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Insect “Honeydew” Secretions, Contaminated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides then Eaten by Other Insects, and Birds Contribute to an Expansive Threat

Friday, August 9th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2019) A recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates a food chain vector for exposure of beneficial insects to neonicotinoid pesticides — the invasive mealybug, in this case. The finding may also be relevant for other phloem-feeding hemipterans, which can feed on neonicotinoid-contaminated plants and excrete so-called “honeydew” that is then consumed by beneficial insects. A primary “fix” for the decimation of insects and pollinators — caused chiefly by pesticide use, habitat destruction, and impacts of a rapidly changing climate — is, of course, the cessation of use of these toxic compounds in agriculture. The most common route of exposure of beneficial insects to neonicotinoids is through contaminated floral nectar and pollen. The discovery of this “honeydew” vector is important because it could potentially affect far more insects than nectar and pollen consumption, given that honeydew is more abundant, especially in agricultural fields. Pollinators such as honey bees, solitary bees, bumblebees, and even birds have been observed feeding on honeydew. Neonicotinoids represent more than 20% of the insecticides used worldwide; they are used on crops such as citrus, cotton, oilseed rape, soybean, fruits, potatoes, rice, corn, sunflowers (for seed), ornamentals, fruits, […]

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Protect Workers and the Public from Parkinson’s Disease: Support H.R. 3817

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 23, 2019) Last week, U.S. Representative Nydia M. Velazquez introduced legislation to cancel all uses of the pesticide paraquat, which is acutely toxic and strongly linked to Parkinson’s disease. The move is supported by the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council – a group led by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research – as well as other health and environmental groups such as Beyond Pesticides. Paraquat, which is a dangerous, fast-acting nonselective herbicide that kills by burning living tissues, is also unnecessary. Organic agriculture provides an alternative that does not depend on toxic chemicals like paraquat. Tell your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 3817 to cancel the use of paraquat. According to the EPA, “one small sip [of paraquat] can be fatal, and there is no antidote.” Advocates are pushing for its elimination from the American agriculture system for many reasons, including acute toxicity and organ failure by inhalation, oral intake and dermal absorption; chronic toxicity affecting the eyes, lungs, liver, kidneys and endocrine system; and a higher incidence of various cancers after exposure. The EPA characterizes paraquat as “extremely biologically active and toxic to plants and animals.” The agency has previously determined that exposure to this herbicide […]

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Triclosan Exposure Linked to Osteoporosis among U.S. Women

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 3, 2019) A disturbing association between urinary triclosan concentrations and osteoporosis has been identified in an epidemiological study. Drawing from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) results for 1,848 U.S. adult women, the authors conclude that higher concentrations of urinary triclosan are associated with lower bone mass density and higher prevalence of osteoporosis among U.S. adult women. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, adds weight to previous laboratory results, which showed that endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as triclosan can interfere with bone metabolism. Triclosan and its byproducts are known endocrine disruptors and have been shown in laboratory studies to interfere with collagen and bone structure. Taken together with previous findings, the new epidemiological results demonstrate that the ubiquitous endocrine disruptor triclosan “could lead to lower BMD [benchmark dose] and increased prevalence of osteoporosis in U.S. adult women.” Triclosan is used as an antimicrobial agent in products regulated by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and cumulative exposure to triclosan registered by both agencies pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. Triclosan exposure has become so common that it has shown up in […]

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Researchers Find that Fipronil Causes Transgenerational Toxic Effects

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2019) A new study finds that the widespread insecticide fipronil causes transgenerational toxicity across generations of zebrafish. Fipronil, already known to be highly toxic to aquatic organisms, is now implicated in causing even more damage than previously thought. Even individuals who are not themselves directly exposed are shown to suffer from maternally transmitted toxic effects, including a more than doubled mortality rate. The study, published in Environmental Pollution, tracks hatching, growth, and survival of offspring whose mothers were exposed to fipronil. Researchers exposed a total of 90 adult female zebrafish to environmentally relevant levels of fipronil, within the range of concentrations known to occur in U.S. surface waters, for a period of 28 days. After exposure, females were mated with unexposed males, and their offspring were monitored for hatching, growth, locomotor behavior, heart rate, toxicity and gene expression assays. The conclusion: maternal fipronil exposure induced multiple toxic effects in offspring, including a 30% reduction in hatch rates and, alarmingly, a more than doubling of the offspring mortality rate. Fipronil is a broad-spectrum insecticide widely used for indoor and turf pest control in the U.S., and identified as a ubiquitous contaminant of U.S. surface waters. Fipronil is […]

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Study Documents Playgrounds Contaminated with Pesticides from Neighboring Chemical-Intensive Ag Land

Friday, June 7th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 7, 2019) Fruit orchards and vineyards endure some of the most intensive chemical management in all of agriculture. What has not been investigated — until now — is how pesticide drift from such agricultural sites may be affecting nearby public spaces. A recent, first-of-its-kind study out of northern Italy tested 71 public playgrounds near to apple orchards and vineyards in four valleys of the North Tyrol, and finds that 45% are contaminated with a single pesticide, and 24% by more than one. Study authors note that the playground contamination will likely grow worse over the course of the growing season. This would likely amplify the impacts of such chemical trespass on nearby public spaces, never mind the varieties of harm to the sites themselves and the food produced on them. Organic agriculture, of course, remedies all these concerns. The study randomly chose 71 public playgrounds in the four South Tyrolean regions, and analyzed grass samples for potential contamination by 315 different pesticides. Because pesticides applied to agricultural fields, orchards, and vineyards are easily volatized, carried aloft by wind, and/or washed by rain off of the target site, the study also evaluated the impacts of those (and other) factors […]

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Glyphosate Exposure Linked to Fatty Liver Disease in Humans, Adding Weight to Earlier Animal Studies

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2019) Glyphosate weed killers may be contributing to the growing worldwide epidemic f non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that causes swelling of the liver, and can eventually lead to cirrhosis, cancer, or liver failure. Researchers at the University of California (UC) San Diego found that higher levels of glyphosate detected in urine corresponded significantly with individuals that have also been diagnosed with NAFLD. Advocates are urging lawmakers at every level to respond to the accumulating science on the danger of glyphosate herbicides, ban their use, and adopt policy changes that put into place organic land management practices. “There have been a handful of studies, all of which we cited in our paper, where animals either were or weren’t fed Roundup or glyphosate directly, and they all point to the same thing: the development of liver pathology,” said Paul J. Mills, PhD, professor and chief in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine in a press release. “So I naturally thought: ‘Well, could it be exposure to this same herbicide that is driving liver disease in the U.S.?’” Dr. Mills and his team received urine samples from […]

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Contradicting Scientific Evidence, EPA Releases Interim Decision Denying Glyphosate Carcinogenicity

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 9, 2019) On Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed interim decision on glyphosate’s registration review, ignoring widespread scientific consensus on the herbicide’s carcinogenicity and instead restating the agency’s firm position that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” EPA’s bold statement stands in stark contrast to scientific consensus to the contrary. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen. In response to resistance from the European Food Safety Authority, 94 expert scientists published an article in support of IARC’s methodologies and findings. Since 2015, several more publications have added significant weight to the body of evidence supporting glyphosate’s carcinogenicity. A February 2018 meta-analysis of studies on glyphosate suggested “a compelling link between exposures to GBH [glyphosate-based herbicides] and increased risk of NHL [non-Hodgkin lymphoma]. A February 2019 University of Washington study found that glyphosate increased the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by as much as 41%. Despite attempts by current and former EPA top officials to “kill” their report, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a agency at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released its […]

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Weed Killer Glyphosate Linked to Multi-Generational Adverse Health Effects

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2019) Evidence of the dangers of glyphosate continues to mount: researchers at Washington State University have identified, in research that exposed pregnant rats to the compound, significant disease and pathology in subsequent generations. The rats were exposed, from day 8 through day 14 of gestation, to half the observable adverse effect level (NOAEL) of glyphosate. Although this study found negligible impacts on the pregnant rats themselves or on their first-generation offspring, dramatic increases in incidence of pathology showed up in the two subsequent generations, including reproductive (prostate and ovarian) and kidney diseases; obesity; and birth anomalies. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports (an open access, multidisciplinary journal from Nature Research), and conducted by Michael Skinner, Ph.D. and five colleagues, is the first to assess the potential transgenerational impacts of glyphosate in mammals. Its results point to an emerging frontier in assessing the risks of glyphosate and other toxic chemicals, and add to the urgent and growing demand that the use of this particular toxic — and pervasive — pesticide be halted. The research team was interested in looking at possible transgenerational impacts of glyphosate in part because of its ubiquity: it is one of the […]

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Study Findings on Pollinator Declines: Neonics Increase Honey Bee Vulnerability to Mites

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April, 30, 2019) According to the latest blog post from pesticide industry propagandist Henry I Miller, the pollinator crisis either a) is not occurring; b) is not a problem; or, c) caused by varroa mites, pathogens, and habitat loss. Notwithstanding outlandish assertions that there is no pollinator crisis, new research is further undermining the long-held industry claim that it is mites and disease alone, and not pesticides that are harming pollinator populations. Published in the journal Scientific Reports by a team of Canadian scientists, this research finds that realistic exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides impairs honey bees ability to groom mites off of their bodies and increases infection with a disease known as deformed wing virus (DWV). “When bee colonies began to collapse years ago, it became clear there wasn’t just one factor involved, so we were interested in whether there was an interaction between two of the main stressors that affect bees: varroa mites and a neurotoxic insecticide, clothianidin,” said Nuria Morfin Ramirez, PhD, at the University of Guelph, Canada. Dr. Ramirez and her team exposed honey bees to a range of different concentrations (low, medium, high) of the neonicotinoid clothianidin, with some bees receiving combined stressors of […]

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Neonicotinoid Insecticides Found to Disrupt Insects’ Vision and Flying Ability

Friday, April 19th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2019) Flying insects exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides or its breakdown products experience visual impairment and difficulty flying, according to a study published in the journal NeuroToxicology by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. While at face value these impacts may sound non-lethal, any loss of fitness in the wild can make flying insects an easier meal for their predators. “Our findings suggest that very low doses of the pesticide or its metabolic products can profoundly and negatively affect motion detection systems that flying insects, such as locusts, grasshoppers and bees, need for survival,” said Jack Gray, PhD, an expert in neural control of animal behavior at the University of Saskatchewan. Researchers used locusts as proxies for other flying insects, as the visual processing in their brains is easy to track in laboratory settings. Moreover, as study co-author Rachel Parkinson notes, “Bees and other flying insects use similar neural mechanisms to process visual motion,” making the implications of this study applicable to a wide range of other airborne insects. And rather than simply focus on the effects of exposure to a single active ingredient, researchers also studied whether its breakdown products (metabolites) resulted in similar impairment. […]

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European Regulators Ban Carcinogenic, Frog-Killing Fungicide

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 4, 2019) Contamination of drinking water with toxic breakdown products and risks to fish and and amphibians has led to a ban on the fungicide chlorothalonil in the European Union (EU). While the pesticide will be out of use in the EU next decade, tens of millions of pounds will continue to be sprayed throughout the U.S. unless regulators take action quickly. “The [chlorothalonil ban] is based on [the European Food Safety Authority’s] EFSA’s scientific assessment which concluded that the approval criteria do not seem to be satisfied for a wide range of reasons,” a spokeswoman for the European Commission told The Guardian. “Great concerns are raised in relation to contamination of groundwater by metabolites of the substance.” EFSA’s review of chlorothalonil categorized it as a 1B carcinogen, meaning it “may cause cancer,” with the most significant risk found for kidney cancer based on laboratory animal studies. Further research was needed into many of the metabolites (break-down substances) created when chlorothalonil degrades. However, regulators determined enough data was present to conclude that these breakdown substances may be genotoxic, with the potential to damage DNA and lead to cancer. European regulators also identified a high acute risk to […]

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EPA Wants to Squelch State Authority to Adopt Pesticide Restrictions More Protective than the Fed

Friday, March 29th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a low-key announcement on March 19 suggesting that it may change its handling of requests from states to exert stricter controls on use of pesticides than the federal agency sets out in its registration of the compounds — by disapproving them. This is potentially a big deal because it signals that the agency will be less-kindly disposed to states’ desires to establish either somewhat different parameters of use based on local conditions and needs, or more-stringent regulations on pesticide use than those set out by federal regulators. This issue of preemption of localities’ desires to protect their populations and environment has become an increasingly dynamic frontier at the nexus of pesticide use, health, and environment. Beyond Pesticides has written more frequently about this issue in recent years as the tension between centralized, federal regulation and more-local regulation has risen; see more below. EPA appears distressed by some of the approximately 300 annual requests it gets to make some adjustment to the federal regulation. This can happen under Section 24(c) of FIFRA, which allows for a Special Local Need Label, which can be requested under a variety of conditions, including […]

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Study Finds that Commonly Occurring Levels of Neonicotinoid Insecticide Harm White-tailed Deer

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2019) A two-year study, published March 14,  finds that field-relevant contamination with the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid causes reduced body weight and metabolism in white-tailed deer, and – in fawns – mortality. Remarkably, researchers uncovered imidacloprid levels in free-ranging deer a full 3.5 times higher, on average, than the levels in the animals treated in their experiment. These new findings add to the mounting evidence of the hazards posed by current patterns of neonicotinoid use, while evidence of benefits remains sparse. The study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, includes two years of data on the physiological and behavioral outcomes of imidacloprid contamination in 80 white-tailed deer housed in a South Dakota State University captive research facility. Notably, researchers were unable to entirely control imidacloprid levels in untreated deer, most likely due to background contamination from corn- and soy-based feed, and surrounding vegetation infiltrated by runoff from nearby agricultural fields. This background contamination altered, but did not compromise, the analysis. Researchers found that imidacloprid levels detected in the spleens of treated and control animals were significantly predictive of reduced thyroid hormone levels, shorter jawbones, lower activity levels, and higher fawn mortality. Lead authors Elise Berheim, Jonathan Jenks, PhD, […]

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Study Raises Ecological Concerns about EPA-Approved RNAi Pesticides that Turn Off Genes

Friday, March 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2019) Researchers from the U.S. and Switzerland have published their findings, a beginning assessment of how use of a new category of pesticides — dsRNA (double stranded RNA), which is less a traditional pesticide than a genetically based pesticide “technology” — might impact soils and non-target microorganisms in the soil. The co-authors (Kimberly M. Parker, PhD, et al.) note that, “The ecological risk assessment of these emerging pesticides necessitates an understanding of the fate of dsRNA molecules in receiving environments, among which agricultural soils are most important.” Their research appeared in late January 2019 in Environmental Science & Technology. Previously, technical hurdles in measuring dsRNA had stymied scientists’ ability to quantify the genetic material and its degradation products in soil, but these investigators were able to attach a radioactive atom to the molecule, “tagging” it so it could be followed through a series of simulated soil systems representative of those in the “real” world. Researchers were able to measure the presence of the material at concentrations as low as a few nanograms of dsRNA per gram of soil. The work of these researchers represents the beginning of understanding the ecological risks of these emerging dsRNA pesticides. They demonstrated […]

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Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Insecticide Exposure Linked to Hormone-Dependent Breast Cancer

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2019) A publication in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives highlights findings from a recent study showing that environmental concentrations of the neonicotinoid insecticides thiacloprid and imidacloprid increase expression of a gene linked to hormone-dependent breast cancer. Authors of the featured study uncovered a pathway through which neonicotinoids stimulate excess estrogen production, known to occur during the development of progressive hormone-dependent breast cancer. In the words of the authors, “Our findings highlight the need for further research to assess the potential impacts of low-dose and chronic exposure to neonicotinoids on endocrine processes affecting women’s health.” The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives in April 2018 by researchers at the University of Quebec, is not the first to point to a potential link between neonicotinoid exposure and breast cancer. A 2015 study by the same research group revealed that the neonicotinoids thiacloprid and thiamethoxam, along with the herbicide atrazine, induce similar effects in breast cancer cells. In both studies, exposure to neonicotinoids alter promoter activity to induce heightened production of the enzyme aromatase, which is known to stimulate estrogen production and thereby cancer cell proliferation. The recently published study, authored by Silke Schmidt, PhD, brings greater urgency to […]

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Corroborating Earlier Studies, a Reduction in Pesticide Residues in Consumers Found after Switching to an Organic Diet

Friday, February 15th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2019) A study, published in January 2019 in the journal Environmental Health, demonstrates that consumption of organic foods reduces significantly the levels of synthetic pesticide residues in the bodies of U.S. children and adults. Pesticide residues are found four times as frequently in conventionally grown food as in organically produced foodstuffs. Although the number of subjects in this study was relatively small, the results point to the importance of organics, and add to the evidence that organic food production and consumption are key to protecting human health. Study subjects comprised members of racially diverse families — from Oakland, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Atlanta — who did not typically consume an organic diet. Study participants, ages 4 to 52, ate their typical diet of conventionally grown foods for five days; for the following six days, they switched to a certified organic diet (provided by researchers) for consumption at home, work, school, or daycare, including all foods and beverages other than water. Urine samples were gathered prior to the “organic” days, and first thing on the morning after those six days. Fourteen different pesticides and metabolites were present in all participants’ urine in the “pre-organic” analysis; following the organic diet […]

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Adding to Residue Studies, Report Documents Toxic Pesticides in Common Foods Sold by Major Retailers

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2019) Friends of the Earth (FOE) released a report last week again showing pesticide residues in the food supply. The report, Toxic Secret, found store and name brand foods produced and sold by the top four U.S. food retailers — Kroger (NYSE:KR), Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Costco (NYSE:COST) and Albertsons — contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of serious health and environmental problems. Among the pesticides found is the herbicide glyphosate, confirming residue testing results found in numerous studies. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has has been detected in popular foods, including “100% pure” honey, Doritos, Oreos, Goldfish, Ritz Crackers, German beers, California wines, and UK bread. Glyphosate has been ranked as potentially cancer causing in humans and adversely affects the human gut microbiome. See Residue Testing Find More Glyphosate in Popular Cereals. The FOE study finds that oat cereals, apples, applesauce, spinach and pinto beans at the retailers contained detectable amounts of glyphosate, organophosphates and neonicotinoids. The average level of glyphosate found in cereal samples (360 parts per billion) was more than twice the level set by scientists at Environmental Working Group for lifetime cancer risk for children. The average level of glyphosate found in pinto beans (509 ppb) was more […]

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Drinking Water Contaminated with Neonicotinoid Insecticide Byproducts

Friday, February 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2019) Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the University of Iowa (UI) have published worrisome news on the neonicotinoid front. The experts discovered two metabolites of imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid insecticide) residues that had not previously been identified in drinking water — desnitro-imidacloprid and imidacloprid-urea. The researchers note both that these metabolites have never been evaluated for their potential risks to human and environmental health, and that there may be potential risks of anthropogenic compounds that can be created when water with neonicotinoid residues, and thus, these metabolites, undergo typical water treatment (often chlorination and/or pH treatment). They note that, “The mammalian toxicity of transformation products formed during water treatment processes remains unknown. It is possible that chlorination of neonicotinoids and their metabolites will . . . alter their bioactivity.” The joint, federally funded collaboration investigated neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”) in tap water to determine whether neonic metabolites are relevant to pesticide exposure through drinking water, and to identify any products of the chlorination of neonics and their metabolites. The scientists simulated realistic drinking water conditions in their research to demonstrate, in laboratory circumstances, that chlorinated disinfection byproduct chemicals are produced. The study, conducted by seven researchers […]

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Settlement Bans Some Bee-Toxic Pesticides, Requires Public Comment Period on Testing All Pesticide Product Ingredients and Regulating Pesticide-Treated Seeds

Friday, January 4th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2019) First, the good news: plaintiffs in a 2013 lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can allow themselves a small victory dance. In that suit, plaintiffs made a number of claims related to EPA’s failure to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides, its poor oversight of the bee-killing pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam, and its practice of “conditional registration,” as well as labeling deficiencies. The parties in the suit negotiated a settlement, as directed by a federal judge (see below), that was signed in October 2018 and portends some positive movement in curtailing the use of some toxic pesticides [12 products, each of which contains chlothianidin or thiamathoxam as an active ingredient] that harm pollinators in particular, as well as other organisms and the environment. It also establishes a public process for EPA to consider requiring whole formulations of pesticide products during registration, and redefining EPA’s interpretation of law that allows seeds treated with bee-toxic pesticides to escape regulation as a pesticide. The suit was brought by a number of individual beekeepers and several organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety (CFS), Sierra Club, and Center for Environmental Health, and named as defendants Steven Bradbury, then-director of the […]

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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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Endocrine Disrupting Herbicide, Atrazine, Exceeds Legal Limits in Midwest

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2018) A recent analysis of annual drinking water quality reports has revealed that many community drinking water systems in the Midwest have seasonal exceedances of the allowable limit for the herbicide atrazine. Atrazine, linked to endocrine disruption, neuropathy, and cancer, is the second most widely used pesticide in corn growing areas, with over 73 million pounds applied to agricultural fields each year.  A 2009 study by Paul Winchester, MD, professor of clinical pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and a neonatologist at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis, linked birth defects to time of conception, with the greatest impact on children conceived when concentrations of atrazine and other pesticides are highest in the local drinking water. (See Reproductive Effects Peak with Pesticide Exposure.) During peak use, atrazine levels in drinking water have been recorded at three to seven times above the legal limit. In addition to the well documented impact on the environment, recent  studies have linked prolonged pesticide exposure to not only shortened gestation and preterm birth for women, but also neurodevelopment delays in children. Ultimately, these unreported seasonal peaks may result in persistent adverse health impacts in impacted communities. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), enacted in 1974, […]

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EPA Denies Petition to Stop Cyanide Use that Is Killing Wildlife

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2018)  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied a petition seeking to ban M-44s — cyanide-spraying apparatuses used to kill coyotes, foxes, and wild dogs that may prey on livestock. Submitted to the EPA in August 2017 by the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, the Humane Society of the U.S., Natural Resources Defense Council, Predator Defense, the Sierra Club, and a number of other conservation, wildlife, and environmental organizations, the petition sought cancellation of the registration of cyanide capsules used in M-44s and a functional ban on their use in the “lower 48” states because of their danger to non-target wildlife, domestic pets, and people. In its letter of denial, EPA noted that it “is currently reviewing these products using the Registration Review process and sees no reason, and the Petition provides none, to start a parallel process using Special Review proceedings to look at the same issues.” Although the word “pesticide” generally conjures thoughts of a chemical meant to kill insect “pests,” whether sprayed on crops, coated onto seeds, or in the kit bag of an “exterminator” whose business it is to rout out some infestation in a home or building, these two compounds […]

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Evaluation Used to Support Registration of Neurotoxic Chlorpyrifos Found To Be Fundamentally Flawed

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2018) Scientific conclusions used to support the registration of the insecticide chlorpyrifos were flawed and omitted key health impacts, according to a fresh analysis of the original data by a team of independent scientists from northern Europe and the U.S. This re-review not only casts further doubt on the safety of the neurotoxic chlorpyrifos, it highlights a major flaw within federal pesticide regulation that allows pesticide producers to submit their own safety evaluations to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency without public oversight. “One conclusion we draw is that there is a risk that the results of industry-funded toxicity tests are not reported correctly,” says co-author Axel Mie, PhD. “This makes it difficult for the authorities to evaluate the pesticides in a safe and valid way.” In both the U.S. and European Union, pesticide producers contract with laboratories to perform required safety tests of active ingredients they hope to register for use. While these studies are generally considered ‘confidential business information’ and not available to the public, using Swedish freedom of information laws, researchers were able to obtain two key studies relating to the developmental neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos. Although not disclosed within the study, it is well […]

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