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Longest Field Trials Show Organic Practices Yield Higher Returns than Chemical-Intensive Agriculture

Monday, February 24th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2019) With more than 90% of total pesticide use deployed in agriculture, organic farming is the keystone solution to the myriad health, environmental, and biodiversity harms of pesticides. A transition to organic and regenerative farming practices — across which there is great overlap — is critical and a tall order, given the entrenched, chemically intensive practices that currently dominate in the U.S. and much of the world. A long-standing research effort by the storied Rodale Institute — the Farming Systems Trial, which began in 1981— is demonstrating that organic agriculture is not only a nontoxic solution, but also, an economically viable one that is critical to a sustainable future. Through the Farming Systems Trial (FST), the Rodale Institute has collected data on crop yields, soil health, energy efficiency, nutrient density of drops, and water use and contamination in organic and conventional systems managed with different levels of tillage. Among the findings of the nearly 40-year research project are these: after a five-year transition period, organic yields are competitive with conventional yields• in drought years, organic yields are as much as 40% higher than conventional yields farm profits are 3–6 times higher for products from organically managed systems […]

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Tell USDA to Stop “Organic” Factories from Milking Conventional Dairy Cows

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2019) Current USDA regulations clearly state that after a dairy farmer takes advantage of a one-time exemption to convert an existing “distinct” herd to organic production—all animals brought onto the farm must have been managed organically from the last third of gestation—in the case of cows, from three months prior to birth. However, USDA has interpreted the prohibition to mean that dairies could purchase animals, on an ongoing basis, who were born and raised on conventional dairies. These calves receive medicated milk replacer (formula laced with antibiotics) and, after weaning, are fed conventional GMO crops generally sprayed with Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup.ÂŽ Now, as livestock factories are taking over a good share of the organic market and pushing family-scale farmers off the land, USDA has finally, only after being forced by Congress, written additional regulatory language intending to close a loophole created by USDA’s negligence. Tell the USDA to follow the will of Congress and close its own loophole. The National Organic Program should enforce both the spirit and letter of the law. Organic farmers are mandated to provide healthy living conditions where livestock can exhibit their natural instinctive behaviors. When they do that—and for dairy cattle, that means […]

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Organic Poultry Significantly Less Likely than Chemical-Intensive to Contain Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, But Improvements Still Needed

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2019) Organic poultry is far less likely than conventionally raised meats to contain antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, according to research presented last week at a conference for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. With bacterial resistance to common antibiotics on the rise, in large part due to misuse in agriculture, consumers are looking for the best choice to feed themselves and their families. While researchers did find organic poultry production to result in fewer instances of antibiotic resistance, there are still improvements that must be made in organic to further reduce and ultimately eliminate the threat of bacterial resistance and align organic standards with consumer expectations. “Although contamination of retail poultry was found in both conventionally raised and antibiotic-free samples, our results show that Salmonella in poultry produced without antibiotics – based on packaging claims – were significantly less resistant to antibiotics compared with poultry raised using conventional methods,” said Xin Yin, MPH, lead author of the study and DrPH candidate at Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania. “Consumers should read production labels and make informed choices based on the evidence about the risk of poultry contamination with drug-resistant Salmonella.” For the study, researchers analyzed samples conducted […]

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Study Raises Global Red Flag Regarding Antimicrobial Resistance in Animal Food Production

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Fig. 3 Geographic distribution of antimicrobial resistance in LIMCs. (A) P50, the proportion of antimicrobial compounds with resistance higher than 50%. (Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2019) A study in the journal Science focuses on the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) due to overuse of animal antibiotics in food produced for low- and middle-income countries. Authors conclude, “the portfolio of antimicrobials used to raise animals for food is rapidly getting depleted, with important consequences for animal health, farmers’ livelihoods, and potentially for human health.” Highest resistance rates were observed for the most commonly used antimicrobials in animal production: tetracyclines, sulfonamides, and penicillins. Researchers used data from 901 point prevalence surveys – a data collection tool used to identify number of infections – from low- and middle-income countries that reported antimicrobial resistance rates of common infectious microbes (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella spp.) found in animals raised for food production. Using geospatial models they produced global maps of antimicrobial resistance. The important findings include: From 2000-2018, the proportion of antimicrobial compounds with resistance higher than 50% (P50) increased from 0.15 to 0.41 in chickens and from 0.13 to 0.34 in pigs and plateaued between 0.12 and 0.23 in cattle. Global maps of antimicrobial resistance […]

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Report Calls for Radical Transformation of Food and Agricultural Production System

Friday, July 19th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2019) A high-level, nongovernmental commission in the United Kingdom (UK) — the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) Food, Farming and Countryside Commission — has just released an important report: Our Future in the Land. As reported by The Guardian, “The true cost of cheap, unhealthy food is a spiralling public health crisis and environmental destruction.” The commission’s report calls for radical transformation of the UK food and agricultural system, by 2030, to sustainable, agroecological farming, and establishes steps to launch the process. A notable one of those steps is the creation of a nonprofit National Agroecology Development Bank to hasten and enable a fair and sustainable transition of a complex system. The commission also published a Field Guide to the Future, which it describes as a “practical guide, with interviews and stories from the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s work across the UK, [including] case studies of good practice and stories of change [that] hint at a better future.” Our Future in the Land declares, “Our future depends on the land. The land nourishes and supports us. It provides for our nutrition, our health and our wellbeing. Food and […]

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Swiss Government Challenged by United Nations for Human Rights Violations Associated with Pesticide Use and Actions of Pesticide Companies

Friday, June 28th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2019) As is the case in many countries, the conversation about the use of pesticides has been especially vigorous in the past few years. Switzerland is a case in point: it is undergoing deep scrutiny of pesticide use, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, has now said publicly that pesticide companies’ behavior is “seriously deficient” regarding human rights (especially those of children), and that the Swiss government should act more aggressively to phase out use of these hazardous chemicals. Recently, the pesticide conversation has ratcheted up several notches, not only in the U.S., but also globally, due to greater public awareness of the health and environmental threats of pesticide use, more and more research underscoring those threats, and pointedly, the cascade of litigation against Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) for harm to individuals who have used its glyphosate-based products. Public awareness in Switzerland is also mounting in response to global developments, to recent discoveries that small streams in Swiss agricultural areas are heavily polluted with pesticides, and to broadening recognition that pesticides are linked to a plethora of harms to human health, pollinators, water, farmworkers, wildlife, ecosystems and biodiversity, and more. In 2017, a UN […]

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85 Pesticides Banned Around the World Account for a Quarter of U.S. Use

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2019) The U.S. allows the use of 85 pesticides that have been banned or are being phased out in the European Union, China or Brazil, according to a peer-reviewed study published last week by the academic journal Environmental Health. In 2016, the U.S. used 322 million pounds of pesticides that are banned in the E.U., accounting for more than one-quarter of all agricultural pesticide use in this country, according to the study. U.S. applicators also used 40 million pounds of pesticides that are banned or being phased out in China and 26 million pounds of pesticides that are banned or being phased out in Brazil. “It’s appalling the U.S. lags so far behind these major agricultural powers in banning harmful pesticides,” said Nathan Donley, PhD, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity and author of the study. “The fact that we’re still using hundreds of millions of pounds of poisons other nations have wisely rejected as too risky spotlights our dangerously lax approach to phasing out hazardous pesticides.” The study compared the approval status of more than 500 pesticides used in outdoor applications in the world’s four largest agricultural economies: the United States, European Union, China and Brazil. Report […]

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Organic Agriculture is Growing as Chemical-Intensive Farming Struggles

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2019) As farmers nationwide are facing extreme stressors and either consolidating or retiring, organic is going against the grain. Despite overall declines in the number of U.S. farms, the number of organic farms increased 27% between 2012 and 2017, according to new data from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The value of organic sales in 2017 was $7.2 billion, and the average value of sales per farm has increased a remarkable 84% since 2012. Laura Batcha, the executive director of the Organic Trade Association, told Bloomberg that young families are among the drivers in the organic market as they seek to avoid residues of chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones on food. Organic products fetch a higher price point than conventional. Indiana farmer Joe Mills can sell his organic food-grade corn for about $10.50 a bushel, while chemical-intensive sells for about $3.50/bushel. Mr. Mills notes, “Yes, it’s economical, but there is a huge learning curve and a mindset change. We relied on commercial fertilizers and pesticides for so long.” At the same time, the benefits and affordability of organic food are critical to the market, as consumers consider their purchasing choices. Read the Beyond Pesticides’ report Low Food […]

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Take Action: Tell EPA and Congress to Ban Streptomycin and Tetracycline in Crop Production to Protect Medical Uses

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2019) Your voice is needed to stop the use of two specific antibiotics, streptomycin and oxytetracycline, whose uses in agriculture are under EPA review. Thank you to those who, last week, told Congress and EPA to ban antibiotic use in agriculture – to help stop the worldwide crisis in bacterial resistance to antibiotics needed for medical purposes in life-threatening cases. Tell EPA and Congress to Ban Streptomycin and Tetracycline in Agriculture In spite of growing bacterial resistance, these two antibiotics are used for important medical purposes. Tetracycline is used for many common infections of the respiratory tract, sinuses, middle ear, and urinary tract, as well as for anthrax, plague, cholera, and Legionnaire’s disease, though it is used less frequently because of resistance. Streptomycin is used for tuberculosis, tularemia, plague, bacterial endocarditis, brucellosis, and other diseases, but its usefulness is limited by widespread resistance. The unnecessary use of these antibiotics in agriculture must be stopped to protect their efficacy for medical purposes. The good news is that organic management practices do not use these antibiotics in crop production and therefore their use is unnecessary with smart sustainable farming practices.  The EPA docket is accepting comments on these two registrations through Friday, May 17. You can sign […]

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Take Action: Stop Antibiotic Use in Agriculture and Protect Human Health

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

` (Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2019) The spread of antibiotic resistance is a health care crisis of major proportions and requires a moratorium on the use of antibiotics in agriculture. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) call antibiotic resistance “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.” Many bacterial infections are becoming resistant to the most commonly prescribed antibiotics, resulting in longer-lasting infections, higher medical expenses, and the need for more expensive or hazardous medications. The development and spread of antibiotic resistance is the inevitable effect of the use of antibiotics. Bacteria evolve quickly, and antibiotics provide strong selection pressure for those strains with genes for resistance. Tell EPA and Congress to save antibiotics for important medical uses and eliminate use as pesticides. In spite of the spread of antibiotic resistance, the antibiotics used in plant agriculture are both important for fighting human disease. Tetracycline is used for many common infections of the respiratory tract, sinuses, middle ear, and urinary tract, as well as for anthrax, plague, cholera, and Legionnaire’s disease, though it is used less frequently because of resistance. Streptomycin is used for tuberculosis, tularemia, plague, bacterial endocarditis, brucellosis, and other diseases, but its usefulness is limited by widespread […]

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Deadly Fungal Infection Raises Concerns about Fungicides Used in Agriculture

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2019) As reported by Mother Jones, the New York Times (NYT) published, on April 6, a distressing report about a deadly fungus that has been advancing steadily across the world during the past five years. Candida auris is an emerging fungal pathogen that threatens those with compromised or immature immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, people taking steroids for autoimmune disorders, diabetics, those undergoing chemotherapy, and even smokers. Nearly half of those who contract a C. auris infection die within 90 days. One of the factors making this fungus so deadly is that it has developed resistance to existing antifungal medicines, with 90% of infections resistant to one drug, and 30% to two or more. As is true for resistant bacteria, culprits in C. auris’s development of resistance may be the overuse of antifungal medications in health care and overreliance on fungicides in agriculture. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added C. auris to its list of pathogens considered “urgent threats.” It is an “emerging fungal pathogen,” meaning that the incidence of infection has been increasing across multiple countries since it was first recognized in 2009 in Japan (although a different strain had […]

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Europe’s Waterways Contaminated by Pesticides and Antibiotics

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2019) A recent study of 29 discrete, small European waterways found ubiquitous pesticide contamination. Analyzed samples contained a total of 103 different pesticides and 21 veterinary drugs. These data add to the growing body of evidence that there is a significant, ongoing threat to the aquatic environment as a result of chemical-intensive farming practices. Researchers took a “snapshot” of samples from streams, rivers, and canals in ten different countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Sample sites were chosen in rural areas with arable land. The water samples were screened for a wide range of pesticides and veterinary drugs using liquid chromatography. The study was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. Pesticides find their way into water systems via dry deposition (absorption of particles from the atmosphere), pesticide drift, and runoff from contaminated soils. Of the total 103 detected pesticides, 45% were herbicides. Terbuthylazine, a broadleaf herbicide in the chemical class triazine (the same class that contains the U.S.-utilized atrazine), was found in all samples. There were 24 unapproved pesticides in the water samples. Rather than illegal current use, it is more likely that these […]

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Protect the Integrity of Organic Food Production and Continuous Improvement

Monday, April 1st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2019) National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets next month in Seattle, Washington to debate issues concerning what goes into your organic food. Written comments are due April 4. The format for messaging the NOSB requires copying and pasting comments into regulations.gov, so we apologize that this is not a “single click” action. Please add a personal message about why this is important to you at the top of your comments, if possible. Lend your voice to continuous improvement by learning about issues and submitting comments to regulations.gov (directions below, or click here). From the very beginning, with the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in 1990, “organic” has meant “continuous improvement ” in organic food production. The primary mechanism for this is the high level of public involvement that comes from twice-annual meetings of the stakeholder board and decisions related to the allowance of substances/materials used in organic production. The second mechanism is the sunset process, which helps move synthetic substances out of organic production as we learn more about hazards and alternatives. Those substances allowed in organic production must be placed on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances and may be re-listed every five […]

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Take Action: Stop Antibiotic Use in Citrus Production

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2019) At the request of Beyond Pesticides, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has extended its public comment period on antibiotics in citrus production until March 14. With this extra time, please share this action widely to stop this threat. If you have already written your member of Congress to comment on this, please consider distributing this action broadly and submitting a comment to EPA. We have a two-part action for you to take. Use our online form to send a letter to Congress. Leave a comment on the EPA docket at regulations.gov.Please personalize our messages by adding your own story, or that of a loved one. Let your representatives and the EPA know why you want to prevent bacterial resistance! Background Despite the building national and international crisis of deadly bacterial resistance to antibiotics, this new allowance would expand on an emergency use decision the Environmental Protection Agency made in 2017. It permits up to 480,000 acres of citrus trees in Florida to be treated with more than 650,000 pounds of streptomycin per year; 23,000 citrus acres in California will likely be treated annually. The World Health Organization has called bacterial resistance “one of the biggest threats to global […]

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Take Action: Help Close the “Emergency” Pesticide Use Loophole

Monday, January 28th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2019) A  September 2018 report from the Office Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified issues important to protecting health and the environment. The EPA’s response to the report left many of these problems unresolved. Measures and Management Controls Needed to Improve EPA’s Pesticide Emergency Exemption Process (Report No. 18-P-0281, September 25, 2018), finds that the agency’s practice of routinely granting “emergency” approval for pesticides through its Section 18 program does not effectively measure risks to human health or the environment. Tell Congress to Ask the EPA Administrator to Close the “Emergency” Pesticide Use Loophole, and Adopt All the Recommendations of the Office of the Inspector General. Under Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA has the authority to approve the temporary emergency use of unapproved pesticides if the agency determines the pesticide is needed to prevent the spread of an unexpected outbreak of crop-damaging insects, for example. But this provision has been widely abused. The inspector general recommends EPA “develop and implement applicable outcome-based performance measures to demonstrate the human health and environmental effects of the EPA’s emergency exemption decisions.” EPA disagreed and said, [T]he development […]

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Tell Congress to Stop EPA from Allowing Antibiotic Use in Citrus Production

Monday, January 14th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2019) Tell Congress to stop the Trump administration from opening the floodgates to permit widespread use of antibiotics in citrus production (grapefruits, oranges and tangerines). Despite the building national and international crisis of deadly bacterial resistance to antibiotics, this new allowance would expand on an emergency use decision the Environmental Protection Agency made in 2017. It permits up to 480,000 acres of citrus trees in Florida to be treated with more than 650,000 pounds of streptomycin per year; 23,000 citrus acres in California will likely be treated annually. The World Health Organization has called bacterial resistance “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.” Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to urge EPA to reject the use of antibiotics in food production, including citrus production. The two approved antibacterial chemicals to be used as pesticides in citrus production are streptomycin and oxytetracycline. Their use was permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under an emergency exemption in May, 2017 for a citrus greening disease caused by the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) in Florida citrus crops through December of 2019. The Environmental Protection Agency announced March 15, “EPA is issuing these tolerances without notice and opportunity […]

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Take Action: Stop Antibiotic Use in Citrus Production, Leading to Life-Threatening Illness

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2019) The Trump administration is opening the floodgates to allow widespread use of antibiotics in citrus (grapefruits, oranges and tangerines) production, expanding on an emergency use decision it made in 2017. The public has an opportunity to comment on the widespread use of streptomycin by January 19, 2019. You can comment on the federal government’s public comment page (regulations.gov) by leaving a comment opposing any additional use of antibiotics in food production during a national and international crisis of deadly disease resistance to antibiotics. You can copy Beyond Pesticides’ prepared comment below and add your own concerns. Strikingly, the decision allows for up to 480,000 acres of citrus trees in Florida to be treated with more than 650,000 pounds of streptomycin per year, and 23,000 citrus acres in California will likely be treated annually. The two approved antibacterial chemicals to be used as a pesticide in citrus production are streptomycin and oxytetracycline. These uses were permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under an emergency exemption in May, 2017, allowing residues of antibiotics in Florida orange juice, for the antibiotics streptomycin and oxytetracycline –allowing their use for a bacterial disease, citrus greening (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) bacterium that causes Huanglongbing), […]

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New Developments in the Link Between Parkinson’s and Pesticides

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2018) Using low doses of the herbicide paraquat and common proteins found in food called lectins, researchers were able to recreate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in rats. Results of this study, published in the journal Parkinson’s disease, provide scientists with fresh insights into the development of the disease, and a new model to test potential remedies. Paraquat, a neurotoxic herbicide with a well-established body of literature linking it to Parkinson’s disease, is currently undergoing a registration review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and groups like the Michael J Fox Foundation are calling for its ban. Researchers based their study on the Braak Staging hypothesis of Parkinson’s, which posits that the disease is brought on by foreign agents entering the body through the gut or nose and making their way to the brain. Rats were exposed to low doses of paraquat combined with lectin every day for a week. After two weeks, the animals’ motor function was tested and compared to an unexposed control group. Rats exposed to lectin and paraquat exhibited Parkinson-like symptoms. Primary author R. Alberto Travagli, PhD, notes, “After observing that these animals did indeed show symptoms of Parkinsonism, we wanted to […]

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Pesticide Use Found to Surpass ‘Planetary Boundaries’ for Resistance

Friday, November 16th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2018) Pesticides and biocides used to control bacterial infections in humans and weeds and pests in agriculture are surpassing ‘planetary boundaries’ within which human civilization can continue to rely on these biocides, according to a review by an international team of scientists working on the Living with Resistance project. While the study reinforces the role of susceptible populations in managing resistance, it fails to distinguish essential differences between antibiotic resistance and resistance to pesticides that is identified by Beyond Pesticides. The study focuses on six different forms of resistance. Researchers looked at antibiotic resistance in gram negative bacteria (such as E. coli, P. aeruginosa, Salmonella) and gram positive bacteria (such as S. aureus, Clostridium) separately, due to their divergent resistance mechanisms. Pesticide resistance was divided among herbicides in general, herbicide resistant crops, insecticides in general, and genetically engineered (GE) crops that produce their own insecticide. Resistance to antibiotics and pesticides are similar in that they are both evolved responses to substances toxic to the organism. However, lumping them together in evaluating their importance to human health and survival does not recognize important differences in context. “Without new approaches, going to hospital in the future will increasingly become […]

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Roundup, Other Herbicides Advance Antibiotic Resistance

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2018) Bacteria exposed to widely used herbicides like Roundup develop antibiotic resistance 100,000 times faster than average, according to new research published by New Zealand scientists in PeerJ. The results have ominous implications for the modern world’s ability to avert a post-antibiotic era. Even if new antibiotics are discovered, or existing compounds used more judiciously, scientists say that will not be enough to prevent the ongoing crisis – the world is also confronting bacterial exposure to herbicides and other non-antibiotic agents that have the ability to rapidly induce resistance. “Herbicides are among the most widely used and dispersed manufactured products on Earth. Some form of exposure for people, pets and livestock can be routinely expected,” study author Jack Heinemann, PhD, told Newsweek. “Meanwhile, antibiotics are used at high rates particularly on people, pets and livestock. Therefore, the combination of exposures for bacteria that live on us is all but guaranteed.” This current round of research by Dr. Heinemann and his team is the outgrowth of previous studies (1, 2) that established the ability of common herbicides to induce antibiotic resistance in strains of pathogenic bacteria Salmonella eterica and Escherichia coli. Now, the scientists are drilling into […]

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Reminder Take Action: Comment to Protect Organic by Thursday, October 4

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2018) REMINDER: The Fall 2018 NOSB public comments are due by Thursday, October 4, 2018. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov  until 11:59 pm ET October 4, 2018. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment. On our Keeping Organic Strong page, Beyond Pesticides will be providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration of the Board when it meets in Saint Paul, MN on October 24 – 26, 2018. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either the subject of petitions or the subject of sunset review (concerning whether to be allowed for another 5 years). To be allowed, materials must have evidence summarized in the proposals that they meet the OFPA requirements of essentiality, no adverse effects on humans and the environment, and compatibility with organic practices. […]

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Take Action: Comment by October 4 to Protect Organic Integrity!

Monday, September 17th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2018) The Fall 2018 NOSB meeting dates have been announced and public comments are due by October 4, 2018. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov  until 11:59 pm ET October 4, 2018. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment. On our Keeping Organic Strong page, Beyond Pesticides will be providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration of the Board when it meets in Saint Paul, MN on October 24 – 26, 2018. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either the subject of petitions or the subject of sunset review (concerning whether to be allowed for another 5 years). To be allowed, materials must have evidence summarized in the proposals that they meet the OFPA requirements of essentiality, no adverse effects on humans and the […]

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Research Shows Greenspace and Biodiversity Protect Kids from Asthma

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2018)  Among the many reports of the salutary effects of nature on human health and well-being comes new research demonstrating that children who live in “green” neighborhoods have reduced risk of developing asthma. Researchers Jeroen Douwes, PhD and Geoffrey H. Donovan, PhD, of New Zealand’s Massey University (Centre for Public Health Research) and the U.S. Forest Service, respectively, conducted the longitudinal study with New Zealand subjects born in 1998, following them until 2016. The authors say the study results “suggest that exposure to greenness and vegetation diversity may be protective of asthma.” Of concern are the pesticides used in green spaces. See Beyond Pesticides’ brochure, Asthma, Children, and Pesticides and El Asma, los NiĂąos y los Pesticidas: Lo que usted debe saber para proteger a su familia. Also, see Children and Pesticides Don’t Mix. In addition to the well-substantiated benefits of exposure to nature — reduction of the experience of stress; reduction in production of cortisol (the “stress” hormone that is linked to weight gain, hypertension, cardiac disease, weakened immune function, and loss of bone density); improved mental health; better cognitive function; and lower  BMI (body mass index) — this latest research evaluates the impact on children’s risk for asthma. […]

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