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Joining Together to Give Thanks As We Confront the Challenges Ahead

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

  (Beyond Pesticides, November 24, 2021) On Thanksgiving, thank you for being a part of Beyond Pesticides and sharing and contributing to the vision necessary to protect the web and fragility of life. We believe that there is no time like Thanksgiving to think about how we can more effectively join together as families and communities across divisions and different points of view to find a common purpose in protecting the health of the environment and all that inhabit it. Unfortunately, there are a host of pesticides, genetically engineered materials, and others in conventional Thanksgiving foods that not only impact human health, but threaten the environment. With far too many adverse health and ecological effects associated with toxic chemicals, organic practices are viable solutions to mitigate pesticide contamination and subsequent exposure. Read on as we consider the range of challenges we must confront, and the solutions that can bring us all together. The Climate As climate impacts grow, an increase in uses of synthetic pesticides in agriculture is likely — because of waning efficacy (pesticide resistance) of these compounds, and mounting pest pressure (i.e., increasing insect population and metabolism). Production of pesticides contributes to greenhouse gas emissions gas (e.g., nitrous […]

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Go Organic this Thanksgiving and Keep the Toxic Turkey and Fixings Off Your Plate

Friday, November 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2021) Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for people to come together and give thanks for the bounty of an organic harvest. Unfortunately, many Thanksgiving meals are produced by chemical farming practices that utilize hazardous pesticides, genetically engineered (GE) crops, and petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers. These inputs, apart from being unnecessary, degrade ecosystems and affect the health of consumers and agricultural workers alike. It’s never too late to start a new tradition – for this year and into the future, make your Thanksgiving feast sustainable by going organic. Now, more than ever, it’s important to go organic: For Our Own Health Going organic drastically reduces the amount of pesticide in a person’s body. Although Thanksgiving is generally no time to think about dieting, we’ll aim to make it instructive: recent research finds that one of the biggest health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet comes when you go organic. Compared to individuals on a Mediterranean diet filled with chemically farmed foods, those that ate organic had 91% lower pesticide residue. This finding is backed up by a considerable body of prior research. A 2015 study based on self-reported food intake found that those who eat organic generally have much lower […]

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Unless You Go Organic, Switching to ‘Healthier’ Mediterranean Diet Increases Pesticide Exposure Three-fold

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2021) Replacing a modern, ‘western’ diet of highly processed foods with a Mediterranean diet filled with conventional, chemically-grown fruits and vegetables triples exposure to toxic pesticides, according to research recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. However, this disturbing change can be eliminated by eating a Mediterranean diet consisting entirely of organic food, which is not sprayed with synthetic pesticides. The advantages of the Mediterranean diet, often ranked as the ‘best diet’ and emphasized by medical practitioners for its health benefits, now appear to depend on the production practices involved in the meals an individual eats. “There is growing evidence from observational studies that the health benefits of increasing fruit, vegetables and wholegrain consumption are partially diminished by the higher pesticide exposure associated with these foods,” said study coauthor Per Ole Iversen, MD. “Our study demonstrates that consumption of organic foods allows consumers to change to a healthier diet, without an increased intake of pesticides.” Researchers began their investigation by establishing a randomized trial consisting of 27 adults, all of whom were postgraduate student volunteers on a study abroad course in Greece. The experiment lasted a total of five weeks, including a two-week intervention in the […]

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45 Different Cancers Associated with Work-Related Pesticide Exposure

Thursday, November 4th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticide, November 4, 2021) A scientific literature analysis by the Federal University of Goias, Brazil, finds occupational (work-related) exposure to agricultural pesticides increases the risk for 45 different types of cancer. This analysis assesses studies from the last decade—2011 to 2020—to identify cancer risk associated with occupational exposure by country, pesticide type, and methods used to diagnose disease. Many pesticides are “known or probable” carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), and widespread uses only amplify chemical hazards, adversely affecting human health. However, research on cancer and pesticides lacks comprehensive information regarding human health effects associated with long-term chemical use. This study highlights the significant role that long-term research plays in identifying potential health concerns surrounding registered pesticides. The use of these xenobiotics (foreign chemical compounds) substances in agriculture are increasing. Thus, it is important those working with and around these toxicants have protection. The analysis notes, “Overall, then, the results of the present study emphasize the need to evaluate overuse of pesticides and the concomitant increase in the number of cancer cases. Future research should thus include active intervention in the correct use of pesticides by farmworkers and encourage adequate training and the use of PPEs [personal protective equipment], as well as routine periodic medical […]

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Women in Agricultural Work at Increased Risk for Skin and Blood Cancers from Pesticide Exposure

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 21, 2021) A study published in Environment International finds higher rates of various cancers among agricultural workers, with multiple myeloma (blood cancer) and melanoma (skin cancer) disproportionately impacting female farmers. Although research studies link cancer risk to genetic and external factors (e.g., cigarette smoke), there is increasing evidence that pesticide exposure augments the risk of developing common cancers like melanoma and less common cancers like multiple myeloma. This study highlights the importance of understanding how pesticide use can increase the risk of latent diseases, which do not immediately develop upon initial exposure. The researchers note, “Given the large size of the agricultural population worldwide and the presence of various potential hazards in its working environment, such epidemiological data are important in improving occupational health measures and ensuring better workers’ health.” To investigate the cancer incidence patterns, researchers evaluated data from the AGRICOH database involving various international studies. The studies assessed pesticide exposure scenarios, which researchers use to determine the etiological (causal) agent of cancer incidences among farmers relative to the general population. Researchers analyzed data from eight different AGRICOH groups in various countries: France (AGRICAN), the U.S. (AHS, MESA), Norway (CNAP), Republic of Korea (KMCC), Denmark (SUS), and Australia (Pesticide Exposed […]

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Common Insecticide Malathion Linked to Chronic Kidney Disease

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2021) Exposure to the insecticide malathion increases risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a study recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. According to study co-author Nicholas Osborne, PhD, CKD is on the rise in developing countries in Southeast Asia and Central America, and, “[n]early one in 10 people in high income countries show signs of CKD, which is permanent kidney damage and loss of renal function.” Although CKD risk increases with age, and is associated with other health factors like smoking, heart disease, and diabetes, cases without clear cause are increasingly common, indicating the that environmental factors are likely playing a role. Researchers began with data drawn from the United States’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an ongoing study that assesses Americans’ health and nutritional status through interviews, physicals, and other health tests. Urine samples taken from individuals enrolled in NHANES 2001-2004 and 2007-2010 (tests within years between these dates did not analyze specific pesticides) were reviewed for the presence of pesticides, and compared against data collected on kidney function. In addition to malathion, 2,4-D, chlorpyrifos, and 3-PBA, the major metabolite for most synthetic pyrethroid insecticides, […]

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Weeds Are Now Developing Resistance to Herbicides They’ve Never Been Exposed To

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2021) Pesticide use in conventional chemical-intensive farming is so pervasive that weeds are developing resistance to herbicides they have never encountered before. According to research published in Plant and Cell Physiology and New Phytologist, the notoriously difficult-to-control weed waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) is outpacing commercial crops in its ability to detoxify after herbicide exposure. “This is probably the first known example where waterhemp has evolved a detox mechanism that a crop doesn’t have. It’s using a completely different mechanism, adding to the complexity of controlling this weed,” says Dean Riechers, PhD, study co-author and professor at University of Illinois. Researchers found waterhemp resistant to the chemical syncarpic acid-3 (SA3). SA3 is one of the earliest versions of a 4-Hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPPD) inhibiting herbicide. HPPD inhibiting herbicides, which include herbicides like isoxaflutole and mesotrione, are selective (ie plant-specific) and break down amino acids that are required for plant growth and development. Corn generally tolerates HPPD-inhibiting chemicals, detoxifying them through different channels depending upon the specific type of HPPD herbicide. Weeds that grow in and around corn fields where these chemicals are regularly sprayed, like waterhemp, have likewise evolved the ability to detoxify HPPD-inhibitors, mostly mimicking the process that […]

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Commonly Used Neurotoxic Pesticide Exposure Increases ALS Risk to Workers and Residents

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2021) Individuals working or living in areas with frequent neurotoxic pesticide use experience more amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) incidences than the general population. The study, published in NeuroToxicology, finds a positive association between sporadic (non-genetic, spontaneous) ALS incidences among individuals exposed to neurotoxic pesticides.  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. As many as 16,000 – 20,000 Americans live with this condition, which weakens muscle/motor function leading to loss of muscle control for walking, talking, eating/swallowing, and breathing. Severe ALS progression is fatal and has no current cure. Although research supports genetic factors play a role in disease etiology (cause), most ALS cases do not result from genetic inheritance. Several research studies demonstrate exposure to environmental or work-related toxicants (i.e., pesticides) predispose humans to the disease. With researchers predicting a global ALS incidence increase of 69% by 2040, identifying ALS’s causal factors are important to future research. Therefore, research like this showcases the importance of assessing aggregate health risks associated with toxic chemical exposure, especially for illnesses, which are not curable. In this study, the researchers note, “[W]e identified pesticides applied to crops in the area of […]

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Stamford, CT Passes Organic Land Ordinance Restricting Toxic Pesticide and Fertilizer Use on Public Property

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2021) Last week, Stamford, CT became the latest U.S. City to pass an organic community ordinance, restricting toxic pesticide use on public spaces in favor of safer, natural land care practices. The ordinance, championed by Nina Sherwood of the Stamford Board of Representatives with strong support from Stamford Mayor David Martin, is an outgrowth of years of research and coordination within city government. Advocates note that strong support from both national, state, and local groups like Pollinator Pathway Stamford helped make the case at public hearings. “By garnering support for the public hearing, many Stamford Pollinator Pathway members, Stamford residents and organizations from around the country let their voices be heard,” said Melanie Hollas, co-chair of Pollinator Pathway Stamford and a Stamford Parks and Recreation Commissioner. “Today, I am proud to be a Stamford resident and want to thank everyone, including Beyond Pesticides, for all their hard work to make this goal achievable.” Ms. Hollas describes the ordinance as, “a comprehensive easy to use system to help employees shift from long-term usage patterns of chemicals to products, and more importantly practices, that create a healthy ecosystem along with beautiful landscaping and usable sports fields.” The ordinance […]

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More Scientific Evidence that Endocrine-Disrupting Pesticides Disrupt Thyroid Function

Friday, September 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 10, 2021) Research conducted in Thailand shows that exposures to pesticides, even at low levels, can impact the human endocrine system and distort thyroid function. The study looked specifically at interactions of genetics and environment: it investigated associations between variations in genes involved in pesticide metabolism and altered thyroid hormone concentrations in agricultural workers. This research underscores some of the complexity and difficulty of determining human vulnerability to impacts of pesticide exposures, given genetic variables. Beyond Pesticides believes that this very complexity is a cogent argument for anchoring regulation of pesticides in the Precautionary Principle. If exposure to a pesticide can cause damage to human (or environmental) health, it sometimes will do so. Thus, to protect people’s health, agriculture and other land management practices must transition from the use of synthetic pesticides to broad adoption of organic regenerative approaches that obviate the need for such chemicals. This research is part of a longitudinal study that seeks to evaluate sub-chronic impacts, on thyroid hormone levels, of repeated exposures to a variety of pesticides. The farmworkers studied in this phase comprise two groups: those working on organically managed farms (216 subjects), and those working on conventional farms that use pesticides […]

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296 Chemicals in Consumer Products Increase Breast Cancer Risk Through Hormone (Endocrine) Disruption

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 29, 2021) New research published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds nearly 300 different chemicals in pesticides, consumer products, and contaminated resources (i.e., food, water) increase breast cancer risks. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, causing the second most cancer-related deaths in the United States. Past studies suggest genetic inheritance factors influence breast cancer occurrence. However, genetic factors only play a minor role in breast cancer incidences, while exposure to external environmental factors (i.e., chemical exposure) may play a more notable role. There are grave concerns over exposure to endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals and pollutants that produce adverse health effects. Most types of breast cancers are hormonally responsive and thus dependent on the synthesis of either estrogen or progesterone. Hormones generated by the endocrine system greatly influence breast cancer incidents among humans. Several studies and reports, including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, identify hundreds of chemicals as influential factors associated with breast cancer risk. Therefore, advocates point to the need for national policies to reassess hazards associated with disease development and diagnosis upon exposure to chemical pollutants. The study’s researchers note, “This study shows that a number of chemicals currently in use have the ability to manipulate hormones known to adversely […]

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Tell Home Depot and Lowe’s to Promote Herbicide Alternatives; Organic Is Focus of June 8 Forum

Monday, June 7th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 7, 2021) Beyond Pesticides and Friends of the Earth (FOE) collaborated to analyze herbicide products at two of the most popular home and garden retailers, Home Depot and Lowe’s. This new Commercial Herbicide Analysis highlights the adverse health and environmental effects of widely available toxic pesticides while encouraging retailers to expand on—and consumers to use—safer, least/nontoxic pesticide approaches. Tell Home Depot and Lowe’s to remove toxic herbicides from their shelves and replace them with products that promote least-toxic practices. According to Akayla Bracey, Beyond Pesticides’ science and regulatory manager and lead researcher on the review, “People generally aren’t aware that the pesticides widely available in garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are a threat to health and the environment, and that there are safer approaches that are available and used in organic land management.”  When it comes to weeds, gardeners need good tools that enable them to control them with minimal effort and damage to their plants. Although gardeners differ in their preference for style of garden hoe, all must be sharp to operate efficiently, so files for sharpening should be located near the hoes, and customer service representatives should be prepared to demonstrate their use.  […]

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Pesticide Pollution Continues Unabated, According to New Data

Friday, June 4th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2021) The release of the most recent U.S. Geological Services (USGS) study of pesticide contamination of rivers on the U.S. mainland finds that degradation of those rivers from pesticide pollution continues unabated. USGS scientists looked at data from 2013 to 2017 (inclusive) from rivers across the country and offered these top-level conclusions: “(1) pesticides persist in environments beyond the site of application and expected period of use, and (2) the potential toxicity of pesticides to aquatic life is pervasive in surface waters.” Beyond Pesticides maintains that ultimately, water quality and aquatic organisms and their ecosystems will be fully protected from pesticides through a wholesale movement to organic land management practices. USGS undertakes periodic assessments of the presence and toxicity of pesticides in the country’s surface waters under the agency’s National Water-Quality Assessment Program. Recent news from these studies has not been good. In September 2020, Beyond Pesticides reported on another, related USGS survey, which found that nearly 90% of U.S. rivers and streams are contaminated with mixtures of at least five or more different pesticides. A March 2021 Beyond Pesticides Daily News article noted that USGS research demonstrated that, of 422 water samples taken from streams across […]

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Exposure to Certain Pesticides Increase the Risk of Thyroid Cancer

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2021) Research by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) finds exposure to lindane and metalaxyl pesticides heightens thyroid cancer risk. Both incidents of non-aggressive thyroid tumors and advanced-stage thyroid cancer are on the rise. However, researchers speculate that environmental pollutants, such as pesticides, may contribute to this increase, especially considering the pervasiveness of pesticide exposure among the general population. Globally, cancer is one of the leading causes of death, with over 8 million people succumbing to the disease every year. Notably, the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) predicts new cancer cases to rise 67.4% by 2030. Various environmental pollutants like pesticides have endocrine (hormone) disruption effects that promote higher instances of thyroid and reproductive cancers. Therefore, studies like these highlight the importance of understanding how pesticide use can increase the risk of latent diseases (e.g., cancers), which do not readily develop upon initial exposure. The researchers state, “More work is needed to understand the potential role of these chemicals in thyroid carcinogenesis.” The European Union and endocrine disruptor expert (deceased) Theo Colborn, Ph.D., classify more than 55 pesticide active ingredients as endocrine disruptors (EDs), including chemicals in household products like detergents, disinfectants, plastics, and pesticides. Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., toxic chemical substances foreign […]

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New Commercial Pesticide Toxicity Analysis Highlights Need to Shift to Organic Products

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2021) Beyond Pesticides and Friends of the Earth (FOE) collaborated to analyze herbicide products at two of the most popular home and garden retailers, Home Depot and Lowe’s. This new Commercial Herbicide Analysis highlights the adverse health and environmental effects of widely available toxic pesticides while encouraging retailers to expand on—and consumers to use—safer, least/non-toxic pesticide products. According to Akayla Bracey, Beyond Pesticides’ science and regulatory manager and lead researcher on the review, said, “People generally aren’t aware that the pesticides widely available in garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are a threat to health and the environment, and that there are safer products that are available and used in organic land management.” “Many herbicides that are widely available at home and garden stores are associated with a range of toxic impacts on human health and the environment, including harm to bees and other pollinators. To meet growing consumer demand for safer and more environmentally friendly products, home and garden stores must commit to phase out the most toxic products from their shelves and to increase the number of organic and safer alternatives that they offer,” says FOE senior staff scientist Kendra Klein, Ph.D. Friends […]

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Breakdown Products (Metabolites) from Pesticides May Be More Toxic than Parent Compound, Study Finds

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2021) Nearly half of all breakdown products (transformation products) from four common-use environmental pesticides produce stronger endocrine (hormone) disrupting (ED) effects than the parent compound, according to new research published in Environment International. Over 300 environmental contaminants and their byproducts—from chemicals in plastics to cosmetic/personal care products—are commonly present in water bodies, food commodities, and human blood/urine samples. These toxicants can alter hormone metabolism, producing endocrine-disrupting effects that put the health of animals, humans, and the environment at risk. Many ecological and health risk assessments for pesticides focus on the effects of parent chemical compound products, overlooking the potential impacts of transformation products (TPs). Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to assess the implications of TPs to safeguard human, animal, and environmental health. The researchers note, “Since an increasing number of pesticide TPs have been detected in various environmental media, a more comprehensive understanding of the ecological risk of pesticide TPs is imperative for risk assessments more extensively and regulatory policy-making on pesticide restriction in the future.” Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., chemical substances like toxic pesticides foreign to an organism or ecosystem), including pesticides, bisphenols, phthalates, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and heavy metals. Past research demonstrates exposure […]

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Lawsuit Challenges EPA Allowance of Antibiotic Streptomycin in Citrus

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 2, 2021) Having raised the alarm for many years (and most recently in November 2020) on the dangers of the burgeoning antibiotic resistance crisis, Beyond Pesticides has joined a coalition of public interest groups in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its approval of use of the medically important antibiotic streptomycin on citrus trees. Beyond Pesticides executive director Jay Feldman comments: “It is past time to take urgent action to transition away from practices in agriculture that are dependent on antibiotics, advance organic farm management, and avoid new deadly pandemics. This lawsuit is an important action to reverse the previous administration’s decision to ignore the science and allow expanded use of an antibiotic in agriculture.” According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the suit charges that EPA “failed to ensure that the approved uses of streptomycin as a pesticide would not cause unreasonable harm to human health or the environment and failed to adequately assess impacts to endangered species.” The coalition of plaintiffs includes Beyond Pesticides, NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, Farmworker Association of Florida, Farmworker Justice, Migrant Clinicians Network, and U.S. PIRG. The coalition is represented […]

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Breast Cancer Rates Higher Among African American Women from Disproportionate Chemical Exposure

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2021) A University of Michigan study finds a link between elevated rates of breast cancer incidents and chemical exposure from pesticides among African American women. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, causing the second most cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, breast cancer outcomes differ significantly among women of various races/ethnicities, with African American women being 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than women of any other race. Furthermore, incidences of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)—an aggressive breast cancer subtype lacking remediation—is approximately three-fold higher in non-Hispanic Black women (NHBW) compared to non-Hispanic White women (NHWW). Although past studies suggest genetic and environmental factors interact to produce these differences in breast cancer outcomes, genetic factors only play a minor role while disparities (differences) in external factors (i.e., chemical exposure) may play a more notable role. This study highlights the significance of understanding how chemical exposure drives disease outcomes and increases disease risk, especially for more virulent diseases that disproportionately (unequally) impact specific communities. Prior research infers differences in chemical exposure may explain racial disparities for several illnesses, and growing evidence suggests common chemical exposure patterns influence the risk of breast cancer. […]

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Glyphosate and Other Weed Killers Create Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Agricultural Soils

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2021) Soil sprayed with weedkillers glyphosate, glufosinate, or dicamba are likely to contain higher amounts of antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to research published earlier this month in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people develop an antibiotic resistant infection, and over 23,000 die. Authors of the study say widespread herbicide use is likely playing a role. “Our results suggest that the use of herbicides could indirectly drive antibiotic resistance evolution in agricultural soil microbiomes, which are repeatedly exposed to herbicides during weed control,” said Ville Friman, PhD of the University of York in the United Kingdom. Scientists began their investigation by looking at changes to soil communities in soil microcosms over the course of a roughly two months. Microcosms were grouped by the herbicide applied, while a control microcosm remained unexposed. Each microcosm had a single herbicide applied at a rate reaching 10 parts per million (ppm) in soil. The researchers replicated each treatment 12 times. Contrary to the pesticide industry’s claim that these chemicals break down quickly and become inert by binding to soil particles, large proportions of the herbicides remained in the soil at […]

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Herbicide Use in “Regenerative” No-Till Contaminates Waterbodies

Friday, February 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2021) Governments and policy makers are feeling a lot of pressure to mount effective responses to the climate crisis and to extraordinary levels of pollution in our environment. Tackling any one problem without precautionary attention to potential consequences of a solution — before it is enacted — is the opposite of the holistic understandings and strategies needed to solve environmental crises. Piecemeal approaches often generate unintended consequences. To wit: Vermont Public Radio (VPR) reports on revelations from a retired state scientist, Nat Shambaugh, who finds that farmers’ efforts to reduce agricultural runoff from fields into waterbodies, by planting cover crops, has resulted in significant increases in the use of herbicides to kill off those crops. So as one kind of pollution is reduced, another has become intensified. In Vermont and elsewhere, there has been much attention paid to nutrient pollution of waterbodies and waterways from agricultural runoff, largely because phosphorous and nitrates from fertilizers lead to contaminated drinking water, as well as to blooms of algae (some of which have their own toxic byproducts) and hypoxic dead zones in water bodies. The most notorious of these dead zones in North America are at the mouth of […]

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Implications for Human Health: Chronic Inhalation of Paraquat in Low-Doses Disrupts Sense of Smell

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2021) New research published in the journal Toxicological Sciences finds extended inhalation of the common herbicide paraquat causes male mice to lose some sense of smell, even at low doses. This study highlights the significance of understanding how specific chemical exposure routes can influence disease development. Olfactory (relating to the sense of smell) impairment is a precursory feature of Parkinson’s disease (PD), and studies connect paraquat poisoning to PD risk. Hence, future pesticide management policies should assess specific disease risks with bodily chemical concentration from low-dose, chronic neurotoxic chemical exposure. The study’s researchers note, “These data support the importance of route of exposure in the determination of safety estimates for neurotoxic pesticides, such as [paraquat]. Accurate estimation of the relationship between exposure and internal dose is critical for risk assessment and public health protection.” Despite evidence demonstrating that olfactory  nerve cells transport toxic airborne particles and solutes to the brain upon inhalation, the possibility of olfactory impairment (damage) from paraquat inhalation lacks adequate assessment. To assess the impact paraquat has on olfactory function, researchers exposed a cohort of adult female and male mice to paraquat aerosols in an inhalation chamber for four hours a day, five days a week, for four weeks. Researchers investigated paraquat concentrations […]

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Millions of People Drinking Groundwater with Pesticides or Pesticide Degradates

Friday, January 15th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2021) A study of groundwater that feeds public drinking water supply finds pesticides in 41% of supply wells (and a handful of freshwater springs). Two-thirds of that 41% contain pesticide compounds per se, and one-third contain pesticide degradates — compounds resulting from biotic (or abiotic) transformation of pesticides into other compounds. There is considerable ink (digital and actual) covering the health and environmental impacts of pesticide exposures, and reporting on the issue of pesticide migration into groundwater and waterways. Beyond Pesticides maintains that organic practices in land management, and especially in agriculture, are the solution to the contamination of our waterways and groundwater. Such practices, widely adopted, would have enormous salutary effects on human health and the health of ecosystems and their inhabitants. Published in Environmental Science & Technology, the study paper reports this research as the “first systematic assessment of raw [untreated] groundwater used for public drinking supply across the United States to include and provide human-health context for a large number of pesticide degradates.” Samples for the research were gathered across 1,204 sites — at or near the wellheads — in 23 principal aquifers whose groundwater is tapped for drinking water supply used by approximately […]

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New York State Bans Glyphosate/Roundup on State Land, While Advocates Push for Organic Land Management

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2021) New York State is set to prohibit on December 31, 2021 the use of glyphosate on all state property after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed bill S6502A/A732b late last year. The state legislature passed the legislation in July, 2020. The move is an important recognition by the nation’s fourth most populous state that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequately protecting people and the environment from hazardous pesticides (pesticide is an umbrella term that includes insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc). However, the law’s ability to improve these protections will depend significantly upon the management approach that replaces glyphosate use.  “A transition away from Roundup and other glyphosate-based pesticides must reject the use of regrettable substitutes, and embrace sound organic principles and practices,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. In pest and weed management, regrettable substitutions occur when one toxic chemical is banned or restricted, and another hazardous pesticide is simply used in its place. The substitution may have a different chemical formulation, mode of action, and set of health and environmental impacts, but nonetheless fills the same role as Roundup/glyphosate when it comes to weed management. When the answer to eliminating glyphosate is to […]

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