often more sensitive and equally relevant to mammalian assays in informing risk assessors of whether a chemical can perturb and cause adverse endocrine outcomes in the human population and vice versa. 

FQPA essentially amends FIFRA to ensure potential endocrine-disrupting effects are considered in agency risk assessments to fulfill the FIFRA mandate that a pesticide registration will not cause unreasonable adverse effects. This applies to humans and wildlife and to all pesticide chemicals as defined in FIFRA, including “all active and pesticide inert ingredients of such pesticide” (21 U.S.C. 231(q)(1)). SDWA adds drinking water contaminants as well. 

In summary, the agency cannot limit EDSP to only humans and conventional pesticide active ingredients without violating the statutory requirements enumerated in FIFRA, FQPA, and SDWA. EPA should make use of all available scientifically relevant endocrine disruption research findings and also be wary of deviating from established international efforts for screening/testing endocrine disruptors that incorporate human and wildlife relevant studies. Recognizing that mammalian data inform potential endocrine disruption in other vertebrate taxa (avian, amphibian, fish) and vice versa, the agency should not decouple the mammalian from other vertebrate assays in EDSP screening.  There are more than 50 different ecological and mammalian assays included in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Conceptual Framework for screening/testing endocrine disrupting effects, and there are additional assays being developed for consideration as well. So, the agency should not limit the range or types of data to be used, but, as FQPA prescribes, use “appropriate validated test systems and other scientifically relevant information.” While currently required data may meet the needs of human risk assessment, it is inadequate to evaluate endocrine effects on wildlife species. It should also be understood that under FIFRA, a pesticide is presumed to pose an unreasonable risk until reliable data demonstrate otherwise. If the agency lacks the data and/or resources to fully evaluate endocrine risks to human health and wildlife, then the agency is obliged to suspend or deny any pesticide registration until the agency has sufficient data to demonstrate no unreasonable adverse endocrine risk per the mandate in FIFRA. Further, it is not the agency but pesticide registrants (manufacturers) that have the burden to demonstrate with adequate data that their products will not pose unreasonable adverse effects, including the inherently presumed endocrine-disrupting effects.

>>Tell EPA that it must complete comprehensive data analysis concerning endocrine disruption and not register pesticides without it.

The target for this Action is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency via Regulations.gov.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Suggested comments to EPA:

EPA’s proposed endocrine disruptor strategy (EDSP) abrogates its responsibilities under the Food Quality Protection Act/Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FQPA/FFDCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Limiting the scope of the EDSP to humans, certain pesticide active ingredients only, and limiting the types of data to assess endocrine disruption (ED) effects is contrary to the Congressional intent and requirements in these statutes. It is also a reversal of the Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee advice and EPA’s original EDSP implementation policy and science decisions. 

EPA’s strategy for evaluating pesticides requires understanding the history and status of endocrine disruption research. Evidence that synthetic chemicals can interfere with natural hormones has existed for over half a century. Although early attention was given to estrogen mimics, it was soon apparent that the homeostatic function of the endocrine system can be disrupted at many sites and hormone systems.  

Many authors have documented that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may be pervasive in contaminating the ecosphere. A pandemic of endocrine-related disorders—attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, diabetes, obesity, childhood cancers, testicular cancer in young men, infertility, male dysgenesis syndrome, hypospadias, low sperm count, loss of semen volume and sperm quality, and increased risk of testicular and prostate cancer—may be related to EDCs.  

Endocrine pathways are largely conserved across species and thus are not species—or taxa—specific. Therefore, it is well understood that the ecological assays (the frog assay in particular) are often more sensitive and equally relevant to mammalian assays in determining whether a chemical can perturb and cause adverse endocrine outcomes in the human population and vice versa. 

In summary, EPA cannot limit EDSP to only humans and conventional pesticide active ingredients without violating the statutory requirements of FIFRA, FQPA, and SDWA. EPA must use all available scientifically relevant endocrine disruption research findings and avoid deviating from established international efforts that incorporate human and wildlife studies. Recognizing that mammalian data inform potential endocrine disruption in other vertebrates (avian, amphibian, fish) and vice versa, the agency should not decouple the mammalian from other vertebrate assays in EDSP screening. With more than 50 different ecological and mammalian assays included in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development Conceptual Framework for screening/testing endocrine disrupting effects and additional assays in development, EPA must not limit the range or types of data to be used, but as FQPA prescribes, use “appropriate validated test systems and other scientifically relevant information.” Currently required data may meet the needs of human risk assessment but is inadequate to evaluate endocrine effects on wildlife species.  

FQPA amends FIFRA to ensure potential endocrine-disrupting effects are considered in risk assessments to fulfill the FIFRA mandate that pesticide use will not cause unreasonable adverse effects. This applies to humans and wildlife and to all pesticide chemicals as defined in FIFRA, including all active and inert ingredients. Under FIFRA, a pesticide is presumed to pose an unreasonable risk until reliable data demonstrate otherwise. If EPA lacks the data and/or resources to fully evaluate endocrine risks to human health and wildlife, then the agency is obliged to suspend or deny any pesticide registration until the agency has sufficient data to demonstrate no unreasonable adverse endocrine risk.  

Thank you. 

01/27/2024 — EPA’s Biological Evaluation Inadequate to Protect Endangered Species from Rodenticides

Comments are due by Tuesday, February 13, 2024, at 11:59 PM Eastern!
Due to updates to the Regulations website, we are now able to offer a click-and-submit form to the Regulations docket! Please fill out the linked form to submit!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Draft Biological Evaluation (BE), Effects Determinations, and Mitigation Strategy for Federally Listed and Proposed Endangered and Threatened Species and Designated and Proposed Critical Habitats for 11 Rodenticides, is inadequate—both in its evaluation of risk and measures to mitigate risk—and should not be used as the basis registration of these rodenticides.

A detailed examination can be found in draft comments by Beyond Pesticides. 

>>Tell EPA to improve its protection of endangered species from rodenticides.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of the most effective conservation laws globally, protecting 1,662 species in the U.S. and 638 species elsewhere on Earth. Over the past five decades, the ESA has played a pivotal role in preventing these extinctions by safeguarding the most critically endangered species within biological communities. The ESA establishes a framework to categorize species as "endangered" or "threatened," granting them specific protections, but the goal of the ESA is to address the broader issue of biodiversity loss by protecting habitats of species most at risk, or, as stated in the ESA, to “Provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved, to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species, and to take such steps as may be appropriate to achieve the purposes of the treaties and conventions set forth in subsection (a) of this section.” 

Under the ESA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to consult with relevant agencies when registering chemicals to assess their impact on endangered species. Unfortunately, EPA has consistently fallen short in fulfilling this statutory obligation, as highlighted over years of reporting by Beyond Pesticides. EPA admits that its Pesticide Program “has been unable to keep pace with its ESA workload, resulting not only in inadequate protections for listed species but also litigation against the Agency.”  

Pesticide use is a major cause of declining biodiversity, which is manifested in extinctions, endangered species, and species vulnerable to environmental disturbances—including climate change, habitat fragmentation, and toxic chemicals. If EPA is serious about protecting biodiversity, it must look first to the ways it has created the crisis in the first place. 

In this BE, EPA predicts the potential likelihood of future jeopardy for only 73 of the 136 species it judged may be affected and the potential likelihood of future adverse modification for only four of the 38 “likely to be adversely affected” critical habitats. It predicted potential jeopardy for 24 mammal species for bait station use, 31 for burrow use, and 35 for broadcast applications. For birds, EPA predicts jeopardy for six species from bait station use, one for burrow use, and 30 for broadcast applications. For reptiles, EPA predicts jeopardy for just four species from bait station use and just one species for broadcast applications. EPA made “no effect” determinations for all aquatic and terrestrial plants, aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, and aquatic vertebrates for which no direct effects or effects on prey, pollination, habitat, or dispersal are expected from the use of the 11 rodenticides.  

Despite data to the contrary, EPA has made no effect (NE) determinations for all species under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) because no consequences relevant to direct toxicity of these species or their prey, pollination, habitat, or dispersal are expected by EPA from the use of these rodenticides. These categorical NE determinations by EPA for all aquatic vertebrates, including those under the jurisdiction of NMFS, are not warranted. Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs), contrary to the agency's assertions, can be transported to the aquatic environment (freshwater and marine). Recent detections in raw and treated wastewater, sewage sludge, estuarine sediments, suspended particulate matter, and liver tissue of sampled fish demonstrate that the aquatic environment experiences a greater risk of anticoagulant rodenticide exposure than previously thought. One AR, brodifacoum, revealed an enduring persistence (> three years) in a marine environment after broadcast treatment in an island eradication project. Monitoring studies have also demonstrated that second-generation ARs bioaccumulate in fish liver under environmentally realistic conditions and exposure scenarios. Island eradication programs also provide for increased drift and runoff potential due to the broader treatment area and amplified application rates. Fish sampled after broadcast applications of AR bait pellets during monitored island eradication operations (Palmyra Atoll and Lehua Island, Hawaii) were found to have consumed treated pellets. The fish, as well as other animals that consumed the bait, were killed.  

Secondary poisoning in listed endangered species fish and aquatic reptiles is similarly possible from ingesting poisoned animals. Some invertebrates (e.g., insects, mollusks, and annelid worms) can consume poisoned baits and transfer the poison via food web to various susceptible vertebrates. Target and nontarget small mammals that have consumed poisoned baits will not always stay sedentary or concealed—many roam openly and often seek water. Those who become moribund or die in sewers, culverts, drainage ditches, or similar conduits can be swept into riparian zones or directly into water bodies (streams, rivers, lakes, tidal basins, estuaries), where they can be consumed by aquatic predators and scavengers. Encounter and ingestion of a poisoned and sickened rodent could prove fatal to aquatic vertebrate species. Mice have been reportedly consumed by listed species such as alligator snapping turtle, bull trout, Atlantic salmon, and steelhead trout. These four listed species should be considered “may be affected” and their potential jeopardy considered by the Services (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services-USFWS and NMFS) in the required formal consultation. Additionally, marine mammals may be at serious risk from existing and planned island eradication projects and should be considered in a revised BE. 

As discussed above, fish are exposed through primary routes in the consumption of bait pellets/grains that may be washed or transported into waters. They may also consume invertebrates or small mammals that have ingested poisoned baits and moved into their habitat. However, EPA lacks dietary toxicity data for fish and cannot confidently assess the extent of risk from this route of exposure in these aquatic vertebrates. EPA must seek additional toxicity data from registrants to better evaluate rodenticide toxicity from dietary exposures of fish. In addition to lacking dietary toxicity data for rodenticides, the agency also lacks reproduction and chronic (life cycle) toxicity data on aquatic vertebrates. 

In conclusion, the draft BE is unsatisfactory and must be revised before proceeding to formal ESA §7(a)(2) consultations with the Services (Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service). The flawed draft BE erroneously disregards potential aquatic exposure and fails to identify additional listed species (alligator snapping turtle, bull trout, Atlantic salmon, steelhead trout) that may be adversely affected. Aquatic animals, including fish are exposed, as previously discussed, through primary routes in the consumption of bait pellets/grains that may be washed or transported into waters from broadcast applications or improperly disposed bait stations. Secondary routes are also possible from consuming invertebrates or small mammals that have ingested poisoned bait and moved into their habitat. However, EPA lacks dietary toxicity data for fish and cannot confidently assess the extent of risk from this route of exposure.  

EPA must seek additional toxicity data from registrants to better evaluate rodenticide toxicity from dietary exposures of fish. In addition to lacking dietary toxicity data for rodenticides, the agency also lacks reproduction and chronic (life cycle) toxicity data on aquatic vertebrates. Since this draft BE is intended to be a comprehensive review and analysis of all currently registered uses of 11 rodenticides, the island eradication programs special use labels should also be considered in the rodenticide BE and not solely dependent on expected USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection (APHIS) ESA consultations.

>>Tell EPA to improve its protection of endangered species from rodenticides.

The target for this Action is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency via Regulations.gov.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Comment to EPA:

The Draft Biological Evaluation (BE) is inadequate and should not be used to support the registration of the 11 rodenticides under review. Pesticide use is a major cause of declining biodiversity, which is manifested in extinctions, endangered species, and species vulnerable to environmental disturbances—including climate change, habitat fragmentation, and toxic chemicals. EPA must reverse these trends.

The BE predicts the potential likelihood of future jeopardy for only 73 of the 136 species that “may be affected” and the potential likelihood of future adverse modification for only 4 of the 38 “likely to be adversely affected” critical habitats. EPA made “no effect” determinations for all aquatic and terrestrial plants, aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, and aquatic vertebrates for which it expects no direct effects or effects on prey, pollination, habitat, or dispersal from the use of the 11 rodenticides.

EPA made “no effect” (NE) determinations for species under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). These categorical NE determinations by EPA for all aquatic vertebrates are not warranted. Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) can be transported to freshwater and marine environments—as shown by recent detections in raw and treated wastewater, sewage sludge, estuarine sediments, suspended particulate matter, and liver tissue of fish. One AR, brodifacoum, persisted at least 3 years in a marine environment after broadcast treatment in an island eradication project (Palmyra Atoll and Lehua Island, Hawaii). Studies also show that second-generation ARs bioaccumulate in fish liver. Island eradication programs provide increased drift and runoff potential due to the broad treatment area and high application rates. Fish sampled after broadcast applications of AR bait pellets during monitored island eradication operations were found to have consumed treated pellets. The fish and other animals that consumed the bait were killed.

Secondary poisoning in listed endangered species aquatic species may occur by ingesting poisoned animals. Invertebrates such as insects, mollusks, and annelid worms can consume poisoned baits and transfer the poison via food web to susceptible vertebrates who may end up in water bodies where they can be consumed by aquatic predators and scavengers. Ingestion of a poisoned and sickened rodent could prove fatal to aquatic vertebrates. Mice are consumed by listed species such as alligator snapping turtle, bull trout, Atlantic salmon, and steelhead trout. These four listed species should be “may be affected” and their potential jeopardy considered by the Services (USFWS and NMFS) in the required formal consultation. Additionally, marine mammals may be at serious risk from existing and planned island eradication projects and should be considered in a revised BE.

In conclusion, the draft BE is flawed and must be revised before proceeding to formal consultations with the Services. The draft BE erroneously disregards potential aquatic exposure and fails to identify additional listed species (alligator snapping turtle, bull trout, Atlantic salmon, steelhead trout) as well as marine mammals that may be adversely affected. Aquatic animals are exposed through primary routes and secondary routes. EPA must seek additional data from registrants on dietary and chronic toxicity to aquatic vertebrates, which it currently lacks. Since this draft BE is intended to be a comprehensive review and analysis of all currently registered uses of 11 rodenticides, the island eradication programs special use labels should also be considered in the rodenticide BE and not wait on expected APHIS consultations.

Thank you for considering these comments.

01/19/2024 — USDA Must Foster Soil Fertility for ALL Organic Labeled Products

The public comment period has expired for this Action; however, Beyond Pesticides continues to work on this critical issue. Please reach out to our team at [email protected] for more information!

The failure of the National Organic Program (NOP) to consistently require soil-building practices for certification of organic farms presents a serious threat to organic integrity. As a result of this failure, some growers using hydroponic and other practices that do not build the soil are allowed to sell produce as organic. Such produce is not labeled as “hydroponic” or “container-grown.”    

>> Tell USDA to protect organic integrity and follow organic law by fostering soil fertility for ALL organic labeled products.

The Earth needs many more real organic farms that support soil health, help sequester carbon dioxide, and avoid the use of materials like soluble nitrogen fertilizers that contribute many times as much warming potential as carbon dioxide. By a decisive vote in 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Organic Standards Board determined that hydroponic and aquaponic operations are inconsistent with OFPA and do not qualify for organic certification. 

USDA has an open comment period—closing Monday, January 22—regarding the information that is collected during the organic certification process. To comply with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), the National Organic Program (NOP) must collect information from all certified organic crop producers and all accredited certifying agents on how certified organic crop production operations “foster soil fertility” to verify compliance with OFPA 6513(b). 

At the present time, the NOP accredits certifying agents that certify soil-based crop producers who comply with the soil fertility requirements of OFPA and regulations. Simultaneously, the NOP accredits certifying agents that certify hydroponic, container, and other soilless crop production systems that do not comply with the soil fertility requirements of OFPA and NOP regulations. 

Soil-based organic production systems sequester carbon, fix nitrogen, build soil health, increase the water-holding capacity of soils, prevent soil erosion, foster the cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, conserve biodiversity, and provide numerous ecological services. Hydroponic, aquaponic, and other soilless container growing systems do not sequester carbon, fix nitrogen, increase the water-holding capacity of soils, recycle nutrients, prevent erosion, enhance biological diversity, or protect ecological balance, yet the USDA currently allows such operations to be certified “organic.”  

There are significant differences between soil-based and soilless crop production systems, but there is no data available to determine how much of the U.S. organic market is comprised of the products from these two different production systems, since the products of both systems are labeled “organic” and allowed to carry the “USDA Organic” logo. Likewise, USDA has no data to research and compare the environmental and health impacts of these systems, since the products of both systems are labeled the same. 

This comment period provides an opportunity to tell USDA that its failure to require data that can support an organic farm's compliance with the soil-building requirements of OFPA undermines organic consumers' trust in the integrity of the organic market. 

>>Tell USDA to protect organic integrity and follow organic law by fostering soil fertility for ALL organic labeled products.

The target for this Action is the U.S. Department of Agriculture via Regulations.gov.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Comment to EPA:

The Earth needs many more real organic farms to support soil health, help sequester carbon dioxide, and avoid the use of materials that contribute many times as much warming potential as carbon dioxide. USDA’s failure to require information to ensure consistent application of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) threatens the integrity of organic products upon which I depend.

At 6513(b)(1), OFPA states, “An organic plan shall contain provisions designed to foster soil fertility, primarily through the management of the organic content of the soil through proper tillage, crop rotation, and manuring.” OFPA 6513(g) states, “An organic plan shall not include any production or handling practices that are inconsistent with this chapter.”

NOP now accredits certifying agents that certify soil-based crop producers who comply with the soil fertility requirements of OFPA 6513(b)(1) and 7 CFR sections 205.2, Natural Resource Protection; 205.203 Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management; and 205.205 Crop Rotation. NOP also accredits certifying agents that certify hydroponic, container, and other soilless crop producers who do not comply with those same requirements.

Soil-based organic production systems sequester carbon, fix nitrogen, build soil health, increase the water-holding capacity of soils, prevent soil erosion, foster the cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, conserve biodiversity, and provide numerous ecological services, while hydroponic, aquaponic, and other soilless container growing systems do not, yet USDA allows such operations to be certified “organic.”

Despite significant differences between soil-based and soilless crop production systems, USDA has no data to determine or research how much of the U.S. organic market is comprised of the products from these two different production systems, since the products of both systems are labeled “organic” and allowed to carry the “USDA Organic” logo and compare the environmental and health impacts of these systems.

NOP must collect data on the type of production system used by certified organic crop producers to determine the number of soil-based vs soilless crop production operations and products, both foreign and domestic, that are being certified as “organic” under NOP. Accredited certifying agents must ask specific questions to assess all crop operations’ compliance with OFPA 6513(b)(1), since the law states that organic crop plans “shall contain provisions designed to foster soil fertility.”

In order to “assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard,” NOP must require that accredited certifying agents who certify hydroponic, aquaponic, and other soilless container systems provide data to NOP—and make it publicly available—on the number of such operations that they certify; the amount of acreage or square footage in soilless production; the types and quantities of crops produced using soilless production methods; the expected vs actual yields from soilless operations; the value of the crops produced using soilless production methods; the labels and brand names used on all such products; the countries of origin; and the markets where these products are sold.

The U.S. is the only country where soilless crop production systems are being certified as “organic,” so collection of the information cited above is needed to verify compliance with trade agreements in international organic markets.

USDA has issued no rules governing the soilless production of “organic” crops, so it is incumbent on USDA to collect accurate and detailed information on both soil-based and soilless crop production systems that are being certified as “organic,” in order to comply with OFPA Sections 6501(2), 6513(b), and 6513(g), and 7 CFR Part 205.2, 205.203, and 205.205.

Thank you.

01/13/2024 — Tell EPA It Must Require Submission of Efficacy Data for All Pesticides

UPDATE: Action closed as of Monday, March 25, 2024, at 11:59 PM Eastern! 
Due to updates to the Regulations website, we are now able to offer a click-and-submit form to the Regulations docket! Please fill out the form to submit!


EPA has opened a comment period on a petition submitted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, American Bird Conservancy, and 60+ other groups. The petition is asking for rules to be promulgated that require efficacy data to be submitted for systemic insecticides by manufacturers registering these pesticides with EPA.   

>>EPA must require submission of efficacy data and make findings based on evidence that benefits outweigh risks before registering a pesticide.

Petitioners ask that manufacturers of neonicotinoids (neonics) or other systemic insecticides be required to prove that they work as intended and do not “subject species, ecosystems, and people to abject devastation with no benefit to users.” In fact, Section 3(c)(5) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires that EPA determine whether the pesticide will perform its intended function, when used “in accordance with widespread and commonly recognized practice,” without “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” “Unreasonable adverse effects on the environment” means “any unreasonable risk to man or the environment, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the use of any pesticide.” 

The petitioners submit support for their contention that systemic insecticides are not effective and that they cause widespread harm to the environment, including birds, honey bees, aquatic ecosystems, and wildlife. The petition says, “The species impacted include all amphibians, and the majority of endangered fish, birds, and mammals, as well as pollinators and the plants they pollinate.”  

The petitioners also point to results showing lack of benefits—including a report by EPA's Biological and Economic Analysis Division (BEAD) showing that systemic insecticides generally do not provide benefits when used to protect soybeans. 

Thus, the petitioners make a case that registration should be denied to these systemic insecticides, since FIFRA Section 3(c)(6) requires EPA to deny registration if “the Administrator determines that the requirements of paragraph (5) for registration are not satisfied.” 

But how can EPA make any determination without efficacy data? The petitioners say that because the case they make shows that systemic insecticides do not meet the criteria for registration, EPA must request efficacy data for those pesticides. However, the same is true for all pesticides. EPA cannot meet the statutory prerequisite for registration without weighing data on both risks and benefits. Instead, as pointed out by the petitioners, EPA says, “rather than require efficacy data the Agency presumes that benefits exceed risks.” 

In 2021, a coalition of groups, including PEER and Beyond Pesticides, issued a scathing critique of the performance of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs — embedded in the groups' advocacy for a series of 25 reforms. The petition tackles one specific aspect of EPA's process on one class of insecticides. The agency's track record, on so many pesticides, is to deal with one compound (under a narrow range of circumstances and/or narrow time frame and/or specific exposure levels) at a time. Beyond Pesticides has dubbed this the “whack-a-mole” struggle on pesticides. 

Each regulatory baby step at EPA represents small, incremental advances on a pesticide problem that is vast in scope—an approach that is wholly inadequate to the devastation that toxic pesticides are causing, and it continues the “collision course” we are on re: human health and well-being, biodiversity collapse, and the climate crisis. A precautionary approach—captured in organic, regenerative agriculture and land management protocols—is far more suited to the task of genuinely protecting public health and the environment than EPA's current, industry-friendly, piecemeal approach. 

The availability of alternative materials and practices that prevent (or vastly reduce) toxic hazards, as are used in organic management, makes the dependence on synthetic chemical pesticides even more reprehensible. A genuinely protective approach to pests (floral or faunal) in agriculture and land management starts with transitioning from chemical dependency to organic land management in food production, and parks, playing fields, and all recreational and public spaces. In the meantime, efforts to push EPA will continue to move the needle, however slowly and haltingly. EPA should take seriously its mission: to protect human health and the environment. 

EPA must require submission of efficacy data and make findings based on evidence that benefits outweigh risks before registering a pesticide.

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Congress.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Comment to EPA 

I am writing to support the petition  asking that manufacturers of neonicotinoids (neonics) or other systemic insecticides be required to prove that they work as intended and do not “subject species, ecosystems, and people to abject devastation with no benefit to users.” In fact, Section 3(c)(5) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires that EPA determine whether the pesticide will perform its intended function, when used “in accordance with widespread and commonly recognized practice,” without “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” “Unreasonable adverse effects on the environment” means “any unreasonable risk to man or the environment, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the use of any pesticide.” 

It has been shown that systemic insecticides are not effective in soybean production and that they cause widespread harm to the environment, including birds, honey bees, aquatic ecosystems, and wildlife. The petition says, “The species impacted include all amphibians, and the majority of endangered fish, birds, and mammals, as well as pollinators and the plants they pollinate.” The petitioners point to results showing lack of benefits—including a report by EPA’s Biological and Economic Analysis Division (BEAD) showing that systemic insecticides generally do not provide benefits when used to protect soybeans. 

Thus, the petitioners make a case that registration should be denied to these systemic insecticides, since FIFRA Section 3(c)(6) requires EPA to deny registration if “the Administrator determines that the requirements of paragraph (5) for registration are not satisfied.” 

But how can EPA make any determination without efficacy data? The petitioners say that because the case they make shows that systemic insecticides do not meet the criteria for registration, EPA must request efficacy data for those pesticides. The same is true for all pesticides. EPA cannot meet the statutory prerequisite for registration without weighing data on both risks and benefits. Instead, as pointed out by the petitioners, EPA says, “rather than require efficacy data the Agency presumes that benefits exceed risks.” 

Each regulatory baby step at EPA represents small, incremental advances on a pesticide problem that is now vast in scope—an approach that is wholly inadequate to the devastation that toxic pesticides are causing, and it continues the “collision course” we are on re: human health and well-being, biodiversity collapse, and the climate crisis. A precautionary approach — captured in alternatives like organic, regenerative agriculture and land management protocols — is far more suited to the task of genuinely protecting public health and the environment than EPA’s current, industry friendly, piecemeal approach. This approach is viable under the “unreasonable adverse effects” standard of review under FIFRA. 

The availability of alternative materials and practices that prevent (or vastly reduce) toxic hazards, as are used in organic management, makes the dependence on synthetic chemical pesticides even more reprehensible and “unreasonable.” A genuinely protective approach to pests (floral or faunal) in agriculture and land management starts with transitioning from chemical dependency to organic land management in food production, and parks, playing fields, and all recreational and public spaces. In the meantime, the petitions request for efficacy review will push the pesticide registration review process to move the needle, however slowly and haltingly. EPA should take seriously its mission: to protect human health and the environment. 

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

01/06/2024 — Tell EPA To Ban Antibiotics in Crop Production and Synthetic Turf

Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world, according to the World Health Organization. In the May 1, 2022, issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Samira Choudhury, PhD, et al. write, “Often referred to as the silent pandemic, antimicrobial resistance claims the lives of over 700,000 people annually.” The authors continue, “A study suggests that if no actions are taken, antimicrobial resistance will cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050 and an economic impact of over 100 trillion United States dollars.” 

>>Tell EPA and Congress that antibiotic pesticides must be eliminated.

A federal district court decision last month (December 13) found illegal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to register the antibiotic streptomycin for use in Florida citrus to control Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as “citrus greening,” a plant disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid.  

The court found, “[EPA] admits it did not comply with the [Endangered Species Act].” The court also found that EPA failed to show that streptomycin would achieve benefits as a tool for preventing the target disease. The court found, “[W]e have now concluded that the EPA did not fully comply with FIFRA because it (1) failed to include additional data in its pollinator risk assessment or explain why such data was not necessary and (2) suggested that streptomycin could be used to prevent disease without providing evidentiary support for such a claim. 

However, the court was not convinced that EPA fails to protect against the spread of antibiotic resistance and assumed that the restrictions that EPA required for personal protective equipment (PPE) and drift control would adequately mitigate risks, despite a history of noncompliance and uncontrollable movement of pesticides off the target site.  

When antimicrobial or antibiotic pesticides are sprayed on a crop, they induce antibiotic resistance in bacteria that are present by killing susceptible bacteria—which may or may not be pathogenic—allowing resistant bacteria to proliferate. Those resistant bacteria move off the site on produce, workers' clothing, and the wind. Prevention of chemical drift is therefore inadequate to protect against the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The now well-known phenomenon of horizontal gene transfer (movement of genes in bacteria from one bacterial species to another) means that antibiotic resistance genes in those (possibly harmless) bacteria can move to bacteria that cause disease in plants or humans. 

Streptomycin has been banned for agricultural use on crops in many countries, but in the U.S., its use and the use of oxytetracycline in fruit and vegetable production have been permitted. Under the Trump administration, EPA permitted an emergency use authorization in 2017 to expand use of these antibiotics to Florida citrus crops to control citrus greening. That emergency authorization was to have run out in 2019, but, in January of that year, EPA moved to make the authorization permanent, despite, according to the New York Times, “strenuous objections from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which warn that the heavy use of antimicrobial drugs in agriculture could spur germs to mutate so they become resistant to the drugs, threatening the lives of millions of people.” That decision greenlighted the use of more than 650,000 pounds of streptomycin on citrus crops in Florida and California alone, and followed an approval two years prior of oxytetracycline for use on the same citrus crops. Citrus greening has been successfully managed organically in Florida, with a combination of biological controls and cultural practices. 

In addition to use on crops, antimicrobials used to manage synthetic turf for bacteria, mold, and fungus raise serious health issues and represent a threat that does not exist in organic land management. A builder of sports facilities, American Athletic, states, “Beyond surface cleaning, the artificial turf should be sanitized weekly or monthly to protect the players' and coaches' health. This disinfection requires special solvents, cleansers, and anti-microbial products to remove invisible particles and bacterial growth. You should strive to sanitize the field after every game and throughout the school day if it's used for physical education classes.”

Finally, two facts lead to the conclusion that focusing on materials sold as antibiotics or antimicrobials is too shortsighted. First, science shows that use of any antibiotics anywhere can increase antibiotic resistance everywhere. Second, many pesticides not intended to kill microbes—such as the herbicides glyphosate2,4-D, and dicamba—also induce antibiotic resistance in deadly human pathogens. These two facts lead to the conclusion that we must stop broadcasting pesticides in the environment and applying them to food. The crisis in antibiotic resistance, which creates a threat of another pandemic, is ignored in the registration of pesticides. The antibiotic impacts of pesticides cited above were discovered only after the pesticides had been disseminated in the environment for decades.  

>>Tell EPA and Congress that antibiotic pesticides must be eliminated.

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Congress.  

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Letter to EPA:

Antimicrobial resistance is rising to dangerously high levels. In the May 1, 2022, issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Samira Choudhury, PhD, et al. write, “Often referred to as the silent pandemic, antimicrobial resistance claims the lives of over 700,000 people annually.” They continue, “A study suggests that if no actions are taken, antimicrobial resistance will cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050 and an economic impact of over 100 trillion United States dollars.”

A federal district court decision blocked EPA’s decision to register the antibiotic streptomycin for use in Florida citrus to control Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as “citrus greening,” a plant disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, finding, “[EPA] admits it did not comply with the ESA.” The court also found that EPA failed to show that streptomycin would achieve benefits in preventing the disease. However, the court was not convinced that EPA fails to protect against the spread of antibiotic resistance and assumed that the restrictions that EPA required for personal protective equipment (PPE) and drift control would adequately mitigate risks.

When antimicrobial pesticides are sprayed on a crop, they induce resistance in bacteria that are present by killing susceptible bacteria—which may or may not be pathogenic—allowing resistant bacteria to proliferate. The resistant bacteria move off the site on crops, workers, and the wind. Prevention of chemical drift is thus inadequate to protect against the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The fact of horizontal gene transfer means that antibiotic resistance genes in those (possibly harmless) bacteria can move to pathogens.

In 2017, EPA permitted use of these antibiotics in Florida citrus crops. In January 2019, EPA moved to make the authorization permanent despite, according to the New York Times, “strenuous objections from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which warn that the heavy use of antimicrobial drugs in agriculture could spur germs to mutate so they become resistant to the drugs, threatening the lives of millions of people.” Two years prior, oxytetracycline was approved for use on the same citrus crops.

In addition to crops, antimicrobials are used to manage synthetic turf. A builder of sports facilities, American Athletic, states, “Beyond surface cleaning, the artificial turf should be sanitized weekly or monthly to protect the players’ and coaches’ health. This disinfection requires special solvents, cleansers, and antimicrobial products to remove invisible particles and bacterial growth. You should strive to sanitize the field after every game and throughout the school day if it’s used for physical education classes.”

Finally, focusing on materials sold as antibiotics or antimicrobials is too shortsighted. First, science shows that use of any antibiotics anywhere can increase antibiotic resistance everywhere. Second, many pesticides not intended to kill microbes—such as the herbicides glyphosate, 2,4-D, and dicamba—also induce antibiotic resistance in deadly human pathogens. Thus, we must stop broadcasting pesticides in the environment. The crisis in antibiotic resistance, which creates a threat of another pandemic, is ignored in the registration of pesticides. The antibiotic impacts of pesticides cited above were discovered only after the pesticides had been disseminated in the environment for decades.

EPA must not register pesticides unless they have been demonstrated not to contribute to antibiotic resistance and must cancel the registration of those that do.

Thank you.

Letter to U.S. Representative and Senators:

Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels. In the May 1, 2022, issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Samira Choudhury, PhD, et al. write, “Often referred to as the silent pandemic, antimicrobial resistance claims the lives of over 700,000 people annually.” They continue, “A study suggests that if no actions are taken, antimicrobial resistance will cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050 and an economic impact of over 100 trillion United States dollars.”

A federal district court decision blocked EPA’s decision to register the antibiotic streptomycin for use in Florida citrus to control Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as “citrus greening,” a plant disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, citing failure to comply with the ESA and to show benefits. However, the court was not convinced that EPA fails to protect against the spread of antibiotic resistance and assumed that the restrictions that EPA required for personal protective equipment (PPE) and drift control would adequately mitigate risks.

When antimicrobial pesticides are sprayed on a crop, they induce antimicrobial resistance in bacteria that are present by killing susceptible bacteria—which may or may not be pathogenic—allowing resistant bacteria to proliferate. The resistant bacteria move off the site on crops, workers, and the wind. Prevention of chemical drift is thus inadequate to protect against the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The fact of horizontal gene transfer means that antibiotic resistance genes in those (possibly harmless) bacteria can move to pathogens.

In 2017, EPA permitted expanding use of these antibiotics in Florida citrus crops. In January 2019, EPA moved to make the authorization permanent despite, according to the New York Times, “strenuous objections from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which warn that the heavy use of antimicrobial drugs in agriculture could spur germs to mutate so they become resistant to the drugs, threatening the lives of millions of people.” Two years prior, oxytetracycline was approved for use on the same citrus crops.

In addition to crops, antimicrobials are used to manage synthetic turf. A builder of sports facilities, American Athletic, states, “Beyond surface cleaning, the artificial turf should be sanitized weekly or monthly to protect the players’ and coaches’ health. This disinfection requires special solvents, cleansers, and anti-microbial products to remove invisible particles and bacterial growth. You should strive to sanitize the field after every game and throughout the school day if it’s used for physical education classes.”

Finally, focusing on materials sold as antibiotics or antimicrobials is too shortsighted. First, science shows that use of any antibiotics anywhere can increase antibiotic resistance everywhere. Second, many pesticides not intended to kill microbes—such as the herbicides glyphosate, 2,4-D, and dicamba—also induce antibiotic resistance in deadly human pathogens. Thus, we must stop broadcasting pesticides in the environment. The crisis in antibiotic resistance, which creates a threat of another pandemic, is ignored in the registration of pesticides. The antibiotic impacts of pesticides cited above were discovered only after the pesticides had been disseminated in the environment for decades.

Please ensure EPA does not register pesticides unless they have been demonstrated not to contribute to antibiotic resistance and cancels the registration of those that do.

Thank you.