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Weeds Are Now Developing Resistance to Herbicides They’ve Never Been Exposed To

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2021) Pesticide use in conventional chemical-intensive farming is so pervasive that weeds are developing resistance to herbicides they have never encountered before. According to research published in Plant and Cell Physiology and New Phytologist, the notoriously difficult-to-control weed waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) is outpacing commercial crops in its ability to detoxify after herbicide exposure. “This is probably the first known example where waterhemp has evolved a detox mechanism that a crop doesn’t have. It’s using a completely different mechanism, adding to the complexity of controlling this weed,” says Dean Riechers, PhD, study co-author and professor at University of Illinois. Researchers found waterhemp resistant to the chemical syncarpic acid-3 (SA3). SA3 is one of the earliest versions of a 4-Hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPPD) inhibiting herbicide. HPPD inhibiting herbicides, which include herbicides like isoxaflutole and mesotrione, are selective (ie plant-specific) and break down amino acids that are required for plant growth and development. Corn generally tolerates HPPD-inhibiting chemicals, detoxifying them through different channels depending upon the specific type of HPPD herbicide. Weeds that grow in and around corn fields where these chemicals are regularly sprayed, like waterhemp, have likewise evolved the ability to detoxify HPPD-inhibitors, mostly mimicking the process that […]

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Stop Ag Secretary Vilsack from Undermining Climate Initiative to Transition Agriculture

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2021) Tell President Biden and Congress that there is no room for agriculture policies that are not in line with the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review. USDA must remove all barriers to a national transition to organic agriculture. One of President Biden’s first actions, on the day of his inauguration, was the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review, requiring the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This mandate should reverse the trend of regulatory review, which has so far protected the status quo, rather than advancing urgently needed change. Why, then, do we see Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack opposing moves in the direction laid out by the Presidential directive? A recent Mother Jones article by Tom Philpott focuses on Mr. Vilsack’s opposition to the “Farm to Fork” initiative in the European Union, which aims to “push the continent’s agriculture in a healthier, more resilient direction, to reduce the use of toxic chemicals […]

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Ag Secretary Vilsack Pushes Petroleum Farming Inputs, Fights EU’s Climate-Friendly Organic “Food to Fork’ Initiative

Friday, October 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 8, 2021) Taking a page from the playbook of Trump Administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the current secretary, Tom Vilsack, used a September G20 summit in Italy to target the European Union’s “Farm to Fork” (F2F) strategy, a part of its European Green Deal. Mr. Perdue had said that F2F is “more . . . ‘political science’ than demonstrated agricultural science”; Secretary Vilsack called it “a path very different from the one the U.S. is pursuing.” The F2F initiative aims to transition the EU to a sustainable food system such that it also achieves significant mitigation of climate change. But Mr. Vilsack chose to counter the F2F efforts by promoting an “alternative strategy” — under the moniker “Coalition for Productivity Growth” — through which “other nations pledge not to follow the European path on farm policy.” He has described this alternative, U.S.-led strategy as “a market-oriented, incentive-based, voluntary system [that] is effective” at slashing agricultural carbon emissions. Climate, pesticide, organics, and other environmental and health advocates, including Beyond Pesticides, are troubled by these actions. Mother Jones poses the central question in the headline of its September 30 article: Why is Secretary Vilsack So Afraid of a Plan to Cut […]

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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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Organic Must Lead the Way in Environmental and Health Protection

Monday, September 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2021) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through September 30. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on October 13-14 and online meeting October 19-21—in which the NOSB deliberates on issues concerning how organic food is produced. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. As always, there are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Fall. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong (KOS) and the Fall 2021 issues page. In the spirit of “continuous improvement,” we urge you to submit comments (please feel free to use our comments on the KOS page) that contribute to an increasingly improved organic production system. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requires that all synthetic materials used in organic production be approved by the NOSB, included on the National List, and reassessed every five years. Among those up for sunset review this Fall are some controversial materials—copper sulfate, carrageenan, and list 3 “inerts.” In addition, the NOSB is once more considering a petition to allow the antibiotic kasugamycin in fruit production. Copper sulfate is used in organic rice production to control algae and an invertebrate known as tadpole shrimp. It […]

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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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Deer Ticks Developing Resistance to Popular Tick Control Chemical: Implications of Lyme Disease

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2021) A new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology finds black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapulari) in New York are developing potential resistance to widely used tick-control pyrethroid insecticide, permethrin. The study suggests continuous use of area-wide, 4-poster devices (devices that attract deer and then apply pesticide to their head, ears, and neck) to apply insecticide treatments on deer to control tick populations promotes resistance. Resistance is an ever-present issue among chemical compounds (i.e., antibiotics, antimicrobials, pesticides) used in medicine and agriculture, and threatening the ability to prevent disease outbreaks, such as Lyme disease. Furthermore, increasing populations of rodent and mammalian hosts, in addition to warmer temperatures prompted by the climate crisis, allows for disease-carrying ticks to flourish. Lyme disease is the most common vector disease and a primary concern for the general population. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need to assess resistance among disease-vector pest populations regardless of pesticide application methods. The researchers note, “Permethrin susceptibility of tick populations should be monitored from other 4-poster control areas so that guidelines for managing pesticide resistance in the field can be developed.” Four-poster devices impart selective pressure on tick populations influencing reproduction and natural extinction of species. However, like mosquitoes, a subpopulation of ticks […]

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Chemicals, including Pesticides, in Wastewater Discharge Contaminate Oysters in Pacific Northwest

Thursday, July 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 08, 2021) A Portland State University (PSU) study finds oysters of varying distances from wastewater discharge pipes along the Oregon and Washington state coast contain low levels of chemical contaminants. Although wastewater treatment facilities clean water draining from sinks and toilets, the process does not adequately remove all contaminants. The process can leave behind pharmaceutical drugs and personal care products (e. g., shampoos, make-up, deodorant) residues in treated water. PSU has already found that pesticides from the forestry industry threaten clams, mussels, oysters (bivalves) along the Oregon coast. Marine ecosystem pollution is difficult to track and measure, and pesticide regulations can invoke variations in water quality requirements through discrepancies in buffer zones and application concentrations. The combined presence of pesticides, medicine, and personal care products in aquatic environments has direct implications for species and ecosystem health and indirect consequences for human well-being. Therefore, studies like this can help government and health officials develop strategies to reduce the number of chemicals entering aquatic ecosystems, with researchers noting officials can “better understand whether contaminant exposure affects oyster condition.” Researchers wanted to evaluate how proximity to wastewater facilities affects variations in aquatic pollution. Thus, scientists transplanted one-week-old Pacific oysters along the Oregon and […]

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Disease Carrying Mosquitoes Developing Resistance to Widely Used Mosquito Control Pesticides

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2021) Yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) are evolving resistance to the pyrethroid insecticide permethrin, according to a study published by Colorado State University, highlighting the need to adopt ecologically-based mosquito management. Widespread, intensive use of the pesticide in mosquito control has allowed genetic mutations to persist among these mosquito populations, causing subsequent resistance to permethrin. Pyrethroids are one of the few remaining classes of insecticides available to control yellow fever mosquitos, and resistance threatens the ability to prevent disease outbreaks with chemical-intensive methods. Yellow fever mosquitoes are a vector for numerous untreatable diseases in humans, including dengue, chikungunya fever, and Zika viruses. Hence, this study highlights the significance of addressing pest resistance to pesticide control, particularly to mitigate disease exposure and effects. The researchers note, “This knowledge can help scientists understand how mosquitoes have evolved resistance and when a population can no longer be controlled with permethrin. This understanding will be necessary to develop tools to support future insecticide management strategies.” Researchers sequenced the genome of resistant and knockdown (either recovered or dead) mosquitoes after permethrin exposure using a bottle bioassay. The aim was to identify genomic variants/biomarkers associated with specific resistance mechanisms. Two common pyrethroid resistance mechanisms occur among […]

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Switzerland to Hold Landmark Vote on Nationwide Ban of All Synthetic Pesticides June 13

Friday, June 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2021) On Sunday, June 13, Switzerland will hold a national vote on two landmark initiatives related to pesticide use (as well as several referenda). The vote on one initiative, dubbed by advocates “For a Switzerland Free of Synthetic Pesticides” (FSFSP), will determine whether or not the country will ban synthetic pesticides. If it does, it will become the first European nation to do so. The other initiative, which aims to eliminate direct subsidies of farmers who use synthetic pesticides or antibiotics for livestock, is focused on improving the quality of Switzerland’s drinking water and food supply. Beyond Pesticides covered the grassroots origin of the Swiss “no synthetic pesticides” initiative in 2018 and sees potential passage of both it and the water quality initiative as a watershed moment in the protection of health and the environment. These measures would go a long way to protecting and improving the health of humans and ecosystems, and the food supply, as well as protecting biodiversity in Switzerland. It could also — as advocates hope — encourage other European countries to follow suit. This vote has been scheduled, in part, as an outcome of a 2018 petition by the advocacy group, Future3, […]

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Sewage Sludge Fertilizers Sold at Hardware Stores Found to be Contaminated with PFAS Chemicals

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2021) Biosolid-based fertilizer products like Milorganite, often sold to consumers as “organic,” are contaminated with dangerous PFAS chemicals, according to a study published by Sierra Club and Ecology Center. Biosolids, also known as sewage sludge, have been found in the past to contain residues of hazardous pesticides, heavy metals, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and a range of other toxicants. While the latest news may not be surprising for careful shoppers who have long avoided biosolid fertilizers, none of these risks are relayed to consumers on fertilizer packages. With fertilizer regulations failing the American consumer, it becomes more important than ever to seek out certified organic fertilizer products. Sierra Club and Ecology Center looked at nine fertilizer products, each produced from the sewage sludge of a particular American city. For instance, Milorganite, perhaps the most well-known biosolid sludge fertilizer, is derived from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin sewage treatment system. Other products were derived from locations including Sacramento, CA (Synagro); Tacoma, WA (TAGRO); Madison, GA (Pro Care); Las Vegas, NV (Ecoscraps); Eau Claire, WI (Menards Premium Natural Fertilizer); Jacksonville, FL (Greenedge); North Andover, MA (Earthlife); and Washington, DC (Cured Bloom). As the report notes, many of […]

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Threat to Ocean Health: Pesticide Resistant Fish Lice Plague the North Atlantic Ocean

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2021) A report published in Royal Society Open Science finds pesticide-resistant parasitic lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) are endangering wild and farmed fish populations in the North Atlantic. Extensive use of pesticides to rid the parasite has led to widespread resistance to multiple pesticides, prompting increasing infection rates among North Atlantic salmon populations. Overexploitation of wild fish and other ocean organisms has depleted seafood stocks globally. Some fisheries market aquaculture practices, like fish/seafood farming, as a solution to overfishing. However, the aquaculture industry repeatedly faces sustainability issues and fails to adhere to environmental regulations that threaten marine health. The oceans are essential to human health and well-being, feeding billions, supporting millions of jobs, and supplying medicinal materials. However, environmental contaminants like pesticides have profound impact on the ecosystem and the inhabitants. Therefore, it is necessary to understand how pesticides can influence resistance among lethal pest populations, especially in ecologically vulnerable and highly interconnected ecosystems like ocean basins. The authors of the report caution, “These results demonstrate the speed to which this parasite can develop widespread multi-resistance, illustrating why the aquaculture industry has repeatedly lost the arms race with this highly problematic parasite.” Over the past two decades, organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides […]

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Conventional Meats Contaminated with Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria, at Significantly Higher Rates than Organic Meats

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2021) Organic meat is far less likely to be adulterated with multi-drug resistant bacteria (MDRB) than conventional meat, according a study published earlier this month in Environmental Health Perspectives. The research by experts at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is the latest news on the health and safety benefits of choosing organic, which prohibits the regular use of risky antibiotics, for one’s food purchases. Scientists indicate that contaminated foods pose serious dangers for consumers, public health, and the economy at large. “The presence of pathogenic bacteria is worrisome in and of itself, considering the possible increased risk of contracting foodborne illness,” senior author Meghan Davis, PhD, associate professor at the Bloomberg School said. “If infections turn out to be multidrug resistant, they can be more deadly and more costly to treat.” To determine the level of contamination in various packaged meats, scientists turned to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), a collaborative program between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For a five year period spanning 2012-2017, NARMS collected meat products (chicken breast, ground beef, ground turkey, and […]

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Bayer Loses Bid to Overturn Neonicotinoid Ban in Europe

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2021) Last week, multinational agrichemical company Bayer Cropscience lost its bid to overturn a 2018 ban on bee-toxic neonicotinoids throughout the European Union. The ruling from the European Court of Justice rejected all grounds on which the company filed its appeal, noting, “It must be held that the arguments put forward by Bayer CropScience cannot, in any event, succeed.” In denying the appeal, the court ruled Bayer responsible for paying its own legal fees, as well as the fees of environmental organizations that intervened to defend the ban. Environmental groups are applauding the ruling, as it reinforces several important aspects of the EU’s pesticide policy that favor greater public health and environmental protections. In an interview with EURACTIV, policy officer Martin Dermine at Pesticide Action Network Europe notes that the decision provides more leeway for pesticide regulators to consider new scientific evidence on pesticide hazards. “More than that,” he told EURACTIV, “the Court confirms the definition of the precautionary principle:  in case of doubts on the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission is entitled to ban it.” Pesticide regulators in Europe began restricting neonicotinoids in 2013, when a continent-wide moratorium was put in place based […]

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Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Sustainable Agriculture Do Not Mix!

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2021) Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are incompatible with sustainable agriculture goals, according to a recent scientific literature analysis by scientists at Tufts University, Massachusetts. Glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, including Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) RoundupTM. The use of this chemical has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate. However, studies demonstrate glyphosate is the main contributor to human, biotic, and ecosystem harms as toxicities from herbicides are now double what it was in 2004.  The National Academy of Sciences identifies four goals of sustainable agriculture—productivity, economics, environment, and social well-being for future generations. However, pesticides like glyphosate are ubiquitous in the environment, putting the health, economy, and food/resources for future generations at risk. Therefore, research like this is vital for understanding how chemical use can undermine sustainable agriculture goals to protect humans, animals, and environmental health. Researchers note, “[W]hether or not GBHs are viewed as essential or unessential to contemporary agriculture, and notwithstanding their role in non-tillage agriculture, this study shows that glyphosate-based herbicides do not reach the bar of agricultural sustainability, with respect to humans and the environment, making the system they are part of unsustainable.” Researchers thoroughly examined […]

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Lawsuit Challenges EPA Allowance of Antibiotic Streptomycin in Citrus

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 2, 2021) Having raised the alarm for many years (and most recently in November 2020) on the dangers of the burgeoning antibiotic resistance crisis, Beyond Pesticides has joined a coalition of public interest groups in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its approval of use of the medically important antibiotic streptomycin on citrus trees. Beyond Pesticides executive director Jay Feldman comments: “It is past time to take urgent action to transition away from practices in agriculture that are dependent on antibiotics, advance organic farm management, and avoid new deadly pandemics. This lawsuit is an important action to reverse the previous administration’s decision to ignore the science and allow expanded use of an antibiotic in agriculture.” According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the suit charges that EPA “failed to ensure that the approved uses of streptomycin as a pesticide would not cause unreasonable harm to human health or the environment and failed to adequately assess impacts to endangered species.” The coalition of plaintiffs includes Beyond Pesticides, NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, Farmworker Association of Florida, Farmworker Justice, Migrant Clinicians Network, and U.S. PIRG. The coalition is represented […]

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Pesticides Are More Widespread in Both Conventional and Organic Agricultural Soils than Previously Thought

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2021) A legacy of toxic pesticide use in agriculture is showing up as residues on organic farms, emphasizing the threat of a history of weak regulatory standards that has left farmland poisoned and the urgent need to transition to organic. A study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, documents the findings of pesticide residues on organic farmland and shows a decrease in residues after transition, with lingering effects for decades.  Some banned pesticides like organochlorines (e.g., DDT and chlordecone) are stable as research demonstrates these chemicals can bind to and linger in the dirt for years to decades. However, other current-use pesticides also pose a soil contamination risk due to drift, runoff, and leaching.  Widespread, increasing pesticide use in genetically engineered crops has implications for contamination of natural resources, including soils. Since pesticide residues can kill off beneficial soil life, impacting soil health and function, agricultural production may decline. Past studies examining pesticide residues rarely investigate residue’s presence in the soil where the chemical has never been used, like organic systems. Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to examine the effect potential pesticide contamination has on soil health, especially in organic where reliance on biological soil […]

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Kenyan Farmers Are Resorting to Hand Pollination After Pesticide Use Kills Off Local Pollinators

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2021) The worst predictions of scientists and advocates are playing out in the fields of eastern Kenya, as chemical-intensive farming there threatens the future of food production. According to Radio France Internationale (RFI), Kenyan farmers have resorted to pollinating their crops by hand after pesticide use killed off most of the pollinators they rely on. “We are mostly affected by pesticides because they have killed most pollinators which pollinate our crops—this has affected our food production compared to previous years,” said Joseph Mbithi, a farmer in Mbakoni village, Makueni County, Kenya to RFI. Crop yields in the region have tapered off over the last two years, and farmers like Mr. Mbithi are pointing to pesticide use as the cause, citing past reliance on the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) and the organophosphate insecticide malathion. “Pollinators such as bees and butterflies are not around due to chemicals which we spray in our farms,” he told RFI.   As a result, farmers are using toothbrushes and sponges as a substitute for the buzzing work of local pollinators. And it’s more complicated than one may think. ‘’The flowers are different in shape and are different in sizes. The male one is […]

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Keep Antibiotics Out of Organic—Keep Organic Strong on Range of Issues; Comment by April 5

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2021) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through April 5. This precedes the upcoming public hearing on April 20 and 22—concerning how organic food is produced. Also, by April 5, sign up to speak (3 minutes) at the virtual NOSB hearing. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. As always, there are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Spring. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong and the Spring 2021 issues page. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is considering a petition to allow the antibiotic kasugamycin to be used in organic apple and pear production. Earlier NOSB members struggled long and hard to erase the stigma of antibiotic use in organic fruit production—something that was left over from the transition of so many chemical-intensive fruit orchards after the Alar “scare” in which apple and apple products were contaminated with the cancer-causing plant growth regulator daminozide. Do we now want to step on that treadmill again? The reasons for rejecting the kasugamycin petition are the same as the reasons for eliminating the antibiotics streptomycin and tetracycline in crop production. Now that we have learned what a pandemic […]

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Ecosystem Health: Pesticide Use from Forest Management Practices Threatens Essential West Coast Marine Organisms

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2021) A Portland State University (PSU) study finds that pesticides from the forestry industry threaten clams, mussels, oysters (bivalves) along the Oregon state coast. Bivalves are excellent indicator species, signaling environmental contamination through their sedimentary, filter-feeding diet. However, continuous pesticide inputs—from various forestry management regimes—into watersheds along Oregon’s coastal zone endanger these species in downstream rivers and estuaries (river mouths). Although research demonstrates many forestry practices (e.g.., road building, planting, clearcutting, thinning) have cumulative effects on the ecosystem, there is a lack of studies addressing the overall impact of multiple chemical mixtures and application on watersheds and subsequent aquatic transport. Like agriculture, conventional forest management across the U.S. depends on the use of toxic pesticides to control pest populations. However, pesticide residues from application drift, runoff, and contamination continuously jeopardize the health and fitness of various non-target species, including humans. Marine ecosystem pollution is difficult to track and measure, and forestry pesticide regulations can invoke variations in water quality requirements through discrepancies in buffer zones and application concentrations. Therefore, studies like this can help guide future forest management practices to reduce the number of chemicals entering aquatic ecosystems. Researchers in the study note, “These findings highlight the need to […]

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Implications for Human Health: Glyphosate-Related Soil Erosion Re-Releases Toxic Pesticides from Soil

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2021) A new study finds glyphosate use stimulates soil erosion responsible for releasing banned, toxic pesticide chlordecone (Kepone), which was used in banana production. For years, an unknown pollution source continuously contaminated water surrounding islands in the French West Indies (Martinique and Guadeloupe). However, researchers from the University of Savoie Mont Blanc in France have found that chlordecone—extensively used on banana farms from 1972 to 1993—is the contamination culprit. Glyphosate is the most popular herbicide in the world, thus ubiquitous in the environment. Therefore, it is vital to understand the implication glyphosate use has on soil health and the potential re-release of soil-bound, toxic contaminants into the surrounding environment to safeguard human health. Researchers note, “[Chlordecone] fluxes drastically increased when glyphosate use began, leading to widespread ecosystem contamination. As glyphosate is used globally, ecotoxicological risk management strategies should consider how its application affects persistent pesticide storage in soils, transfer dynamics, and widespread contamination.” Conventional pesticide use contaminates soil and their respective Critical Zone (CZ) compartments. These CZ compartments interact between the four main spheres (i.e., hydrosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere) of the Earth to support life. Recent decades demonstrate an increase in soil erosion due to sediment changes […]

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Glyphosate and Other Weed Killers Create Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Agricultural Soils

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2021) Soil sprayed with weedkillers glyphosate, glufosinate, or dicamba are likely to contain higher amounts of antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to research published earlier this month in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people develop an antibiotic resistant infection, and over 23,000 die. Authors of the study say widespread herbicide use is likely playing a role. “Our results suggest that the use of herbicides could indirectly drive antibiotic resistance evolution in agricultural soil microbiomes, which are repeatedly exposed to herbicides during weed control,” said Ville Friman, PhD of the University of York in the United Kingdom. Scientists began their investigation by looking at changes to soil communities in soil microcosms over the course of a roughly two months. Microcosms were grouped by the herbicide applied, while a control microcosm remained unexposed. Each microcosm had a single herbicide applied at a rate reaching 10 parts per million (ppm) in soil. The researchers replicated each treatment 12 times. Contrary to the pesticide industry’s claim that these chemicals break down quickly and become inert by binding to soil particles, large proportions of the herbicides remained in the soil at […]

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Aggressive Cancer in Sea Lions Linked to Ocean Pollution and Herpesvirus Precursor, Implications for Human Health

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2021) California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are experiencing high rates of urogenital carcinoma (UGC) cancer incidences from the combined effect of toxic “legacy” pesticides like DDT and the viral infection Otarine herpesvirus-1 (OtHV1), according to a new study published in Frontiers in Marine Science. Previous research documents the role herpesvirus infection, genotype, and organochlorine pesticides play in sea lion cancer development. However, synergism (collaboration) between viral infection and toxic chemical exposure increases cancer development odds. Pollution of the oceans with toxic chemicals lacks adequate regulation, is widespread and only getting worse. More than 80 percent of ocean pollution comes from land-based, anthropological activities. A recent study published in Annals of Public Health finds toxic chemicals from pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, and other sources readily contaminate the ocean, especially near coastal regions where chemical inputs occur in higher concentrations. Globally, pollution has major disease implications, causing the deaths of over nine million people annually. Therefore, it is essential to understand the co-effects of ocean pollution and diseases to protect human health. Authors of the study state, “This study has implications for human health, as virally associated cancer occurs in humans, and likelihood of cancer development could similarly be increased by exposure to environmental […]

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