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With Wildlife Extinction on the Rise, Trump Administration Reduces Protections for Endangered Species, Allows Greater Harm from Pesticides

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, April 3, 2020) In mid-March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled out new rules for “biological evaluations” — assessments of pesticide risks to endangered plant and animal species that are supposed to be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agency’s press release announcing the change is misleadingly titled: “Trump Administration Takes Major Step to Improve Implementation of the Endangered Species Act.” But as the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) reports, the “revised methods for assessing pesticide risks . . . will allow widespread harm to most of the nation’s most endangered plants and animals.” Beyond Pesticides reviewed the status of pesticide threats to endangered species in November 2019 and provides ongoing coverage of the issue. ESA requires EPA to conduct biological evaluations (BEs) of pesticides to assess their impacts on listed (endangered and threatened) species and their critical habitats. EPA’s new “Revised Method” ignores many of the ways that protected species are commonly hurt or killed by pesticides, and allows the continued marketing and use of pesticides without sensible constraints that would protect those species. CBD cites two examples of ignored impacts: downstream impacts of pesticide runoff into waterways from treated farmland, and the loss of […]

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Help Ensure that Organic Production Meets the Standard You Expect to Protect Health and the Environment; Comments due April 3

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2020) Your comments are due by Friday, April 3, end of day. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets April 29-30 online to debate issues concerning what goes into your organic food. Lend your voice to continuous improvement by learning about issues and submitting comments. From the very beginning, with the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, “organic” has meant “continuous improvement.” The primary mechanism for continuous improvement in organic production is the high level of public involvement that comes from twice-annual meetings of the stakeholder board. The second mechanism is the sunset process, which helps move synthetic substances out of organic production as the market invests in growing organic inputs and ingredients. Despite USDA’s efforts to weaken the sunset process, the 5-year cycle of review of every synthetic substance currently used in organic production and processing, offers us an opportunity to keep organic strong and strengthen any weaknesses. Items on the NOSB agenda in April include materials allowed in organic production, as well as discussion of policies and sunset materials on which the NOSB will vote in the Fall. We have identified some priority issues of both kinds. The only voting issue on […]

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Safer Practices and Disinfectants for Coronavirus Identified by CDC, As EPA Advances Toxic Products, Suspends Public Health and Environmental Protections

Friday, March 27th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2020) Faced with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) threat, there is tremendous pressure to use toxic disinfectants, despite the availability of safer products. In fact, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending 70% alcohol for surface disinfection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs is advising the use of unnecessarily toxic substances, and reducing standards that govern their allowance on the market. EPA’s pesticide program allowed 70 new disinfectants yesterday, at the same time that the agency overall announced that it is waiving enforcement of environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak—a devastating blow to public health and environmental protection. Beyond Pesticides, in its factsheet, Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 (coronavirus) without Toxic Sanitizers and Disinfectants, says, “Fight the coronavirus with common sense prevention and safer disinfection products. Avoid products that increase vulnerability to respiratory problems.” (See the factsheet below.) To some extent, the expanded allowance of disinfection products on top of the 281 disinfectants previously permitted has been made possible by relaxing oversight on so-called “inert” or other ingredients that are not disclosed on product labels and often highly toxic. The agency says it is allowing the use of these “inerts” with “no […]

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Toxic Textiles Infused with Antimicrobial Nanosilver Poised for EPA Pesticide Registration

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2020) An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determination could allow toxic antimicrobial nanosilver to be registered for use in textiles, including clothing, according to Bloomberg Environment. Nanotechnology products harm human, environmental, and animal health. Despite this, EPA’s preliminary conclusion approves the registration of nanosilver-containing Polyguard as a textile “protectant.”  Public challenges have blocked nanosilver registration in the past when courts found EPA lacks the authority to register these toxic particles. “They’ve failed to collect data about potential exposure routes for nanosilver products, including textiles, which toddlers or pets could chew or put in their mouths,” says Jaydee Hanson, policy director at the Center for Food Safety. “Another challenge is how do you accurately test the actual product and what data do you have which suggests that other kinds of nanosilver work the same way?”  Nanosilver, or silver nanoparticles, are microscopic particles that are used as antimicrobials, which kill bacteria and fungi. They range in size from 1-100 nanometers (nm) across or 0.1% the diameter of a human hair.  Some research attributes nanosilver toxicity impacts to its small size, which allows it to be absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream and lymphatic system to disrupt normal organ function. The […]

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Maryland Legislature Passes Limited Ban on Chlorpyrifos Insecticide

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2020) Last week, Maryland became the latest state to prohibit use of the brain-damaging insecticide chlorpyrifos, after a measure cleared both the state Senate and House. Although the legislation implements a limited ban that sunsets after four years, advocates consider this action a step in the right direction that will protect the health and safety of Maryland residents. “Even amidst our current public health crisis, the Maryland legislature acted to protect all Marylanders’ health for years to come by banning this toxic pesticide, and we are so grateful,” said Ruth Berlin, Executive Director of the Maryland Pesticide Education Network to WBOC. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide known to inhibit the proper nerve functioning by affecting the enzyme acetylcholine esterase. The impacts of this pesticide are particularly concerning for young children, as research finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos had mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorder problems at three years of age. While Maryland is the fourth state to restrict the use of chlorpyrifos, it is the second to implement these restrictions through legislation. In California, the state Department of Pesticide Regulation is implementing a phase out of […]

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As COVID-19 Disrupts Maui Community, Organizers Take Action for Local Agriculture

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2020) As communities across the U.S. brace for an unimaginable health crisis and difficult economic times in the wake of COVID-19, the Beyond Pesticides Hawai’i team has linked arms with Maui’s small farms and community organizations to make sure local farms have the support they need to feed communities and stay in business. The virus is causing shutdowns of everything from farmers markets to restaurants, but community organizers in Maui are making an effort to transform COVID-19 related challenges into a spring board for long-term increase in locally produced, organic food—a sorely needed commodity in Hawai’i.  Hawai’i is the most isolated island chain on the planet. Its fertile soil and climatic conditions coalesce to make Hawai’i potentially a major producer of nutritious food for its residents and for export. However, a complicated plantation history and off-island investment influence has skewed the economy toward tourism and development. The current stark reality is that 85-90% of Hawai’i’s food is imported, making the islands particularly vulnerable to disasters and global events that might disrupt the economy or infrastructure.  COVID-19 is now disrupting the economy and local infrastructure of Maui. Farmers markets and other public gatherings have closed. Tourism is […]

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Infectious Human Disease, Snail Fever, Worsened by Pesticide Run-Off into Fresh Waterways

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2020) Freshwater habitats are threatened now—more than ever—by the adverse effects of pesticide pollution, according to a report published in Scientific Reports by a collaborative research team from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Pesticide pollution, attributed to runoff from agricultural farms, indirectly increased the rate of the tropical disease schistosomiasis, which infects over 280 million people (2018). This research underlines the range of uncertainties that exist as a result of pesticide contamination, making it critically important that subtropical areas where this disease threat exists move toward organic and pesticide-free approaches.  Increased prevalence of this disease is devastating to socioeconomic development in affected regions, as life expectancy, employment rate, and gross domestic product (GDP) decreases. Schistosomiasis (snail fever), or bilharzia, is a tropical disease caused by parasitic flatworms (trematodes) in the genus Schistosoma and transmitted via freshwater snail (genus Biomphalaria) to its definitive human host. Freshwater snails act as a vector for schistosomiasis as they play a vital role in the lifecycle of the parasitic flatworm. Professor Matthias Liess (Ph.D.), Head of the Department of System Ecotoxicology at the UFZ, and his research team investigated pesticide pollution’s […]

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Monarch Population, Under Threat from Pesticide Use and Habitat Loss, Declines by Half in One Year

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2020) The number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico is down 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. While WWF indicates the decline was expected due to unfavorable weather conditions during the species southward migration, other environmental groups are raising red flags. “Scientists were expecting the count to be down slightly, but this level of decrease is heartbreaking,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monarchs unite us, and more protections are clearly needed for these migratory wonders and their habitat.” WWF’s count found that monarchs occupied seven acres this winter, down from 15 acres last year. Reports indicate that 15 acres is a minimum threshold needed to prevent a collapse of the butterfly’s migration and possible extinction. This was the goal stated by the 2015 White House Pollinator Task Force, which the current administration is failing to see through. While weather conditions play an important role in monarch migration from the U.S. and Canada south to Mexico, the species is under threat from a range of environmental factors. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants to lay eggs, and monarch caterpillars feed solely on […]

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European Commission’s Agricultural Policy Clashes with Its ‘Green Deal’ Plan

Friday, March 13th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2020) The European Commission’s proposed (post-2020) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a failure and must be dramatically changed to embrace organic practices and support small farmers, according to a paper written by 21 scientists and published in the British Ecological Society’s journal, People and Nature. The authors point to provisions that permit anemic implementation of critical sustainability goals, and say that as it stands, the CAP fails “with respect to biodiversity, climate, soil, [and] land degradation as well as socio‐economic challenges.” The authors call on the European Parliament, Council, and Commission to adopt 10 urgent action points that advance a goal that “all CAP elements, without exception, should be aligned with the principles of sustainability, multi‐functionality and public payments for public goods.” The paper’s authors say that the CAP continues, in fact, to support practices that exacerbate the climate emergency, soil erosion, land degradation, and biodiversity loss, and fails to fund initiatives that could address climate and other critical issues. Happening concurrently with the CAP is development of the European Commission’s (EC’s) “European Green Deal,” which the EC describes as a roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable, and making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. […]

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As the World Bans Highly Toxic Wood Preservative, Pentachlorophenol, a Low-Income U.S. Community May Be Home to the Last Production Plant

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

UPDATE: The same day Beyond Pesticides published this piece, Gulbrandsen Chemicals announced it would drop its effort to produce pentachlorophenol in Orangeburg, SC, according to The State newspaper. (Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2020) Orangeburg, South Carolina may be the last place in the world to produce one of the most toxic pesticides known to humanity, pentachlorphenol. Despite a global ban on “penta” in 2016, in force in 186 countries, the United States has continued to import and use this hazardous wood preservative on telephone poles and railroad ties throughout the country. Now, with Mexico set to close one of the last production plants in the world, Gulbrandsen Chemicals Inc. wants to make Orangeburg, a majority black community with a population three times the U.S. poverty rate, the new epicenter for penta manufacturing. Overview and History Penta is used to pressure treat wood, with the aim of prolonging its use in utility poles and railroad ties. Beyond Pesticides has sounded the alarm on penta and other wood preservatives for over 20 years, starting with the reports Pole Pollution and Poison Poles, which outlined the science on the hazards and and alternatives to preservative-coated utility poles. Penta is a particularly concerning wood […]

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Plant Organic Seeds and Plants; Tell Your State to Act to Protect Pollinators This Spring

Monday, March 9th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2020) It’s time to think about gardening! Whether you’re growing vegetables to eat or flowers for pollinators, you’ll want to be sure that your seeds and plants are free from harmful pesticides. Seeds and plants in many garden centers across the country are grown from seeds coated with toxic fungicides and bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides, or drenched with them. Plant organic seeds and plants! As bees suffer serious declines in their populations, we urge people and communities to plant habitat that supports pollinator populations, and have provided information to facilitate this in our BEE Protective Habitat Guide. However, plants are too often grown with hazardous pesticides that either harm pollinators in their cultivation or threaten bees as they pollinate or forage on treated plants. For more information on the dangers of neonicotinoid coated seeds, see Beyond Pesticides’ short video Seeds That Poison. Beyond Pesticides has compiled a directory of companies and organizations that sell organic seeds and plants to the general public. Included in this directory are seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs, as well as living plants and seedlings. Specific questions on each seller’s seeds can be directed to their customer service line. You can also download a handy bi-fold brochure version of this […]

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Baby Bees’ Brain Growth Adversely Affected by Neonicotinoid Insecticides

Friday, March 6th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2020) Scientists from Imperial College London have just published their recent research on impacts of pesticides on larval bumblebees exposed through neonicotinoid-contaminated food sources. Many studies have looked at the devastating impacts of pesticides on adult insects, including pollinators — and bees, in particular. This research, however, examines how exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, through consumption of contaminated nectar and pollen during the larval stage, affects bumblebees (Bombus terrestris audax). It finds that these exposures cause abnormal brain growth in some parts of the bees’ brains, and significantly impairs learning ability compared to bees who were not exposed. Advocates maintain that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for their widespread and severe damage to insects and the environment broadly, in addition to human health concerns. Neonicotinoids (neonics) comprise a class of pesticide used intensively in many parts of the world. They may be applied to plant foliage, or directly to soils as a drench, but the predominant use is for seed treatment. These pesticides are banned or restricted in some places, including in the European Union, France, Germany, and Italy; some states have also worked to rein in their use. Previous research out of Harvard University has […]

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Idaho Legislation Advances to Eliminate Even Minimal Protections from Pesticides, including Drift

Friday, February 28th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2020) State legislators in Boise, Idaho have advanced House Bill 487, An Act Relating to Pesticides and Chemigation, out of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee. If passed, the statutory alterations in this bill would, according to the Idaho Statesman, loosen some rules on aerial application by crop-dusting airplanes, and reduce state agricultural investigators’ ability to regulate the spraying of pesticides. The legislation replaces sections of current rules and deletes language regarding drift, including “Chemicals shall not be applied when wind speed favors drift beyond the area intended for treatment or when chemical distribution is adversely affected.” Such changes will exacerbate the already-significant issue of pesticide drift. In an overview of the pesticide dicamba, Beyond Pesticides recently reported on this legislative development, as well as on a precipitating exposure event in an Idaho hops field. Banning of aerial spraying, as has been attempted by some localities, would go a long way toward eliminating the harms of pesticide drift. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is the following: As the problem of drift grows and farmers’ crops and people are put at risk, this legislation attempts to define away serious problems and eliminate protections. The Idaho […]

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Longest Field Trials Show Organic Practices Yield Higher Returns than Chemical-Intensive Agriculture

Monday, February 24th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2019) With more than 90% of total pesticide use deployed in agriculture, organic farming is the keystone solution to the myriad health, environmental, and biodiversity harms of pesticides. A transition to organic and regenerative farming practices — across which there is great overlap — is critical and a tall order, given the entrenched, chemically intensive practices that currently dominate in the U.S. and much of the world. A long-standing research effort by the storied Rodale Institute — the Farming Systems Trial, which began in 1981— is demonstrating that organic agriculture is not only a nontoxic solution, but also, an economically viable one that is critical to a sustainable future. Through the Farming Systems Trial (FST), the Rodale Institute has collected data on crop yields, soil health, energy efficiency, nutrient density of drops, and water use and contamination in organic and conventional systems managed with different levels of tillage. Among the findings of the nearly 40-year research project are these: after a five-year transition period, organic yields are competitive with conventional yields• in drought years, organic yields are as much as 40% higher than conventional yields farm profits are 3–6 times higher for products from organically managed systems […]

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Experts Identify Fireflies as the Latest Victim of the Ongoing Insect Apocalypse

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2020) The ongoing insect apocalypse isn’t sparing the iconic firefly. In an article published this month, “A Global Perspective on Firefly Extinction Threats,” experts are sounding the alarm over declines in fireflies attributed to habitat loss, light pollution, and indiscriminate pesticide use. “Our goal is to make this knowledge available for land managers, policy makers and firefly fans everywhere,” said study co-author Sonny Wong, PhD, of the Malaysian Nature Society to USA Today. “We want to keep fireflies lighting up our nights for a long, long time.” Although there is scant monitoring data on firefly populations, studies that have been conducted over the last decade, alongside anecdotal reports and expert opinion, have led to international concern. To assess conservation status and threats to firefly species, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) established a Firefly Specialist Group. The study, part of the specialist group’s investigation, surveyed firefly experts from around the world on what they viewed as the primary threats to firefly populations. Experts specified habitat loss, light pollution, and pesticide use as the three top concerns, though water pollution, tourism, invasive species, and climate change were also discussed as minor contributing factors. Night-time […]

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“Hey Farmer Farmer, Put Away that” Dicamba Weed Killer

Friday, February 14th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2020) The weed killer dicamba has been blamed for killing or damaging millions of acres of non–genetically modified crops and other plants that have no protection against the compound. Litigation, legislation, and manufacturer machination abound as dicamba damage mounts. The trial in a suit filed in 2016 by a Missouri peach farmer against dicamba manufacturers Bayer and BASF has just begun; an Indiana state laboratory struggles to keep up with demand to evaluate dicamba damage; Idaho lawmakers are poised to weaken rules that protect farmworkers who apply dicamba (and other pesticides) aerially; agricultural officials in Missouri are pressuring the state legislature to increase funding to handle the exploding numbers of dicamba complaints; and Indiana’s legislature is considering two bills aimed at curtailing dicamba drift that kills neighboring crops. This Daily News Blog will round up the plethora of recent news on dicamba — the toxic and destructive culprit behind each of these stories. In the face of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to mitigate dicamba hazards, states have been scrambling to enact limits on when and how dicamba can be used, amend buffer zones around application sites, and in some cases, ban its use outright. […]

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Major Manufacturer of Chlorpyrifos Drops Out of Market, But EPA Continues to Allow Use

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2020) Corteva, a company spun-off from DowDupont, will stop producing chlorpyrifos by the end of this year as a result of declining sales. Despite the move being in the interest of public health, the company is earning little praise from health advocates for what amounts to simply a shrewd financial decision. As news articles on the announcement have noted, Corteva will continue to support Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration of chlorpyrifos, which allows generic manufacturers to continue to sell this brain-damaging chemical. “Other people are going to continue to profit from harming children,” said Marisa Ordonia, an attorney with the group EarthJustice to Canada’s National Observer. “It is big that such a major player is saying no, we’re not going to do this any more. It’s a great signal that people don’t want brain-damaging pesticides on their food. But we’re going to continue to keep fighting to make sure children and farmworkers are protected.” At odds is the difference between halting production of chlorpyrifos and cancelling its EPA registration. While Corteva has the ability to voluntarily stop producing its own product, EPA registration permits other generic manufacturers to continue to producing the product. And, over the […]

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In a Landscape Context, Organic Cropland Provides Refuge to Biodiversity and Is More Profitable than Chemical-Intensive Sites

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2020) A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirms that organic agriculture provides refuge for biodiversity in an increasingly toxic, chemical-intensive landscape and that organic sites are more profitable than chemical-intensive agriculture despite slightly lower average crop yields (depending on crop type). Considering the impact of landscape context, the value of organic agriculture to biodiversity increased when surrounded by large chemical-intensive fields, but profitability slightly decreased. Small, organic farms near urban centers, for example, can be more profitable than large organic farms in remote areas. Researchers conducted a global meta-analysis considering the relationship between landscape context and biotic abundance, biotic richness, crop yield, and profitability. They used landscape metrics that “reflected composition (amount of land cover types), compositional heterogeneity (diversity of land cover types), and configurational heterogeneity (spatial arrangement of land cover types).” Datasets from 148 different studies spanned 60 crops on six continents across a range of farming practices and landscape types. Profitability data only related to US crops. Organic sites had 34% higher biodiversity than chemical-intensive crops. This should come as no surprise, as mono-cultural croplands have become increasingly large and increasingly toxic to organisms such as pollinators and […]

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Save Mayflies and the Ecosystems that Depend on Them

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2020) In more bad news from the insect world, recent research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals a precipitous decline in numbers of mayflies where they have been historically abundant. The research finds that in the Northern Mississippi River Basin, seasonal emergence of burrowing mayfly (genus Hexagenia) adults declined by 52% from 2012 to 2019; in the Western Lake Erie Basin, from 2015 to 2019, the reduction was a shocking 84%. Neonicotinoid insecticides are a significant factor in this decline because mayflies are extremely vulnerable to their impacts, even at very low exposure levels. Ask Congress to tell EPA, USDA, and the Department of Interior to develop a joint effort to ensure that its decisions and compliance with its authorizing statutes address the crisis of the threat to mayflies. Ephemeroptera to entomologists—“mayflies” to the rest of us—is an insect order comprising keystone species, on which other species in an ecosystem are very dependent, and without which, the ecosystem would undergo drastic change. The plummeting mayfly “count” is especially alarming because mayflies are a critical, primary food source in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and provide an important ecological service. As the research study notes, “Seasonal animal movement […]

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Trump Administration Hands Over Clean Water Standards to Agrichemical, Construction, and Mining Industry

Friday, January 31st, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2020) In the latest of a long litany of destructive decisions by the Trump administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced on January 23 the establishment of a new weaker federal rule on protection of U.S. waterways, which replaces the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that the agency repealed in September 2019. In an obeisant gesture to industrial interests — the agrichemical, construction, and mining sectors — Mr. Wheeler chose to announce the replacement rule, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, at a Las Vegas National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show. This decision will significantly weaken protections by drastically reducing the number of U.S. waterways and acreage of wetlands protected, and by jettisoning proscriptions on activities that threaten waterways from a variety of pollution harms. President Obama’s WOTUS, aka Clean Water Rule, has provided protections from pesticide runoff and other pollutants to millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams. According to Administrator Wheeler, “‘All states have their own protections for waters within their borders, and many regulate more broadly than the federal government. . . . Our new rule recognizes this relationship and strikes the proper […]

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Documented Decline of Mayflies, a Keystone Species, Destabilizes Ecosystems

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2020) In more bad news from the insect world, recent research reveals a precipitous decline in numbers of mayflies in territories where they have been historically abundant. Reported by National Geographic and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research finds that in the Northern Mississippi River Basin, seasonal emergence of burrowing mayfly (genus Hexagenia) adults declined by 52% from 2012 to 2019; in the Western Lake Erie Basin, from 2015 to 2019, the reduction was a shocking 84%. Neonicotinoid insecticides are a significant factor in this decline because mayflies are exquisitely vulnerable to their impacts, even at very low exposure levels. Ephemeroptera to entomologists — and “mayflies” to the rest of us — are a keystone species, one on which other species in an ecosystem are very dependent, and without which, the ecosystem would undergo drastic change. The Latinate name is apt: mayflies are among the most short-lived organisms, with lifespans across the 2,000+ known species lasting from five minutes to one day to a few weeks. Like damselflies and dragonflies, members of an ancient group of insects, the 600 North American species, as do their global kin, make optimal reproductive […]

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Insist that the Veterans Administration Cover Conditions Caused by Agent Orange

Monday, January 27th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2019) United States military veterans suffering from bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension, and Parkinson’s-like symptoms after their exposure to Agent Orange will remain unprotected and uncompensated until at least late 2020, according to a letter sent by Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). Send a letter to Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie insisting that bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension, and Parkinson’s-like symptoms be added to the VA’s list of eligible conditions. Congress included a provision in the must-pass December federal spending bill requiring VA to provide legislators “a detailed explanation” for the now multi-year delay in determining whether to list the diseases. The provision is intended to cut through the ongoing delays, but there is no indication VA is going to meet the 30-day deadline. “The longer VA continues to drag its feet on expanding the list of conditions associated with Agent Orange, the longer our veterans continue to suffer—and die—as a result of their exposure,” Senator Tester said in a statement to the news site Connecting Vets. He continued, “It’s time for VA to stop ignoring the overwhelming evidence put forth by scientists, medical experts and veterans and do right by those who served. Any prolonging of […]

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Nitrate Contaminates Water for Half a Million People in Minnesota

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 22, 2020) About half a million Minnesotans have been subject to drinking water contaminated by nitrate, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Synthetic fertilizer and manure runoff from cropland are the leading causes of the toxic water pollutant. Nitrate consumption is linked to cancer and blue baby syndrome, a fatal infant blood disease. As the state begins to address the issue through the newly instated Groundwater Protection Rule, advocates say the reaction may be “too little, too late.” EWG analyzed federal and state nitrate test results from all public water systems where groundwater is the main source in Minnesota from 2009 to 2018. The Minnesota Department of Health fulfilled EWG’s public records requests and the group searched the data for contamination code number 1040: nitrate.   Researchers at EWG found that 727 public groundwater systems serving 473 thousand people tested positive for at least 3mg/L of contamination at least once in the 9 years of analyzed data. 124 systems tested positive for ≥ 10mg/L, of contamination, serving over 150,000 individuals.   Coarse textured soils, karst geology and shallow bedrock are more vulnerable to groundwater contamination than other types of sediment. The EWG […]

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