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Commonly Used Neurotoxic Pesticide Exposure Increases ALS Risk to Workers and Residents

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2021) Individuals working or living in areas with frequent neurotoxic pesticide use experience more amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) incidences than the general population. The study, published in NeuroToxicology, finds a positive association between sporadic (non-genetic, spontaneous) ALS incidences among individuals exposed to neurotoxic pesticides.  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. As many as 16,000 – 20,000 Americans live with this condition, which weakens muscle/motor function leading to loss of muscle control for walking, talking, eating/swallowing, and breathing. Severe ALS progression is fatal and has no current cure. Although research supports genetic factors play a role in disease etiology (cause), most ALS cases do not result from genetic inheritance. Several research studies demonstrate exposure to environmental or work-related toxicants (i.e., pesticides) predispose humans to the disease. With researchers predicting a global ALS incidence increase of 69% by 2040, identifying ALS’s causal factors are important to future research. Therefore, research like this showcases the importance of assessing aggregate health risks associated with toxic chemical exposure, especially for illnesses, which are not curable. In this study, the researchers note, “[W]e identified pesticides applied to crops in the area of […]

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Commentary: Will Playing Fields, Parks, and Lawns Be Safe After Glyphosate in Roundup Residential Use Ends in 2023?

Friday, July 30th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2021) Bayer (Monsanto), the maker of the deadly herbicide glyphosate/Roundup, after hinting in May that it would end the weed killer’s residential uses in the U.S., made it official yesterday. With its announcement to shareholders, Bayer puts an end to residential uses beginning in 2023 and allocates $4.5 billion to cover “the company’s potential long-term exposure” from lawsuits by those harmed by the chemical. At the same time, the company announced it is seeking a U.S. Supreme Court hearing to reverse significant jury verdicts (from $289 million to $2 billion) for individuals who have suffered health damage they tie to glyphosate exposure. Bayer claims that it will argue that federal pesticide law preempts litigation against products that it has registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA). Similar arguments have been tried before, most notably in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences (2005), and the Supreme Court has found that federal pesticide law does not protect “manufacturers of poisonous substances.” (See more below.) Despite the extensive scientific review (see Pesticide Gateway) of glyphosate/Roundup and a “probable” cancer causing ranking by the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015, Bayer says, “This move is being made exclusively […]

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Multi-Crop (Mixed Culture) Farming Practices Promote More Fruitful Farmland than Single-Crop (Monoculture)

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2021) A study by ETH Zurich finds multi-crop (mixed culture) farmlands, which include a diverse array of crops, produce higher biomass and seed yields than single-crop (monocultures). Monocultures are most prevalent among arable farmland as commercial industrial farming uses this practice to increase sowing, managing, and harvesting efficiency for higher yields. However, less crop diversity leads to higher, more intensive pesticide use as pests favor the consistent food availability monocultures provide. An increase in toxic chemical use threatens human, animal, and environmental health, as well as food security. Ecological research already finds a positive association between plant diversity and biomass productivity in grasslands and meadows. In addition, a University of California, Santa Barbara study demonstrates that crop diversity in commercial agriculture is just as essential to supporting a stable biological system as plant diversity on non-commercial landscapes (i.e., grasslands/meadows). Therefore, this research highlights the need to develop policies that help farmers and global leaders make more knowledgeable decisions regarding crop diversity to sustain yield without toxic pesticides. The researchers note, “While crop diversification provides a sustainable measure of agricultural intensification, the use of currently available cultivars [(plant varieties for selective breeding)] may compromise larger gains in seed yield. We, therefore, advocate regional […]

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Inspector General Blasts Trump’s Politicized EPA, No Announced Plans to Reverse Unscientific Decisions

Friday, May 28th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2021) A report by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concludes that scientific analyses by the agency were altered so as to favor top Trump administration officials’ policy choices in the 2018 reapproval of the highly toxic and problematic pesticide, dicamba. The report, “EPA Deviated from its Typical Procedures in Its 2018 Dicamba Pesticide Registration Decision,” was publicly released on May 24. It confirms aspects of what Beyond Pesticides and many others in the science, advocacy, public health, and environmental communities have been saying and reporting since 2016: the Trump administration executed a wholesale assault on scientific integrity in federal decision making. In its research on the matter, the Inspector General’s office (OIG) reviewed EPA’s 2016 and 2018 decisions on dicamba’s registration, documentation that purported to support those decisions, and the concerns forwarded in the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and by many stakeholders. (See more in figure below.) It also reviewed EPA internal procedures and guidance on pesticide registration, and agency scientific integrity materials; interviewed career scientists and other agency staff; and communicated with EPA’s Scientific Integrity (Science Advisor) program staff. As reported […]

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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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Invertebrates and Plants Face Increasing Threat from Pesticide Use, Despite Declining Chemical Use Patterns

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

Pesticide use threatens aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and plants more than ever, despite declining chemical use and implementation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the U.S., according to a University Koblenz-Landau, Germany study. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), many environmental agencies have banned the use of pesticides like organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects, particularly on vertebrates, including humans. However, this ban created a pathway for a new generation of pesticides (e.g., neonicotinoids, pyrethroids) to take hold. Although these pesticides are more target-specific, requiring lower chemical concentrations for effectiveness, they have over double the toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators.  Invertebrates and plants are vital for ecosystem function, offering various services, from decomposition to supporting the food web. Furthermore, invertebrates and plants can act as indicator species (bioindicators) that scientists can observe for the presence and impact of environmental changes and stressors. Therefore, reductions in invertebrate and plant life have implications for ecosystem health that can put human well-being at risk. Study lead author Ralf Schulz, PH.D., notes, “[This study] challenge[s] the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM [genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE)] crops and call for action to reduce the […]

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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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Arkansas Plant Board Takes First Step to Roll Back Crop Damage Protections from Dicamba/Herbicide Drift

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2021) Earlier this month, the Arkansas State Plant Board (ASPB) voted to loosen regulations curtailing use of the highly drift-prone herbicide dicamba. With an 8-7 vote, ASPB eliminated measures advanced in 2016 that protect growers from dicamba drifting off of genetically engineered (GE) soybean fields. Farmer, health, and environmental advocates are encouraging groups and individuals to submit testimony in opposition to the changes should the state’s Governor continue the proposal to a 30-day comment period. Dicamba has been the subject of intense debate and scrutiny over the last several years—most prominently in Southern and Midwestern states where extensive cotton and soybean monocultures are grown. Due to rampant weed resistance to glyphosate herbicides in GE crop fields, Bayer/Monsanto developed new seeds capable of growing into plants that can withstand repeated sprayings of both glyphosate and dicamba. The company released these new seeds in the mid-2010s without waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve a corresponding herbicide formulation Bayer/Monsanto claimed would reduce drift problems. Farmers began using older, unapproved dicamba formulations, but ultimately even after receiving approval, new formulations proved too drift-prone and problematic to be used without incident. In response, ASPB instituted changes that […]

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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: Chronic Inhalation of Paraquat in Low-Doses Disrupts Sense of Smell

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2021) New research published in the journal Toxicological Sciences finds extended inhalation of the common herbicide paraquat causes male mice to lose some sense of smell, even at low doses. This study highlights the significance of understanding how specific chemical exposure routes can influence disease development. Olfactory (relating to the sense of smell) impairment is a precursory feature of Parkinson’s disease (PD), and studies connect paraquat poisoning to PD risk. Hence, future pesticide management policies should assess specific disease risks with bodily chemical concentration from low-dose, chronic neurotoxic chemical exposure. The study’s researchers note, “These data support the importance of route of exposure in the determination of safety estimates for neurotoxic pesticides, such as [paraquat]. Accurate estimation of the relationship between exposure and internal dose is critical for risk assessment and public health protection.” Despite evidence demonstrating that olfactory  nerve cells transport toxic airborne particles and solutes to the brain upon inhalation, the possibility of olfactory impairment (damage) from paraquat inhalation lacks adequate assessment. To assess the impact paraquat has on olfactory function, researchers exposed a cohort of adult female and male mice to paraquat aerosols in an inhalation chamber for four hours a day, five days a week, for four weeks. Researchers investigated paraquat concentrations […]

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TAKE ACTION: Tell President-Elect Biden and Congress to Clean Up at EPA— End the Era of Corporate Deception

Monday, January 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2021) Treatment of chemical companies as clients rather than regulated entities is not new at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but corruption reached new highs during the Trump administration. With a new administration, it is time to end the rule of corporate deception at EPA. This goes beyond the use of the Congressional Review Act to reverse individual rules (adopted in the last six months) that defy scientific findings and compliance with environmental and public health standards. We can no longer rely on bad science and unscrupulous chemical manufacturers that put profits above concerns for the health of people and the environment. EPA must audit pesticide registrants for integrity to scientific process and set a moratorium on future pesticide registration until the agency can assure the public that their science is not corrupt, as it has been in the past. Tell President-elect Biden and Congress to clean up the corruption of science at EPA and set a moratorium on future pesticide registrations—until the agency can assure the public that the chemical manufacturers’ science supporting pesticide registrations is not corrupt. The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published a story in early December on yet another example of the […]

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Farmworkers and Conservationists Ask Court to Remove Monsanto’s Roundup from the Market

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2020) Opening arguments and evidence were filed by a coalition of farmworkers, farmers, and conservationists last week in litigation challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) re-approval of glyphosate, best known as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s “Roundup” pesticides. The lawsuit charges that the Trump Administration unlawfully ignored cancer risks and ecological damage of glyphosate.  Represented by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), plaintiffs, including the Rural Coalition, Farmworker Association of Florida, OrganizaciĂłn en California de Lideres Campesinas, and Beyond Pesticides, filed the federal lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in March. The groups seek to have the pesticide prohibited from use or sale because of its unlawful approval. “Farmworkers are on the frontlines of nearly every health and environmental crisis, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, and are particularly at risk of health impacts from pesticide spraying,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at CFS. “EPA failed these essential workers. It rejected evidence that glyphosate causes cancer and entirely failed to assess the main way people are exposed at work, through their skin.” The court filing includes volumes of evidence showing how EPA ignored glyphosate’s health risks, including cancer risks, to farmworkers and farmers exposed during spraying. The evidence […]

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Investigation on Weed Killer Dicamba Adds to Pattern of Corporate Deception on Pesticide Hazards

Friday, December 18th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 18, 2020) The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published a story in early December on yet another example of the corporate malfeasance that exalts profit far above concerns for safety, health, and ecosystems. The Midwest Center’s investigation finds that Monsanto and BASF, makers of the extremely problematic herbicide dicamba, engaged in a variety of deceitful, unethical, and possibly fraudulent practices to enable its use. The bottom line is that the companies knew, before they released dicamba, about the massive damage it would cause — and then put it on the market. Beyond Pesticides has reported on the corporate greed that fuels the downstream public health, environmental, and economic devastation these pesticides cause, and advocated for their removal from the market. Such unscrupulous behavior is not confined to these companies; Bayer (which now owns Monsanto) and Syngenta are also implicated in similar actions related to other pesticides: glyphosate and atrazine, respectively. Over the course of the past couple of decades, large agrochemical corporations have pursued not only extreme market penetration for their toxic products, but also, vertical integration that, in the case of Bayer/Monsanto, “represents a near-monopoly on the agriculture supply chain.” Corporate ownership of the patent on genetically […]

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Open Letter to Biden-Appointed USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack: Moving Forward, Meeting Challenges, Correcting the Past

Monday, December 14th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2020) As the President-elect chooses the leadership in his administration, it is critical that we in the affected communities establish our expectations of what is needed from agencies to address critical issues of the day. While we may feel that different choices of personnel could have been made, ultimately we are looking forward to advancing programs across all agencies that represent meaningful and foundational changes to our social, economic, and environmental norms. As we focus on the appointment of a Secretary of Agriculture, issues of foundational change come into sharp focus, relating to sustainable land management, distribution of resources and access to land, food security, protection of human and ecosystem health, and climate. It is normal, therefore, to look at any individual appointee’s past performance and positions as a measure of future decisions or policies that may be advanced. Ultimately, though, it is the administration that sets the tone, establishes a framework, and forges the direction of the government’s programs and policies. President-elect Biden has talked about a framework for policy to which we can and must hold all officials in the administration accountable across all agencies. These key elements of the framework intersect with the […]

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EPA by Fiat Overturns State Authority to Restrict Pesticides in the Face of Its Faltering Programs

Friday, November 13th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2020) The toxic herbicide dicamba is once again at the center of a larger story about states’ authority to regulate pesticides beyond federal dictates. The Trump EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has just made it much harder for state regulations to be more protective than federal rules are. It did so via a footnote embedded in dozens of pages of regulatory documents related to EPA’s registration of three new dicamba products. Given conservatives’ long-standing lip service to “states’ rights,” this EPA’s thwarting of the wishes of individual states to respond to their respective circumstances could easily be regarded as an odd — though, during this administration, hardly singular — stance. This latest development underscores EPA’s continuing failures to protect people and the environment, and the increasing tension between centralized, federal regulation and more-local regulation, whether by states or smaller localities. For nearly 30 years, state regulators have used a Section 24 provision of FIFRA, the Federal, Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act — the law that gives EPA authority to regulate pesticides — to establish specific restrictions, on use of federally registered pesticide products, that go beyond what EPA has mandated. The agency has long allowed states to add […]

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Pesticide Exposure Increases the Risk of Developing Gene-Specific and Sporadic Parkinson’s Disease Incidences

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2020) Research at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) finds that pesticide exposure increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), regardless of whether disease onset is idiopathic (spontaneous) or genetic (GBA genetic risk variant). Although the exact etiology of PD remains unknown, epidemiological and toxicological research repeatedly identifies exposure to pesticides, as well as specific gene-pesticide interactions, as significant adverse risk factors that contribute to PD. Furthermore, this study, “Gene Variants May Affect PD Risk After Pesticide Exposure,” suggests that environmental triggers like occupational exposure to pesticides can prompt PD in individuals with or without the genetic precursor. This research demonstrates the importance of assessing disease etiology concerning occupational pesticide exposure, especially if disease triggers are overwhelmingly non-hereditary. Since not all individuals genetically predisposed to the disease develop PD, with only 10 to 15 percent of PD cases being genetic, government officials need to consider alternate etiological pathways that include environmental risk factors. Study researchers note, “‘Environmental exposures may have differential effects in different genotypes’ and may predispose people with PD to different symptom burden.”  Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, with at least one million Americans living with PD and about […]

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After Court Rules Herbicide “Would Tear the Social Fabric of Farming Communities,” Dicamba in Genetically Engineered Crops Given Go-Ahead by EPA

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2020) Despite a recent court ruling voiding the registration of drift-prone dicamba herbicides on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and soybeans, EPA has renewed  the registration of these chemicals. The court’s ruling stated that EPA, “substantially understated risks that it acknowledged and failed entirely to acknowledge other risks,” in regards to the herbicides XtendiMax and Eugenia (dicamba), produced by agrichemical corporations Bayer and BASF for their genetically engineered (GE) crops. In announcing the decision, Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the agency made its decision “[a]fter reviewing substantial amounts of new information, conducting scientific assessments based on the best available science, and carefully considering input from stakeholders.” Yet, it is evident that the most important stakeholders for EPA continues to be chemical corporations. The history of dicamba’s use in GE agriculture reveal this to be the case. In the mid-2010s, Bayer’s Monsanto developed new dicamba-tolerant seeds and received approval to sell them from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. EPA had not yet approved its corresponding herbicide, but nonetheless, Bayer’s Monsanto urged farmers to plant its seed, claiming they would increase yields. The results of this were predictable: farmers began to use older, unapproved dicamba formulations on their new GE […]

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Captured by Extremist Pro-Pesticide Agenda, A Broken EPA Reregisters Several Toxic Pesticides

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2020) This month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized decisions allowing continued use of a range of highly toxic pesticides, including the herbicide paraquat, and the synthetic pyrethroid class of insecticides. The move has been met with stinging criticism from the health and environmental community, but the decisions come as no surprise. Continued allowance of hazardous pesticides is a result of a weak law, lax regulations, and an administration that has consistently refused to follow even deficient protections. “The EPA’s pesticide office has sunk to a despicable new low in allowing farmworkers, small children and the environment to be sacrificial pawns in the profit schemes of its friends in the pesticide industry,” said Nathan Donley, PhD, senior scientist at Center for Biological Diversity. “In rushing to reapprove these deadly chemicals, it’s ignored its own scientists and independent researchers, refused to protect human health and the environment, and shown itself to be the panting lapdog of a morally bankrupt industry.” EPA reregistered paraquat despite overwhelming evidence that the chemical cannot be used without ‘unreasonable adverse effects on the environment’ — the lackluster standard in federal pesticide law to which the agency is required to regulate a […]

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Literature Review: Pesticides Exposure Highly Correlated with Respiratory Diseases

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2020) A review of scientific literature on the correlation between respiratory diseases and pesticides exposure—published in the journal Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine (AAEM), “Influence of pesticides on respiratory pathology—a literature review”—finds that exposure to pesticides increases incidents of respiratory pathologies (i.e., asthma, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]—or chronic bronchitis). The review by researchers at the Iuliu Hatieganu’ University of Medicine and Pharmacy Cluj-Napoca, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, looks at how pesticide exposure adversely propagates and reinforces respiratory diseases in humans. This review highlights the significance of evaluating how pesticide exposure impacts respiratory function, especially since contact with pesticides can happen at any point in the production, transportation preparation, or application treatment process. Researchers in the study note, “Knowing and recognizing these respiratory health problems of farmers and their families, and also of [pesticide] manipulators/retailers, are essential for early diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and preventive measures.” This study results are critically important at a time when exposure to respiratory toxicants increases vulnerability to Covid-19, which attacks the respiratory system, among other organic systems. The respiratory system is essential to human survival, regulating gas exchange (oxygen-carbon dioxide) in the body to balance acid and base tissue cells for normal […]

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Bayer Coordinated with U.S. Government on Pressure Campaign to Stop Thailand from Banning Glyphosate

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2020) Multinational agrichemical corporation Bayer coordinated with the U.S. government to pressure Thailand to drop plans to ban glyphosate use, according to documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). CBD is now suing the Trump Administration after it refused to release additional documents pertaining to the pressure campaign. The incident is the latest example of an administration that has allowed corporate interests to dictate American governmental action on toxic pesticides. The documents reveal that the October 2019 letter that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Ted McKinney sent to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pushing back on the country’s plan to ban glyphosate came shortly after emails Bayer sent to U.S. officials. In September and October 2019, Bayer’s Jim Travis asked the U.S. to act on its behalf in defense of the company’s glyphosate products. Emails reveal that Mr. Travis also collected intelligence on the personal motivations of Thailand’s deputy agriculture minister, including whether she was “a diehard advocate of organic food; and/or staunch environmentalist who eschews all synthetic chemical applications.” Reports indicate that the U.S. government brought up the issue of glyphosate during trade talks in the context of considerations to revoke Thailand’s […]

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Consumer Reports Study Rates Foods with Pesticide Residues; Doesn’t Include Worker, Environmental Justice, Biodiversity Impacts

Friday, September 18th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2020) In late August, Consumer Reports magazine (CR) issued a report titled, “Stop Eating Pesticides,” which offers consumers a rating system CR developed and employed to help them “get the health benefits from fruits and vegetables while minimizing [the] risk from toxic chemicals.” In addition to providing its analysis and ratings of the pesticide risk of a variety of produce items, CR recommends eating organically grown and raised foods whenever possible. It also makes a host of recommendations on federal pesticide policies and emphasizes the importance of maintaining the integrity of the National Organic Standards (of the USDA-housed National Organic Program). Beyond Pesticides appreciates that this mainstream publication has arrived at many shared, science-based assessments of the risks of pesticides. That said, a wholesale transition to organic and regenerative agriculture — rather than making the public figure out which fruits and vegetables are “safer” or “less safe” — is the real answer to the health risks of pesticides in the food supply, according to Beyond Pesticides. The CR analysis used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Pesticide Data Program for 2014–2018. Those pesticide residue data were compiled from tests of approximately 450 pesticides across 24,000 […]

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Court Decision Highlights Systemic Failure of Federal Pesticide Law to Protect Health and the Environment, Despite a Silver Lining and a Must-Read, Powerful Dissenting Opinion

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2020) Petitioners who mounted a legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) registration of Enlist Duo, a relatively new and highly toxic pesticide product, recently learned of a mixed decision from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case. The good news is that Judge Ryan D. Nelson, writing the opinion for the court, found that EPA, in registering the herbicide Enlist Duo, had failed to protect monarch butterflies, which are under consideration as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On the other and disturbing hand, the court concluded that EPA registration of the product was otherwise lawful — which means that this toxic compound will for now remain on the market. As one of the plaintiffs in the case, Beyond Pesticides is adamant that this product should not be registered for use by EPA. George Kimbrell, Legal Director of Center for Food Safety and Lead Counsel for the plaintiffs, commented on the decision in the organization’s July 22 press release on the decision: “The panel majority’s unprecedented decision is contrary to controlling law and established science, and Center for Food Safety is analyzing all legal options, including seeking a full […]

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Wild Pollinator Declines Result in a Loss of U.S. Crop Production

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 6, 2020) New research finds that a decline in wild pollinator abundance, notably wild bees, limits crop yields in the U.S., according to the study, “Crop Production in the USA Is Frequently Limited by A Lack of Pollinators.” The study results, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, find the annual, national average value of wild bee pollination for the most economically important and pollinator-dependent crops is approximately $1.5 billion, with the total value of all U.S. pollinator-dependent crops equaling $50 billion annually. The United Nations states that 75% of the 115 top global food crops depend on insect pollination, with one third of all U.S. crops dependent on pollinators, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, research finds that many insect populations are declining by half with a third threatened by extinction, including managed and wild pollinators, mainly due to habitat fragmentation, climate change, and extensive pesticide use. With the global reliance on pollinator-dependent crops increasing over the past decades, a lack of pollinators threatens food security and stability. The researchers in the study note, “Our findings show that pollinator declines could translate directly into decreased yields or production for most of the crops studied, […]

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