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House Republican Farm Bill Draft Would Cripple Pesticide Restrictions, Advocates Say

Monday, May 20th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2024)  (Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2024) The Republican Farm Bill draft in the U.S. House of Representatives, released on Friday, May 17, is a broad attack on pesticide restrictions and the right to sue chemical manufacturers and allied users of pesticides when harmed. “This legislation is a complete nonstarter for the millions of people who want stronger pesticide restrictions, democratic decision making on toxic chemicals in communities, and the right to sue manufacturers and pesticide users when harmed and misled on the hazards of pesticides,” said Jay Feldman, executive director. “We vehemently oppose this Republican legislation with the understanding and experience—bridging farmers, medical practitioners, land managers, local policy makers, and families—that we can and must transition to safe practices and products that protect our health, biodiversity, and climate,” Mr. Feldman continued. The Farm Bill attack takes place on many critical fronts. The draft legislation: 1. Takes away the right to sue for failure to warn when harmed by pesticides. The language says: “prohibit. . .a court from directly or indirectly imposing or continuing in effect any requirements for, or penalize or hold liable any entity for failing to comply with requirements with respect to, labeling or […]

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Multiple Studies Demonstrate the Importance of Strengthening Organic in the Farm Bill

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2024) As research continues to emerge on the value of organic farming, U.S. Congress debates its future as Farm Bill negotiations have been stalled for months. Recent studies published within the past few months show the significance of organic agriculture’s support of fungal and microbial life, which is essential to soil health. Meanwhile, last week the Democrat-led Senate and Republican-led House of Representatives presented their respective visions to amend the 2024 Farm Bill. The office of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released an initial Senate framework for the (now 2024) Farm Bill. At the same time, U.S. Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA), chair of the House Agriculture Committee, released an outline of the House version, then followed up with more details. While the Senate Democratic proposal includes more robust support for expanding and strengthening organic product supply chains and domestic production, the House Republican support for organic land management principles and practices demonstrates that the Farm Bill could recognize, across the political spectrum, its economic, ecological, and public health benefits in the United States. Despite this, a growing coalition of advocates is alerting the public and members of Congress that the […]

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EPA Draft Herbicide Strategy Update Further Weakens Plan to Protect Endangered Species

Wednesday, April 24th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2024) On April 16, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an “update” to the Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework (Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework to Reduce Exposure of Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Species and Designated Critical Habitats from the Use of Conventional Agricultural Herbicides) that was released last summer, weakening aspects of the agency’s efforts to “protect” endangered species from herbicide use. The update outlines three types of modifications to the Draft Strategy, including “simplifying” its approach, increasing growers’ “flexibility” when applying mitigation measures, and reducing the mitigation measures required in certain situations. By reducing the stringency of the Strategy, advocates are again questioning EPA’s commitment to fulfilling legal requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or protecting endangered species and their habitats in the midst of an unprecedented rate of global extinction. ESA is celebrated as one of the most far-reaching conservation laws globally, credited with preventing the extinction of 99 percent of those species the government targets for protection, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). ESA establishes a framework to categorize species as “endangered” or “threatened,” granting them specific protections. Under ESA, EPA is required to consult with relevant agencies […]

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U.S. Acts To Block Mexico’s Protection of Traditional Varieties against Contamination from Engineered Corn, Challenges Food Sovereignty

Monday, April 8th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2024) When Mexico in 2020 decided to protect its traditional varieties of corn for reasons of health, safety, environmental protection, and food sovereignty with the banning of the importation of genetically engineered (GE or GM-genetically modified) corn by 2024, the powerful biotech industry and the U.S. government began a concerted campaign to stop the country’s efforts. With the opposition spearheaded by BIO, “the world’s largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations” (as described in its March 15 press release), including companies like Bayer/Monsanto, the U.S government is calling Mexico’s action a trade barrier. The U.S. is invoking the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the trade agreement that replaced the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 2020. This is just one of the latest examples of corporate power reigning over U.S. environmental and economic policies. Mexico has already announced a delay in the planned April 1 ban on the importation, production, distribution, and use of glyphosate. Interestingly, this is all happening despite reports that the Biden administration is seeking to “tackle corporate abuses,” which is apparently limited  to tax reform and […]

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Maine Fund to Compensate Farmers for PFAS Contaminated Land Underscores Need for Action

Thursday, March 28th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2024) Last week, Maine Central reported the first application was filed for Maine’s first-in-the nation PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) Fund. This $70 million federal-state Fund to Address PFAS Contamination (PFAS Fund) provides compensation for commercial farmers whose health, business, and land have been impacted by PFAS contamination. A critical component of this fund enables the state to purchase contaminated farmland at fair market, pre-contamination value, which in the state of Maine hovers at approximately $3,729 per acre when including estimated market value of land and buildings, according to newly released data in the 2022 Census of Agriculture. “Maine became the first state to ban sludge recycling and approve a 2030 ban on PFAS in nonessential products,” according to reporting by Maine Central. The state of Maine has exhibited extraordinary leadership in prioritizing public health, ecosystems, and the environment, setting an example for addressing a widespread contamination problem at the local, state, and national level. However, advocates in Maine are raising warnings after the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, according to reporting by Portland Press Herald, proposed “a compromise plan to regulate the sale of products containing forever chemicals [which] would exempt some federally regulated industries […]

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Study Finds Copper Sulfate and Glyphosate in Waterways, Linked to Human and Environmental Hazards

Tuesday, March 26th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2024) The authors of a case study in Canale D’Aiedda, Taranto, Italy, published in Scientific Reports, conclude that, “[T]he results of monitoring and modeling activities revealed a chronic risk associated with the presence of Cu [copper] from November to April in several river reaches and acute risk associated to the presence of glyphosate in several reaches mainly in the wet season.”  According to the authors, “The most important factor influencing the chronic risk for Cu were the combination of two factors: the high surface runoff and the Cu applications. The most important factor influencing the glyphosate peaks of concentration is the streamflow.” The authors of the study measure the flow of pesticide concentrations through the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT). The ecotoxicological data was collected at two stations in Germany that flow into Italy, within the Canale d’Aiedda basin. The streamflow was monitored between August 2017 and December 2019. Out of hundreds of pesticides and six metabolities investigated in this study, “only traces of copper and glyphosate were found.” The authors continue, “The banks and the bed of the river system are almost all covered by concrete. The hydrological regime is natural and intermittent in […]

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Mexico Ban on Genetically Engineered Corn Imports Spurs Challenge from U.S. and Canada under Trade Agreement

Wednesday, March 20th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 20, 2024) A report by CBAN unpacks the ecosystem and wildlife health impacts of genetically engineered (GE) corn in the context of Mexico’s 2023 decision to stop its importation into the country. The phase out of genetically modified (GM) corn imports into Mexico was immediately challenged by the U.S. and Canadian governments as a trade violation under the 2020 U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the primary vehicle for North American trade policy. In August 2023, the U.S. Trade Representative set up a dispute settlement panel under USMCA to stop Mexico from going forward with its ban. There has been no public update from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as of this writing. The CBAN report highlights the scientific rationale underpinning Mexico’s decision to “safeguard the integrity of native corn from GM contamination and to protect human health” with this ban. In 2020, Mexico announced a four-year phase-out of the weed killer glyphosate, which along with other petrochemical herbicides is integral to GM corn production. When Mexico’s Minister of the Environment announced the phase-out, he said it is part of an effort to transform the country’s food system […]

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Take Action: Pesticide Manufacturers Ask States To Shield Them from Lawsuits by Those Harmed

Monday, February 26th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2024) Beyond Pesticides today launched an action to stop a nationwide campaign by chemical manufacturers to shield themselves from liability cases filed by those who have been harmed by pesticide products. As widely reported, Bayer/Monsanto has been hit with numerous jury awards and settlements totaling billions of dollars for adverse health effects associated with their weed killer glyphosate (RoundupTM). After unsuccessfully seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of two of these cases, the industry is now pushing legislation in state legislatures that will shield them from future liability litigation. This is not the first time that the pesticide and toxic chemical industry has sought protection from the states after losing in the highest U.S. Court. After the Supreme Court upheld the right of localities to restrict pesticides more stringently than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory agencies in Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier (501 U.S. 597, 1991), the industry went to every state legislature in the country to seek state preemption of their local jurisdictions’ authority to restrict pesticides. They were successful in putting state preemption laws in place in 43 states and have since added another.   Having failed in the courts, history is […]

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Bayer/Monsanto in Roundup/Glyphosate Case Stung with Largest Multi-Billion Dollar Jury Award, Asks States to Stop Litigation

Friday, February 23rd, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2024) The latest string of billion-dollar plaintiff judgments against Bayer/Monsanto, the maker of Roundup™ with active ingredient glyphosate, does not yet signal a capitulation by Bayer or a win for public health or the environment in the United States. A jury award of $2.25 billion, the largest to-date, was handed down in Philadelphia in January. As Beyond Pesticides reported previously, Monsanto has a long history of challenging scientific findings on Roundup/glyphosate and evidence of harm to human health, the environment, and crops themselves (see resistant super weeds here and here), as it seeks to avoid liability claims by those suffering from cancer.  Bayer Looking to State Legislatures for Protection from Lawsuits  As result of its failure in quash lawsuits, Bayer has moved its case to state legislatures, where it is seeking the adoption of statutes that preempt liability claims by damaged parties.  As reported by Beyond Pesticides, a rash of state legislation has been introduced in Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, and Florida, which would block plaintiff liability claims when pesticide products, like Roundup, cause harm. The chemical industry pushes the notion that the registration of its pesticide products with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a […]

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Weed Killer 2,4-D’s Adverse Effect on the Liver Adds to List of Hazards from Food, Lawn, and Water Residues

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2024) In addition to its effects including cancer, and reproductive, immune or nervous system disruption, according to international findings, a review published in Toxics finds that the the widely used weed killer 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) causes significant changes in liver structure and function. 2,4-D can damage liver cells, tissue, and inflammatory responses through the induction of oxidative stress. The liver, the largest solid organ in the human body, is an essential part of the digestive system responsible for blood detoxification, nutrient metabolization, and immune function regulation. However, rates of chronic liver diseases are increasing, representing the second leading cause of mortality among all digestive diseases in the U.S. In fact, researchers warn of the rise in liver disorders and metabolic syndrome among young people. Therefore, reviews like this highlight the research available to make decisions on safeguarding human health from chemical exposure to mitigate further disease outcomes and complications. 2,4-D is used on turf, lawns, and rights-of-way, as well as in forestry and aquatic systems. 2,4-D products are available as liquid, dust, and granule fields, as well as fruit and vegetable crops, including in genetically engineered crop production. The chemical is widely used in “weed and feed” lawn products. It is […]

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Court Strikes Down EPA’s Allowance of Weedkiller Dicamba after Scathing Inspector General Report

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2024) Last week, the United States District Court for the District of Arizona struck down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2021 approval of three dicamba-based herbicides. This is the second lawsuit since 2020 to call out EPA’s violation to both the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to authorize the use of over-the-top (OTT) dicamba-based herbicide products from Bayer and other petrochemical pesticide companies. This rejection of dicamba-based herbicides fuels advocates’ push for stronger regulatory actions by EPA for all petrochemical pesticides and their push for the more widespread adoption of organic practices that do not use these chemicals. The case was filed by Center for Food Safety (CFS), Center for Biological Diversity, National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America. Beyond Pesticides has covered the dicamba tragedy for years, including the EPA Office of the Inspector General’s critical 2021 report, EPA Deviated from its Typical Procedures in Its 2018 Dicamba Pesticide Registration Decision. The report identifies EPA’s abandonment of science and assault on agency integrity. In addition to citing adverse impact on nontarget crops and the environment, the Court zeroes in on EPA’s failure to adequately manage […]

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Amid Damning Criticism of Its Scientific Integrity, EPA Takes Public Comments on Updated Policy

Monday, February 12th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2024) Public Comments Due February 23, 2024. As the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) takes public comments on its updated scientific integrity policy (until February 23, 2024), Beyond Pesticides issued an action and reminds the agency that when it fails to carry out its mission to protect health and the environment—by allowing use of pesticides that are known to be hazardous and not fairly and scientifically evaluated, it is responsible for a toxic tragedy that has debilitating and deadly consequences for people and the ecosystems critical to sustaining life. Key to the recommendations Beyond Pesticides is urging EPA to consider are the following: (i) incorporate independent and emerging science into its chemical reviews; (ii) Update protocol to keep pace with new science; (iii) address vulnerabilities of those at highest risk, including those with preexisting health conditions; (iv) consider safer alternatives in calculating unreasonable risk; (v) disclose uncertainties associated with agency science or data gaps, and (vi) establish criminal penalties for EPA staff integrity violations. In the wake of intense criticism of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientific integrity, the agency has announced updates to its scientific integrity guidelines. As the agency acknowledges in its 2012 Scientific Integrity Policy: […]

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Mother’s Glyphosate Exposure During Pregnancy Increases Child’s Risk of Poor Brain Function and Development

Thursday, February 8th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2024) A study published in Environmental Research finds an association between adverse neurodevelopment (brain function and development) among infants and exposure to the herbicide glyphosate during pregnancy (gestational). Moreover, neurodevelopment becomes more pronounced at 24 months or two years. The increasing prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) in the United States has raised concerns about the impact of toxic exposures on child development. Given the disproportionate exposure burden in the U.S., children from marginalized groups and low-income families are more likely to face a variety of harmful threats that can negatively affect childhood development. These disparities are linked to neurodevelopmental disorders. NDDs are defined as conditions related to the functioning of the nervous system and the brain, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, learning difficulties, intellectual disability (cognitive impairment), conduct disorders, cerebral palsy, and challenges related to vision and hearing. Therefore, the study notes, “Given glyphosate’s wide usage, further investigation into the impact of gestational glyphosate exposure on neurodevelopment is warranted.” The study includes mother-child pairs in a Puerto Rican birth cohort called PROTECT-CRECE, which measures urinary glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA; a metabolite [breakdown product]) of glyphosate) levels from mother and child for analysis. The study collected samples from the mother up to […]

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The Fallacy of Glyphosate Exemptions Demonstrates the Importance of Sound Science on Hazards and Solutions

Tuesday, January 30th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2024) The City Council of Brighton and Hove (England) is preparing to expand the use of glyphosate after widespread public complaints over the growth of Japanese knotweed and a program of manual clearance. This imminent local land management decision flies in the face of substantial research on the health and ecological impacts of glyphosate-based herbicides, including from Aaron Blair, PhD—former chair of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group on glyphosate and former branch chief (now scientist emeritus) of the Occupational Studies Section, National Cancer Institute (NCI). Advocates are concerned that the city council is basing this rationale on the fact that the European Commission reapproved use of glyphosate in 2023 for a ten-year period and not the body of scientific literature on health and ecosystem effects as well as alternative practices and products. According to a recent ENDS Report, “The [City of Brighton and Hove] council banned the use of glyphosate in 2019 – with an exception for killing invasive species [‘in exceptional cases’] such as Japanese Knotweed – after it was linked to health concerns and a decline in bee populations. As part of this it was agreed that the removal […]

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Study Shines Light on Common Herbicides 2,4-D and Glyphosate Impacts on Behavioral Function

Friday, January 19th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2024) A study published in Environmental Health Perspective is one of the first to indicate a link between exposure to the herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate and the impairment of behavioral performance (i.e., attention/inhibitory control, memory/learning, language, visuospatial processing, and social perception). These adverse effects associated with the neurotoxic impacts of pesticides on behavior have been previously documented. For example, a study in August 2023 finds oral intake (e.g., eating contaminated foods), inhalation, and dermal exposure to glyphosate lowered cognitive function scores, increased the likelihood of severe depressive symptoms, and impaired auditory (hearing) function. Although previous studies find neurotoxic effects from exposure to these herbicides, very few until now have evaluated how this neurotoxic exposure impacts neurotypical behavior among youth (children and teenagers). The ubiquitous use of glyphosate and 2,4-D use in agriculture—which leaves residues of the toxic chemicals in food and in public areas (e.g., parks and walkways) creates a creates a significant risk for exposure. Glyphosate is already implicated in or proven to lead to the development of numerous health anomalies, including cancer, while 2,4-D also has a range of potential hazards, including cancer. Therefore, studies like this help local and government officials make holistic decisions regarding the use […]

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Loss of Chromosome Y in Male Farmers Genotoxic Implications for Cancer

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2024) A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds elevated, chronic exposure to glyphosate throughout one’s lifetime increases the risk of mosaic loss of chromosome Y (loss of chromosome Y occurs to many men in some cells due to aging [mLOY]) that impacts a noticeable fraction of cells. Although the loss of this sex chromosome does not cause cell death, like the loss of autosomal chromosomes, the risk of mLOY is a biomarker for genotoxicity (the damage of genetic information within a cell causing mutations from chemical exposure, which may lead to cancer) and expansion of cellular response to glyphosate, resulting in the precursor for hematological (blood) cancers. This study is one of the first to identify sex-specific chromosome degradation, with stark evidence demonstrating links to various cancers, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified the glyphosate as a probable carcinogen or cancer-causing chemical. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) allowance of widespread use of glyphosate allows for adverse impacts, especially among vulnerable individuals, like pregnant women, infants, children, and the elderly. Glyphosate exposure levels and resulting residues in urine has been documented with recent data showing that four out of five (81.6%) […]

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Low-Dose Chronic Glyphosate Exposure Increases Diet-Induced Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Thursday, December 21st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2023) A new study published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology adds to prior research indicating glyphosate promotes the occurrence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) through diet by causing liver inflammation and oxidative stress. More importantly, the predisposition for NAFLD occurred at levels within toxicological limits, which are doses of glyphosate classified as causing no adverse effects or No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL). NAFLD is a condition that causes swelling of the liver and can eventually lead to cirrhosis, cancer, or liver failure. This study highlights the Westernized diet (WD), comprised of foods enriched in saturated fats, cholesterol, and simple carbohydrates (e.g., fructose, glucose, and sucrose), plays a role in the nearly 40 percent increased risk of NAFLD. Although glyphosate disrupts gut microbes and induces liver inflammation, oxidative stress, and fatty acid levels that promote NAFLD, the combination of WD and glyphosate reduces the threshold risk for NAFLD development. NAFLD is a growing worldwide epidemic, becoming the most prevalent form of liver disease and impacting at least 25 percent of the globe. Therefore, studies like this shed light on how diet and chemical exposure can work synergistically (together) to exacerbate disease risk. The study evaluates whether choric […]

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Groups Petition EPA to Remove from the Market the Weed Killer Glyphosate

Tuesday, December 19th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2023) Last week, farmworker organizations and Beyond Pesticides, represented by the Center for Food Safety, filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging that the weed killer glyphosate be removed from the market. The petition cites 200 studies, which represent a fraction of the independent scientific literature on the hazards of glyphosate and formulation ingredients of glyphosate products. This action follows previous litigation in 2022 in which a federal court of appeals struck down EPA’s human health assessment, finding that the agency wrongfully dismissed glyphosate’s cancer risk. The farmworker groups petitioning include Farmworker Association of Florida, OrganizaciĂłn en California de Lideres Campesinas, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, and the Rural Coalition.   Meanwhile, verdicts against glyphosate’s manufacturer, Bayer, continue to pile up with a December jury verdict in Pennsylvania awarding $3.5 million and a November jury in Missouri ordering $1.56 billion to be paid to four plaintiffs. All link their cancer to use of the Roundup. Bayer has lost almost all of the cases filed against it for compensation and punitive damages associated with plaintiffs’ charge that its product (previously manufactured by Monsanto) caused them harm.  The petition summarizes its purpose and justification as […]

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Glyphosate Exposure Linked to Behavioral and Gut Health Concerns in New Studies

Wednesday, November 15th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2023) A study previously published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is drawing renewed attention to the gut microbiome in the scientific community. The study, involving a team including Demetrio Sierra-Mercado, PhD, of the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, initially established a link between glyphosate exposure and increased anxiety and fear-related behavior in rats. Glyphosate, a widely-used herbicide, has been detected in trace amounts in fruits, vegetables, grains, and other food and beverages, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Originally deemed safe for humans due to the way it interacts with the shikimic acid pathway—a metabolic route that is absent in humans—glyphosate’s indirect effects on human health are now under scrutiny as the research linking it to anxiety-like behavior grows.  Dr. Sierra-Mercado’s team is expanding on his previous research to take a closer look at the compound’s potential disruption of the gut microbiome, which plays a pivotal role in regulating both physical and mental health. His upcoming study, anticipated in August 2024, aims to delve into the intricate relationship between glyphosate exposure and the gut-brain axis, with a focus on how this may influence neurological and emotional health […]

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Protection of Children from Pesticides under Threat in Farm Bill Negotiations, Data Shows

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2023) Two-hundred-foot pesticide spray “buffer zones” around 4,028 U.S. elementary schools contiguous to crop fields—according to data evaluated by Environmental Working Group—are threatened by potential Farm Bill amendments now under consideration. Legislative language, if adopted, would take away (preempt) the authority of states and local jurisdictions to protect children and restrict agricultural pesticides used near schools. Pesticide drift is a widespread problem throughout the U.S. that has attracted national attention in recent years because of crop damage caused by the weed killer dicamba in numerous midwestern states. In the face of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to mitigate drift hazards, states enact limits on when and how pesticides can be used, establish buffer zones around application sites, and in some cases, ban uses. In 2018, Arkansas banned dicamba use from mid-April through the end of October (and survived a Monsanto challenge to the ban. For a historical perspective on the drift issue, see Getting the Drift on Pesticide Trespass. Children, in particular, face unique risks from pesticide and toxic chemical exposures. Due to their smaller body size, they absorb a higher relative amount of pesticides through the food they consume and the air they breathe. Additionally, children’s developing […]

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Pesticide-Intensive Agricultural Practices Lead to Elevated Childhood Cancer Rates in Brazil

Tuesday, November 7th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2023) Two decades after the introduction of genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant crops and the consequential exponential growth in weed killers, Brazil is seeing an increase in childhood cancer. This is the conclusion reached in a comprehensive study spanning 15 years (2004-2019), “Agriculture Intensification and Childhood Cancer in Brazil,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in October. For the past 20 years, soybean herbicides have been killing and sickening children in the Cerrado and Amazon regions–where soybean cultivation is concentrated. The study reveals a link between an increase in soy cultivation and a spike in cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer affecting children, among indirectly exposed populations. Researchers identify pesticide-contaminated drinking water as the driving force behind the increased cancer rates occurring downstream from soybean sites.  In 2003, Brazil legalized its first official genetically modified (GM) crop, welcoming the era of GM soybeans and sparking a radical transformation in its agricultural landscape–for better or worse. The introduction of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybean seed promised farmers an efficient and herbicide-resistant alternative to traditional crops. A significant shift occurred in the areas dedicated to soy cultivation in the Cerrado region, tripling from […]

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EPA To Allow Genetically-Based Pesticides, Incomplete Testing, and Documented Adverse Effects

Friday, October 27th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2023) In a typical move, EPA proposes to greenlight a type of genetic engineering to solve a problem created by the industrial paradigm for pest control, i.e. vast acreages of monoculture treated with millions of tons of toxic pesticides leading to rapid resistance among crop pests. In this case EPA wants to approve using a nucleic acid—double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)–called “interfering RNA,” or RNAi—to silence a gene crucial to the survival of the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB), the scourge of potato farmers around the world. But EPA has skipped over important steps in its decision-making process and rushed to judgment. Like chemical pesticides, genetically-based pesticides are regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In 2020, Massachusetts-based GreenLight Biosciences applied for registration of its RNAi active ingredient, Ledprona, and its end-use product, Calantha. The company executive heading the effort is an alumnus of Monsanto and several other major chemical companies. Last May EPA granted GreenLight an Experimental Use Permit (EUP) authorizing field studies in states that produce tons of potatoes. A mere five months later, EPA announced its decision to approve the registration based almost entirely on incomplete EUP data and giving the public very […]

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Don’t Get Comfortable: Government Shutdown Exacerbates Food Safety Threats

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2023) As the immediate threat of a government shutdown has temporarily subsided, concerns are mounting over the potential threats to food safety in the United States if the government shuts down in mid-November. Experts are warning that a shutdown could jeopardize critical food safety inspections and oversight. A partial government shutdown in 2019 disrupted federal oversight of food monitoring for various pathogens and pesticides, as labs were shuttered, with agency employees furloughed. See Beyond Pesticide’s reporting about food safety risks during the last government shutdown. However, it should be noted that residues of pesticides in food continue to raise concerns about safety of food grown in chemical-intensive (conventional) farming operations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) contingency plans dictate that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continue its regulatory inspection of meat, poultry, and egg products, as mandated by law. However, it is important to note that the FSIS will operate with a reduced workforce, with a portion of employees deemed “essential personnel” for food safety operations. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is also preparing for a potential shutdown. According to HHS’s contingency […]

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