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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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States Need to Adopt a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy

Monday, November 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2021) California state agencies, led by the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), released a draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy to guide and accelerate near- and long-term climate action across key California landscapes. All states need such strategies, and to be effective, they must be backed by ambitious targets focused on reduction of pesticides and support for organic agriculture. Tell your state legislators and governor to adopt a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy that supports organic agriculture and land management. (CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS: Please use this form.) A Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy will identify our natural and working lands as a critical yet currently underutilized sector in the fight against climate change. These lands can sequester and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future climate risks. Climate smart management of our natural and working lands also improves public health and safety, secures our food and water supplies, and increases equity. The strategy should define the state’s natural and working landscapes; describe how these lands can deliver on climate change goals; highlight priority nature-based climate […]

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California Releases Strategy for Land Management Practices that Confronts Climate Crisis

Friday, November 5th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2021) Once again earning its environmental leadership reputation, California has released a draft strategy document designed to catalyze near- and long-term climate action through focused attention on the state’s natural and working lands, and on nature-based solutions. The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) announced the draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy in mid-October. In the announcement, CNRA asserts that the state’s 105 million acres can “sequester and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future climate risks.” The agency also notes that the plan would secure food and water supplies, improve public health and safety, and forward equity. It has invited public comment, and a coalition of California (and national) nonprofit advocates is delivering a letter that calls on the agency to include, in the plan, ambitious targets to move the state’s agricultural sector away from the use of harmful synthetic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides will sign on to the letter. This “natural and working lands” document will inform California’s 2021 State Adaptation Strategy and the 2022 Scoping Plan — master documents guiding the state’s climate action during […]

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EPA and Congress Must Act to Correct a Failed Pesticide Program

Monday, November 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2021) Join with 37 environmental and health groups, farm organizations, and beekeeper councils, who have delivered a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leaders seeking major reforms in the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). They provided a comprehensive list of OPP’s major failures as the lead federal office for pesticide regulation and management, including: Allowing chlorpyrifos to stay registered for more than 14 years after health experts and affected farmworkers petitioned for its removal based on its known neurological danger, Allowing unlimited use of Roundup (glyphosate) long after it was shown to contribute to deadly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in heavy users and it devastated the treasured monarch butterfly, now driven to near extinction in North America, Approving hundreds of neonicotinoid systemic insecticides, now the most widespread insecticide in the country where they are decimating honey and native bees and other key pollinators and beneficial species; and Registering dicamba in a highly volatile herbicide, a shocking blunder later overruled by a federal court ruling that stated OPP “not only substantially understated the risks …. It also entirely failed to acknowledge other risks, including those it was statutorily required to consider.” Take action: Tell EPA and Congress that the […]

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Climate Crisis, Soil, Pesticides, Fertilizers: Red alert! This is Not a Drill!

Friday, October 29th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 29, 2021) As more than 200 of the world’s countries convene, starting October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland, for the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26), it is important to sound the alarm unequivocally. We are in a climate emergency. This reality was confirmed, yet again, by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) August 2021 release of part of its sixth report, from Working Group I, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. The other parts of the report, to be issued over the next few months, are new assessments from Working Group II on impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation, and from Working Group III on mitigation/averting further climate change. Below we address the urgent need to eliminate petroleum (fossil fuel)-based pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture and land management (parks, playing fields, rights-of-way, and open space) and put in place an urgent and strategic transition to organic practices without being distracted and diverted by claims of “regenerative” practices that do not meet the crisis in a meaningful way. Headline takeaways from this first report are that, failing immediate and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions: the planet’s climate will likely blow by the much-vaunted 1.5°C threshold (average global temperature increase over the pre-industrial […]

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Groups Tell EPA’s Pesticide Program It’s a Failure, Call for Immediate Reforms

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2021) The Office of Pesticides Programs within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has become so captured by industry that it has lost sight of its health and environmental mission, according to a scathing critique issued today by 37 environmental, public health, and sustainable agriculture groups, including beekeeper councils. Led by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and Beyond Pesticides, the groups are urging the Biden administration to adopt reforms within OPP to ensure pesticide approval and use decisions are science-based. EPA’s OPP has registered more than 18,000 separate pesticide products — far more than any other country — and more than 2 billion pounds of pesticides are sold annually in the U.S. They are used annually over roughly 250 million acres of farmland, across millions of acres of urban and suburban lands, and inside millions of homes, schools, and other buildings.  The coalition letter points to employee reports that managers within  OPP – Push through “Yes packages” of pesticide approvals greased by industry lobbying; Suppress toxicological and other concerns raised by professional staff; and Engage in outrageous waivers of vital toxicity study requirements, instead relying on “conditional” registrations to allow pesticide uses, despite missing key data. Seeing […]

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IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Fails to Stop Toxic Pesticide Use

Friday, October 15th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2021) Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a 60-year-old approach to agricultural practice that, when first conceived and implemented, had among its goals a significant reduction of synthetic pesticide use, and the health, environmental, and ecosystemic benefits that would flow from that. However, as a study published earlier in 2021 concluded, IPM has overall been unsuccessful in achieving those goals. The researchers propose to replace IPM with “Agroecological Crop Protection [ACP],” the application of agroecology to protecting crops from damage (usually by insects or weeds). Beyond Pesticides has long embraced the foundations of ACP, which focus on cooperation with natural systems that keep all organisms in healthy, dynamic balance (and avoid overpopulation and trophic cascades). The research was conducted by scientists from France, Cambodia, and Vietnam; the research paper was published in Agronomy for Sustainable Development. The authors offer myriad reasons for their conclusion that, “More than half a century after its conception, IPM has not been adopted to a satisfactory extent and has largely failed to deliver on its promise. . . . Despite six decades of good intentions, harsh realities need to be faced for the future. . . . IPM has arguably reached its limits.” […]

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Research on Thousands of Organic and Chemical-Intensive Farms Illustrates Stark Difference in Toxic Chemical Use

Friday, September 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2021) Recent research out of California sought to compare (and quantify) differences in total pesticide use, and in use of pesticides of specific concern, across conventional and organic agricultural fields in the state. The research team, from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, finds an 18–31% likely reduction in spraying of pesticides on organically managed fields compared to conventional, and a 27% likely reduction in use of pesticide products with high acute human toxicity for organic versus conventional fields. Readers may be gasping, and thinking, “Wait, what?! I thought organic farming does not use pesticides! Help?” There is a world of difference between the pesticides used in organic and in conventional production. Though conventional growers are allowed to use thousands of synthetic compounds on their crops, seeds, and soils — no matter their toxicity, as long as EPA has permitted them — Certified Organic growers are permitted to use only “natural” or naturally derived pesticide products, and a very limited number, at that. Organic growers may use any of the products listed in “The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances,” as established by the NOP’s (National Organic Program’s) National […]

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Retailers Fail to Protect Pollinators…Badly

Friday, September 17th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2021) Against the backdrop of what The New York Times in 2018 called the “insect apocalypse,” and the dire plight of pollinators in particular, Friends of the Earth (FOE) recently issued its retailer scorecard, which benchmarks “25 of the largest U.S. grocery stores on pesticides, organic offerings and pollinator health”— with the vast majority of retailers failing to protect pollinators. FOE reporting shows some, but far too slow and anemic, progress by corporate actors in enacting pollinator- and bee-friendly policies across both retail sites and supply chains. Such policies, to be genuinely effective and protective of pollinators (and human health), would eliminate or at least dramatically reduce the presence of pesticides in the food supply. The path out of the chemical pesticide quagmire is organic: companies must do more to move suppliers to organic, regenerative production practices, and EPA should be pulling these toxic compounds from the market. Tracking the pollinator policies and enforcement activities of various huge companies yields a useful barometer in monitoring the travel of pesticides to the consumer. Yet the results in the FOE scorecard — e.g., only two of those 25 retailers scored even in the “B” range, and 21 scored […]

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Studies Show How Pesticides Harm Organisms that Form the Foundation of Freshwater Ecosystems

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 15, 2021) Toxic pesticide use, and glyphosate in particular, degrades the health of freshwater ecosystems by harming species that form the basis of aquatic food chains, according to research published by scientists at McGill University. In a series of studies, scientists investigated how freshwater bacteria and zooplankton were affected by varying levels the weed killer glyphosate, the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid, and nutrient levels. “Because plankton form the foundation of the food chain in freshwater ecosystems, it is very important to understand how plankton communities respond to widely used pesticides,” said Jesse Shapiro, PhD, an Associate Professor in McGill’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “Our research shows that the structure of these communities can be impaired under currently acceptable North American water quality guidelines.” Two separate experiments were conducted under similar conditions in order to properly investigate the effects of pesticide exposure on either zooplankton or freshwater bacteria. For both studies, target species were exposed to varying rates of glyphosate, imidacloprid, or both chemicals at either high or low water nutrient levels. Researchers conducted this study by establishing a series of outdoor experimental ponds, intended to mimic freshwater ecosystems by using Lake water and evenly distributing organisms throughout […]

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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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Commentary: This Labor Day, Let’s Build Coalitions for a Healthful Social Structure that Protects Workers and the Public

Sunday, September 5th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 6, 2021) This Labor Day, as we live through our second year of the coronavirus pandemic, it is especially appropriate that we continue to express gratitude to all essential workers—healthcare workers, farmworkers, food processors, grocery workers, and others that put their lives on the line every day. But our gratitude does not protect anyone’s health. Nobody should have to risk their health for a job. That’s why, on this Labor Day, we must renew our commitment to eliminate the racial and economic inequities in our society that contribute to disproportionate risk to the health and well-being of workers, especially people of color. We can do this through the adoption of local, state, and national policies that eliminate toxic pesticide use, which disproportionately affects workers. As we as a nation recognize that systemic change is needed to fight racial and economic injustice, we are faced with questions that go to the core of our society—the distribution of wealth, a livable wage, investment in and access to education and health care, protection of the right to vote, and an environment that sustains life. This is a moment for building coalitions in our communities to advance policies that ensure all […]

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Danone (Horizon Organic) Threatens the Backbone of Organic Dairy—Family Farms and Their Consumer Supporters

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2021) Groupe Danone, multinational corporate owner of Horizon Organic, has announced that it is terminating its contracts with 89 small-to-medium-sized organic dairy producers in the Northeast as of August 2022. At that point, all of Horizon’s contracted organic dairy farms in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and northern New York may well have no buyers for their milk and will likely face a very uncertain future. In July 2021, Beyond Pesticides covered a major contributor to this development — the failure of the NOP (National Organic Program) to protect the integrity of organic dairy, which failure has advantaged large producers over smaller operations (see more on this below). This development in a region with historically strong demand for organic dairy products is of concern on several fronts, not the least of which is the fate of these small producers. A letter with the news was sent by Danone to 28 Vermont producers, 14 in Maine, 2 in New Hampshire, and 45 in New York State’s three northernmost counties. The company plans, instead, to source milk primarily from larger producers, including “organic” concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) — in Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Midwest, and some Western states — that […]

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Tell EPA to Ban ALL Uses of Chlorpyrifos

Monday, August 30th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2021) As with other actions on pesticides, EPA’s chlorpyrifos decision is filled with exceptions that respond to vested interests seeking to ignore or deflect the science. EPA, since announcing its decision in 1999 to ban “residential” uses of chlorpyrifos, continues to allow the following uses: (i) Residential use of containerized baits; (ii) Indoor areas where children will not be exposed, including only ship holds, railroad boxcars, industrial plants, manufacturing plants, or food processing plants; (iii) Outdoor areas where children will not be exposed, including only: golf courses, road medians, Industrial plant sites; (iv) Non-structural wood treatments including: fenceposts, utility poles, railroad ties, landscape timers, logs, pallets, wooden containers, poles, posts, and processed wood products; (v) Public health uses: Fire ant mounds (drench and granular treatment); (vi) nurseries and greenhouses; and (vii) Mosquito control. These uses are unaffected by EPA’s announcement. We need to finish the chlorpyrifos job. Tell EPA to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. The collective effort to remove this one chemical is a tremendous feat in eliminating one exposure to a hazardous material for children. Achieving the ban on food uses required an enormously resource-intensive effort at a time in history when we are […]

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Maui Prohibits Toxic Pesticides and Fertilizers on County Land, Allows Only Organic-Compatible Materials

Friday, August 27th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 27, 2021) On August 24, as reported by The Maui News, the Maui (Hawai’i) County Council approved legislation that will stop use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers in county land management practices, allowing only those materials permitted under federal organic law. The approach set out in the bill is the creation of a comprehensive list of such materials that will be either allowed or prohibited for use, as the legislation indicates, on “any County highway, drainageway, sidewalk, right-of-way, park, building, community center, or other facility.” This decision comes on the heels of years of grassroots work and advocacy, including that of Beyond Pesticides Director of Hawai’i Organic Land Management Program Autumn Ness. The legislation (CR 21-56), which passed with a vote of 8–0 (with one member excused), will regulate pesticide and fertilizer use on county properties broadly, but will not affect property managed by the state or private owners, county agricultural parks, or county property used for agricultural purposes. The new ordinance will take effect for most county parcels one year from the August 24 approval date; the effective date for Maui’s War Memorial Stadium Complex and Ichiro “Iron” Maehara Baseball Stadium is two years from approval, and for the […]

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Exposure to Common Herbicide Glyphosate Increases Spontaneous Preterm Birth Incidents

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 26, 2021) A recent study published in Environmental Research demonstrates that exposure to the herbicide glyphosate and its breakdown product reduces pregnancy length, increasing the risk of preterm birth. Preterm births occur when a fetus is born early or before 37 weeks of complete gestation. Premature births can result in chronic (long-term) illnesses among infants from lack of proper organ development and even death. Birth and reproductive complications are very common among individuals exposed to environmental toxicants, like pesticides. Considering the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports the preterm birth rate is increasing annually, studies like this can help government and health officials safeguard human health by assessing adverse health effects following prevalent chemical exposure. The study notes, “Given the prevalent and rising exposures to glyphosate and GBHs [glyphosate-based herbicides], confirmatory studies are needed to explore reproductive effects of glyphosate and GBHs to re-assess their safety on human health and to explore possible programming consequences to lifelong health.” GBHs are the most commonly used herbicides, readily contaminating soil, water, and food globally. Although GBHs’ ubiquitous nature has been linked to carcinogenic effects, specifically non-Hodgkin lymphoma, much less research considers exposure effects on reproductive health. The study’s scientists aimed to examine the relationship […]

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Inspector General Rips EPA for Failure to Test Pesticides for Endocrine Disruption

Friday, August 20th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2021) The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a damning report on the agency’s progress in protecting the population from potentially damaging endocrine disruption impacts of exposures to synthetic chemical pesticides (and other chemicals of concern). The report’s summary statement says, “Without the required testing and an effective system of internal controls, the EPA cannot make measurable progress toward complying with statutory requirements or safeguarding human health and the environment against risks from endocrine-disrupting chemicals.” This OIG report identifies and details the failings that Beyond Pesticides covered in an April 2021 Daily News Blog article, and many more — the net of which is that “we have yet to see EPA use endocrine disruption findings in pesticide registration decisions.” The OIG report chronicles a litany of failures. It finds that EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), which is responsible for testing all pesticide chemicals for endocrine disrupting activity in humans, has failed to do so. Specifically, it has not implemented a section of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), as amended by the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act — the legislation that […]

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Commentary: Are Children, Agricultural Workers, and the Food Supply Safe with EPA’s Chlorpyrifos Decision?

Thursday, August 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2021) Does a science-based, public health-oriented, occupational safety focused, children-concerned, ecologically protective society allow the use of toxic pesticides that are unnecessary to achieve land management, quality of life, and food productivity goals? Should victims of poisoning have to plead with regulators to protect them? Should organizations have to fight chemical-by-chemical to achieve basic levels of protection from individual neurotoxic, cancer causing, endocrine disrupting pesticides? Of course not. But, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that it is stopping food uses of the insecticide chlorpyrifos after being registered 65 years ago provides us with an important opportunity for reflection, not just celebration. The collective effort to remove this one chemical is a tremendous feat in eliminating one exposure to a hazardous material for children. That is the point. The action we’re celebrating required an amazingly resource-intensive effort at a time in history when we are running against the clock in an urgent race to transition our society and global community away from the use of petroleum-based, toxic pesticides—to move to meaningful practices that sustain, nurture, and regenerate life. In this context, let’s put chlorpyrifos in perspective. EPA was forced into its decision by a court […]

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Tell EPA: It Must Ban Pesticides Unless Shown Not To Be Endocrine Disruptors

Monday, August 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2021) The failure of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to meet its statutory responsibility to protect people and wildlife from the dire consequences of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals must end. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for EPA has issued a damning report on the agency’s progress in protecting the population from potentially damaging endocrine disruption impacts of exposures to synthetic chemical pesticides (and other chemicals of concern) that shows the situation to be even worse than previously reported. The OIG’s summary statement says, “Without the required testing and an effective system of internal controls, the EPA cannot make measurable progress toward complying with statutory requirements or safeguarding human health and the environment against risks from endocrine-disrupting chemicals.” As a result, according to the OIG, “we have yet to see EPA use endocrine disruption findings in pesticide registration decisions.” Tell EPA that pesticide use cannot continue without findings of no endocrine disruption. Over recent decades, evidence has mounted showing that many pesticides interfere with hormones—and are therefore endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In 1996, the promise of screening pesticides for endocrine disruption generated support from environmentalists and public health advocates for the Food Quality Protection Act […]

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“Biopesticides,” with Broad Definition, Challenged as Unsustainable

Friday, August 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 13, 2021) Across the pond in the UK, two years of trials with spring and winter wheat varieties have shown, according to the Farmer Scientist Network (FSN), which conducted the study as Crop Health North, that so-called “biopesticides,” alone or in combination with conventional pesticides, can be useful in generating yield and grain quality comparable to those obtained through use of conventional “crop chemistry” (aka, synthetic chemical pesticides). According to Beyond Pesticides Executive Director Jay Feldman, biopesticides are a “mixed bag,” generally poorly understood, and defined differently by various entities and stakeholders. He notes that the term can be misleading and mixes contradictory approaches, adding that, “It’s troublesome when we continue to look for product replacements or substitutions for agricultural practices that are clearly ineffective, and in the process avoid the changes necessary to transition to organic practices,” which represent the real, long-term solution to the problems efforts such as these trials seek to remedy. The project was sponsored and supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS) through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI). YAS collaborated with universities, farmers, research institutes, agricultural organizations, and technology and food testing centers to conduct trials on three farms in the north of […]

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Commentary: Will Playing Fields, Parks, and Lawns Be Safe After Glyphosate in Roundup Residential Use Ends in 2023?

Friday, July 30th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2021) Bayer (Monsanto), the maker of the deadly herbicide glyphosate/Roundup, after hinting in May that it would end the weed killer’s residential uses in the U.S., made it official yesterday. With its announcement to shareholders, Bayer puts an end to residential uses beginning in 2023 and allocates $4.5 billion to cover “the company’s potential long-term exposure” from lawsuits by those harmed by the chemical. At the same time, the company announced it is seeking a U.S. Supreme Court hearing to reverse significant jury verdicts (from $289 million to $2 billion) for individuals who have suffered health damage they tie to glyphosate exposure. Bayer claims that it will argue that federal pesticide law preempts litigation against products that it has registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA). Similar arguments have been tried before, most notably in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences (2005), and the Supreme Court has found that federal pesticide law does not protect “manufacturers of poisonous substances.” (See more below.) Despite the extensive scientific review (see Pesticide Gateway) of glyphosate/Roundup and a “probable” cancer causing ranking by the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015, Bayer says, “This move is being made exclusively […]

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Take Action: Schools Must Provide and Encourage Organic Food

Monday, July 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2021) As yet another study, “Early life multiple exposures and child cognitive function: A multi-centric birth cohort study in six European countries,” draws attention to the benefits of organic food for the learning young mind, it is important that schools provide organic food to students. The study, conducted by Spanish researchers based at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, looks at a totality of all environmental hazards that children encounter, rather than individual lifestyle factors. As study co-author Jordi JĂşlvez, PhD, notes, “Healthy diets, including organic diets, are richer than fast food diets in nutrients necessary for the brain, such as fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, which together may enhance cognitive function in childhood.” Tell your governor and USDA/Food and Nutrition Service to provide organic school lunches and information for parents. Researchers find that children who eat organic food display higher scores measuring fluid intelligence and working memory. Lower scores on fluid intelligence tests are associated with children’s fast food intake, house crowding, and exposure to tobacco smoke. Lower scores on working memory tests were associated with exposure to poor indoor air quality. This study adds to prior research finding that eating a conventional, chemical-intensive diet increases […]

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White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council Confronts Institutional Racism with Recommendations

Friday, June 25th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 25, 2021) A consequential report from the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) sets out important and comprehensive recommendations that, if enacted, would put environmental justice on the front burner of national policy. The report spells out a multitude of challenges, and recommendations for addressing them, in service of advancing environmental justice (EJ) across federal agencies. Notably, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is called out for, among other things, poor protection of farmworkers and their families, who tend to be people of color, from pesticide risks. The report arises from President Biden’s late January 2021 Executive Orders (covered by Beyond Pesticides here) on: (1) tackling the climate crisis with a “whole of government” approach, with an explicit focus on EJ, and (2) recalibrating the functions of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to “forward health, racial equity, and environmental stewardship.” That early 2021 Executive Order (EO) on climate established the WHEJAC and the Justice40 Initiative, the latter of which aims to direct 40% of some categories of federal investment to historically under-served communities. Those investments, as reported by AgriPulse, would promote “clean energy and energy efficiency; clean transit; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce […]

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