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Environmental Pesticide Exposure Alters Gut Microbes, Increasing Urgency for Organic Transition

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2022) A report published in Environmental Health finds that exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of pesticides can alter gut microbial communities, as demonstrated through fecal samples. Over 300 environmental contaminants and their byproducts, including pesticides, are chemicals commonly present in human blood and urine samples. Ample evidence demonstrates that environmental contaminants, including pesticides, negatively affect the human mouth and gut microbes. However, fecal samples provide an accurate representation of the microbial community existing in the gut. These toxicants can alter hormone metabolism, which adversely affects health outcomes. Adverse health effects of environmental contaminants include reproductive and developmental defects, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, obesity, thyroid disorders, and improper immune operation. Although studies show how chemical exposures affect human health, more research is now questioning how these toxic chemicals influence gut health. Therefore, studies like these highlight the importance of evaluating how chemical contaminants deregulate normal bodily function through microbiome changes. The report notes, “Our results highlight the need for future dietary intervention studies to understand effects of pesticide exposure on the gut microbiome and possible health consequences.” Researchers examined dietary exposure to 186 common pesticide residues in the fecal excrement to determine impacts on the microbiome among 65 twins in the United Kingdom. […]

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Pesticides Used in Farmed Fish Operations Threaten Health of Swimmers

Friday, May 6th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2022) A December 2021 report commissioned by the trade group Salmon Scotland concludes that the use of pesticide products by the nation’s salmon farms represents potential risk to “wild” swimmers (those who swim in open ocean waters). The report’s primary finding is that the use of insecticide products containing azamethiphos (an organophosphate), deltamethrin, and hydrogen peroxide to control sea lice in farmed fish contaminates sea water and, thus, threatens swimmers in the areas around the farms. Beyond Pesticides has reported on pesticide use in aquaculture, and most recently, on developing resistance — in the parasitic lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) that endanger both wild and farmed fish populations in the North Atlantic — to some of the chemical treatments used by aquaculturists to combat the parasite. The intense exploitation of wild fish and other marine creatures for human food (and as an ingredient in animal feeds) has caused, in recent decades, depletion of fish and seafood stocks across the world. The aquaculture industry — in which various aquatic species (fish, shellfish, and some plants) are bred, raised, and harvested in the open ocean — has grown rapidly as a response. Since the 1960s, the farming of salmon in the […]

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Maine Moves to Ban Pesticides and Fertilizers Contaminated with PFAS

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2022) Both houses of Maine’s legislature have just approved a bill that would, by 2030, ban pesticides that contain PFAS chemicals — the so-called “forever chemicals.” The bill’s next stop is the Appropriations Committee, for approval of $200,000 in annual funding to enact the bill; if successful there, it will move to the desk of Maine Governor Janet Mills for her signature. The legislation is one of a suite of lawmaker efforts in the state to address the growing PFAS problem with which localities across the U.S. are struggling. In this Daily News Blog article, Beyond Pesticides continues its coverage of the scourge of PFAS chemicals, particularly as it relates to pesticide use and the use of fertilizers made from PFAS-contaminated “biosludge” from municipal treatment facilities. PFAS — “per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances” — are any of a family of more than 9,000 synthetic chemicals, invented in, and widely deployed since, the 1950s in a multitude of industrial and consumer products. PFAS molecules are made up of a chain of linked carbon and fluorine atoms; the carbon–fluorine bond is one of the strongest chemical bonds that exists, which means that these compounds do not break down in the […]

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Ocean Health: First Reports of Salmon Lice Resistance in the Pacific Ocean Threatens Local Ecosystems

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2022) A recent study published in Scientific Reports warns that parasitic salmon lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) in Pacific Ocean open-net fish farming operations are becoming resistant to emamectin benzoate (EMB), an active ingredient used to control salmon lice population in North America, both in the U.S. and British Columbia, Canada. Previously, researchers believed parasitic salmon lice only had high rates of chemical resistance in the Atlantic region due to the mixing of farmed and wild salmon. However, Pacific salmon lice are exhibiting similar rates of decreased sensitivity to EMB from various sources, including a decrease in the wild Pacific salmon population, overuse of chemical treatments, and reliance on single chemical treatments. The aquaculture industry (e.g., farmed seafood/fish) repeatedly faces sustainability issues, failing to adhere to environmental regulations and threatening marine health. 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. These parasites endanger both farmed salmon and wild salmon, in addition to other local species of fish. In this context, pesticide treatments contributes to resistance among lethal pest populations, especially in ecologically vulnerable and interconnected ecosystems like ocean basins. The researchers caution, “Salmon […]

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EPA Overlooks Glyphosate and Roundup Ingredients’ Cancer, DNA Damage, and Multigenerational Effects

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2022) Glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) like RoundupÂŽ induce DNA damage and alter biological mechanisms (gene regulatory microRNAs [miRNAs or miRs]) associated with cancer development. According to the study published in Toxicological Sciences, DNA damage mainly occurs through oxidative stress from GBH exposure. Moreover, DNA damage and other biological mechanisms that cause carcinogenicity (cancer) occur at doses assumed “safe” by pesticide regulators such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Glyphosate is the most commonly used active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, not just Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) RoundupÂŽ. The use of this chemical has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate over two decades ago. The toxic herbicide readily contaminates the ecosystem with residues pervasive in food and water commodities. In addition to this study, literature proves time and time again that glyphosate has an association with cancer development, as well as human, biotic, and ecosystem harm.  Study lead author Michael Antoniou, Ph.D., cautions, “Our results are the first to simultaneously show glyphosate and Roundup toxicity in a whole mammalian animal model system and provide a mechanism – oxidative stress – by which DNA damage has been observed in other systems, such as mammalian […]

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Are Your Fruits and Vegetables Vegan? Specific Pesticide Use Makes Produce Non-Vegan?

Friday, March 4th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2022) An article in My London reported by Finn Byrne, finds labeling on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables marked as non-vegan. The non-vegan label shocked many shoppers who buy the produce with chemical-intensive practices, as fruits and vegetables are inherently vegan. However, pesticides used in the production of fruits and vegetables render these foods non-vegan because of the harm that pesticides cause to animals and since a wax coating on fruits and vegetables made of shellac, a resin secreted from female lac beetles and thus non-vegan. Recent studies indicate plant-based diets can mitigate excessive pesticide use and exposure if they are organically grown. However, a plant-based diet reliant on pesticides does little to lessen the health and ecological effects of conventional agriculture. Fungicides are ubiquitous in agricultural and residential settings puts human and animal health at risk. Exposure to fungicides can manifest adverse health effects, including reproductive dysfunction, birth/developmental effects, kidney/liver damage, and cancer. Several researchers find that fungicide use promotes more drug-resistant fungal infections in humans as these fungicides are structurally similar to medical antifungal medications. After investigating fruits and vegetables at various United Kingdom (UK) grocery stores (i.e., Tesco, Morrisons, and Marks and Spencer), the report finds fungicides imazalil and propiconazole present […]

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Sewage Sludge Creates a “Safe Haven” for Covid Viral Particles, Placing Public Health at Risk

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2022) Covid (SARS-CoV-2) is being detected in wastewater, sludge, and biosolids, providing a “safe haven” for the virus and creating a health risk for wastewater workers and farmers. Published in Geoscience Frontiers, an international team of researchers systematically reviewed the available literature on the prevalence of pandemic coronavirus in wastewater in order to better determine risks to workers and public health. The timely review comes as many communities and states are reevaluating their use reclaimed human effluent due to a range of toxic contaminants, including per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Researchers found 20 articles from published literature that met the criteria for their review. Each of three environmental materials –wastewater effluent, sludge, and biosolids were analyzed for the presence of Covid. Effluent is the liquid that remains after a sewage treatment process, sludge is organic matter separated from effluent, and biosolids are the fully processed product that is then often applied to farm fields. Of the three materials, sludge contained the highest prevalence of covid RNA, followed by biosolids and then effluent, according to modeling of the data employed by researchers. Covid amounts were found to be related to the number of infected individuals living within […]

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Deadly Public Health Threat from Antifungal and Antibiotic Resistance Ignored by EPA

Monday, February 28th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2022) When bacteria and fungi become resistant to pesticides, it is a signal that the toxic chemical approach to controlling pathogens does not work. But resistance also poses a direct threat to human health when the pesticide (or a related chemical) is used in human medicine. 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. The threat of resistance in bacterial human pathogens has long been widely recognized. Although research sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the spread of resistance to antibiotics important in human medicine through horizontal gene transfer in the environment, EPA inaction both on antibiotic and antifungal resistance has become a growing crisis. EPA does recognize the existence of resistance to fungicides. It uses codes produced by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee in decisions regarding fungicide registration. Although EPA says resistance “may be considered in the risk-benefit decision-making process,” there is no evidence that the agency actually considers the failure of EPA-registered pesticides to control the target organisms in registering pesticides. That failure has a serious impact on […]

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Mosquito Resistance to Pesticides Continues to Grow

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2022) Widespread, intensive pesticide use for mosquito control has allowed genetic mutations to persist among mosquito populations, causing subsequent resistance to future chemical exposure. According to a study published in Scientific Reports, two common species of female mosquitoes learned to evade pesticides following non-fatal exposure through smell. More concerning is the survival rate of these pre-exposed mosquitoes, as it is more than double that of unexposed mosquitoes. Insects, including mosquitoes, use various sensory and cognitive abilities like vision, smell, and hearing to navigate the ecosystem for survival and reproduction. Mosquitoes associate sensory stimuli like smell to a positive or negative experience, thus facilitating a response. Considering the two species of mosquitoes in this study are a vector for numerous diseases in humans, including dengue and Zika and West Nile viruses. Hence, this study highlights the significance of addressing pest resistance in pest management strategies, particularly to mitigate disease exposure and effects. The study notes, “[The] findings highlight the importance of mosquito cognition as determinants of pesticide resistance in mosquito populations targeted by chemical control.” It is essential to understand insect behavior that propagates vector-borne disease transmission that exacerbates the widespread public health crisis. Scientists attribute memory […]

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Deadly Fungus Resistant to Fungicide Jumps from Farms to People, as Human Pathogen Spreads

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2022) Fungicide use in agriculture is driving the spread of multi-fungicide resistant human pathogens, finds a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Georgia. While this occurrence has long been an assumption based on the rampant overuse of fungicides in chemical-dependent farming, scientists have now found clear evidence linking the development of widespread fungal resistance to farming practices, rather than health care use. Despite strong evidence that commonly used synthetic pesticides in chemical-intensive farming are driving resistance that threatens human health on a global scale, the U.S. government has not only failed to take action, it has fought against international efforts to slow the crisis, at the behest of the agrichemical industry.   Scientists focused their research on Aspergillus fumigatus, a common mold that can infect humans and cause aspergillosis. Although some have problems with mild sensitivity to the fungus, virulent infections called invasive aspergillosis can occur in immunocompromised individuals and are on the rise. Cases of invasive aspergillosis increased 3% per annum between 2000 and 2013, and roughly 300,000 worldwide are diagnosed each year. On both farms and in human medical settings, antifungal compounds called azole fungicides are used in attempts to kill […]

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Global Chemical Pollution Exceeds Safe Limits for Humanity

Friday, January 21st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 21, 2022) The bottom-line conclusion of a recent study is that global chemical pollution has now exceeded a safe limit for humanity. As reported by The Guardian, “The cocktail of chemical pollution that pervades the planet now threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends.” Published in Environmental Science & Technology, the research paper asserts that the creation and deployment (into the materials stream and environment) of so many “novel entities” (synthetic chemicals) is happening at a pace that eclipses human ability to assess and monitor them. The study team calls this exceedance of the “planetary boundary” of such chemical pollution “the point at which human-made changes to the Earth push it outside the stable environment of the last 10,000 years.” According to Beyond Pesticides, which covers pesticide (and other kinds of) chemical pollution, these results underscore a grim twin reality to the human-caused climate emergency, and should be a dire warning on the state of our shared environment and a time for systemic movement to eliminate fossil fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers. Hailing from Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, and Switzerland, members of the research team define “novel entities” as those compounds and materials […]

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Beyond Pesticides Wishes You A Healthy New Year

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

**We’re taking a break for the holidays. Daily News will be back on January 3, 2022** (Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2021) We at Beyond Pesticides wish our members, supporters, and collaborators all the best for the holiday season and new year. We look forward to working with you in the new year to meet the serious environmental and public health challenges with truly organic solutions. Our accomplishments are your victories. We are seeing the outcomes in communities across the country—the adoption of organic land management policies and practices that eliminate toxic pesticides, protect children, pets, and families, and protect the local ecology. With your support of Beyond Pesticides, we strive to reverse the destructive environmental and public health path that we’re on and advance the adoption of organic practices and policies that respect life. To view our accomplishments, see Beyond Pesticides’ 2021 Year in Review. Beyond Pesticides’ program supports a clear message: End toxic pesticide use and embrace organic practices and policies that respect the power of nature to heal— in the face of devastating and destructive toxic chemical-dependency. This past year has again elevated important public discourse on the threats that pesticides pose to health and the environment. Table […]

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Joining Together to Give Thanks As We Confront the Challenges Ahead

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

  (Beyond Pesticides, November 24, 2021) On Thanksgiving, thank you for being a part of Beyond Pesticides and sharing and contributing to the vision necessary to protect the web and fragility of life. We believe that there is no time like Thanksgiving to think about how we can more effectively join together as families and communities across divisions and different points of view to find a common purpose in protecting the health of the environment and all that inhabit it. Unfortunately, there are a host of pesticides, genetically engineered materials, and others in conventional Thanksgiving foods that not only impact human health, but threaten the environment. With far too many adverse health and ecological effects associated with toxic chemicals, organic practices are viable solutions to mitigate pesticide contamination and subsequent exposure. Read on as we consider the range of challenges we must confront, and the solutions that can bring us all together. The Climate As climate impacts grow, an increase in uses of synthetic pesticides in agriculture is likely — because of waning efficacy (pesticide resistance) of these compounds, and mounting pest pressure (i.e., increasing insect population and metabolism). Production of pesticides contributes to greenhouse gas emissions gas (e.g., nitrous […]

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Fungal Resistance to Antimicrobial Pesticides Leads to Deadly Infection

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced, in mid-October, a revision of its guidance on the evaluation of antimicrobial pesticides used against Candida auris (C. auris). This pathogen is a type of fungus (a yeast) that can cause serious infection, and can spread readily among patients and staff in hospitals and other congregate healthcare settings (such as nursing homes). C. auris has developed resistance to what used to be the therapeutic impacts of major antifungal medications. (Resistance is a major and growing problem in healthcare and in agriculture, with the latter exacerbating the former.) Another moving part in this unholy development of “chemical compounds no longer working” is EPA’s failure to assess the efficacy of any pesticides that are not used for public health purposes; for example, EPA evaluates the efficacy of only those antimicrobial compounds whose use patterns classify them as human-health-related. This failure to evaluate efficacy of all other pesticide products leaves many people in the dark about whether what they may be using actually works — never mind the potential risks associated with that use. The antifungal medications that have been used for many years to treat Candida infections often no longer work for C. auris; […]

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Go Organic this Thanksgiving and Keep the Toxic Turkey and Fixings Off Your Plate

Friday, November 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2021) Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for people to come together and give thanks for the bounty of an organic harvest. Unfortunately, many Thanksgiving meals are produced by chemical farming practices that utilize hazardous pesticides, genetically engineered (GE) crops, and petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers. These inputs, apart from being unnecessary, degrade ecosystems and affect the health of consumers and agricultural workers alike. It’s never too late to start a new tradition – for this year and into the future, make your Thanksgiving feast sustainable by going organic. Now, more than ever, it’s important to go organic: For Our Own Health Going organic drastically reduces the amount of pesticide in a person’s body. Although Thanksgiving is generally no time to think about dieting, we’ll aim to make it instructive: recent research finds that one of the biggest health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet comes when you go organic. Compared to individuals on a Mediterranean diet filled with chemically farmed foods, those that ate organic had 91% lower pesticide residue. This finding is backed up by a considerable body of prior research. A 2015 study based on self-reported food intake found that those who eat organic generally have much lower […]

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Organic Takes on Existential Health and Environmental Crises, While Some Critics Lack Context (Response to New Yorker piece)

Friday, November 12th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2021) Omnivorous readers may have encountered an article, in the November 15 issue of The New Yorker magazine, titled — at best misleadingly, and certainly sensationally — “The Great Organic-Food Fraud.” The subhead comports with the tone of the headline: “There’s no way to confirm that a crop was grown organically. Randy Constant exploited our trust in the labels — and made a fortune.” The piece, by Ian Parker, tells a complex tale of the machinations of dishonest and greedy people who saw, in the commerce in organic grains, an opportunity to misrepresent nonorganic crops as organic and make a boatload of money in doing so. What the article fails to do is render any comprehensive picture of how National Organic Program certification and inspection work, and the underlying principles, values, and standards in federal law (the Organic Foods Production Act), nor does it review either the benefits of organic agriculture broadly or the massive harmful impacts of conventional, chemical-intensive agriculture in the U.S. Beyond Pesticides provides ballast, in this Daily News Blog article, to the failings of the New Yorker article and the damage it might do to the organic movement. It is worth noting […]

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California Releases Strategy for Land Management Practices that Confronts Climate Crisis

Friday, November 5th, 2021

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

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Glyphosate Kills Microorganisms Beneficial to Plants, Animals, and Humans

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2021) A study published in Frontiers in Environmental Science finds the popular herbicide glyphosate negatively affects microbial communities, indirectly influencing plant, animal, and human health. Exposure to sublethal concentrations of glyphosate shifts microbial community composition, destroying beneficial microorganisms while preserving pathogenic organisms. Glyphosate is the most commonly used active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, including Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) RoundupÂŽ. The use of this chemical has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate over two decades ago. The toxic herbicide readily contaminates the ecosystem with residues pervasive in both food and water commodities. In addition to this study, the scientific literature commonly associates glyphosate with human, biotic, and ecosystem harm, as a doubling of toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators, has been recorded since 2004. The authors caution, “[O]utbreaks of several animal and plant diseases have been related to glyphosate accumulation in the environment. Long-term glyphosate effects have been underreported, and new standards will be needed for residues in plant and animal products and the environment.” With an increasing number of reports on the relationship between glyphosate and human health, including potential effects on the human gut microbiome, advocates are calling on global leaders to eliminate chemical […]

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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 “Farm 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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