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Seeds Coated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides Again Identified as an Important Factor in Butterfly Decline

Friday, June 28th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2024) Most people don’t like bugs, but the fact is that insects form the foundation of human flourishing, both for their ecosystems services, like pollination of food crops, and for their aesthetic joys. But insect populations globally are declining two to four percent a year, with total losses over 20 years of 30-50 percent, according to a new study of the interacting effects of pesticides, climate, and land use changes on insects’ status in the Midwest. Teasing out the relative influence of these stressors has been a major obstacle in determining the causes of the declines and ways to mitigate them. The icon of insect beauty in the U.S. is the monarch butterfly, whose vibrant coloring, elegant form, and spectacular migrations inspire everyone. Beyond Pesticides has covered the distressing decline of these creatures, most recently in the June 24 Daily News. Monarchs prefer milkweed plants, but also visit many other flowers. Milkweed often grows along the margins of fields, so monarchs are widely exposed to pesticides and habitat disturbances associated with agriculture. The new study was published in PLoS One by a team of scientists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Michigan State University, […]

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Biosolid Biohazard: EPA Sued for Failing to Protect Farmers and Public from PFAS-Contaminated Biosolids

Thursday, June 27th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2024) Earlier this month, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of a group of ranchers and farmers in Texas harmed by biosolids contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The plaintiffs charge that their health and livelihoods were severely damaged due to contaminated biosolids leaching from neighboring properties onto their land. Despite EPA’s responsibility under the Clean Water Act (Section 405(d) and 40 CFR Part 503) to identify toxic pollutants in biosolids and regulate them to protect human health and the environment, the agency has not effectively addressed the dangers posed by PFAS in biosolid fertilizers. EPA’s failure has dramatic impacts on farmers as well as the public, who are eating or drinking PFAS-contaminated crops, dairy milk, beef, or other meat products. The shortcomings of federal regulations underscore the urgent need for a shift in how federal and state agencies approach these issues, prioritizing precaution to prevent future harm. The persistence of these legacy or “forever” chemicals in the environment illustrates the severe consequences of a historically lax regulatory framework in the U.S.  The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has identified […]

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Antibiotic-Resistance Genes Rise with Pesticide Application, as Study Adds to a Plethora of Findings

Wednesday, May 29th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2024) A study from the Academy of Biology and Biotechnologies and the Federal Rostov Agricultural Research Centre adds to the body of science linking pesticide use with negative impacts on soil health and bacterial communities. Antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs), considered a class of pollutants, are found in certain types of bacteria and can spread through the environment and subsequently to humans and animals. This study, performed by researchers and soil experts, found an increase in specific bacterial families that host ARGs with exposure to pesticides.  The study aims to identify the role of agricultural soils in ARG transfer and to assess the presence and prevalence of bacterial families with and without exposure to fertilizers and pesticides. Since soil serves as a habitat for a wide range of bacteria, including many that are resistant to antibiotics, analyzing the organisms within soil samples is an indicator of overall environmental health. Agricultural soils are essential in food production, and as this study states, “[I]ntensive exploitation of such soils implies the widespread use of various chemical plant protection products (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides) and mineral fertilizers, which contribute to pollution and a decrease in soil quality.”   Within this field study, there is […]

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To Make Regenerative Meaningful, It Must Require Organic Certification as a Starting Point, according to Advocates

Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2024) Public comments are due May 29, 2024. With 40 percent of all vegetables grown in the U.S. coming from the state of California, the current state level process to define “regenerative agriculture” could have major impact on land management practices that address the current climate, biodiversity, and health crises. That is, according to advocates, if the process, directed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) departs from a history of poorly defined and unenforceable terms like Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Sustainable Agriculture. Virtually all consumers of food have a stake in the outcome of the definition of “regenerative,” so the current public comment period, which closes tomorrow, May 29, 2024, can help influence the outcome. As Beyond Pesticides has reported previously, the term “regenerative” is now increasingly being advanced as a loosely defined alternative to the organic standard and label, which is transparent, defined, certified, enforced, and subject to public input. The  publication AgFunderNews (AFN) in February published its updated “2024 list of agrifood corporates making regenerative agriculture commitments,” a who’s who of the largest food and agribusiness corporations worldwide. The list includes companies such as ADM, Cargill, Danone, General Mills, Tyson, Unilever, Walmart, and more with commitments […]

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Study Identifies Developmental Effects from Neonicotinoid Insecticides that Harm Biodiversity

Thursday, May 16th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2024) In a recent study at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Ulm University in Germany, published in Current Research in Toxicology, scientists exposed embryos of South African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) to three neonicotinoids (NEOs), which led to developmental effects down to a molecular level. These frogs are a well-established model species often used in ecotoxicology studies as bioindicators for overall environmental and ecosystem health. When amphibian species like Xenopus laevis are exposed to contaminants in the water, it leads to negative impacts in the food chain and harms biodiversity. The study concludes that exposure to NEOs directly or through contaminated water leaves entire ecosystems vulnerable.    The NEOs that the embryos were subjected to include imidacloprid (IMD), thiamethoxam (TMX), and its metabolite clothianidin (CLO). NEOs are a class of insecticides that target the central nervous system of insects and lead to death. These insecticides pose a potential hazard to nontarget organisms, such as animals and humans, since they are persistent in the environment and “are found in natural waters as well as in tap water and human urine in regions where NEOs are widely used,” this study states. The authors continue by […]

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Study Quantifies Cost of Pesticide Resistance, while Advocates Chart a Course Beyond Pesticides

Tuesday, May 7th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2024) The marginal user costs (MUC) of pesticide resistance for chemical-intensive farmers and the pest management industry are significantly affected by pesticide costs, density dependence (growth rate of a pest population impacted by its density), and dominant genetic mutations that cause resistance, according to a novel study published in Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. Although the authors believe that integrated pest management (IPM) can be fine-tuned based on these findings, many advocates believe that these findings in fact underscore the importance of eliminating toxic pesticide use amidst compounding climate, biodiversity, and public health crises—which many IPM strategies do not adequately address. As the costs of petrochemical-based pesticides increase, organisms identified as pests continue to increase in population density as global and regional temperatures dually increase. Organic agriculture, and organic land management principles more broadly, are an economically and ecologically advantageous leap ahead in transitioning to a food system that moves beyond the status quo that poisons people and the planet. “This paper seeks to develop a better understanding of how the user costs of resistance are potentially determined by the interactions of heterogeneous bioeconomic factors that vary by context,” say the study authors. […]

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“Forever Chemical” PFAS Drinking Water Rules Issued, Urgency to Shift from Petrochemicals Pesticides

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 17, 2024) With headlines drawing public attention to the contamination of drinking water after years of federal government neglect, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 10 new standards to reduce public exposure to PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because of their persistence. EPA has finalized a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for six PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, which EPA has recognized have no safe level of exposure, regulating new chemicals for the first time since the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). PFAS persistence and bioaccumulation in humans, wildlife, and the environment is due to the strength of a resulting fluorine–carbon atom bond. PFAS contamination of drinking water, surface and groundwater, waterways, soils, and the food supply—among other resources—is ubiquitous worldwide. PFAS is used in everyday products, including cookware, clothes, carpets, as an anti-sticking and anti-stain agent, in plastics, machinery, and as a pesticide. The action was welcomed by environmentalists and public health advocates as an important step but left many concerned that any level of exposure to these chemicals is unacceptable and critical of EPA’s ongoing failure to act despite years […]

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Chemical-Intensive Practices in Florida Citrus Lead to Harm and Collapse, as Organic Methods Offer Path Forward

Thursday, April 11th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2024) Scientists are moving forward in testing an agroecological method of “push-pull” pest management (reducing the attractiveness of the target organism and luring pest insects towards a trap) to fight the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) in Florida orange groves, as it spreads a plant disease known as the pathogenic bacteria huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, which is deadly to citrus trees. The disease is spread by the pathogenic bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas).  The chemical-intensive, or conventional, citrus industry is under intense pressure to find alternatives, as synthetic antibiotic use for this purpose has been successfully challenged in court. ACP is the carrier, or vector, for HLB, spreading it through the citrus groves and killing the trees. The chemical-intensive industry has focused on using antibiotics, which the environmental and public health community has rejected because of serious medical concerns associated with life-threatening bacterial resistance to antibiotics used to protect humans. A federal district court decision in December 2023 found illegal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to register the antibiotic streptomycin in Florida citrus without adequate review of its impact on endangered species. The streptomycin lawsuit, filed in 2021 by a coalition of […]

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Study Shows the Prevalence of Toxic Pesticide Leaching into Groundwater Reserves Is an International Concern

Tuesday, March 12th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2024) A study released in Science of the Total Environment unpacks the threat of emerging chemicals of concern (CECs), including toxic pesticides, in the groundwater of Tunisia. Researchers highlight that the impact of pesticide drift and leaching into groundwater reserves is not siloed to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, but a key concern for most industrialized countries, including the United States. Authors of this study build on literature of CECs already conducted in the region that have broader implications for the spillover effects of pesticide regulation in broader contexts. This descriptive study and accompanying Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) demonstrate the urgency of Beyond Pesticides’ mission to ban toxic petrochemical pesticides by 2032 because of the pervasiveness of toxic residues, be it pesticides, antibiotics, or other substances, from groundwater systems to human bodies. The researchers performed the tests in thirteen wells in the Grombalia shallow aquifer, an area of northeast Tunisia that feeds into the Wadi El Bay watershed, which is defined as a “high population density [with] intensive agricultural activity [in ‘one of the most polluted areas in Tunisia’].” The researchers gathered data “during two seasons and were analyzed with two high resolution […]

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“Regenerative” Agriculture Still Misses the Mark in Defining a Path to a Livable Future

Thursday, March 7th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2024) As the threats to health, biodiversity, and climate converge in agricultural policy and practices, the question of defining the fundamental changes necessary to reverse these existential crises takes on life-sustaining importance. Despite the existence of an organic community with governing stakeholders (farmers, consumers, conservationists, retailers, processors, inspectors, and scientists) that has evolved over at least seven decades and is codified in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990, the term “regenerative” is now increasingly being advanced as a loosely defined alternative to the organic standard and label, which is transparent, defined, certified, enforced, and subject to public input. The publication AgFunderNews (AFN) last month published its updated “2024 list of agrifood corporates making regenerative agriculture commitments,” a who’s who of the largest food and agribusiness corporations worldwide. The list includes companies such as ADM, Cargill, Danone, General Mills, Tyson, Unilever, Walmart, and more with commitments to millions of acres in their supply chain practicing “regenerative” agriculture with target dates ranging from 2024 to 2050. The AFN author reporting on the “regenerative” trend states, “[O]ne big challenge is that ‘regenerative agriculture’ still has no set definition. While that still holds true, the bigger observation in […]

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FDA Cites Resistance to Medically Important Antimicrobials as Critical Health Issue

Thursday, January 11th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2024) In a move to safeguard public and animal health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned nine manufacturers and distributors in December last year to stop selling unapproved and misbranded antimicrobial animal drugs, with the director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, Tracey Forfa, explaining to the public that “inappropriate use of medically important antimicrobials contributes to the development of antimicrobial resistance, which affects both human and animal health.”  This action and announcement exhibit a higher degree of concern about antimicrobial resistance—understood as a growing worldwide pandemic—than the history and ongoing inaction by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—resulting in the allowance of widespread nonmedical uses of antibiotics in agriculture and on synthetic (or artificial) turf. Contrary to broad scientific understanding, EPA told a federal appeals court last year that, “There is no data that antibiotic use in agriculture leads to the presence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria of human health concern,” and that “[a]t the present time, there is little evidence for or against the presence of microbes of human health concern in the plant agricultural environment.” The issue of resistance discussed in the scientific literature concerns reduced susceptibility to clinically important antimicrobials, […]

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Commentary: We Can and Must Stop Antibiotic Pesticide Use in the Interest of Public Health Worldwide

Monday, January 8th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2024) Despite successful litigation that stopped the unnecessary use of an antibiotic (streptomycin) in citrus production in December 2023, the court’s reasoning fails to grasp the science behind the biggest emerging threat to U.S. and global health—antibiotic resistance. What is most disturbing and challenging is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), responsible for applying science in the protection of the public’s health, misled the court on the overwhelming worldwide scientific consensus on the contribution of agricultural antibiotic use to the human death and disability rate linked to antibiotic resistance. On this subject, Beyond Pesticides has written extensively about horizontal gene transfer, which explains the movement of antibiotic resistant bacteria throughout the environment, ultimately making their way to people, as medically necessary drugs become ineffective. As we’ve written, “The human pathogenic organisms themselves do not need to be sprayed by the antibiotic because movement of genes in bacteria is not solely “vertical,” that is from parent to progeny—but can be “horizontal”— from one bacterial species to another.” [Regarding the reliance of the court on EPA’s misrepresentation of the science, the court found, ”EPA emphasized that ‘there is no data that antibiotic use in agriculture leads to […]

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Court Finds EPA Allowance of Antibiotic Streptomycin Use on Citrus Illegal

Wednesday, December 20th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2023) A federal district court decision last week (December 13) found illegal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to register the antibiotic streptomycin for use in Florida citrus to control Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as “citrus greening,” a plant disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid. This decision comes just as EPA may allow yet another controversial pesticide, aldicarb, whose registration faces similar issues of agency malfeasance. The streptomycin lawsuit, filed in 2021 by a coalition of farmworker and public interest groups including Beyond Pesticides, raises critical issues of antibiotic resistance, public health protection, and impacts on bees. The case was filed by: Natural Resources Defense Council and U.S. PIRG, represented by NRDC; Beyond Pesticides, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida (ECOSWF), Farmworker Association of Florida, Farmworker Justice, and Migrant Clinicians Network, represented by Earthjustice; and the Center for Biological Diversity, represented by in-house counsel. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals took EPA to task for its failure to conduct required analyses and issue findings to support the use of streptomycin for citrus greening. The court is particularly concerned about the agency’s failure to reach findings on the impacts on bees and the agency’s responsibility for […]

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Metabolic Diseases, Including Diabetes and Obesity, Driven by Pesticide Exposure

Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2023) A study published in Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology finds organophosphate (OP), organochlorine (OC), and pyrethroid (PYR) pesticides have links to insulin resistance (IR) associated with metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney disease (CKD), and hypertension. Metabolic disorders are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, with over 11 percent (>37 million) of individuals in the U.S. having diabetes, and cases are growing by millions annually. Additionally, there is a rise in metabolic disorders among young people. Studies even find low levels of pesticide exposure during pregnancy or childhood cause adverse health effects, including metabolic disorders tied to gut microbiome disruption (dysbiosis). With increasing rates of diabetes and obesity, the two most prominent metabolic diseases in the study, cases among the global population, studies like these highlight the importance of evaluating how chemical contaminants deregulate normal bodily function through metabolic changes.  To investigate the association between pesticide exposure and insulin-related metabolic disorders in humans, researchers searched the PubMed database for articles, performing a systematic review. The study notes, “IR is defined as a pathological state in which a higher-than-normal level of insulin is required to produce the optimal response in cells.” The search generated 4,051 articles related to the topic. However, after excluding duplicates and […]

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Labeling Can Help Buyers Avoid Hazards of Petrochemical Fertilizers—Public Comment by Sep 11

Monday, August 28th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2023) As the need to eliminate petrochemical fertilizers looms large in the context of existing existential crises relating to health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency, the leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under increasing public scrutiny. One program that is being closely watched is the agency’s Safer Choice product labeling program which could, according to advocates, be strategic in differentiating in the marketplace those products that are not contributing to the climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, and dramatic health effects. Beyond Pesticides is advocating, in response to a request for public comment from EPA (due September 11, 2023), that EPA (under its Safer Choice program) evaluate fertilizers for compatibility with natural systems, protection of soil organisms, waterways, human health, and helping to mitigate the climate and biodiversity crises. With the Safer Choice label, consumers—from farmers, landscapers, to gardeners—could determine at the point of sale which fertilizer products are not contributing to the floods, fires, and loss of life associated with the climate crisis. Beyond Pesticides previously initiated an action urging that EPA’s Safer Choice program be more holistic and in sync with natural systems, not just a product substitution program. This week, Beyond […]

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Harmful Pollutants in Minnesota Waterways Highlights the Continuing Issue of Water Source Contamination

Friday, August 25th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2023) A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and National Park Service collaborative survey report finds a harmful mixture of pollutants, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, caffeine, methylparaben, algal toxins, and fecal and parasitic bacteria, in Pipestone Creek at Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota, U.S.— adding to evidence of widespread pesticide contamination in waterways across the U.S. Pesticide contamination in waterways is historically commonplace. A 1998 USGS analysis revealed pesticides are commonly found in all U.S. waterways, with at least one pesticide detectable. Thousands of tons of pesticides enter rivers and streams around the US from agricultural and nonagricultural sources, which contaminate essential drinking water sources, such as surface water and groundwater. As the number of pesticides in waterways increases, it has detrimental impacts on aquatic ecosystem health, especially as some pesticides work synergistically with others to increase the severity of the effect. Reports like these are significant tools for determining appropriate regulatory action to protect human, animal, and environmental health.  The survey collected water samples from Pipestone Creek, the pipestone quarries, and Winnewissa Falls, all of which are on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of impaired waters for turbidity (reduced water clarity) and fecal coliform bacteria (E. coli). Turbidity and fecal coliform […]

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Illness Tied to Petrochemicals’ Impact on Body’s Essential Mast Cells (immune system regulators), Study Finds

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2023

A recently completed study (available in preprint before peer review) identifies the development of what the authors term Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT), the constellation of symptoms associated with chemical exposures.

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Regulators Ignore Mosquito Resistance to Pesticides, Promoting Disease Transmission

Monday, August 7th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2023) Why is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowing the use of pesticides under the “unreasonable adverse effects” to health or the environment standard of the federal pesticide law (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act [FIFRA]) if the pesticides quickly lose their efficacy? Pest resistance to pesticides is a well-known biological mechanism that becomes problematic when farmers are faced with crop failure and economic loss. It becomes especially threatening when the goal is to manage insects that are a disease vector and when the regulatory process ignores nonchemical management strategies that are efficacious and sustainable. Tell EPA, Governors, and Congress that given the certainty of pesticide resistance, ecologically-based mosquito management must replace a reliance on pesticides. Insect resistance to insecticides has been an issue since the introduction of DDT in the 1940s. Although most countries currently ban DDT use, several currently used insecticides pose the same threat. In fact, resistance is predicted by elementary population genetics, and the speed of its evolution is directly related to the toxicity—that is, strength of selection pressure—and inversely related to the generation length of the organism. When that target organism of the pesticide is a disease vector, like West […]

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The Growing Insecticide Resistance Issue Increases Concerns Over Deadly Disease Transmission Through Mosquitos

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2023) A study published in Pest Management Science finds resistance to insecticides like pyrethroids are challenging attempts to control the mosquito Aedes aegypti (Ae. aegypti), the primary transmitter (vector) of dengue fever. While this study takes place in Bangladesh, resistance to biocides—whether to antibiotics, antimicrobials, or pesticides—is growing globally. Prevention of disease outbreaks is threatened by reliance on chemical biocides to which pathogens and their vectors develop resistance. In fact, resistance is predicted by elementary population genetics, and the speed of its evolution is directly related to the toxicity—that is, the strength of selection pressure—and inversely related to the generation length of the organism. (See PAY articles here and here, a PBS article here.) Insecticide resistance has been an issue since the introduction of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) in the 1940s. Although most countries currently ban DDT use, the compound is not the only chemical pesticide promoting pest resistance. Several current-use insecticides pose the same threat. Areawide, indiscriminate spraying of insecticides is causing resistance to develop among many pests. Mosquitoes have become increasingly resistant to synthetic pyrethroids, in addition to other classes of insecticides, such as carbamates and organophosphates. Thus, this study demonstrates the need for sustainable and practical strategies […]

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Study Elevates the Connection Between Pesticides, the Gut-Brain Axis, and Disease

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2023) Pesticides interfere with biological processes. This is their purpose. Unfortunately, they nearly always have unintended consequences, many of which have been ignored by their manufacturers. A new review article by Irish and Dutch researchers in the ISME Journal adds to the emerging scientific literature examining how pesticides affect the relationship between the human gut and the human brain (the “gut-brain axis”). Often called the “second brain” because it houses nerve cells and produces neurotransmitters, the gut-brain axis may be the most important locus where microbes and pesticides meet. The human gut plays host to a variety of microorganisms, ranging from bacteria and archaea to fungi, viruses and yeasts.[1] In a healthy person these microbes remain in balance and often cooperate both with each other and with human cells. The gut and the brain are deeply integrated through the vagus nerve and the neuroendocrine system. The vagus nerve is a treelike bundle of fibers extending from the lower part of the brain to nearly every body organ, but particularly the heart, lungs and digestive tract. The neuroendocrine system comprises specialized cells inhabiting nearly all the organs of the body that respond to signals from the brain […]

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Pesticide Exposure and the Link to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2023) Populations experiencing higher levels of environmental pollutant exposure, specifically pesticides, also experience a higher rate of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a study published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology. IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that causes abdominal pain or discomfort and changes in bowel behaviors. IBS affects 25 to 45 million individuals in the U.S., mostly female (two-thirds). Additionally, a quarter to half of all gastrointestinal-related visits are for IBS symptoms. Despite the unknown etiology of IBS, ample evidence demonstrates environmental contaminants, like pesticides, negatively affect the gut microbiota, causing a microorganism imbalance and resulting in inflammation associated with IBS. The gut, also known as the “second brain,” shares similar structural and chemical parallels to the brain. The microbiota in the gut plays a crucial role in lifelong digestion, immune and central nervous system regulation, as well as other bodily functions. Although studies show how chemical exposures affect overall human health, a growing body of peer-reviewed scientific literature is now questioning how these toxic chemicals influence gut health and the subsequent occurrence of diseases. The study notes, “These findings may help to understand the relationship between pesticide exposure and IBS; however, more epidemiological and experimental research is needed to understand […]

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With Environmental Collapse on the Horizon, California’s Sustainable Pest Management “Roadmap” Misses Mark

Friday, February 3rd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2023) On January 26, California’s Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR), and Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced a new “roadmap” for sustainable pest management (SPM). The plan is promoted by the agencies as an accelerator of the state’s commitment to transitioning away from “high-risk pesticides” and toward “adoption of safer, sustainable pest control practices,” and to eliminating “priority [high-risk] pesticides” by 2050. Although Sustainable Pest Management: A Roadmap for California obviously recognizes the state (and federal) failure of current pesticide policies and land management practices to restrict pesticides sufficiently, advocates say that even this plan does not “meet the moment.” Its relative ambition (compared to what most states are doing), still does not, according to those advancing transformative change, adequately address the current existential health, biodiversity, and climate crises.  With these crises being especially urgent, advocates identify meaningful change as the adoption of approaches predicated on ensuring healthy soil biology. This calls for the deployment of a plan for the wholesale transition to organic systems that eliminate all materials/inputs that are harmful to soil health, ecosystems, natural resources, and the health of humans and all living organisms. The California roadmap was […]

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As Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics Grows, There Are Continued Calls for Immediate Action

Monday, January 30th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2023) Because antibiotics and fungicides are widely used in agriculture (except organic), they contribute significantly to the increasing efficacy problems with antimicrobial (antibiotic and antifungal medicines) use in health care, contributing to a growing crisis. According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, World Health Organization Director-General, “Antimicrobial resistance undermines modern medicine and puts millions of lives at risk.”  Microorganisms—including bacteria, fungi, and viruses—are notoriously quick to evolve resistance to antimicrobial medicines. We know that selection for resistance is directly related to the frequency and intensity of antimicrobial use, so medical practitioners try to avoid using those medicines unless they are necessary. Tell EPA to cancel all uses of a pesticide when resistance is discovered or predicted to occur. Tell Congress to ensure that EPA protects public health from deadly antifungal and antibiotic resistance. Unfortunately, the medical profession lacks complete control over the use of antimicrobials. Many of the same chemicals used in human medicine are also used in agriculture. These may show up in or on treated food, but can also spread antimicrobial resistance through horizontal gene transfer. So, in addition to ingesting antibiotics in our food, the movement of resistant bacteria and fungi in the environment […]

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