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Mexico’s President-elect, Climate Scientist Sheinbaum, Opportunity for Dramatic Change and Int’l Leadership

Friday, July 19th, 2024

Image: EneasMx, CC-BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons (Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2024) Former mayor of Mexico City and climate scientist Claudia Sheinbaum, PhD was elected President of Mexico on June 2, making her the first female and Jewish citizen to hold the highest political office in the nation. She will be inaugurated on October 1, 2024. Dr. Sheinbaum’s ascension to the presidency comes at a time of increasing pressure from the United States government to acquiesce to its demands to open agricultural markets to genetically engineered (GE) crops (particularly corn) and the use of the carcinogenic weed killer glyphosate. With the formal review of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) approaching in 2026, Mexico will soon decide under Dr. Sheinbaum’s leadership whether it will be an international stalwart against the unfettered spread of GE corn amidst pressure from the U.S. Trade Representative and as industry continues to enable the cascading crises of the climate emergency, public health crisis, and biodiversity collapse. With new administrations in the United Kingdom and France, and the upcoming election in the U.S., how governments around the world, independently and collectively, choose to seriously confront or soft-pedal the existential environmental crises will determine the livability of […]

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Dozens of Pesticide Residues, Including Illegal Compounds, Found through BeeNet Project

Thursday, July 11th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2024) Can the health of pollinator hives serve as a nature-based indicator for pesticide residue drift? Researchers in a study published in Science of the Total Environment in June find this to be the case. Through the BeeNet Project, led by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty, and Forestry (MAFSF), researchers detected the presence of 63 different pesticide residues in hives across northern Italy. Of these residues, 15 are not approved for use under European Union (EU) law. Environmental advocates observe the mounting scientific literature on pollinator decline, in part due to the inadequate regulation of toxic petrochemical-based pesticides, as a call to action to push forward land management, agricultural, and climate policy that aligns with organic principles centering on soil health, biodiversity, public health, worker protections, and economic security. Methodology The study is cowritten by a cohort of ten researchers working in the Research Center for Agriculture and Environment in Bologna, Italy—a research institution within the Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economics Analysis (CREA) at MAFSF. Supported by the BeeNet Project (funded by Italian National Fund), BeeNet is a national monitoring project that tracks the health of honey bee and wild bee populations […]

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Take Action: Elimination of the Insecticide Is Both a Public Health and Ecosystem Issue

Monday, July 8th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2024) Please submit comments by Wednesday, July 31, 2024. Acephate, an insecticide and member of the highly toxic organophosphate (OP) family, is so toxic that EPA is proposing to ban all uses except the systemic injection into trees. A comment period is open, and EPA is accepting comments through Wednesday, July 31, after extending the earlier July deadline. With this remaining use, EPA is still not recognizing that systemic neonicotinoid pesticides can cause serious environmental harm to the ecosystem through indiscriminate poisoning of organisms. >> Submit a comment on acephate and tell EPA that no pesticide should be allowed to be used if the crop can be produced organically.  EPA proposes to cancel all uses of acephate other than tree injection to eliminate all risks of concern it has identified that exceed its level of concern for dietary/drinking water risk, residential and occupational risks, and risks to non-target organisms. As Beyond Pesticides points out, although the tree injection method does not pose excessive dietary or aggregate health risk and does not pose any untoward occupational or post-application human health risks of concern, there are significant ecological risks posed that the agency has neglected. Rather than assessing the ecological risks of tree […]

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Call for EPA to Reject Harmful Weed Killer; Politicized Supreme Court Takes the Reins from Agencies

Monday, July 1st, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2024) Comments on proposed new dicamba uses are due Friday, July 5 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting public comments until July 5 on whether it should allow the expanded use of the weed killer dicamba, which has been associated with adverse impacts related to its propensity to drift off of the target application site. The comment period addresses a BASF chemical company proposal for additional food use of a dicamba product on dicamba-tolerant cotton and dicamba-tolerant soybeans. (See Beyond Pesticides’ comments.) This application is similar to Bayer CropScience’s application for XtendiMax®, for which Beyond Pesticides submitted comments in June. The proposed label for BASF’s Engenia® allows for application preplant, at-planting, preemergence, and postemergence (in-crop) for broadleaf weeds. >> Tell EPA to ban use of dicamba and other drift-prone pesticides. The U.S. Supreme Court Reversal This proposal is under consideration on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 28 that reverses a 40-year old decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, which created a deference to federal agencies in the rulemaking process. In the dissent to this 6-3 decision of the court, the dissenters focus on the role of executive […]

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EPA “Mitigation Menu” Called Complex, Raising Doubts about Required Endangered Species Protection

Thursday, June 20th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2024) As part of its update to the proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Endangered Species Act (ESA) Workplan, the agency held a public webinar on June 18, 2024, which provided an overview of the agency’s “Mitigation Menu Website” for “reducing pesticide exposure to nontarget species from agricultural crop uses.” [Check back to see webinar when posted by EPA.] After court decisions forced EPA to develop a strategy to meet its statutory responsibility to protect endangered species from pesticide use, the agency recognized that it is, in its own words, “unable to keep pace” with its legal obligations. Despite this acknowledgement, the agency said it would “provide flexibility to growers to choose mitigations that work best for their situation.” In this spirit, a range of people, including grower groups, gathered earlier in the year for a series of workshops in the Pacific Northwest to discuss possible mitigation measures. According to a report written by commercial beekeeper Steve Ellis (more background), concrete decisions were not reached at the workshops as participants recognized the complexities in crafting pesticide product label restrictions to protect endangered species. Mr. Ellis concluded: “If it’s so complex that it’s impossible, then no one […]

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National Pollinator Week Starts Today with Opportunities for Action Every Day of the Week (June 17-23)

Monday, June 17th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2024) Every year, Beyond Pesticides announces National Pollinator Week—this year beginning today, June 17—to remind eaters of food, gardeners, farmers, communities (including park districts to school districts), civic organizations, responsible corporations, policy makers, and legislators that there are actions that can be taken that are transformative. All the opportunities for action to protect pollinators, and the ecosystems that are critical to their survival, can collectively be transformational in eliminating toxic pesticides that are major contributors to the collapse of biodiversity. This is why Beyond Pesticides starts most discussions and strategic actions for meaningful pollinator and biodiversity protection with the transition to practicing and supporting organic. In launching National Pollinator Week, Beyond Pesticides makes suggestions for individual actions to increase efforts to think and act holistically to protect the environment that supports pollinators. The impact that people have starts with grocery store purchases and the management of gardens, parks, playing fields, and pubic lands. The introduction of pesticides into our food supply and our managed lands has contributed to a downward spiral that is unsustainable. The good news is that it is now proven that we do not need toxic pesticides to grow food productively and profitably […]

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Pesticide-Contaminated Algae Found to Jeopardize Ecosystems and Human Well-Being [Study]

Wednesday, June 12th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2024) A study of pesticide contaminated algae finds that the disruption of algal communities has a devastating effect on the health of the aquatic food web. The study findings show that contact with pesticides can result in changes to “algal physiology, causing tissue injury, developmental delay, genotoxicity, procreative disruption, and tissue biomagnification” that alters the dominance of algae species in the environment. This in turn “can impact higher trophic levels and have a domino effect on the aquatic food web. It is possible for biodiversity to disappear, reducing ecosystem stability and resistance to environmental alterations,” the authors state. The study, a worldwide literature review conducted by researchers from India, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, appears in Aquatic Toxicology.  The health of aquatic ecosystems is at risk with indirect effects on nontarget species from pesticides in the environment. This includes impacts on species of fish, invertebrates, microbial communities, and marine mammals. In explaining the importance of extensively studying effects of pesticides, the researchers note, “Different pesticide classes have different chemical structures, which define their modes of action and affect how they interact with both target and nontarget organisms.” Because of this, the range of effects seen from […]

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Literature Review Compiles Decades of Research Finding Linkage to Pesticide Exposure and Breast Cancer

Tuesday, June 11th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2024) Published in Science of The Total Environment in May, a comprehensive literature review of population-based studies finds strong linkages between direct and acute pesticide exposure and elevated risk of breast cancer (BC). A majority of the studies analyzed in this review were based on population groups in the United States, but also extends to Australia and three European countries (Greece, France, and Italy). Included in these studies are women who worked in chemical-intensive agricultural settings, directly sprayed pesticides in their at-home gardens, and/or handled pesticide-contaminated clothing. The findings in this literature review underscore organic advocates’ concerns of relying on pesticide substitution models that inevitably impact the health of land stewards, farmers, farmworkers, and the broader public rather than transforming food systems to an organic model that bans the use of toxic petrochemical-based pesticides. The goal of this review was to synthesize existing literature on pesticide exposure and breast cancer to determine the specific pathways and underlying mechanisms that contribute to female participants’ heightened risk. This literature review was published online by researchers at the University of Arizona’s R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy and Coit Center for Longevity and Neurotherapeutics and the Laboratory of Tumor […]

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Federal Framework Seeks to Accelerate Adoption of Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops with Exemptions from Regulation

Monday, June 10th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, June 10, 2024) Expanding the planting of genetically engineered crops is the major focus of “The Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology – Plan for Regulatory Reform under the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology” (Framework), released in May by three federal agencies. In its Framework, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) use the words “exempt” or “exemption” in reference to federal safety regulations 21 times. Then, another 21 times the agencies identify their efforts to “streamline” the process for bringing genetically engineered “plant-incorporated protectants” (PIPs) to market. Without including the word “resistance” even once, the Framework advances the interests of the biotech and allied industries, ignoring the serious scientific issues regarding health and environmental effects and the economic failure for farmers facing crop loss. Meanwhile, the issue of resistance is not new to EPA, which has for years acknowledged the resistance problem despite allowing continued weed resistance to weed killers used with herbicide-tolerant crops and insect resistance to the pesticides incorporated into plants.   >> Tell USDA, FDA, and EPA to replace agricultural provisions in the Framework with policies that discourage GE crops […]

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“Sí, se puede”—Letter and Reflection From the Women of Beyond Pesticides

Friday, June 7th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, June 7, 2024) This week, climate scientist and former mayor of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum shattered a proverbial glass ceiling, emerging as the first woman president of Mexico.   The election of a woman with a background in environmental protection— who signed an accord promising Mexican farmers to uphold the ban on transgenic corn and replace glyphosate with safer alternatives this past April—did not happen in a vacuum. According to an article by CBS News, President-elect Sheinbaum shared the following wisdom in the middle of a downtown hotel as her polling lead became definitive:  “I do not make it alone. We’ve all made it, with our heroines who gave us our homeland, with our mothers, our daughters, and our granddaughters.” As the new president-elect steps into the leadership of a country grappling with the ravages of the climate crisis, we reflect on the leadership of women in advancing Beyond Pesticides’ mission to end the use of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers.  Leading the Fight for Farmworker Justice—Dolores Huerta    Earlier this year, Acting Governor Eleni Kounalakis of California honored the lifelong efforts of 94-year-old social justice activist Dolores Huerta, joining Washington State in recognizing Huerta’s decades of leadership in the […]

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Weed Killers Dicamba and 2,4-D Found in Pregnant Women in Midwest USA, Linked to Serious Effects

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2024) In a first-of-its kind series of biomonitoring studies published in Agrochemicals, researchers identified the presence of the herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D in all pregnant participants from both cohorts in 2010-2012 and 2020-2022. The findings from this research are not surprising given the explosion of toxic petrochemical pesticides in the Midwest region of the United States. “The overall level of dicamba use (kilograms applied in one hundred thousands) in the U.S. has increased for soybeans since 2015 and slightly increased for cotton and corn,” the authors report, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service surveys. “The overall level of 2,4-D use (kilograms applied in one hundred thousands) in the U.S. was highest in 2010 for wheat, soybeans, and corn. The amount of 2,4-D applied increased the most for soybeans and corn from 2010 to 2020.” The researchers focused on the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, given the increase in dicamba and 2,4-D during the study period for both cohorts (2010-2022). The researchers are based at Indiana University School of Medicine in the Department of Biostatistics and Health Data Science and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Quebec Toxicology Center within the Institut national […]

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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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Pesticide Residues in Food Do Not Tell the Full Story on Hazards and the Importance of Organic

Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2024) According to a new analysis by Consumer Reports, 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. A review of seven years of PDP data show that 20% of the foods tested pose a “high risk” to the public and 12 specific commodities are so dangerous that children or pregnant people should not eat more than one serving per day, according to Consumer Reports analysis. Consumer Reports contend that U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) pesticide residue tolerances are too lenient. To better evaluate potential health risks associated with various foods, Consumer Reports applied stricter residue limits than the EPA tolerances (see here for CR’s analytical methodology). Notably, USDA certified organic food products are not permitted to be produced with the pesticides identified by the report. Pesticide residues found in organic, with rare exception, are a function of the off-target chemical-intensive agriculture pollution through pesticide drift, water contamination, or background soil residues. The Consumer Reports results fly in the face of the rosy outlook reported by the USDA in its 2022 […]

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EPA Draft Herbicide Strategy Update Further Weakens Plan to Protect Endangered Species

Wednesday, April 24th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2024) On April 16, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an “update” to the Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework (Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework to Reduce Exposure of Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Species and Designated Critical Habitats from the Use of Conventional Agricultural Herbicides) that was released last summer, weakening aspects of the agency’s efforts to “protect” endangered species from herbicide use. The update outlines three types of modifications to the Draft Strategy, including “simplifying” its approach, increasing growers’ “flexibility” when applying mitigation measures, and reducing the mitigation measures required in certain situations. By reducing the stringency of the Strategy, advocates are again questioning EPA’s commitment to fulfilling legal requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or protecting endangered species and their habitats in the midst of an unprecedented rate of global extinction. ESA is celebrated as one of the most far-reaching conservation laws globally, credited with preventing the extinction of 99 percent of those species the government targets for protection, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). ESA establishes a framework to categorize species as “endangered” or “threatened,” granting them specific protections. Under ESA, EPA is required to consult with relevant agencies […]

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Study Finds Copper Sulfate and Glyphosate in Waterways, Linked to Human and Environmental Hazards

Tuesday, March 26th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2024) The authors of a case study in Canale D’Aiedda, Taranto, Italy, published in Scientific Reports, conclude that, “[T]he results of monitoring and modeling activities revealed a chronic risk associated with the presence of Cu [copper] from November to April in several river reaches and acute risk associated to the presence of glyphosate in several reaches mainly in the wet season.”  According to the authors, “The most important factor influencing the chronic risk for Cu were the combination of two factors: the high surface runoff and the Cu applications. The most important factor influencing the glyphosate peaks of concentration is the streamflow.” The authors of the study measure the flow of pesticide concentrations through the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT). The ecotoxicological data was collected at two stations in Germany that flow into Italy, within the Canale d’Aiedda basin. The streamflow was monitored between August 2017 and December 2019. Out of hundreds of pesticides and six metabolities investigated in this study, “only traces of copper and glyphosate were found.” The authors continue, “The banks and the bed of the river system are almost all covered by concrete. The hydrological regime is natural and intermittent 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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Mexico Ban on Genetically Engineered Corn Imports Spurs Challenge from U.S. and Canada under Trade Agreement

Wednesday, March 20th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 20, 2024) A report by CBAN unpacks the ecosystem and wildlife health impacts of genetically engineered (GE) corn in the context of Mexico’s 2023 decision to stop its importation into the country. The phase out of genetically modified (GM) corn imports into Mexico was immediately challenged by the U.S. and Canadian governments as a trade violation under the 2020 U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the primary vehicle for North American trade policy. In August 2023, the U.S. Trade Representative set up a dispute settlement panel under USMCA to stop Mexico from going forward with its ban. There has been no public update from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as of this writing. The CBAN report highlights the scientific rationale underpinning Mexico’s decision to “safeguard the integrity of native corn from GM contamination and to protect human health” with this ban. In 2020, Mexico announced a four-year phase-out of the weed killer glyphosate, which along with other petrochemical herbicides is integral to GM corn production. When Mexico’s Minister of the Environment announced the phase-out, he said it is part of an effort to transform the country’s food system […]

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UNEP Initiative Aims to Tackle Petrochemical Pesticide Infiltration in Global Majority Nations

Tuesday, March 19th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2024) This month the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) announced the creation of a new initiative to combat the health and environmental impacts of toxic petrochemical pesticides in agriculture. Launched by seven countries—Ecuador, India, Kenya, Laos, Philippines, Uruguay, and Vietnam—the Financing Agrochemical Reduction and Management (FARM) Programme is a $379 million initiative that “will realign financial incentives to prevent the use of harmful inputs in food production.” This international cohort aims to phase out the use of “toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs)—chemicals which don’t break down in the environment and contaminate air, water, and food.” The work of FARM echoes Beyond Pesticides call for the banning of toxic petrochemical pesticides by 2032. The program will help countries implement their commitment to eliminate POPs and plastics in agriculture. As it is described, “FARM…will support government regulation to phase out POPs-containing agrochemicals and agri-plastics and adopt better management standards, while strengthening banking, insurance and investment criteria to improve the availability of effective pest control, production alternatives and trade in sustainable produce.” The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants requires signatories to adopt a range of measures to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate the release of POPs. All […]

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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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Study Shows the Prevalence of Toxic Pesticide Leaching into Groundwater Reserves Is an International Concern

Tuesday, March 12th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2024) A study released in Science of the Total Environment unpacks the threat of emerging chemicals of concern (CECs), including toxic pesticides, in the groundwater of Tunisia. Researchers highlight that the impact of pesticide drift and leaching into groundwater reserves is not siloed to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, but a key concern for most industrialized countries, including the United States. Authors of this study build on literature of CECs already conducted in the region that have broader implications for the spillover effects of pesticide regulation in broader contexts. This descriptive study and accompanying Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) demonstrate the urgency of Beyond Pesticides’ mission to ban toxic petrochemical pesticides by 2032 because of the pervasiveness of toxic residues, be it pesticides, antibiotics, or other substances, from groundwater systems to human bodies. The researchers performed the tests in thirteen wells in the Grombalia shallow aquifer, an area of northeast Tunisia that feeds into the Wadi El Bay watershed, which is defined as a “high population density [with] intensive agricultural activity [in ‘one of the most polluted areas in Tunisia’].” The researchers gathered data “during two seasons and were analyzed with two high resolution […]

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EPA and Court Allow Violations and Hazards of Weed Killer Dicamba Under Existing Stock Order

Tuesday, March 5th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2024) Buried in a court decision in February that determined that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the law in allowing harm associated with the herbicide dicamba’s registration is language that permits the damages to continue through this year’s growing season. The judge’s ruling, deferring to EPA’s interpretation of the existing stock provision in the federal pesticide law, continues a pattern of “existing stock” allowances that permit hazards to continue well after a finding of harm or noncompliance. This process contrasts with the issuance of a product recall, which is typically done when pharmaceuticals are found to violate safety standards. Despite the finding of dicamba’s harm and EPA’s failure to comply with standards, the continued use of the weed killer through the 2024 growing season is effectively authorized in a decision of the U.S. District Court of Arizona, which vacates the EPA’s 2021 authorization of the use of three over-the-top (OTT) uses of dicamba-based herbicide products. In response, EPA issued an existing stocks order. EPA’s pattern of allowing the use of existing stocks has long been a concern for public health and environmental advocates, who have called for the discontinuance of use upon findings of […]

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Oregon Is the Latest State to Step In and Ban Widely Used Neurotoxic Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos, as EPA Stalls

Thursday, February 29th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 29, 2024)  In the face of federal inaction, an Oregon regulation banning the agricultural uses of the highly toxic chlorpyrifos took effect on January 1, 2024. Chlorpyrifos was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2000 for most residential uses by its manufacturer, Dow Chemical, and has been the subject of extensive litigation. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed most agricultural uses to continue. Oregon joins four other states that have acted to ban chlorpyrifos, including Hawai’i, New York, California, and Maryland.   Central to state action are nervous system and brain effects in children, especially farmworker children. Chlorpyrifos is banned in 39 countries, including the European Union (see here for more Beyond Pesticides coverage). State action has become important since the November 2023 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which overturned the EPA rule revoking all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos, an effective ban on chlorpyrifos use. The final EPA rule, issued in August 2021, came in response to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found the agency’s inaction on chlorpyrifos unlawful. The case was filed by Earthjustice, on behalf of public health, labor, and disability organizations.  The […]

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Attack on Vulnerable Species Pilot Project: Opportunities to Engage with EPA on Endangered Species

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2024) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is putting on hold its Vulnerable Species Project (VSP) after vociferous comments from the petrochemical pesticide industry to instead, “create a narrow, tailored policy rather than a sweeping, burdensome one,” according to a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Upon heavy pushback from the petrochemical pesticide industry and agribusiness, EPA is hosting a variety of workshops and openings for the public to provide feedback not just on VSP, but the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Workplan the Biden Administration originally introduced in 2021 in its entirety. Advocates are calling for the strengthening of pesticide regulation given the impending decisions that may shape the fate of ESA-FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) compliance for years to come. As EPA continues through its pesticide registration program to advance continued dependency on pesticides through its interpretation of FIFRA, despite the availability of nontoxic alternatives, endangered species extinction and biodiversity collapse has never been a high priority. While EPA has initiated efforts to address a significant backlog of pesticide evaluations, Civil Eats has reported that the agency faces a task so extensive that it may require several additional decades to fully catch up. EPA officials stated, “Even if EPA completed […]

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