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What’s on My Seeds? Study Finds Most Don’t Know What Pesticides Coat the Seeds They Plant, including Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoids

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2020) Adding to the widespread and problematic use of neonicotinoid pesticides as seed treatments, a recent study published in BioScience finds that there are significant knowledge gaps among some farmers about the seeds they are planting. The research indicates that those gaps contribute to underreporting of accurate data on the use of pesticide-coated (often with neonicotinoid pesticides) seeds — because farmers may not know what pesticides are on the seeds they plant. Pennsylvania State University reports on the study, in Phys.org, saying, “This lack of data may complicate efforts to evaluate the value of different pest management strategies, while also protecting human health and the environment.” Beyond Pesticides advocates for widespread adoption of organic, regenerative systems and practices that precludes the use of such pesticides.  The research was conducted by a team of scientist from around the U.S., led by Claudia Hitaj, PhD, of the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, and former economist at USDA’s Economic Research Service. In the Phys.org coverage of the study, assistant professor of epidemiology and crop pathology at Penn State, Paul Esker, PhD, notes that this lack of farmer knowledge can lead to overuse of pesticides, which would increase the already considerable risks […]

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Trump Administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Planting of Genetically Engineered Crops in Southeast National Wildlife Refuges

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2020) The Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with a proposal to grow genetically engineered crops (GECs) on national wildlife refuges in the Southeast United States. The draft environmental assessment allows wildlife to consume pesticide-laden produce, considers chemical-intensive genetically engineered crops no less damaging to the environment than “non-use of GECs,” and permits and escalation of climate change with toxic pesticide use increases. USFW’s proposal fails to mention the success of organic agriculture and consider it as one of the alternative management strategies. The proposal is up for public comment until April 10, 2020. In 2014, public pressure and lawsuits by environmental groups led to the Obama administration’s decision to phase out GE crops and ban neonicotinoid insecticide use on national wildlife refuges. On August 2, 2018, the Trump administration’s USFWS issued a memorandum that reversed the prohibition. The reversal allows the refuge system to make decisions on the use of GECs and neonics on a case-by-case basis in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is also under attack by the Trump administration. The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and others quickly challenged the 2018 […]

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Take Action Today: Tell EPA to Ban Atrazine

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2020) Deadline today! Tell EPA to Ban Atrazine; Protect Children and Frogs from this Endocrine Disrupting Pesticide. Atrazine, the second most-used herbicide in the U.S., is an insidious poison. Atrazine is known for producing developmental abnormalities in frogs. It also affects the endocrine system and reproductive biology of humans. In addition to its agricultural uses on corn, sorghum, and sugar cane, atrazine is also used on home lawns, school grounds, and parks, where exposure to children is common. Nontoxic alternatives are available for all of these uses. Act today, March 2. Sign the petition demanding that EPA ban atrazine and its cousins simazine and propazine. Act today! Beyond Pesticides will submit comments: Docket: EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0750 (FRL-10002-92) Petition to EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs: We have serious concerns with the proposed interim decisions on reregistration of three triazine pesticides: atrazine, simazine, and propazine. These triazines are highly mobile and persistent in the environment and have been linked to numerous adverse health and environmental effects which have motivated numerous public interest campaigns to ban their use in the U.S. as well as in Europe. The Draft Ecological Risk Assessments for the Registration Review of Atrazine, Simazine, and Propazine dated October 5, 2016 […]

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Take Action: Trump Administration’s Cuts to Science and the Environment

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2019) As in the in the past, President Trump once more proposes a budget that slashes funding for essential scientific research and environmental protection. His budget proposal includes cuts of nearly 10 percent to Health and Human Services (HHS) and 26 percent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And in the Department of Agriculture (USDA), he would again attempt to cut back on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). Climate change appears to be absent. Tell your Congressional delegation to hold the line on EPA’s budget to protect health, resources, and the economy! Although agency heads, like Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, support the President’s budget, nonprofit advocates for scientific research and environmental protection are more negative. “The administration’s proposed budget cuts to research risk slowing our nation’s science just when it is reaping benefits for all Americans in the forms of better health, a stronger economy, a more sustainable environment, a safer world, and awe-inspiring understanding,” said Sudip Parikh, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Even as the new coronavirus spreads, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is targeted for a 16 percent reduction. CDC has responsibilities that go well beyond infectious […]

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In Response to a Lawsuit, EPA Proposes Review Process for Evaluating the Effects of Multiple Pesticide Ingredients on Nontarget Organisms

Friday, October 11th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2019) The Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on a document that describes an “interim process” being used to assess potential synergistic effects of admixtures of pesticide active ingredients on non-target organisms. This interim risk assessment process was catalyzed in part by a 2015 lawsuit brought by a group of non-governmental organizations; that suit cited EPA’s failure to evaluate appropriately the impacts of a new herbicide, Enlist Duo, on non-target species, including some endangered species. EPA’s inattention to synergistic impacts on non-target species has long been a deficiency of EPA’s pesticide review and regulation and a focus for Beyond Pesticides’ work to factor in uncertainties, or unknowns, in registering pesticides under a precautionary approach. Although EPA recognizes that pesticide exposures occur in combinations, it evaluates a very limited number of such interactions. Manufactured by Dow AgroSciences, Enlist Duo combines glyphosate and 2,4-D. Increasingly, manufacturers create and market such “twofer” products as responses to the burgeoning issue of plant resistance to individual pesticides. As insects, fungi, weeds, or other “pests” inevitably develop resistance to pesticide, herbicide, fungicide, or insecticide compounds, the efficacy of the chemical treatment obviously plummets. […]

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Court Strikes Down Aerial Pesticide Spray Ban in Lincoln County, Oregon — Challenging Local Rights to Protect Communities

Friday, October 4th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2019) A Circuit Court judge in Lincoln County, Oregon has overturned a hard-won ban on aerial spraying of pesticides, citing preemption of state law over any local ordinance. In her late-September decision, Judge Sheryl Bachart wrote that Oregon’s Pesticide Control Act “expressly and conclusively displaces any local ordinance regarding pesticide use. The intention of the legislature is apparent and unambiguous.” She noted in her opinion that the Oregon Revised Statutes (the codified laws of the state of Oregon), Chapter 634.057 “prohibits local governments from making any ordinance, rule or regulation governing pesticide sale or use.” Voters in the county approved the subject ban on the aerial spraying of pesticides (Measure 21-177) in 2017, the initiative having been spurred by the work of Lincoln County Community Rights (LCCR), a grassroots organization that “seeks to educate and empower people to exercise their right of local community self-government in matters that pertain to their fundamental rights, their natural environment, their quality of life, their health and their safety.” In its advocacy for the initiative, the group cited both the harm done by aerial pesticide spraying to people and ecosystems, and the injustice of laws — often drafted by corporations for approval […]

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Toxic Pesticides Found, Again, to Yield No Increase in Productivity or Economic Benefit for Farmers

Friday, September 20th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2019) The actual utility of pesticides to achieve their purported goals is an under-recognized failing of the regulatory review of pesticide compounds for use. A study published in Scientific Reports now exposes the faulty assumptions underlying the use of neonicotinoids — the most widely used category of insecticides worldwide. The study demonstrates that use of neonicotinoids (neonics) to treat seeds — a very common use of these pesticides — actually provides negligible benefits to soybean farmers in terms of yield and overall economic benefit. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should take notice, and consider that efficacy ought to have a role in the agency’s evaluation of pesticides for registration. Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that move through a plant’s vascular system and are expressed in pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets (drops of sap exuded on the tips or edges of leaves of some vascular plants). They can also persist in the environment — in soil and water — for extended periods. Neonics are applied to seed, as well as to crop soils and to plant foliage. Corn and soybean seed treatments represent the largest uses of neonics in the U.S.: for somewhere between 34% and 50+% […]

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Beekeepers Take EPA to Court Over the Bee Toxic Insecticide-Sulfoxaflor—Again

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 19, 2019) A coalition of beekeepers is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its recent new use registrations of the neonicotinoid-related insecticide sulfoxaflor on bee-attractive crops . The environmental nonprofit Earthjustice is representing the Pollinator Stewardship Council, the American Beekeeper Federation, and Jeff Anderson—a beekeeper. This is the second suit of its kind to be filed against the agency in the past month: The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety have also filed a lawsuit in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the use of sulfoxaflor on over 200 million acres of crops that draw in pollinators to forage on poisoned nectar, pollen, and guttation droplets. Sulfoxaflor is a systemic insecticide whose mode of action is the same as neonicotinoid pesticides. After application, the chemical is absorbed and distributed throughout the plant, including pollen and nectar. These insecticides are selective agonists of insects’ nicotinic acetylcholine receptors—they bind to the receptor and cause it to activate. The impact on foraging bees is generally sublethal, but devastating on a population level. At the request of industry, EPA waived the legal requirement for a full-field study of sulfoxaflor’s impacts on pollinators, erroneously stating that further research would […]

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Germany Moves to Phase-Out Glyphosate/Roundup; EPA Unmoved

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2019) Germany is the latest entity to take action on getting glyphosate-based pesticides out of the marketplace. Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that, beginning in 2020, the country will phase out herbicides that contain glyphosate by the end of 2023. The phase-out will occur through a series of scheduled reductions in amounts allowed for use, with a goal of a 75% reduction over the next four years. The announcement comes after “nation-wide protests and demands from [Merkel’s] junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, for more decisive action on environmental issues.” This action stands in telling contrast to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) repeated failures to protect people, ecosystems, and our food supply, from this toxic compound. The German government also plans to oppose any European Union (EU) request for renewal of licensing of these herbicides, according to the environment ministry. Bayer AG, maker of glyphosate-based herbicides and owner of original manufacturer Monsanto, has pushed back, saying that the government is “getting ahead of itself” by banning glyphosate-based herbicides prior to any decision by the relevant EU authority, and that EU laws disallow unilateral decisions by member states. (Pesticide licensing decisions lie with EU governance in Brussels, […]

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EPA Inspector General Report Finds the Agency Falling Short in Oversight of State Pollinator Plans

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2019) The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a report criticizing EPA’s oversight of states’ Managed Pollinator Protection Plans (MP3s). OIG conducted an audit, on which the report is based, to evaluate agency performance in overseeing MP3s, voluntary plans adopted at the state level with the goal to “reduce pesticide exposure to pollinators (generally, honey bees managed and contracted out to growers for pollination services) through timely communication and coordination among key stakeholders.” The report’s findings include the following: EPA has no means to evaluate the national impact of MP3s. The agency has not developed a strategy to use data from a planned fall 2019 survey (see more below on the AAPCO/SFIREG/EPA survey) to evaluate either the national impact of MP3s or the agency’s support of state MP3 implementation efforts. EPA focuses primarily on acute risks (those that occur during a single exposure to a specific pesticide), and gives insufficient attention to chronic exposures to pesticides and to native pollinator protection activities. The history of the MP3 program starts in 2014, when President Obama issued a memo establishing a Pollinator Health Task Force (PHTF), directing federal agencies […]

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Trump Administration Dealt Multiple Blows to Honey Bees this Month

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2019) Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a decision to register new uses for the bee-toxic pesticide sulfoxaflor. The decision closely followed a USDA announcement halting the Honey Bee Colonies Survey, combining blows to already suffering beekeepers. According to the nonprofit Bee Informed, this past winter tallied the most colonies lost in a decade—an estimated 37% between October 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019. “Proposing to register sulfoxaflor for use on bee-attractive crops, in the midst of an ongoing pollinator crisis, is the height of irresponsibility,” said Drew Toher, community resource and policy director for Beyond Pesticides in an interview for Bloomberg Environment. “When all of the available data points to significant risks to pollinators from use of this chemical we must face the facts: EPA is working towards the protection of pesticide industry, not the environment,” he said. Sulfoxaflor is a systemic insecticide whose mode of action is the same as neonicotinoid pesticides. After application, the chemical is absorbed and distributed throughout the plant, including pollen and nectar. These insecticides are selective agonists of insects’ nicotinic acetylcholine receptors—they bind to the receptor and cause it to activate. The impact on foraging bees […]

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USDA Shuts Down Data Collection on Honey Bees

Friday, July 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2019) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced, on Saturday, July 6 that it would suspend indefinitely the data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies survey and report. The move came, tellingly, less than three weeks after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) once again approved “emergency” uses of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, a bee-killing compound similar to the notorious neonicotinoids, insecticides that contribute significantly to the phenomena of pollinator collapse (“colony collapse disorder”) and massive insect loss (“insect apocalypse”) that are underway worldwide. Sulfoxaflor is one of the many toxic pesticides that threaten honey bees, which are critical pollinators responsible for one-third of the food we humans consume. Permitting its use and then ceasing to collect and report data on the status of honey bees that are likely to be impacted is not only a recipe for kneecapping the study of bee decline and imperiling the food supply, but also, another example of the corruption for which this administration is infamous. As The Huffington Post reported, “Critics say the USDA’s move is the latest evidence of the Trump administration’s war on science, and its goal of suppressing information about serious environmental harms increasing under Donald Trump’s presidency.” Union […]

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Widely Used Fungicide Found to Adversely Affect Enzyme Common to All Cells

Friday, July 5th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2019) This is a story about a chemical pesticide, a fungicide, in wide use for which the mode of action, i.e., the ability to cause harm, has not been fully understood. It is not a story unique to this pesticide. Rather, it is an important story to consider when deciding to use a pesticide or allowing a pesticide to be used. The question is whether the chemical could be broadly problematic beyond the target organisms, in this case fungi? In its coverage of a study published in March, the American Association for the Advancement of Science publication, EurekAlert, reported that, “The ability of [the fungicide] fludioxonil to act on a sugar-metabolizing enzyme common to all cells, and to produce the damaging compound methylglyoxal, may mean that the pesticide has more potential to harm non-fungal cells than previously thought. Although fludioxonil has been deemed safe for use, the authors . . . suggest that the effects of this widely used pesticide has upon animals be re-examined.” The research study, published in March in Scientific Reports and led by T. Tristan Brandhorst, PhD (in the lab of Dr. Bruce Klein at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and UW School of […]

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Ask Congress to Stop EPA Actions that Threaten Bees

Monday, June 24th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2019) During “Pollinator Week,” last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency betrayed its responsibility to protect the environment and approved “emergency” uses of sulfoxaflor, a bee-toxic insecticide, in 11 states on millions of acres of crops that are attractive to bees. Sulfoxaflor is functionally identical to the neonicotinoid class of systemic pesticides, which are readily absorbed and translocated into the plant tissues, including its pollen and nectar. These insecticides are substantial contributors to the dramatic decline of pollinators and what is now recognized as a global insect apocalypse. Ask Your Elected Members of Congress to Tell EPA that Its Actions Are Unacceptable and Must Be Reversed In 2015, beekeepers sued to suspend the use of sulfoxaflor. A year later, in 2016, the chemical’s registration was amended with the specific exclusion of crops such as cotton and sorghum that attract bees, essentially acting as an aromatic draw to poison. However, EPA regularly utilizes the “emergency exemption” rule under Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to circumvent these restrictions. The Center for Biological Diversity reports, “Ten of the 11 states have been granted the approvals for at least four consecutive years for the same ’emergency.’ Five have […]

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Loophole “Emergency” Use of Bee-Toxic Sulfoxaflor Approved During Pollinator Week

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2019) On June 17, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) once again approved “emergency” uses of sulfoxaflor, a bee-toxic insecticide, on millions of acres of crops that are attractive to bees. Sulfoxaflor is functionally identical to the neonicotinoid class of systemic pesticides, which are readily absorbed and translocated by the plant, including its pollen and nectar. These insecticides are substantial contributors to the dramatic decline of pollinators and what is now recognized as a global insect apocalypse. In 2015, beekeepers sued to suspend the use of sulfoxaflor. A year later, in 2016 the chemical’s registration was amended with the specific exclusion of crops such as cotton and sorghum that attract bees, essentially acting as an aromatic draw to poison. EPA regularly utilizes the “emergency exemption” rule under Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to circumvent these restrictions. The Center for Biological Diversity reports, “Ten of the 11 states have been granted the approvals for at least four consecutive years for the same ‘emergency.’ Five have been given approvals for at least six consecutive years.” The EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has recognized the broad misuse of Section 18. A 2018 report from OIG notes […]

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Take Action: Protect Local Government Authority to Restrict Pesticides

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2019) Help stop another attack on local authority in Maine – a bellwether state that has upheld local pesticide restrictions and leads the nation. Maine has led the nation in supporting the local democratic process as communities across the state have adopted pesticide use standards on public and private property that are more restrictive than state laws. This will be the third attack on local authority in recent years – each time beaten back with public opposition. This time preemption language has been introduced as a clause in the innocuous sounding bill LD 1518, An Act to Establish a Fund for Portions of the Operations and Outreach Activities of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory and To Increase Statewide Enforcement of Pesticide Use. The language was introduced by Rep. Stephen Stanley (D), who ran unopposed in the 2018 Democratic primary. The bill’s language establishes barriers to local decision making, giving sole authority to the state to determine the acceptability of local pesticide restrictions.  As drafted, the bill would force municipalities to submit a request to ban a substance to a statewide board, which would make the decision as to whether the community could block […]

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EPA Wants to Squelch State Authority to Adopt Pesticide Restrictions More Protective than the Fed

Friday, March 29th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a low-key announcement on March 19 suggesting that it may change its handling of requests from states to exert stricter controls on use of pesticides than the federal agency sets out in its registration of the compounds — by disapproving them. This is potentially a big deal because it signals that the agency will be less-kindly disposed to states’ desires to establish either somewhat different parameters of use based on local conditions and needs, or more-stringent regulations on pesticide use than those set out by federal regulators. This issue of preemption of localities’ desires to protect their populations and environment has become an increasingly dynamic frontier at the nexus of pesticide use, health, and environment. Beyond Pesticides has written more frequently about this issue in recent years as the tension between centralized, federal regulation and more-local regulation has risen; see more below. EPA appears distressed by some of the approximately 300 annual requests it gets to make some adjustment to the federal regulation. This can happen under Section 24(c) of FIFRA, which allows for a Special Local Need Label, which can be requested under a variety of conditions, including […]

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Take Action: Help Stop Pesticide-Treated Seeds from Poisoning the Environment

Monday, March 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2019) EPA is using a regulatory loophole – the “treated articles exemption” – to allow systemic insecticides to be used in mass quantities, without regulating or labeling them as required under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA does not currently assess adverse effects on the environment and public health caused by widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides delivered through seeds coated with the insecticides, resulting in widespread exposure to one of the most environmentally damaging classes of chemicals on the market. Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA must fully regulate treated seeds to protect the environment and public health. Pesticide-coated seeds are now ubiquitous, yet their far-reaching impacts on wildlife and human health continue to go unregulated. The introduction and spread of seed-delivered pesticides to major field crops, beginning around 2003, caused a massive increase in total neonicotinoid use nationwide. As of 2011, 34 to 44% of soybeans and 79 to 100% of maize acres were planted with coated seeds, accounting for an astounding 35-fold increase in nationwide neonicotinoid use from baseline rates prior to 2003 (Douglas and Tooker, 2015). Alarmingly, because the national pesticide survey conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service fails to […]

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Take Action: What’s In the Bottle, Bag, or Box Is Not Tested Fully for Adverse Effects

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2019) Forget about single-pesticide issues: this affects every single one of them. EPA is allowing massive data gaps to persist for each and every pesticide product it registers by conducting the bulk of its health and environmental risk assessments using active ingredients alone. With its current practices, EPA is failing its federal mandate to protect public health and the environment and misleading the public about what is “safe.” Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA must assess the real risks of pesticide use, not rely on false representations of risk based on tests of isolated ingredients. When pesticides are sprayed on our crops, lawns, and roadsides, and enter into our waterways, groundwater and drinking water, we are exposed to whole formulations, whole tank mixtures, and whole pesticide combinations, not just active ingredients (those that the manufacturer claims are the only ingredients that attack the target pest). It is the whole formulation that makes the poison, and that whole formulation must be regulated. Active ingredients are far from the whole story of pesticide poisoning. Despite their name, “inert” ingredients are very often not chemically, biologically, nor toxicologically inert or innocuous. According to a peer-reviewed study, as of 2006, more […]

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Study Finds Public Health Threatened by State Laws that Preempt Local Government Authority to Restrict Pesticides Community-wide

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2019) A study, supported by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, finds that state pesticide preemption laws “compromise public health and economic well-being” by preventing localities from enacting pesticide use restrictions on private property that are more restrictive than their state’s regulations. In the words of the authors, “By eliminating the ability of local governments to enact ordinances to safeguard inhabitants from health risks posed by pesticides, state preemption laws denigrate public health protections.” The study, Anti-community state pesticide preemption laws prevent local governments from protecting people from harm, published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, reviews scientific and historical evidence of the failure of state and federal pesticide laws to protect localities from pesticide poisoning, and highlights the inability of localities to compensate for that failure under present laws. Communities seeking to protect their residents would typically issue community-wide restrictions to ensure protection of shared community resources, including air, land, and waterways, from pesticide drift, runoff, and other nontarget effects —as is the case with other community decisions on recycling, smoking, and zoning. The study’s authors document how industry influence led to the adoption of state laws that undermine the ability of localities […]

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EPA Loophole Allows Expanded Use of Bee-Toxic Chemical

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2019) In 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved 16.2 million acres of crops to be sprayed with the bee-toxic insecticide sulfoxaflor under an emergency exemption. Sulfoxaflor was used in 18 different states on cotton and sorghum — plants known to attract bees. In response to a lawsuit headed by beekeepers, the EPA reclassified sulfoxaflor in 2016 and, recognizing its toxicity to bees, prohibited use on crops that draw in these pollinators. However, Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) gives the EPA authority to permit temporary emergency use of unapproved pesticides. This loophole is used regularly in response to predictable stressors. “Emergency” use was approved 78 times for sulfoxaflor on sorghum and cotton between 2012-2017. Sulfoxaflor is a systemic insecticide that acts similarly to neonicotinoid pesticides. After application, the chemical is absorbed and distributed throughout the plant, including pollen and nectar. These kinds of chemicals are selective agonists of insects’ nicotinic acetylcholine receptors—they bind to the receptor and cause it to activate. The impact on foraging bees is sublethal, but devastating on a population level. Even at low levels, sulfoxaflor impairs reproduction and reduces bumblebee colony size. Sufloxaflor is functionally identical to […]

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Largest County in Maryland Bans Glyphosate (Roundup) in Its Parks, Pending Complete Pesticide Ban

Friday, February 1st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2019) Prior to a pesticide ban taking effect in Montgomery County Maryland Parks, the Department of Parks announced in mid-December 2018 that it would discontinue the use of glyphosate-based herbicides through March 2019. The agency has used these hazardous herbicides as part of its IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program for weed management. Montgomery Parks indicates it will release further information on the use of glyphosate in mid-March. In November last year, Montgomery County Council member Tom Hucker wrote to the head of Parks, supported by a community-wide petition, urging that glyphosate be banned immediately, pending implementation of the county ban. He cited the finding of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (World Health Organization) finding that the chemical probably causes cancer in humans and the $289 million jury verdict last year that the chemical caused a school groundskeeper’s non Hodgkin lymphoma. In 2016, Montgomery Parks instituted a pesticide reduction program in compliance with Montgomery County, Maryland’s 2015 adoption of County Code 33B, which aimed to regulate use of pesticides on county-owned property, including parks, and on private property. In 2017, a Montgomery Circuit Court overturned the portion of the law pertaining to a ban on private […]

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Take Action: Help Close the “Emergency” Pesticide Use Loophole

Monday, January 28th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2019) A  September 2018 report from the Office Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified issues important to protecting health and the environment. The EPA’s response to the report left many of these problems unresolved. Measures and Management Controls Needed to Improve EPA’s Pesticide Emergency Exemption Process (Report No. 18-P-0281, September 25, 2018), finds that the agency’s practice of routinely granting “emergency” approval for pesticides through its Section 18 program does not effectively measure risks to human health or the environment. Tell Congress to Ask the EPA Administrator to Close the “Emergency” Pesticide Use Loophole, and Adopt All the Recommendations of the Office of the Inspector General. Under Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA has the authority to approve the temporary emergency use of unapproved pesticides if the agency determines the pesticide is needed to prevent the spread of an unexpected outbreak of crop-damaging insects, for example. But this provision has been widely abused. The inspector general recommends EPA “develop and implement applicable outcome-based performance measures to demonstrate the human health and environmental effects of the EPA’s emergency exemption decisions.” EPA disagreed and said, [T]he development […]

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