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Study Confirms Serious Flaws in EPA’s Ecological Risk Assessments, Threatening Bees and Other Pollinators

Thursday, June 13th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2024) A study published in Conservation Letters, a journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, exposes critical shortcomings in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ecological risk assessment (ERA) process for modeling the risks that pesticides pose to bees and other pollinators. For the study, “Risk assessments underestimate threat of pesticides to wild bees,” researchers conducted a meta-analysis of toxicity data in EPA’s ECOTOX knowledgebase (ECOTOX), an EPA-hosted, publicly available resource with information on adverse effects of single chemical stressors to certain aquatic and terrestrial species. The meta-analysis found that the agency’s approach, which relies heavily on honey bee data from controlled laboratory studies, drastically underestimates the real-world threats from neonicotinoid insecticides (and likely other pesticides) to native bees and other pollinators. The study “challenges the reliability of surrogate species as predictors when extrapolating pesticide toxicity data to wild pollinators and recommends solutions to address the (a)biotic interactions occurring in nature that make such extrapolations unreliable in the ERA process.” Beyond Pesticides executive director Jay Feldman remarked, “EPA’s ecological risk assessment process is fundamentally flawed and puts thousands of bee species at risk of pesticide-caused population declines and extinctions.” Mr. Feldman continued, “This underscores the urgent […]

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Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Recognized by State of Massachusetts

Friday, May 17th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2024) Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey (D) proclaimed May 12 -18, 2024 as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Awareness Week, first established in 1998 in numerous states across the U.S. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)—also called chemical intolerance or Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT), is characterized by disorders in one or more body systems, including respiratory, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and neurological processes. It is thought to be caused by adverse reactions to environmental chemicals and/or biological substances such as mold. Affected individuals suffer fatigue, rashes, muscle and joint pains, memory loss, and other symptoms. The Massachusetts proclamation encourages “residents of the commonwealth to take cognizance” of the event and recognize the distress of their fellow citizens who suffer from MCS. May 12 is also known as International May 12th Awareness Day, an observance started in 2006 in the United Kingdom to educate the public about many diseases associated with sensitivity to chemicals, including MCS, fibromyalgia, and Gulf War Syndrome. While some scientists have considered MCS a psychological or psychosomatic problem, there is increasing support for the reality of MCS as a physical disease distinct from mental or emotional disorders. Yet there are no medical tests that can reliably confirm a diagnosis, […]

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Study Identifies Developmental Effects from Neonicotinoid Insecticides that Harm Biodiversity

Thursday, May 16th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2024) In a recent study at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Ulm University in Germany, published in Current Research in Toxicology, scientists exposed embryos of South African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) to three neonicotinoids (NEOs), which led to developmental effects down to a molecular level. These frogs are a well-established model species often used in ecotoxicology studies as bioindicators for overall environmental and ecosystem health. When amphibian species like Xenopus laevis are exposed to contaminants in the water, it leads to negative impacts in the food chain and harms biodiversity. The study concludes that exposure to NEOs directly or through contaminated water leaves entire ecosystems vulnerable.    The NEOs that the embryos were subjected to include imidacloprid (IMD), thiamethoxam (TMX), and its metabolite clothianidin (CLO). NEOs are a class of insecticides that target the central nervous system of insects and lead to death. These insecticides pose a potential hazard to nontarget organisms, such as animals and humans, since they are persistent in the environment and “are found in natural waters as well as in tap water and human urine in regions where NEOs are widely used,” this study states. The authors continue by […]

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Prenatal, Childhood Exposure to Toxic Pesticides Linked to Neurodevelopment Issues

Monday, May 13th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2024) A study published in Environmental Research finds that “early life organophosphate pesticide exposure has been linked with poorer neurodevelopment from infancy to adolescence.” Researchers in this study acknowledge that there is still much more to be done in furthering understanding of “neural mechanisms underlying these associations,” and yet there is “notable consistency” in their Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) birth cohort study. This study’s findings are consistent with decades of substantial, peer-reviewed scientific literature documenting the adverse health impacts of organophosphate pesticides on public and ecological health. Organic advocates believe that a transition away from chemical-intensive agriculture and land management is the most viable solution to avoid adverse health impacts and end reliance on toxic chemicals in households and communities. The researchers for this study are based at the University of California, Berkley (Center for Environmental Research and Community Health as well as Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research), Department of Public Health at University of California, Merced, and Stanford University (Departments of Radiology and Pediatrics in the School of Medicine). “We have reported associations of prenatal [organophosphate] exposure with poorer cognitive function and executive function, and more attention and […]

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EPA Proposes to Stop Most Uses of Highly Toxic Insecticide in Food and Water, But Open to Negotiating

Wednesday, May 8th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2024) In an unexpected turnaround, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced at the end of April a Proposed Interim Decision (PID) to discontinue all but one application of the insecticide acephate. Acephate is an organophosphate pesticide, a well-known neurotoxicant, widely banned globally, including in the European Union. Under the proposal, all uses would end except for the injection of trees that do not produce fruit or nuts. In its proposed action, EPA asks the manufacturer to offer the agency a voluntary settlement, a process that typically compromises the health of the public, workers, and the environment. Acephate, an organophosphate (OP) pesticide, is approved for use in both agricultural settings, including crops like cotton and soybeans, and nonagricultural applications, such as injections for forestry trees. Acephate affects the nervous system by inhibiting the acetylcholinesterase (AChE) enzyme. Importantly, chronic, low levels of exposure can cause a range of adverse human health outcomes, from cancer to birth defects, reproductive and developmental problems, and learning disabilities. While the proposed April interim decision, if it comes to pass, is welcomed by advocates, some are concerned that EPA’s proposal does not fully critique the scientific documents and conclusions on risk that […]

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CR Analysis Finds Pesticide Exposure and Hazards Persist, Despite Availability of Safer Alternatives

Monday, May 6th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2024) The pattern of failure to protect the public from pesticides is again brought to public attention by an analysis by Consumer Reports (CR) that effectively updates its previous report released in 2020. The report and its earlier iteration identify deep structural weaknesses with the institutions charged with protecting the public’s health and safety. The health risks outlined by CR in 2020 and related to ongoing pesticide exposure, even at low levels, include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, reproductive dysfunction, respiratory problems (e.g., asthma, bronchitis), neurological impacts (e.g., developmental effects and dementia/Alzheimer’s), and endocrine dysfunction, among others. Previously, the magazine reported, “CR’s experts say the government hasn’t upheld its responsibility to protect consumers [and that] the research used to set [pesticide residue] tolerances is imperfect, and they’re often too high.” CR has cited the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is primarily responsible for pesticide regulation, for multiple inadequacies. According to the latest CR analysis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary has once again failed to accurately portray the safety of some of the most commonly sold fruits and vegetables in the United States. CR reviewed seven years of PDP data, finding that 20% […]

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California Bill Would Ban Deadly Weedkiller, Paraquat, Linked to Parkinson’s Disease in Face of EPA Inaction

Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2024) Citing serious health issues associated with its use, including Parkinson’s disease, and inaction by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the weed killer paraquat would be banned through legislation introduced in the California Assembly (AB 1963). Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), in the Assembly’s leadership, chair of the bicameral Environmental Caucus, and a self-described “steadfast advocate for the environment [and] sustainable communities,” introduced the legislation to phase out and ban the use of paraquat across all uses, including agriculture, by the end of 2025. The introduction of this bill follows a long history of scientific documentation of the pesticide’s hazards, fits and starts in the regulatory process, and previous efforts to ban the herbicide through legislative action. In 2018, U.S. Representative Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) introduced legislation (Protect Against Paraquat Act) to ban paraquat. In a 1986 factsheet, Beyond Pesticides wrote, “In mammals, paraquat attacks the epithelial tissues (the skin, nails, the cornea of the eye, and the linings of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract). There have also been reports of damage to the heart muscle and to nerves. It is easily absorbed through the skin as well as orally [and through inhalation]. Paraquat causes specific damage […]

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Study of Chemical Mixtures at Low Concentrations Again Finds Adverse Health Effects

Wednesday, April 10th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 10, 2024) Researchers in a 2024 Chemosphere study find synergistic relationships in certain chemical mixtures, particularly heptachlor and triallate and trifluralin and lindane at lower concentrations, respectively. “Investigators should consider additional binary data for acute toxicity and potential chronic health impacts on these mixture…which showed synergism at low levels,” the researchers conclude. “According to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) assessment, more than 50 pesticides are detected in blood or urine samples from the US population,” Researchers point to a cause for concern. The findings come as no surprise to advocates who have urged an assessment of the potential synergistic impacts of pesticide mixtures in the regulation of pesticides. Researchers “used the exposure data from a complex operating site with legacy pesticide pollution to evaluate if Inhalation of pesticide mixtures released from such contaminated sites could pose a risk to human health, The component-based risk assessment approaches that rely on additivity can predict the actual risk of pesticides in a mixture, and The legacy organochlorine pesticides banned many years ago interact with registered and supposedly safe herbicides in a mixture.” The study site is “a pesticide packaging and handling facility” contaminated with the following pesticides (“historical and […]

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Parent’s Toxic Chemical Exposure Linked to Autism in Offspring

Friday, April 5th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 5, 2024) Exposure to chemical toxicants, molds, and algae contributes to autism and attention disorders in children, according to research that bolsters earlier findings. The exposures may be most relevant, not in the children, but one generation back—in the parents. The study, “Assessing Chemical Intolerance in Parents Predicts the Risk of Autism and ADHD in Their Children,” was published in the March issue of the Journal of Xenobiotics. Led by Claudia S. Miller, MD, an immunologist at the University of Texas at San Antonio noted for her work on chemical intolerance (CI), the authors build on previous work published in 2015 establishing parental CI as a risk factor for autism and ADHD. Dr. Miller participated in Beyond Pesticides’ 2022 Forum Series. Recordings of her presentation are available on YouTube here and here. In 1996, Dr. Miller concluded that CI is induced by Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT). For further details, see Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News Blog. Three years later Dr. Miller developed the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI), a questionnaire for individuals tracing their toxicant exposures and symptom histories. QEESI was first developed with groups exposed to organophosphate pesticides, volatile organic compounds in reconstruction and […]

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Study Bolsters the Case for Essential Oils (EO) in Organic Pest Management for Tomato Production

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

New research highlights the beneficial effects of rose essential oil (REO) on tomato plants as a plant defense potentiator (a substance or treatment enhancing natural defense mechanisms against pests, diseases, and other stressors by activating the plant’s own defense responses) for organic agriculture and horticulture. As reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, REO, particularly its component β-citronellol, activates defense genes in tomato plants, enhances their natural defense mechanisms, and dramatically reduces leaf damage by 45.5%. Additionally, REO attracts beneficial insects that prey on herbivore pests. This study, “Novel Potential of Rose Essential Oil as a Powerful Plant Defense Potentiator,” adds to a growing area of scientific literature on essential oil (EO), largely unexplored as plant defense potentiators. Beyond Pesticides advocates for accelerating the switch from chemical-intensive agriculture to organic agriculture, which remains the only viable solution, in the long run, to address today’s existential crises by prioritizing natural pest control methods, soil health, and biodiversity conservation to protect farmworkers and consumers from the detrimental effects of petrochemical pesticide exposure.     Study Methods and Results  The researchers applied highly diluted solutions of EOs to the soil of potted tomato plants and assessed the expression levels of defense genes in […]

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Hazardous Pesticide with Reproductive and Developmental Effects Enters U.S. Food Supply through Imported Food

Thursday, March 21st, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2024) Alarming levels of a hazardous pesticide plant growth regulator linked to reproductive and developmental effects, chlormequat, is found in 90% of urine samples in people tested, raising concerns about exposure to a chemical that has never been registered for food use in the U.S. but whose residues are permitted on imported food. Published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology in February 2024 and led by Environmental Working Group toxicologist Alexis Temkin, PhD, a pilot study finds widespread chlormequat exposure to a sampling of people from across the country. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations only permit the use of chlormequat on ornamental plants and not food crops grown in the U.S. As explained in the journal article, “In April 2018, the U.S. EPA published acceptable food tolerance levels for chlormequat chloride in imported oat, wheat, barley, and some animal products, which permitted the import of chlormequat into the U.S. food supply.” In 2020, EPA increased the allowable level of chlormequat in food. Then in April 2023, EPA proposed allowing the first-ever U.S. use of chlormequat on barley, oat, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), and wheat. Existing regulatory standards explain the […]

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Coral Reefs Under Threat by Glyphosate, Toxic Pesticides

Friday, March 15th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2024) Toxic pesticides harm all beings and ecosystems, including coral reefs. Large benthic foraminifera (LBF) are single-celled organisms found on reefs that face adverse metabolic impacts after exposure to the weed killer glyphosate and insecticide imidacloprid, according to a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin. The study found that “even the lowest doses of the fungicide and herbicide caused irreparable damage to the foraminifera and their symbionts.” Beyond Pesticides reiterates our mission of banning toxic petrochemical pesticides by 2032 and that this goal applies to land and water exposure to pesticides. LBFs are typically used as bioindicators for coral health because they are found in substantial quantities and gathering data is not intrusive or damaging to reef health. Researchers in this study screened three different herbicides (one insecticide, one fungicide, and one herbicide) at three different concentration levels. The experiments were performed in six well-samples, each with 10mL of filtered artificial seawater and a singular LBF. The control plates are artificial seawater and the experimental plates include artificial seawater with the addition of three pesticides (imidacloprid, glyphosate, and tebuconazole). Each pesticide was applied at low, medium, and high doses to measure the direct impacts of each […]

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Petrochemical Pesticides, Fertilizers, and Plastics Linked to Dire Health Effects while Alternatives Are Available

Thursday, March 14th, 2024

 (Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2024)  A recent review in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) highlights the urgent need to address the widespread chemical pollution stemming from the petrochemical industry, underscoring the dire implications for public health. Tracey Woodruff, PhD, author and professor at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), emphatically states in an email comment to Beyond Pesticides, “We need to recognize the very real harm that petrochemicals are having on people’s health. Many of these fossil-fuel-based chemicals are endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with hormonal systems, and they are part of the disturbing rise in disease.” Beyond Pesticides echoes this concern, noting that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) include many pesticides and are linked to a plethora of health issues such as infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, early puberty, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and childhood and adult cancers.  (See Beyond Pesticides’ Disease database here and news coverage here). The review further calls on the clinical community to advocate for policy changes aimed at mitigating the health threats posed by petrochemical-derived EDCs and climate change. Beyond Pesticides urgently calls for the elimination of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers and advocates for a systemic […]

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Pesticide Exposure Linked to Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and Metabolic Disease in Seniors

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2024) Popular culture and official policy continue to ignore a blatant source of the rise in obesity: chemical exposures, including pesticides. A study, “Associations of chronic exposure to a mixture of pesticides and type 2 diabetes mellitus in a Chinese elderly population,” contributes to the now-massive trove of evidence linking pesticides to diseases and shows that by the time people reach retirement age they are suffering from a heavy burden of contamination that raises their risk of complex disease. Since the 1960s, obesity in both adults and children has nearly tripled. More than half of U.S. adults were either obese or severely obese by 2018, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. The 55-year trend line is decidedly upward. More women than men are obese, and black women suffer the most, but men are racing to catch up. Between 1999 and 2018, Mexican American men shot up from the lowest percentage of obesity to nearly the highest. Obesity is a milestone on the road to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney failure, joint replacement, and more. The causes of obesity are severely misunderstood. Most people believe that discipline and […]

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EPA’s Proposed Endocrine Disrupting Pesticide Review Called Deficient

Monday, February 5th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2024) Public Comment Period Ends February 26, 2024. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) never completed protocol for testing pesticides that disrupt the fundamental functioning of organisms, including humans, causing a range of chronic adverse health effects that defy the common misconception that dose makes the poison (“a little bit won’t hurt you”)—when, in fact, minuscule doses (exposure) wreak havoc with biological systems. After a nearly two decade defiance of a federal mandate to institute pesticide registration requirements for endocrine disruptors, EPA has now opened a public comment period ending February 26, 2024 and advocates are criticizing the agency’s proposed evaluation as too narrow. A detailed examination of EPA’s proposal can be found in draft comments by Beyond Pesticides.  Endocrine disruption as a phenomenon affecting humans and other species has been critically reviewed by many authors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can, even at extremely low exposure levels, disrupt normal hormonal (endocrine) function. Such endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC) include many pesticides, exposures to which have been linked to infertility and other reproductive disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and early puberty, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and childhood and adult cancers. EPA […]

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The Fallacy of Glyphosate Exemptions Demonstrates the Importance of Sound Science on Hazards and Solutions

Tuesday, January 30th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2024) The City Council of Brighton and Hove (England) is preparing to expand the use of glyphosate after widespread public complaints over the growth of Japanese knotweed and a program of manual clearance. This imminent local land management decision flies in the face of substantial research on the health and ecological impacts of glyphosate-based herbicides, including from Aaron Blair, PhD—former chair of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group on glyphosate and former branch chief (now scientist emeritus) of the Occupational Studies Section, National Cancer Institute (NCI). Advocates are concerned that the city council is basing this rationale on the fact that the European Commission reapproved use of glyphosate in 2023 for a ten-year period and not the body of scientific literature on health and ecosystem effects as well as alternative practices and products. According to a recent ENDS Report, “The [City of Brighton and Hove] council banned the use of glyphosate in 2019 – with an exception for killing invasive species [‘in exceptional cases’] such as Japanese Knotweed – after it was linked to health concerns and a decline in bee populations. As part of this it was agreed that the removal […]

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Field Study of Bumble Bees Finds Exposure to Chemical Mixtures, High Hazard, Flawed Regulation

Tuesday, January 9th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2024) A “landscape-level” study finds that typical risk assessment studies used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and European regulators fail to “safeguard bees and other pollinators that support agricultural production and wild plant pollination.” The study, published in Nature (November 2023), evaluates the health of bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) as a sentinel species placed in 106 agricultural landscapes across Europe. The authors’ conclusions challenge “the current assumption of pesticide regulation—that chemicals that individually pass laboratory tests and semifield trials are considered environmentally benign”—calling into question EPA’s persistent failure to adequately regulate mixtures of chemicals to which organisms are exposed in the real world. This study adds to the body of science on pesticide mixtures adversely affecting bee and pollinator health. See here, here, and here. The failure to capture real-world exposure to pesticide mixtures in its regulatory assessments extends to EPA’s systemic failure to evaluate a range of serious adverse impacts, as noted by the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report. And, aquatic environments also have documented mixtures of pesticides, with the U.S. Geological Survey finding 90 percent of water samples containing at least five or more different pesticides. “We can take no comfort […]

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Low-Dose Chronic Glyphosate Exposure Increases Diet-Induced Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Thursday, December 21st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2023) A new study published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology adds to prior research indicating glyphosate promotes the occurrence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) through diet by causing liver inflammation and oxidative stress. More importantly, the predisposition for NAFLD occurred at levels within toxicological limits, which are doses of glyphosate classified as causing no adverse effects or No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL). NAFLD is a condition that causes swelling of the liver and can eventually lead to cirrhosis, cancer, or liver failure. This study highlights the Westernized diet (WD), comprised of foods enriched in saturated fats, cholesterol, and simple carbohydrates (e.g., fructose, glucose, and sucrose), plays a role in the nearly 40 percent increased risk of NAFLD. Although glyphosate disrupts gut microbes and induces liver inflammation, oxidative stress, and fatty acid levels that promote NAFLD, the combination of WD and glyphosate reduces the threshold risk for NAFLD development. NAFLD is a growing worldwide epidemic, becoming the most prevalent form of liver disease and impacting at least 25 percent of the globe. Therefore, studies like this shed light on how diet and chemical exposure can work synergistically (together) to exacerbate disease risk. The study evaluates whether choric […]

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Int’l Group of Scientists Calls for Restraints on Conflicts of Interest in Publications and Regulation

Friday, December 15th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2023) Drawing on a recent gathering of international scientists, a group of 34 scientists published a call for much stricter scrutiny of researchers’ conflicts of interest by agencies that regulate and register chemicals, with recommendations for the newly formed Intergovernmental Science Policy Panel. Writing in Environmental Science & Technology, the authors, led by Andreas Schäffer of Aachen University in Germany and Martin Scheringer of Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, cite an abundance of examples of chemical companies and their trade associations manufacturing doubt via an array of techniques, resulting in agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dropping certain provisions from rulemaking, ignoring scientific consensus, and keeping chemicals on the market—and in the environment—that many scientists say should be entirely banned. The authors produced the article in response to this webinar to discuss how to ensure that U.N. panels dealing with global crises get the most sound scientific advice conducted by the International Panel on Chemical Pollution. Over the last four decades or so, the notion that conflicts of interest affect the validity of scientific research and professional opinions has been steadily eroded. Regulators wallow in compromised research, hamstrung by political pressure and […]

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Paraquat—The Continuing Environmental Threat Among All Species

Thursday, December 7th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2023) A new review published in Ecotoxicology reiterates what past studies have repeatedly stated: the herbicide paraquat (PQ) has profound adverse effects on wildlife at environmentally relevant concentrations. Moreover, these adverse effects span beyond the wilderness, as exposure to this highly toxic herbicide also impacts the health of people working with this chemical (e.g., pesticide applicators) or living adjacent to areas of chemical use. Current data gaps regarding the effects of environmentally relevant concentrations and exposure times, population- or ecosystem-level effects, and biomagnification potential contribute to the uncertainty of predicting risk from environmental PQ exposure. Furthermore, Beyond Pesticides has previously pointed out deficiencies in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ecological risk assessments for paraquat, highlighting failures to perform complete evaluations of the impacts of pesticides on threatened and endangered species. All this occurs amid documented threats to biodiversity from the combined effects of pesticides and climate change.  The review investigated paraquat in the environment, the chemical’s toxicity to nontarget species, and significant data gaps. Overall, the long-term risks of environmental PQ contamination for human and ecological communities can be challenging since the potential chronic effects from extended use are nearly unstudied. Most concerning is that PQ is […]

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EPA To Allow Genetically-Based Pesticides, Incomplete Testing, and Documented Adverse Effects

Friday, October 27th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2023) In a typical move, EPA proposes to greenlight a type of genetic engineering to solve a problem created by the industrial paradigm for pest control, i.e. vast acreages of monoculture treated with millions of tons of toxic pesticides leading to rapid resistance among crop pests. In this case EPA wants to approve using a nucleic acid—double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)–called “interfering RNA,” or RNAi—to silence a gene crucial to the survival of the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB), the scourge of potato farmers around the world. But EPA has skipped over important steps in its decision-making process and rushed to judgment. Like chemical pesticides, genetically-based pesticides are regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In 2020, Massachusetts-based GreenLight Biosciences applied for registration of its RNAi active ingredient, Ledprona, and its end-use product, Calantha. The company executive heading the effort is an alumnus of Monsanto and several other major chemical companies. Last May EPA granted GreenLight an Experimental Use Permit (EUP) authorizing field studies in states that produce tons of potatoes. A mere five months later, EPA announced its decision to approve the registration based almost entirely on incomplete EUP data and giving the public very […]

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Study Further Strengthens Link Between Common Insecticide Class and Psychiatric Disorders

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2023) A study published in Environmental Pollution finds farming and organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposure are risk factors for depression, with pesticide poisoning being a risk factor for suicidal behavior. Additionally, psychiatric disorder prognosis affects men more than women, with depression and suicidal outcomes more common among pesticide-exposed males. Age also affected depression and suicidal consequences, with elevated rates among older farmers. Research on pesticide-induced diseases commonly investigates pesticide exposure concerning the development of various physical illnesses. However, previous studies show that occupational (work-related) risks of developing depression are high in agriculture, where pesticide use is widespread. Acute exposure to chemicals, including organophosphate, organochlorine, triazine, and carbamate pesticides, tends to put farmers at elevated risk. More study is needed on pesticide exposure and similar psychological (psychiatric) effects in the general population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects 322 million people globally, with the number of diagnosed patients increasing by 18.4% from 2005 to 2015. Although the etiology of depression—and many other psychiatric disorders—is often genetic, studies suggest that other etiological factors, like pesticide exposure, play a role in depression incidents. Poor mental health has a tangible influence on physical health (e.g., depression and cardiovascular disease); therefore, the combination of pesticide exposure […]

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Pollution-Associated Liver Disease with Sex-Specific Effects Linked to Persistent Legacy Insecticide, Chlordane

Wednesday, October 4th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2023) A study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology finds acute exposure to chlordane, an organochlorine insecticide, results in decreased lipid (fat) levels, altered anti-oxidant capacity, and increased testosterone levels (pro-androgenic) in male mice, while increasing liver enzyme activation and reducing regulation of both liver identity and function in females. These findings indicate that chlordane induces toxicant-associated steatosis (fat retention) liver disease (TASLD) with underlying, sex-specific, endocrine, and metabolic effects. It is well-known that traces of legacy (past-use) pesticides, like organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), remain in the environment for decades—possibly centuries, post-final application, as OCPs have greater chemical stability and gradual attenuation. However, these chemicals have profound adverse impacts on human health, especially on the endocrine system. Obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and elevated liver enzymes resulting from endocrine disruption contribute to liver diseases and can lead to liver cirrhosis. Although some, but not all, manufacturing and use of specific OCPs have declined in the U.S., OCPs remain a global issue, as much of the developing world still report usage. Considering the lack of studies on OCP-induced endocrine disruption, TASLD, and other liver diseases, research like this highlights the need to understand the underlying mechanisms contributing to […]

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