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Drift-Prone Weed Killer Out of Control with the Chemical Industry at the Wheel

Friday, May 27th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2022) In a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) court document filed on May 16, the agency signaled potential changes to the labeling it requires for “over the top” (OTT, or post-emergent) herbicides containing dicamba, a very problematic pesticide. The filing — in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, where EPA currently faces litigation about its 2020 dicamba registrations — comes as a result of Bayer, Inc.’s March 2022 proposed amendments to EPA registration for its XtendiMax herbicide, which contains dicamba and glyphosate. Beyond Pesticides has covered the dicamba saga for years, including the EPA Office of the Inspector General’s critical 2021 report citing an abandonment of science and assault on agency integrity for EPA’s dicamba decisions during the Trump years. Dicamba has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, birth defects, and kidney and liver damage. It is toxic to birds, fish, and other aquatic organisms, and is known to leach into waterways after application. Dicamba also causes serious damage to non-GE (genetically engineered), non-target plants, damaging habitat and food sources for various organisms, especially for birds and insects. According to Progressive Farmer, EPA is currently considering some dicamba use restrictions after Bayer submitted them to […]

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Animals in Wildlife Sanctuaries at Greater Risk of Pesticide Exposure from Internal Agricultural Practices

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2022) An article by the Audubon Society covers ongoing advocacy to end pesticide spraying in wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges act as a sanctuary, providing habitat and protection essential for the survival and recovery of species nationwide. However, portions of the wildlife sanctuary can have agricultural uses, allowing farmers to cultivate crops on various acres, subsequently applying pesticides. Pesticide spraying in or around wildlife refuges threatens the survivability and recovery of species that inhabit the area. Moreover, many of these pesticides are highly toxic to human and animal health. Analyses like these are significant, especially since the globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to enforce policies that eliminate pesticide use in wildlife refuges. Ending pesticide applications in sanctuaries can protect the well-being of animals, humans, and the ecosystem. Hannah Connor, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), notes, “It’s not a huge economic driver of the refuge system, and it is truly problematic in terms of fulfilling its mission and goals[
]. That just means it should be […]

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EPA Permits Experimental Release of 2.5 Billion Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes in California and Florida

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2022) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has authorized the “experimental use” and release of 2.5 billion genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes in Florida and California by the British-based firm Oxitec. While the goal of eliminating disease carrying mosquitoes is an important public health challenge, public opinion has been consistently against the use of these animals, with nearly 240,000 individuals opposing a pilot program in the Florida Keys. Health and environmental advocates have a range of concerns with Oxitec’s approach, including the size of its latest experiment, lack of publicly verifiable efficacy data, and availability of alternative management practices not requiring GE mosquitoes. Oxitec began public releases of its GE mosquitoes at least a decade ago, when mosquito larvae were introduced in the Brazilian town of Itaberaba. The company has consistently angled to launch its mosquitoes in the United States under the claim that the animals will reduce numbers of Aedes aegypti, a highly problematic mosquito known to vector a range of diseases, including dengue, yellow fever chikungunya, and Zika. Research analyzing Oxitec’s proposals note that the risk of dengue and other disease from Aedes aegypti is low in the United States. In a recent study in Globalization […]

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One-Third of Americans Have Hazardous Weed Killer in Their Bodies

Tuesday, February 15th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2022) A synthetic weed killer linked to cancer, endocrine (hormone) disruption, reproductive harm and birth defects can be found in the bodies of 1 in 3 Americans, according to research published in Environmental Health by scientists at George Washington University. The chemical in question is not glyphosate (though current data indicate similar results are likely) but 2,4-D, an herbicide that is increasingly used when weeds growing near genetically engineered  (GE) crops have developed resistance to the repeated use of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers. “Our study suggests human exposures to 2,4-D have gone up significantly and they are predicted to rise even more in the future,” Marlaina Freisthler, a PhD student and researcher at the George Washington University, said. “These findings raise concerns with regard to whether this heavily used weed-killer might cause health problems, especially for young children who are very sensitive to chemical exposures.” Researchers conducted their analysis based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which includes urinary concentrations of 2,4-D from 14,395 participants spanning 2001 to 2014. Between those years, the use of 2,4-D increased rapidly from its relative low point at the beginning of the century. “Roundup […]

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USDA Genetic Engineered Food Label Misleads Consumers, Took Effect January 1

Friday, January 7th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides. January 7, 2022) Unbeknownst to most Americans when they woke up on New Year’s Day 2022, a new labeling system for genetically modified-engineered foods— promulgated in 2019 — which does not mention genetically engineered or GMO ingredients, went into effect. Consumer, food, and environmental advocates say that the new label is misleading, insufficiently transparent, discriminatory, rife with loopholes, and confusing for consumers. The new labeling requirement mandates that genetically engineered foods bear labels that indicate that they have been “bioengineered” or that provide a text-messaging phone number or a QR code as avenues for further information. (“Additional options such as a phone number or web address are available to small food manufacturers or for small and very small packages.”) The new labeling rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aims, according to the agency, to eliminate the crazy quilt of labels affixed to foods and ingredients that have been scientifically altered. According to an agency spokesperson, the rule is designed to “balance the need to provide information to consumers with the interest in minimizing costs to companies.” Genetically altered food items and ingredients have heretofore been called, and labeled as, “genetically engineered” (GE) or “genetically modified” (GM), […]

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Court Blocks Trump-era, Toxic Citrus Pesticide, Defended by Biden EPA

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2021) Earlier this week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia blocked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from approving use of the hazardous insecticide aldicarb on citrus crops in Florida. The decision comes shortly after Nikki Fried, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner, denied a state-level registration for aldicarb, which was cancelled in the United States over a decade ago due to risks to children and water contamination. Health, conservation, and farmworker advocates that brought the suit are praising the court’s decision. “We applaud this decision by the court whose ruling confirms what we already knew — that there is no place for a toxic pesticide like aldicarb to be used on crops in Florida where our workers and our water would be at grave risk,” said Jeannie Economos, coordinator of the Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project at Farmworker Association of Florida in a press release. “Farmworkers can breathe a bit easier knowing that this neurotoxin will not be used on the citrus crops they harvest. We are grateful to Florida commissioner of agriculture Nikki Fried for refusing to allow this toxin to poison our communities, our food and our environment. This decision sends […]

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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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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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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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Lawsuit Launched Against EPA Approval of Toxic Herbicide Atrazine

Friday, November 6th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2020) Beyond Pesticides joined health and environmental groups suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) late last month over its decision to reapprove the endocrine disrupting herbicide atrazine with fewer protections for children’s health. Despite the chemical being banned across much of the world, EPA continues to make decisions that benefit chemical industry executives. “EPA’s failure to remove atrazine represents a dramatic failure of a federal agency charged with safeguarding the health of people, wildlife, and the environment,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “We seek to uphold the agency’s duty to act on the science, in the face of viable alternatives to this highly toxic weedkiller.” It is not hyperbole, but in fact scientifically documented, that atrazine exposure “chemically castrates” frogs, impairs fish reproduction, and can result in birth defects and cancer in humans. EPA decision comes on the heels of a rash of industry-friendly decisions. Within the last month, the agency has finalized rules weakening farmworker buffer zone protections, reapproving dicamba use on genetically engineered crops, and reregistering some of the most toxic pesticides on the market. The lawsuit, filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, contends that before reapproving atrazine, […]

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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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The Insect Apocalypse Moves Up the Food Chain: American Bird Populations in Rapid Decline Due to Pesticide Use

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 18, 2020) Ongoing declines in bird population and diversity are being accelerated by the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, according to research published in Nature Sustainability earlier this month. The paper comes on the heels of a groundbreaking study released last year, finding that the United States has lost 3 billion birds since 1970, a roughly 30% decrease from that time. This new research adds further detail to losses that have occurred within the last decade, as farming patterns have shifted increasingly to the use of pesticide-coated seeds that poison. Researchers used an extensive dataset from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, a project maintained by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The project takes regular counts of bird species along 2,953 survey routes established throughout North America, accounting for dozens of both grassland and insectivorous birds, and over 630 non-grassland species. Pesticides were weighted for their toxicity to birds, and researchers produced an empirical analysis using regression models in order to establish a casual relationship between neonicotinoid use and bird populations. Using these models, researchers determined that for every 100kg (220 lbs) increase in the use of any neonicotinoid within a US county, grassland bird populations subsequently […]

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Federal Court Halts Use of Drift-Prone Dicamba on Millions of Acres of GE Soy and Cotton

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2020) Use of the weed killer dicamba on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and soybeans is now prohibited after a federal court ruling against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week. A coalition of conservation groups filed suit in 2018 after EPA renewed a conditional registration for dicamba’s ‘over the top’ (OTT) use on GE cotton and soy developed to tolerate repeated sprayings of the herbicide. “For the thousands of farmers whose fields were damaged or destroyed by dicamba drift despite our warnings, the National Family Farm Coalition is pleased with today’s ruling,” said National Family Farm Coalition president Jim Goodman in a press release. First registered in the late 1960s, dicamba has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, birth defects, and kidney and liver damage. It is also toxic to birds, fish and other aquatic organisms, and known to leach into waterways after an application. It is a notoriously drift-prone herbicide. Studies and court filings show dicamba able to drift well over a mile off-site after an application. Bayer’s Monsanto thought they could solve this problem. The “Roundup Ready” GE agricultural model the company developed, with crops engineered to tolerate recurrent applications of their […]

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Stop Dangerous Proposal to Allow Genetically Engineered Crops on National Wildlife Refuges in Southeast U.S.

Monday, April 6th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2020) The Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with a proposal to grow genetically engineered crops (GECs) on National Wildlife Refuges in the Southeast United States, including 131 refuges in 10 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ask Congress to help stop the dangerous proposal to allow genetically engineered crops on National Wildlife Refuges in the southeast United States. The proposal is the subject of a draft environmental assessment and opens the door to escalating uses of GE crops and harmful pesticides in wildlife refuges. In 2014, public pressure and lawsuits by environmental groups led to the Obama administration’s decision to phase out GE crops and ban neonicotinoid insecticide use on national wildlife refuges. On August 2, 2018, the Trump administration’s USFWS issued a memorandum that reversed the prohibition. The reversal allows the refuge system to make decisions on the use of GECs and neonics on a case-by-case basis in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is also under attack by the Trump administration. The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and others quickly challenged the 2018 reversal memorandum with a lawsuit. National Wildlife Refuges are federal public lands specifically designated to […]

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Trump Administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Planting of Genetically Engineered Crops in Southeast National Wildlife Refuges

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2020) The Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with a proposal to grow genetically engineered crops (GECs) on national wildlife refuges in the Southeast United States. The draft environmental assessment allows wildlife to consume pesticide-laden produce, considers chemical-intensive genetically engineered crops no less damaging to the environment than “non-use of GECs,” and permits and escalation of climate change with toxic pesticide use increases. USFW’s proposal fails to mention the success of organic agriculture and consider it as one of the alternative management strategies. The proposal is up for public comment until April 10, 2020. In 2014, public pressure and lawsuits by environmental groups led to the Obama administration’s decision to phase out GE crops and ban neonicotinoid insecticide use on national wildlife refuges. On August 2, 2018, the Trump administration’s USFWS issued a memorandum that reversed the prohibition. The reversal allows the refuge system to make decisions on the use of GECs and neonics on a case-by-case basis in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is also under attack by the Trump administration. The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and others quickly challenged the 2018 […]

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Bader Farms Wins $265 Million in Lawsuit Against Bayer’s Monsanto, BASF

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2020) Missouri’s largest peach farm, Bader Farms, is set to receive $265 million in compensation from two multinational agrichemical companies after the companies’ dicamba-based weed killers caused widespread damage to the farm’s fruit trees. Bayer’s Monsanto and BASF were found to be responsible for negligence in the design of their dicamba herbicides, and failure to warn farmers about the dangers of their products. The jury determined that the joint venture between the two companies amounted to a conspiracy to create an “ecological disaster” in the name of profit. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Bayer Monsanto’s release of a new line of genetically engineered (GE) seeds designed to tolerate repeated spraying of dicamba. With glyphosate resistant ‘super-weeds’ widespread and threatening GE farmer’s yields, the company aimed to redeploy dicamba, one of the oldest herbicides in the market, on cotton and soybeans throughout the U.S. Knowing the propensity of dicamba to drift for miles off site, Bayer’s Monsanto promised a new product line with much lower volatility.  But as the company was waiting on approval for this product by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it nonetheless began selling its dicamba-tolerant seeds. This led to […]

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At Congressional Hearing, USDA Proposes Allowing Genetic Engineering (“Editing”) in Certified Organic Food

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2019) Advocates of organic agriculture, including Beyond Pesticides, are sounding a “yellow alert” on the heels of recent comments, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach, before the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research. In his remarks, Mr. Ibach opened the door to consideration of allowing new gene-editing technologies to be permitted under the federal National Organic Program (NOP) and its standards. He said, “As the National Organic Standards Board set the rules originally, GMOs are not eligible to be in the organic program. However, we’ve seen new technology, including gene-editing, that accomplishes things in shorter periods of time than a natural breeding process can. I think there is the opportunity to open the discussion to consider whether it is appropriate for some of these new technologies that include gene-editing to be eligible to be used to enhance organic production and to have drought and disease-resistant varieties, as well as higher-yield varieties available.” The National Organic Standards (NOS), promulgated in 2002 (on the basis of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990) by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) — on which Beyond Pesticides Executive […]

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Unapproved, Roundup-Ready Wheat Found in Washington Farm Field

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2019) Genetically engineered (GE) wheat developed to tolerate repeated applications of Bayer Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has been discovered in a farm field in Washington State. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has never approved a GE wheat variety for commercial production, making the incident a potential economic export risk. In the past, Asian and European countries have temporarily blocked purchases of U.S. wheat as a result of GE contamination. Organic and non-GE farmers are also at risk as any contamination with non-GE varieties can result in loss of certifications and price premiums. According to USDA, the discovery was made on an unplanted wheat field, though officials have refused to disclose where in the state the GE plants were found. In 2013, a similar situation played out in Oregon after a farmer noticed wheat plants persisting after an application of Roundup. The discovery led to a number of lawsuits against agrichemical company Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer Cropscience. At the time, Monsanto indicated that the incident was isolated, or potentially even the result of “sabotage.” An investigation by USDA was inconclusive, indicating the case “appears to be an isolated occurrence and that there is no […]

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Fish and Wildlife Service Sued for Failure to Disclose Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides and GMO Crops in Wildlife Refuges

Friday, April 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2019) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced on April 3 that it is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for its failure to release public records, despite multiple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, that would reveal on-the-ground impacts of FWS allowing use of neonicotinoids and genetically engineered (GE) crops in wildlife refuges. Last August, in yet another rollback of protections for wildlife, the environment, and public health, the Trump administration reversed a 2014 FWS decision to ban the use of neonicotinoids and GE crops in National Wildlife Refuges. If successful, the CBE lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, would compel the agency to provide the requested documents. This would allow the public, largely through the work of NGO (non-governmental organization) watchdogs, such as CBD and Beyond Pesticides, to understand what harms are being caused on the nation’s protected public lands by the administration’s reversal of the 2014 ban. Hannah Connor, a CBD senior attorney, said, “The goal of the lawsuit is to get them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and produce the records that have been requested. . . . We aren’t asking them to […]

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Petition Challenges Lack of Protection for Endangered Species from Pesticides

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2019)  A petition submitted on January 7 by the Center for Biological Diversity calls on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to initiate rulemaking to proscribe nearly all pesticide use in areas that are deemed critical habitat for endangered species. It asks these federal agencies to use the authority they have under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect wildlife from the threats represented by pesticides — which threats both agencies have long recognized. The language of the ESA says its purpose is “to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved.” In its press release on the petition, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) notes that it comes “after decades of intransigence by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has refused to comply with the legal mandates of the Endangered Species Act to protect the nation’s most imperiled species from highly toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos and atrazine that are known to harm wildlife.” CBD environmental health director Lori Ann Burd said, “Pesticides pose a devastating danger to endangered wildlife, from coast to coast. If the EPA isn’t going to […]

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USDA Capitulates to the Agrichemical Industry with Final GE Labeling Rule

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2019) At the end of December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized its rule regarding the disclosure of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in consumer foods. After years of local, state and federal pressure to implement a clear, concise labeling requirement for GE foods, advocates say USDA’s rule is a failure, and a capitulation to agrichemical corporations that promote GE farming systems. According to U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), speaking with the Portland Press Herald, the new rule is “an insult to consumers.” She said, “These labels should give people the facts of whether ingredients in their food have been genetically altered, plain and simple.” Rather than the plain and simple language urged by Rep Pingree and other GE labeling advocates, USDA determined to move forward with muddled verbiage that is certain to confuse consumers. GE products will not defined by a term Americans are familiar with, such as GE or GMO. Instead, the term USDA will require on product labels is “bioengineered.” USDA is allowing companies to choose one of the following methods to alert consumers to the presence of GE ingredients in their foods: Inclusion of a “bioengineered” or “derived from bioengineering” symbol alongside […]

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Continuing Pattern, Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler Ignores Science, Embraces Monsanto (Bayer), and Continues Dicamba Herbicide Use

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2018) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignored the input of an expert weed scientist on the controversial herbicide dicamba, bending to Bayer’s Monsanto and the pesticide industry, according to emails obtained by the Arkansas Democrat and Chronicle (ADC) through a Freedom of Information Act request. The scandal centers on the recent re-approval of the pesticide, a highly volatile and drift-prone herbicide that has become a serious problem for many farmers and state regulators. As top-level EPA officials continue to work with industry to subvert their own agency’s scientific findings, more and more consumers are moving to organic products in order avoid the pesticide risks government regulators ask consumers to accept. Emails ADC received indicate that Jason Norsworthy, PhD, a weed scientist with the University of Arkansas, worked closely with Bayer’s Monsanto in conducting field trials this past summer, but found high volatility and drift of the company’s new dicamba-based herbicide XtendiMax. The product was developed in the face of widespread resistance to glyphosate-based herbicides in genetically engineered (GE) farm fields. However, recent accounts from farmers in the south and midwest indicate that, not only is the switch to dicamba unhelpful  in eliminating drift and reversing escalating weed resistance, its […]

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Giving Thanks to Farmworkers this Holiday

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22, 2018) As we sit down for our Thanksgiving meal with friends and family, let us all take a moment to give thanks to the hardworking individuals that made our meal possible. Farmworkers and farmers toil day in and day out in the field, growing the staples that make the holiday special. This year, farmworkers need our support more than ever, as powerful forces within the agrichemical industry continue to influence decisions that deny them the protections and compensation they deserve for their hard work. After a proposal under the Obama administration to update farmworker protections following decades of inaction, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed course and decided to delay implementation. The new policy, representing the bare minimum required to improve the deplorable conditions many farmworkers confront, would have raised the age to apply highly toxic pesticides to 18, and improved training materials, among other basic changes. The agency then determined in December 2017 that it would not only refuse to implement changes as planned, but potentially do away with them all together. Allowing minors to spray toxic pesticides was put back on the table, as were 25 to 100 ft exclusion zones after […]

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