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European Union Bans Neonicotinoid Insecticide, Citing Health and Environmental Concerns

Friday, January 17th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2020) In Brussels, the European Commission (EC) has just decided not to renew approval of the neonicotinoid pesticide thiacloprid, citing both environmental and health concerns related to use of and exposure to the pesticide. The decision was approved by a majority of European Union (EU) governments last fall, after the EC had made the proposal to them. The EC based that proposal on findings of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in January 2019, which highlighted concerns about toxicity to humans and high concentrations in groundwater. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides commented, “There are environmental concerns related to the use of this pesticide, particularly its impact on groundwater, but also related to human health, in reproductive toxicity.” The current EU use approval for thiacloprid products expires on April 30, 2020. The EC decision — functionally, a ban — means that farmers will need to turn to other means to deal with the primary thiacloprid targets in agriculture, aphids and whiteflies. Beyond Pesticides and many organic agricultural resources advocate for widespread adoption of organic, regenerative systems and practices. Such systems may include management features such as mechanical and biological controls, trap crops, natural […]

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New Method of Lyme Disease Prevention Promising, But Not Ready to Replace Personal Protective Measures

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2020) Scientists have found a new method to reduce the sources of Lyme disease, but it is uncertain whether the finding will ultimately translate into fewer cases of human infections. Research published in the journal Experimental and Applied Acarology finds that incorporating Lyme vaccines into pelletized mouse food had the effect of reducing levels of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, in both mice and ticks in a certain location. “So, the idea here is to vaccinate the mice,” study author Kirby Stafford, PhD told WBUR. “What we’ve done is incorporate a Lyme disease vaccine in an oral bait that would immunize them. That would prevent ticks feeding on those animals from becoming infected and then ultimately turn around and infect you.” To test their approach, researchers enrolled 32 homes in Redding, CT, an area where Lyme disease in endemic and several human cases are reported each year. Vaccine-incorporated mouse baiting stations were placed around 21 homes, while 11 acted as a control. Four times throughout the two year study period, mice and the ticks attached to them were trapped and tested for the disease. While there were no significant differences between the experimental […]

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Study Links Pyrethroid Insecticides to Cardiovascular Disease and Other Health Hazards

Friday, January 10th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2020) A new study by researchers out of the University of Iowa College of Public Health, published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) Internal Medicine, demonstrates that greater exposure to pyrethroid insecticides is associated with higher risks of death from all causes and from cardiovascular disease. These compounds can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin; they are highly neurotoxic, and have also been linked to certain cancers, endocrine disruption, and suppression of the immune system, as well as respiratory and reproductive impacts. The researchers gathered data, for 2,116 adults aged 20 or older, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Each of those subjects had contributed a urine sample at some point between 1999 and 2002. Urine samples reflect levels of a pyrethroid metabolite (3-phenoxybenzoic acid) present, which in turn offer information about pyrethroid exposure. The researchers followed the participants until 2015; the research analysis was performed in the summer of 2019. Data were adjusted to accommodate multiple factors (age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, diet and lifestyle, smoking status, body mass index, and urinary creatinine levels). The co-authors report that subjects with the highest levels of metabolites had a 56% […]

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Study Finds EU Moratorium of Persistent Bee-Toxic Pesticides Cannot Eliminate Short-Term Hazards

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2019) Five years after three neonicotinoids were banned for use on bee-attractive crops in the EU, researchers found that these bee-toxic chemicals are contaminating soils and poisoning the nectar of oilseed rape (canola). The results of this research point to an immediate need to end the use of persistent environmental contaminants and promote organic practices. Researchers set out to determine whether the EU moratorium eliminated the risk for bees that forage on oilseed rape nectar. They tested for imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin residues in the nectar of winter-sown oilseed rape in from 291 oilseed rape fields in western France for five years following the EU moratorium (2014-2018). Results show all three neonicotinoids were present at least once in the study’s time period. Imidacloprid was detected every year with “no clear declining trend,” though its prevalence fluctuated widely between years. Two samples from 2016 show residues that are five times the expected maximum concentration in nectar of a plant directly treated with imidacloprid. Residue levels in the nectar depend on soil type and increase with rainfall. The researchers put forth in their discussion that the imidacloprid contamination may likely be caused by runoff from neighboring, treated plants. […]

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Ask Congress to Demand an Investigation into EPA’s Dismissal of Science

Monday, November 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 25, 2019) Continuing its marathon of deregulation to benefit the chemical industry, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its proposal to increase the amount of the weed killer atrazine allowed in U.S. waterways by 50% during the chemical’s registration review—a stark reversal of previous proposals to significantly reduce atrazine levels in the environment. The atrazine proposal follows closely on the heels of a proposal to further weaken protections regarding 23 pyrethroid insecticides that have been repeatedly linked by peer-reviewed studies to neurological issues such as learning disabilities in children. Ask Congress to request an investigation into whether EPA is ignoring its statutory duty and regulatory requirements to use science in its proposals. EPA’s atrazine proposal comes after agrichemical giant Syngenta and the National Corn Growers Association requested that EPA dismiss independent research regarding the adverse impact of atrazine. Atrazine, a broadleaf herbicide, is linked to endocrine disruption, neuropathy, and cancer. It disrupts the sexual development of frogs at levels far below the current allowed concentrations by EPA. Studies by Tyrone Hayes, PhD, University of California, Berkeley, and others have shown that concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb turn tadpoles into hermaphrodites. A 2009 study linked birth defects like gastroschisis and choanal atresia to the relative concentrations of atrazine and other pesticides […]

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Memo Released by EPA Proposes Increased Aquatic Allowances for Endocrine-Disrupting Atrazine

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2019) Continuing its marathon of deregulation to benefit the chemical industry, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a memo announcing its proposal to increase the amount of the weed killer atrazine allowed in U.S. waterways by 50% during the chemical’s registration review—a stark reversal of previous proposals to significantly reduce atrazine levels in the environment. The proposal comes after agrichemical giant Syngenta and the National Corn Growers Association requested that EPA dismiss independent research regarding the adverse impact of atrazine.  Atrazine, a broadleaf herbicide, is linked to endocrine disruption, neuropathy, and cancer. It disrupts the sexual development of frogs at levels far below the current allowed concentrations by EPA. Studies by Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, and others have shown that concentrations as low as 0.1ppb interfere with mammary gland development in the breast of mammals. In 2009, a study linked birth defects like gastroschisis and choanal atresia to time of conception and the relative concentrations of atrazine and other pesticides in drinking water. The current Concentration Equivalent Level of Concern (CELOC), a measure in place to protect aquatic organisms, for atrazine is a 60-day average concentration of 10 ppb. EPA’s proposal […]

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EPA Proposes to Reduce Protections from Neurotoxic Pyrethroid Insecticides

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2019) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under pressure from chemical companies, released a proposal on Tuesday to further weaken protections regarding 23 pyrethroids. Pyrethroids are a common class of neurotoxic insecticides that have been repeatedly linked by peer-reviewed studies to neurological issues such as learning disabilities in children. They are also extremely damaging to non-target invertebrates, according to EPA’s own analysis. Despite this, EPA had already recently undermined protections for children from these chemicals, and the Trump Administration is now embracing industry proposals to further remove other safety barriers to human health and the environment. The Pyrethroid Working Group, a weighty working group of pesticide companies, requested EPA reduce safeguards such as a permanent 66-foot vegetation buffer between fields and water bodies to a 10 – 25-foot buffer. Also, the working group (and now EPA) suggests that the wind-speed cutoff for spraying should be increased from 10 mph to 15 mph. EPA’s announcement proposes the reapproval of five out the 23 pyrethroids; proposals regarding the rest are already pending approval. EPA is accepting public comments on the proposal until January 13, 2020. As mentioned, this is only the latest detrimental decision EPA has put forth regarding […]

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Environmental Groups Are Victorious in Lawsuit that Pushes EPA to Protect Endangered Species

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2019) Last week the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must assess the risk eight toxic pesticides pose to protected organisms: atrazine, carbaryl, methomyl, and simazine as well as rodenticides brodifacoum, bromadiolone, warfarin and zinc phosphide. The plaintiffs, Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) asserted that EPA and its then administrator Scott Pruitt violated duties under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by not consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service in registering these pesticides. The history of this case extends over 8 years. Last year, the court rejected EPA’s attempts to dismiss the lawsuit. According to CBD’s press release, “Under the agreement the agency must complete assessments of four pesticides, including atrazine, the nation’s second most-used pesticide, by 2021. Assessments of four rodenticides, including the widely used rat poison brodifacoum, must be finalized in 2024.” Stephanie Parent, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said “This important step is only the start. We still have work to do to make sure the EPA addresses the harms of all pesticides, as the law requires. EPA was created after […]

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Agreement Protects Willapa Bay and the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge from Highly Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Friday, October 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2019) Washington State officials have approved an agreement that will prevent oyster growers farming in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor from spraying the neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticide, imidacloprid, on tidal flats to kill native burrowing shrimp. The development comes after years of discussion and dispute among the Washington State Department of Ecology, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association. Beyond Pesticides has advocated for protection of these relatively pristine estuary areas from toxic pesticides since 2002, when it worked for (ultimately successful) elimination of the use of the highly toxic carbaryl against the shrimp. More recently, it has reported and weighed in frequently on use of imidacloprid and efforts to eliminate its use, as well as on broad contamination of waterways by neonics. Neonics are well documented to be a huge threat to pollinators and other nontarget organisms, as well as to the environment at large. Imidacloprid is banned by the European Union for outdoor use, and Canada is scheduled to announce details by year’s end on its implementation of a phaseout of neonics. Washington State’s own risk assessment study found that use of imidacloprid on tidelands showed “immediate adverse, unavoidable […]

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Take Action: EPA Must Evaluate the Effects of Multiple Pesticide Ingredient Use and Exposure

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2019) EPA is requesting comment on its proposal to require data that will help it determine synergistic effects of some pesticides. EPA has received on a pressure on a number of fronts, including a report by the Center for Biological Diversity, a report by its own Inspector General, a letter from 35 Congressional Representatives, and research pointing to the unavoidability of synergistic effects—the chemical combinations that cause greater effects when mixed together than the sum of the individual chemical effects. Despite all of the evidence that synergism is the rule rather than the exception, EPA’s consideration focuses on a narrow range of cases in which pesticide product patents make claims of synergy. Tell EPA to always investigate synergy and to determine need for pesticides. One such product is Dow’s Enlist Duo, which combines glyphosate and 2,4-D in an attempt to overcome weed resistance. The focus on products and tank mixes where synergism is a selling point brings to light the fact that as a rule, EPA does not request efficacy data in registering pesticides not intended to protect public health. Thus, although required by law to weigh pesticide risks and benefits, EPA rarely has data to make […]

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In Response to a Lawsuit, EPA Proposes Review Process for Evaluating the Effects of Multiple Pesticide Ingredients on Nontarget Organisms

Friday, October 11th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2019) The Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on a document that describes an “interim process” being used to assess potential synergistic effects of admixtures of pesticide active ingredients on non-target organisms. This interim risk assessment process was catalyzed in part by a 2015 lawsuit brought by a group of non-governmental organizations; that suit cited EPA’s failure to evaluate appropriately the impacts of a new herbicide, Enlist Duo, on non-target species, including some endangered species. EPA’s inattention to synergistic impacts on non-target species has long been a deficiency of EPA’s pesticide review and regulation and a focus for Beyond Pesticides’ work to factor in uncertainties, or unknowns, in registering pesticides under a precautionary approach. Although EPA recognizes that pesticide exposures occur in combinations, it evaluates a very limited number of such interactions. Manufactured by Dow AgroSciences, Enlist Duo combines glyphosate and 2,4-D. Increasingly, manufacturers create and market such “twofer” products as responses to the burgeoning issue of plant resistance to individual pesticides. As insects, fungi, weeds, or other “pests” inevitably develop resistance to pesticide, herbicide, fungicide, or insecticide compounds, the efficacy of the chemical treatment obviously plummets. […]

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Cardiovascular Disease Tied to Occupational Pesticide Exposure

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 2, 2019) New data gleaned from the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program — a longitudinal study of men of Japanese descent living on Oahu — demonstrate that occupational exposure to high levels of pesticides can increase risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the forms of coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke (CVA, or cerebrovascular accident). Further, researchers determined both that workers who experience high-level exposures may not experience such effects for years afterward, and that the maximum subsequent effects were seen within a decade of exposure. The study’s conclusion highlights the importance of pesticide applicator use of protective gear when handling toxic pesticides. These risks and harms could be eliminated through a transition to non-chemical means for pest control in agriculture, land management, and home and personal practices. The Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program, after enrolling more than 8,000 Japanese-American men, 45–68 years old and living on Oahu, Hawaii between 1965 and 1968, has continued to examine and interview these subjects, and document morbidity and mortality among them. This study, which performed statistical analyses on 7,557 of the subjects, is the longest longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease and any association with chronic occupational pesticide exposure, taking into account epidemiologic risk […]

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Common Fungicides’ Use Leads to Algae Blooms

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2019) Commonly used fungicides induce trophic cascades that can lead to the overgrowth of algae, according to research published in the journal Chemosphere. While the current process for regulating pesticides in the U.S. focuses on the acute toxicity of pesticides, and may consider some chronic impacts, real world complexities as described in the current study are not reviewed. This gap in our assessment can lead to significant adverse effects not just on individual species, but entire ecosystems. Researchers investigated how fungal parasites known as chytrids control the growth of phytoplankton. While some strains of chytrids are notorious for their impact to frog species, some do in fact provide important stopgaps within ecosystems. “By infecting cyanobacteria, parasitic fungi limit their growth and thus reduce the occurrence and intensity of toxic algal blooms,” says IGB researcher Ramsy Agha, PhD, co-author the study. “Whereas we usually perceive disease as a negative phenomenon, parasites are very important for the normal functioning of aquatic ecosystems and can — as in this case — also have positive effects. Pollution by fungicides can interfere with this natural process,” the researcher adds. The agricultural fungicides tebuconazole and azoxystrobin were tested on chytrid-infected toxic bloom-forming […]

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Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board Meeting: Last Chance to Comment

Monday, September 30th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2019) A warm thank you to all who have sent in comments for the Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. We are sending out a second reminder so that those who have not commented can take this opportunity to do so. If you have already submitted, we encourage you to make a second round of comments to make sure your voice is heard! Public comments are due by October 3, 2019. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov until 11:59 pm ET October 3, 2010. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the NOSB, as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment.  Beyond Pesticides/OrganicEye is providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration by the Board when it meets in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23 – 25, 2019. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either being considered for initial use in organics […]

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Mysterious “Havana syndrome” Linked to Neurotoxic Pesticide Exposure

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2019) In 2016, Canadians and Americans residing in Havana reported symptoms of headaches, dizziness, nausea. They described hearing strange buzzing and high-pitched sounds – some woke in the middle of the night fumbling for alarm clocks that were not going off. Media used the term “Havana syndrome” to describe the illness. Diplomats, scared by symptoms that seemed to only hit them in their hotel rooms or at home, speculated that a sonic weapon was being used against them. The Trump administration accused Cuban leaders of misconduct and removed all but essential employees. Later, some suspected that the diplomats could have experienced “mass hysteria.” A new Canadian study provides a more likely explanation to this mysterious illness that impacted diplomats in Havana: neurotoxic pesticide exposure. Researchers conducted testing on 14 individuals who had resided in Havana and a control group of 12 that had never lived there. Some of the experimental group had been recently exposed while others, tested 19 months after their return, were classified as “remotely exposed.” Tests included brain imaging and self-reported symptom questionnaires. They analyzed blood samples for routine biochemistry, kidney, liver, and metabolic functions. Individuals that showed symptoms of brain injury went […]

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Toxic Pesticides Found, Again, to Yield No Increase in Productivity or Economic Benefit for Farmers

Friday, September 20th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2019) The actual utility of pesticides to achieve their purported goals is an under-recognized failing of the regulatory review of pesticide compounds for use. A study published in Scientific Reports now exposes the faulty assumptions underlying the use of neonicotinoids — the most widely used category of insecticides worldwide. The study demonstrates that use of neonicotinoids (neonics) to treat seeds — a very common use of these pesticides — actually provides negligible benefits to soybean farmers in terms of yield and overall economic benefit. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should take notice, and consider that efficacy ought to have a role in the agency’s evaluation of pesticides for registration. Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that move through a plant’s vascular system and are expressed in pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets (drops of sap exuded on the tips or edges of leaves of some vascular plants). They can also persist in the environment — in soil and water — for extended periods. Neonics are applied to seed, as well as to crop soils and to plant foliage. Corn and soybean seed treatments represent the largest uses of neonics in the U.S.: for somewhere between 34% and 50+% […]

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Study Finds Neonics Result in the Silent Demise of Songbirds

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2019) The poisonous farm fields migratory birds forage on during their journey reduce their weight, delay their travel, and ultimately jeopardize their survival, according to new research published in the journal Science.  Like their effects on pollinator populations, neonicotinoid insecticides generally are not killing migratory songbirds outright, but instead precipitating a cascade of sublethal impacts that reduces their fitness in the wild. As the authors told Environmental Health News, the study is a call not simply to ban neonics or one class of chemical, but to change the entire farming system toward more sustainable bird and bee-friendly practices. Using new technology, this study was not only able to dose wild-caught songbirds (white-crowned sparrows), but also track their migration route using automated telemetry. Apart from the control group that received no pesticide exposure, sparrows were treated at levels well below the median lethal dose (3% of the lethal dose in the ‘low’ exposure group and 10% within the ‘high’ exposure group), and permitted to continue on their migratory path. These are exposure amounts similar to a songbird accidentally ingesting a few treated seeds, according to the study. Within six hours, both the ‘low’ and ‘high’ exposure group […]

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Take Action: Support Strong Organic Standards, Submit Your Comments to the Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board Meeting

Monday, September 16th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2019) The Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting dates have been announced and public comments are due by October 3, 2019. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov until 11:59 pm ET October 3, 2010. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the NOSB, as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment.  Beyond Pesticides/OrganicEye is providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration by the Board when it meets in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23 – 25, 2019. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either being considered for initial use in organics or the subject of a five-year Sunset Review. To be allowed, materials must have evidence demonstrating that they meet Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requirements of essentiality, no adverse effects on humans and the environment, and compatibility with organic practices. Major issues before the NOSB at the […]

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Germany Moves to Phase-Out Glyphosate/Roundup; EPA Unmoved

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2019) Germany is the latest entity to take action on getting glyphosate-based pesticides out of the marketplace. Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that, beginning in 2020, the country will phase out herbicides that contain glyphosate by the end of 2023. The phase-out will occur through a series of scheduled reductions in amounts allowed for use, with a goal of a 75% reduction over the next four years. The announcement comes after “nation-wide protests and demands from [Merkel’s] junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, for more decisive action on environmental issues.” This action stands in telling contrast to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) repeated failures to protect people, ecosystems, and our food supply, from this toxic compound. The German government also plans to oppose any European Union (EU) request for renewal of licensing of these herbicides, according to the environment ministry. Bayer AG, maker of glyphosate-based herbicides and owner of original manufacturer Monsanto, has pushed back, saying that the government is “getting ahead of itself” by banning glyphosate-based herbicides prior to any decision by the relevant EU authority, and that EU laws disallow unilateral decisions by member states. (Pesticide licensing decisions lie with EU governance in Brussels, […]

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Brain Function Damage from Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides, including Chlorpyrifos, Documented with Imaging

Friday, August 30th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2019) The indictment of organophosphate pesticides gained more traction with the publication, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, of a new research study out of the University of California, Berkeley. The research, among the first to use advanced brain imaging to assess cortical activation, shows altered brain activity, during tasks that call on executive function, in teenagers from California’s Salinas Valley (the site of significant organophosphate use) whose mothers were exposed prenatally. The UC Berkeley study underscores the slow-motion calamity of the Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) failure to ban the use of this class of pesticides, and of chlorpyrifos in particular, which compounds carry extreme risks for children. The effects of this prenatal exposure continue to unfold during children’s critical developmental periods. Researchers used fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) imaging to monitor blood flow in the brains of the teens, 15–17, born and raised in the Salinas Valley. They used data from the California Pesticide Use Reporting program (which documents locations and times of pesticide spraying) to estimate the subjects’ mothers’ proximity to organophosphate (OP) applications during pregnancy. The subject adolescents — estimated to have relatively high levels of prenatal exposure to organophosphates — […]

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EPA Sued for Registering Known Bee-Killing Pesticide for Use on Bee-Attractive Crops

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 27, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the subject to a new legal challenge from environmental groups after approving the use an insecticide shown to be highly toxic to bees and other pollinators.  The lawsuit, filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety, aims to stop the use of sulfoxaflor on more than 200 million acres of crops. As EPA under the Trump administration has become increasingly emboldened to fight for industry priorities, concerned organizations and people are responding by supporting legal challenges and working to pass policies that truly protect wildlife and the environment. According to EPA’s ecological risk assessment for sulfoxaflor, the chemical is “very highly toxic” to bees. A study published last year in the journal Nature found significant concerns with the chemical’s ability to harm already declining pollinator populations. “There is an urgent need to pre-emptively evaluate the potential sub-lethal effects of sulfoximine-based pesticides on pollinators, because such effects are rarely detected by standard ecotoxicological assessments, but can have major impacts at larger ecological scales,” the authors wrote. EPA had already run in to legal problems associated with its registration […]

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Take Action: To Protect Children, EPA Must Decide Based on Science, Not Industry Lobbying

Monday, August 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 12, 2019) Once again, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected the evidence provided by independent scientists and sided with the pesticide industry promoting its products; this time, removing a safety for factor for children on some of the most widely used insecticides, synthetic pyrethroids. When EPA cannot do its job, it is time for Congress to step in. Tell Congress: To Protect Children, EPA Must Consider the Independent Peer-Reviewed Science, Not Bend to Industry Lobbying. In a move that challenges the preponderance of independent peer-reviewed scientific findings on children’s health, EPA recently stripped away protections that limit children’s exposure to class of chemicals associated with childhood cancer, autism other learning disorders, and asthma. The result of the agency’s actions will be a dramatic increase in the use of synthetic pyrethroids, insecticides found in indoor and outdoor bug sprays, bug bombs, and often used on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. EPA, under the leadership of former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, is embracing the positions of the pesticide industry while ignoring independent science and health and environmental groups. In 2017, the agrichemical industry trade group, Croplife America, submitted comments to EPA during its review of synthetic pyrethroids. The organization urged EPA to rely on a […]

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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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