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Online Pesticide Sales Circumvent Pesticide Restrictions in Canada and U.S. States

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2017) The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada, which regulates pesticides in the country, recently proposed changes to regulations under the Canada’s Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) that will curtail the ability of individuals living within the country to import pesticide products that do not meet Canada’s regulatory standards. Designed to address an existing loophole in the country’s law, the policy seeks to eliminate the practice of purchasing pesticide products from international online retailers that circumvent Canada’s more stringent pesticide regulations. While U.S. law does not contain a similar loophole, U.S. states that restrict pesticide sale and use more stringently than the federal government face a similar legal quagmre. Current PCPA regulations establish a Personal Use Import Exemption that allows individuals to bring in small quantities of pest control products that are not registered for use in Canada, but do not pose an “unacceptable risk.” According to the Canadian government, the original intent of the exemption was to allow travelers to bring small quantities of pest control products, such as insect repellent, into Canada without “legally undermining the regulatory regime” under PCPA. However, with rise of online marketplaces, such as Amazon, the use of the exemption […]

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

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

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

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Two Months until Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land Conference!

Friday, February 17th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 17, 2017) We’re only two months away from our 35th National Pesticide Forum! Join us for Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 28-29, 2017. Register Today Get the Early Bird Discount (available until March 28)! As an Early Bird buyer, you can get a general rate for $40, a student rate for $20, or a business rate for $170. Scholarships are also available. All ticket price rates include organic meals: on Friday, organic beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvre; on Saturday, organic breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus organic beer and wine at the evening reception. For more details about registration, click here. Background The Forum offers a unique opportunity during a critical time in our nation’s history to chart a course that upholds principles, values, policies and practices that protect health and the environment. The Forum brings together speakers on the latest science on pesticides, from bee-toxic neonicotinoids to glyphosate, contrasted with practitioners utilizing organic management practices in agriculture and parks, and on athletic fields and rangeland. In sum, the Forum seeks to help hone public understanding of the […]

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Trump Administration Sued on Reversal of Endangered Species Designation for Rusty Patched Bumblebee

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2017) On Tuesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the Trump administration for reversing a February 10 rule, published in the Federal Register, that designated the Rusty Patched Bumblebee an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The reversal  of the endangered species listing establishes a new review period until March 21. As to their reasoning for such a sudden change, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) cited the White House memo instructing federal agencies to postpone the effective date of any regulations that had been published in the Federal Register, but not yet in effect. As discussed several days ago, the order by the Trump administration means that despite FWS’ determination that without federal action the species will likely become endangered, the Trump administration has 60 days to evaluate the decision for the purpose of “reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy.” The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, argues that FWS violated the notice and comment requirements of public rulemaking for the delay on the bumblebee listing. In the lawsuit, NRDC states that, “Without valid explanation, opportunity for public input, or other legally required process, FWS […]

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Lawsuit Charges that Monsanto and EPA Colluded to Stop Agency from Reaching Cancer Finding for Glyphosate (Roundup)

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2017) Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Monsanto, charging that its product Roundup caused their non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL), have cited the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) collusion with the company to block the agency from concluding that the manufacturer’s product Roundup causes cancer, according to investigative reporter Carey Gilliam, writing in the Huffington Post. The filing states that EPA made an effort “to protect Monsanto’s interests and unfairly aid the agrichemical industry.”Glyphosate has been linked to cancer  in the independent scientific literature and is listed as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Issues of suppression have also been uncovered, as Monsanto’s lawyers have filed claims to prevent information  turned over to plaintiffs’ lawyers during discovery from inclusion on the public record. This is just the latest development in a variety of lawsuits aimed at Monsanto, including a challenge by a peach farmer over the illegal spraying of the herbicide Dicamba and the recent victory by the state of California to list glyphosate products as cancer causing. In the current case, a multitude of personal injury claims made by those suffering from, or that have lost loved ones to, NHL have been condensed into […]

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Trump Administration Reverses Endangered Species Designation for Bumblebee Pending Review

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2017) Less than one month after the Rusty Patched Bumblebee’s listing as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Trump Administration has reversed the order. On his first day in office, President Trump issued a memo instructing federal agencies to postpone the effective date of any regulations that had been published in the Federal Register, but not yet in effect. This order means that despite FWS’ determination that without federal action the species will likely become endangered, the Trump administration has 60 days to evaluate the decision for the purpose of “reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy.” Advocates for the imperiled species are urging the administration to allow the Rusty Patched Bumblebee to officially become the first bumblebee federally recognized under ESA. Although the Rusty Patched was once widespread throughout the United States and parts of Canada, it declined dramatically in the 1990’s, and now their populations are estimated to be less than 10% of what they once were.  On its website, FWS lists a number of threats to the Rusty Patched, including pesticides, habitat loss, disease, climate change, and intensive farming practices. Insecticides known as neonicotinoids, […]

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Herbicide Use Contributes to Declines in Monarch Populations

Monday, February 13th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2017)  A study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and others  attributes the reduced number of overwintering monarch butterflies –a reduction of 27% from last year—to herbicide use and other factors. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in conjunction with U.S. and Mexican environmental groups, has been leading the effort in tracking monarch butterflies.  Their recently released 2016-2017 study concluded that the population of monarch butterflies decreased 27 percent from last year’s population, which had marked an increase from dangerously low levels over the previous three years.  Overall, this marks an 80 percent decline in monarch population from the 1990’s.  Researchers have estimated that within 20 years the monarch butterfly migration could collapse altogether. The study was conducted in December of 2016 when the colonies of monarchs are expected to be at their peak population in Mexico.  Monarch populations are gauged by the area of land they inhabit, rather than counts of butterflies.   Thirteen butterfly colonies were observed, recorded and tracked using geographic information systems software.  The researchers found that the butterflies occupied 2.91 hectares of forest, which re presents a 27.43 percent decrease in population compared to the 4.01 hectares of forest they inhabited during the […]

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NRDC and Others Sue Over Two-for-One Executive Order

Friday, February 10th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 10, 2017) On Wednesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), along with Public Citizen and the Communications Workers of America, sued the Trump administration in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in an attempt to block an executive order (EO) mandating that federal agencies zero out costs to regulated entities, while ignoring benefits to the public, environment, and natural resources. The so-called “Two for One” order requires agencies to propose the repeal of two regulations for every new regulation that is proposed. The Executive Order in question mandates that new rules have a net zero cost to regulated entities in fiscal year 2017, with no mechanism for taking into account the value of benefits they provide in the form of public protection. According to the complaint, “the Executive Order directs agencies to disregard the benefits of new and existing rules—including benefits to consumers, to workers, to people exposed to pollution, and to the economy—even when the benefits far exceed costs. The Executive Order’s direction to federal agencies to zero out costs to regulated industries, while entirely ignoring benefits to the Americans whom Congress enacted these statutes to protect, will force agencies to take regulatory […]

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Health Canada Will Begin Pesticide Testing of Cannabis After Recalls and Consumer Exposure

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2017) The failure of the U.S. pesticide regulatory system to protect marijuana users was highlighted as Health Canada announced Tuesday that it would begin conducting random pesticide residue testing of marijuana products to ensure that only registered products are being used in medical marijuana production. This comes on the heels of voluntary recalls in 2016 by two licensed Canadian cannabis producers due to the presence of the prohibited pesticides bifenazate, myclobutanil, and pyrethrins in or on marijuana products. Especially concerning is the detection of myclobutanil, a powerful fungicide that, when heated, converts to the hazardous gas hydrogen cyanide. The detection of these toxic chemicals in medical marijuana products is distressing since many users have compromised immune systems or health conditions that make them more susceptible to toxic chemicals. Moves by several states in the U.S. to curb illegal pesticide use in marijuana contain significant pitfalls and loopholes that allow contaminated cannabis to enter the market, where it threatens public health. Without examination of residues in inhaled, ingested, or absorbed cannabis, the user’s health is not protected by pesticide registration addressing other uses. In addition, environmental impacts associated with growing practices are generally ignored. On January 9th, […]

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Hundreds of Former EPA Employees Ask Senate to Block Pruitt Nomination

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

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

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Ruling Affirmed in Colorado Pesticide Trespass Case

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2017) After years of legal battle, the Colorado Court of Appeals last week affirmed a ruling that Colorado rancher, James Hopper, must serve two days in jail and pay a $7,500 fine for spraying pesticides that drifted unto his neighbor’s farm in violation of a 2012 court order protecting his neighbors. In 2012, organic farmers Rosemary Bilchak and her husband Gordon MacAlpine, were granted a permanent injunction prohibiting pesticide applications within 150 feet of the property line in order to reduce pesticide drift. Last week’s decision bolsters a legal precedent that wafting pesticides can constitute a trespass against which adjacent landowners and people with health sensitivities are protected. The legal battle began in 2011 when Mr. Hopper obtained his Colorado pesticide applicator’s license and applied the adulticide Fyfanon, which contains the organophosphate insecticide malathion, to kill mosquitoes on his property. However, the pesticide drifted onto Ms. Bilchak and Mr. MacAlpine’s organic vegetable farm. In 2012, a District Court Judge ruled that they have a right not to have their property invaded by other people or things, and prohibited Mr. Hopper from fogging for mosquitoes within 150 feet of his neighbor’s property or allowing the pesticides to drift, […]

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California Regulators Sued for Allowing Increased Use of Toxic Fumigant without Public Input

Monday, February 6th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 6, 2017) California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) rules that allow greater use of the highly toxic fumigant Telone, while decreasing protections for the public, have been challenged in California court. On January 31, attorneys representing Juana Vasquez, a farmworker in Ventura County, along with Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), filed suit in the Superior Court of California against the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR). The suit claims that CDPR failed to follow required public procedures in developing new rules for 1,3-Dicholopropene (1,3-D), which is an active ingredient in the product Telone and has many documented health risks, including cancer and kidney and liver damage. In October 2016, CDPR released new rules that allow the continued use of Telone and decrease protections for public health by permitting increased usage. CDPR and many news outlets reported the rule change as a tightening of the restrictions, but in reality, the new rules increase the previous annual cap from 90,250 pounds to 136,000 pounds per township, a defined area of 6×6 miles. These new rules went into effect on January 1, 2017, allowing for 1,3-D’s continued use in strawberry fields, vineyards, almond […]

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Polli-Nation Pollinator of the Month: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2017) The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is the pollinator of the month for February. Hummingbirds are nature’s most nimble of birds. They are so quick and agile that most of the time all you’ll see is a flash of red and green before realizing you just encountered a Ruby Throated Hummingbird. This month’s pollinator is the most abundant species of hummingbird on the eastern half of North America. They are named after the coloration of ruby red feathers around their throat. Range The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is the most populous hummingbird found east of the Mississippi. They enjoy mild habitats such as pine and deciduous forests, and can also be found zipping around urban and suburban gardens and orchards.  Ruby Throated Hummingbirds “winter,” meaning they migrate to warmer parts of the globe during the colder winter months. They typically spend that time in parts of Central America and southern Mexico, but have been known to travel as far south as Costa Rica and the West Indies, according to Animal Diversity Web. They will often migrate without stopping, traveling distances as great as 1,600 km in one trip.  According to the Encyclopedia of Life, the hummingbird’s mating grounds are typically east of the 100th meridian in the […]

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

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

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

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North Miami Passes IPM Plan in Response to Local Activism

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

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

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Judge Rules Against Monsanto, Allows California to List Glyphosate Products as Cancer Causing

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2017) A tentative ruling last week by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Culver Kapetan moves California closer to listing glyphosate (Roundup) as a carcinogen under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Monsanto, a leading manufacturer of glyphosate under its Roundup brand, sued California to stop the listing, as it would require cancer warning labels be placed on its end-use product. The company indicates it will challenge the tentative ruling. California’s proposed to list glyphosate as a carcinogen after a 2015 determination of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a United Nations body under the World Health Organization, that the chemical is a cancer-causing agent for humans based on laboratory studies. Monsanto refutes these claims, and since the determination has worked directly, and through proxy organizations, to discredit and attack IARC, as well as individual scientists that have participated in its decision-making process. Shortly after IARC’s Monograph on glyphosate, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), a Monsanto-supported group, released a report dismissing glyphosate’s link to cancer. In October of last year, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz […]

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American Chemistry Council Attacks Independent Science Conducted by International Agency

Monday, January 30th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2016) The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research branch, is again under attack. The most recent assault comes from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), which represents major U.S. chemical companies such as Bayer, Dow, Dupont and Monsanto and is calling on WHO to rein in IARC, claiming the agency of “dubious and misleading work” when classifying potential carcinogens. According to the ACC’s website, the Council launched the Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research this past Wednesday and it is unclear what steps it will take try to undercut the agency. The ACC is specifically criticizing IARC’s monograph program, claiming that the program “suffers from persistent scientific and process deficiencies.” IARC is a France based self-governing branch of WHO, which is an independent agency working with over 150 countries to “build a better, healthier future for people all over the world,” as stated in the mission statement on their website. Monographs published by IARC are evaluations on a variety of products and lifestyle choices that have ranged from the consumption of processed meats and coffee to the usage of mobile phones and the controversial use of glyphosate in agriculture. In March of 2015, […]

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

Friday, January 27th, 2017

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

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Trump Administration Stifles Science and Transparency within EPA

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 26, 2017) In a startling move that puts independent science at odds with government, the Trump administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team stated on Wednesday that scientists will now face “an unspecified vetting process before sharing their work outside the agency.” However, this kind of review is at odds with EPA’s own scientific integrity policy, which “prohibits all EPA employees, including scientists, managers, and other Agency leadership, from suppressing, altering, or otherwise impeding the timely release of scientific findings or conclusions.” This comes on the heels of an announcement by the administration several days ago issuing scientific grant and hiring freezes at EPA nationwide, along with effectively banning science communications through social media platforms. According to ProPublica, an EPA employee stated that, “Hiring freezes happen, but freezes on grants and contracts seemed extraordinary.” These grants are used for financial support to complete environmental testing, remediation and environmental improvement projects across the country. Additionally, on Friday, January 20, after Donald Trump was officially sworn in, he ordered a freeze on all pending regulations from the Obama administration. This included the listing of the rusty patched bumblebee as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which had been set […]

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Study Links Carbamate Insecticides to Diabetes and other Metabolic Diseases

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2017) A study conducted at the University of Buffalo recently revealed a connection between two common insecticides and an increased risk for certain metabolic diseases, including diabetes. Researchers found that by binding to and disrupting melatonin receptors that control numerous physiological functions, chemicals such as insecticides can affect melatonin levels, creating a higher risk for metabolic diseases to develop. The study, Carbamate Insecticides Target Human Melatonin Receptors, was published in Chemical Research in Toxicology and was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. The implicated chemicals in this research, carbaryl and carbofuran, are notoriously dangerous carbamate insecticides. Carbamates share structural characteristics and an ability to inhibit acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme important for the transmission of nerve impulses. When AChE is inhibited, acetylcholine accumulates leading to overstimulation of neurotransmitters, resulting in muscle weakness, confusion, and paralysis, among other symptoms. Carbaryl is said by EPA to be “one of the most widely applied insecticides in the U.S.,” since use began in 1959, with 10-15 million pounds used annually. It is a broad-spectrum insecticide used on a variety of crops, in forestry and on ornamentals, in […]

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University Scientists Dispute Syngenta Study Conclusion that Pesticide Is Low Risk to Bees

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2017) An analysis conducted by scientists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland is calling into question the conclusions reached in a study conducted by multinational chemical company Syngenta, which indicated that honey bees were not at risk from the widely used neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam. The challenge to the Pilling et al 2013 study is important because while many experiments have been performed in the lab or semi-lab environment, this study was a field experiment developed to test pollinator exposure under normal agricultural conditions. The conclusions of such real-world experiments are weighed more heavily by regulators when making safety and use determinations. St. Andrews’ scientists focus in on the Pilling et al claim that because its study did not have high levels of replication, that it would have been misleading to perform formal statistical analysis. They respond that this would indeed be the case if Pilling et al had intended on finding statistical significance and concluded that there was no effect based on those tests. However, Syngenta’s scientists instead simply graphed average values over time based on their measurements (measurements such as number of bees in a hive, hive weight, number of brood, etc.), and compared […]

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EPA Finds Widely Used Pesticides Could Harm 97 Percent of Endangered Species

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2017) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  released its final Biological Evaluations of Three Chemicals’ Impacts on Endangered Species, which finds that chlorpyrifos and malathion likely have detrimental effect on 97 percent of all species listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), while diazinon adversely affects 78 percent. According to EPA’s release on the subject, this is the “first-ever draft biological evaluations analyzing the nation-wide effects” of these registered chemicals on endangered species after decades of widespread use. The evaluations stem from a legal settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in which CBD sued EPA in April 2014 for its failure to comply with ESA, which requires the agency to carry out consultations with federal wildlife agencies while registering pesticides. According to Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a CBD senior scientist, “We’re now getting a much more complete picture of the risks that pesticides pose to wildlife at the brink of extinction, including birds, frogs, fish and plants. When it comes to pesticides, it’s always best to look before you leap, to understand the risks to people and wildlife before they’re put into use. The EPA is providing a reasonable assessment of those risks, many of which can be […]

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Got Organic? USDA Proposes Organic Check-Off Program, Family Farmers Question Value

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2017) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened a 60-public comment period January 17 on a controversial proposal to establish a federal research and promotion check-off program that has split the organic community, with many family farmers and small farm operators disagreeing with the larger organic industry groups, represented by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), on the benefits that they will derive from a mandatory payment requirement. The application to USDA for a check-off, originally submitted by OTA in 2015, has drawn sharp division on questions of benefits and cost to farmers. OTA believes that the check-off will generate resources to lift the organic market. This program is different from traditional check-off programs, which promote individual commodities. USDA oversees check-off programs under the Commodity, Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. According to OTA, the check-off creates an industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for certified organic products, whose overarching goal is to strengthen the position of certified organic products in the marketplace. OTA says this would be achieved by funding research to benefit the organic industry, improving access to information and data across the organic sector, and educating consumers about the benefits of organic, resulting in increased demand for organic […]

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