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With Wildlife Extinction on the Rise, Trump Administration Reduces Protections for Endangered Species, Allows Greater Harm from Pesticides

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, April 3, 2020) In mid-March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled out new rules for “biological evaluations” — assessments of pesticide risks to endangered plant and animal species that are supposed to be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agency’s press release announcing the change is misleadingly titled: “Trump Administration Takes Major Step to Improve Implementation of the Endangered Species Act.” But as the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) reports, the “revised methods for assessing pesticide risks . . . will allow widespread harm to most of the nation’s most endangered plants and animals.” Beyond Pesticides reviewed the status of pesticide threats to endangered species in November 2019 and provides ongoing coverage of the issue. ESA requires EPA to conduct biological evaluations (BEs) of pesticides to assess their impacts on listed (endangered and threatened) species and their critical habitats. EPA’s new “Revised Method” ignores many of the ways that protected species are commonly hurt or killed by pesticides, and allows the continued marketing and use of pesticides without sensible constraints that would protect those species. CBD cites two examples of ignored impacts: downstream impacts of pesticide runoff into waterways from treated farmland, and the loss of […]

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Take Action Today: Tell EPA to Ban Atrazine

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2020) Deadline today! Tell EPA to Ban Atrazine; Protect Children and Frogs from this Endocrine Disrupting Pesticide. Atrazine, the second most-used herbicide in the U.S., is an insidious poison. Atrazine is known for producing developmental abnormalities in frogs. It also affects the endocrine system and reproductive biology of humans. In addition to its agricultural uses on corn, sorghum, and sugar cane, atrazine is also used on home lawns, school grounds, and parks, where exposure to children is common. Nontoxic alternatives are available for all of these uses. Act today, March 2. Sign the petition demanding that EPA ban atrazine and its cousins simazine and propazine. Act today! Beyond Pesticides will submit comments: Docket: EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0750 (FRL-10002-92) Petition to EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs: We have serious concerns with the proposed interim decisions on reregistration of three triazine pesticides: atrazine, simazine, and propazine. These triazines are highly mobile and persistent in the environment and have been linked to numerous adverse health and environmental effects which have motivated numerous public interest campaigns to ban their use in the U.S. as well as in Europe. The Draft Ecological Risk Assessments for the Registration Review of Atrazine, Simazine, and Propazine dated October 5, 2016 […]

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EPA Fails to Follow Congressional Mandate to Protect Children from Pesticide Exposure

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2020) Congress unanimously passed the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) in 1996 to increase protections for children from pesticide exposure. Unfortunately, according to a new study published in Environmental Health, the law is not being employed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to its full capacity. For most of the 59 pesticides reviewed by the study, EPA did not apply an additional FQPA safety factor and thereby missed an opportunity to protect children’s health. In fact, FQPA solidified EPA’s reliance on risk assessment calculations and mitigation measures that consistently fall short of adequate levels of protection because of serious data gaps, a failure to consider exposure to mixtures and synergistic effects, and a bias against consideration of alternatives (alternatives assessment)  that show toxic pesticides to be unnecessary.  FQPA establishes a safety standard applied to all food commodities that considers specific risks for infants and children. The law requires EPA to assess the “aggregate risk” (considering exposure from multiple sources) and “cumulative exposure” to pesticides that have a “common mechanism of toxicity.” FQPA mandates “an additional tenfold margin of safety for the pesticide chemical residue and other sources of exposure shall be applied for infants and children […]

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EPA Set to Reapprove Cancer-Causing Glyphosate and Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoids

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2020) It was a good day for Bayer/Monsanto. The chemical company’s weed killer glyphosate and its neonicotinoid insecticides are set for reapproval by the U,S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to interim decisions published last week. EPA reapproval of human carcinogens and chemicals contributing to the pollinator crisis is disappointing for health and environmental advocates, but not surprising to those watchdogging the agency during the current administration. “This is how a captured agency behaves,” said Beyond Pesticides community resource and policy director Drew Toher. “When EPA’s decision making repeatedly reflects the exact wishes of the chemical industry, public trust erodes, and we must look to new policy mechanisms that support the protection of health and the environment.”   On Glyphosate EPA’s glyphosate decision document glosses over the hazards of the chemical and is requiring very few new safety measures when using the herbicide. These measures are focused on agriculture, including minor label changes around drift, guidelines on resistance management, and a label advisory indicating the chemical is toxic to plants and may adversely impact pollinator foraging. The restrictions fail to match those proposed by Health Canada in 2015, which included buffer zones and restricted entry intervals. […]

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Trump Administration Hands Over Clean Water Standards to Agrichemical, Construction, and Mining Industry

Friday, January 31st, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2020) In the latest of a long litany of destructive decisions by the Trump administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced on January 23 the establishment of a new weaker federal rule on protection of U.S. waterways, which replaces the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that the agency repealed in September 2019. In an obeisant gesture to industrial interests — the agrichemical, construction, and mining sectors — Mr. Wheeler chose to announce the replacement rule, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, at a Las Vegas National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show. This decision will significantly weaken protections by drastically reducing the number of U.S. waterways and acreage of wetlands protected, and by jettisoning proscriptions on activities that threaten waterways from a variety of pollution harms. President Obama’s WOTUS, aka Clean Water Rule, has provided protections from pesticide runoff and other pollutants to millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams. According to Administrator Wheeler, “‘All states have their own protections for waters within their borders, and many regulate more broadly than the federal government. . . . Our new rule recognizes this relationship and strikes the proper […]

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Documented Decline of Mayflies, a Keystone Species, Destabilizes Ecosystems

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2020) In more bad news from the insect world, recent research reveals a precipitous decline in numbers of mayflies in territories where they have been historically abundant. Reported by National Geographic and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research finds that in the Northern Mississippi River Basin, seasonal emergence of burrowing mayfly (genus Hexagenia) adults declined by 52% from 2012 to 2019; in the Western Lake Erie Basin, from 2015 to 2019, the reduction was a shocking 84%. Neonicotinoid insecticides are a significant factor in this decline because mayflies are exquisitely vulnerable to their impacts, even at very low exposure levels. Ephemeroptera to entomologists — and “mayflies” to the rest of us — are a keystone species, one on which other species in an ecosystem are very dependent, and without which, the ecosystem would undergo drastic change. The Latinate name is apt: mayflies are among the most short-lived organisms, with lifespans across the 2,000+ known species lasting from five minutes to one day to a few weeks. Like damselflies and dragonflies, members of an ancient group of insects, the 600 North American species, as do their global kin, make optimal reproductive […]

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

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

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

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Trump Administration Dealt Multiple Blows to Honey Bees this Month

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2019) Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a decision to register new uses for the bee-toxic pesticide sulfoxaflor. The decision closely followed a USDA announcement halting the Honey Bee Colonies Survey, combining blows to already suffering beekeepers. According to the nonprofit Bee Informed, this past winter tallied the most colonies lost in a decade—an estimated 37% between October 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019. “Proposing to register sulfoxaflor for use on bee-attractive crops, in the midst of an ongoing pollinator crisis, is the height of irresponsibility,” said Drew Toher, community resource and policy director for Beyond Pesticides in an interview for Bloomberg Environment. “When all of the available data points to significant risks to pollinators from use of this chemical we must face the facts: EPA is working towards the protection of pesticide industry, not the environment,” he said. Sulfoxaflor is a systemic insecticide whose mode of action is the same as neonicotinoid pesticides. After application, the chemical is absorbed and distributed throughout the plant, including pollen and nectar. These insecticides are selective agonists of insects’ nicotinic acetylcholine receptors—they bind to the receptor and cause it to activate. The impact on foraging bees […]

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Take Action: USDA Must Offer Basic Protection from Genetically Engineered Organisms

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2019) USDA’s proposed new rules on genetically engineered (GE) crops exempt almost all GE crops from regulation and allow the company that makes them to decide whether they are safe. The rules proposed by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) benefit companies like Monsanto/Bayer and Dow, but fail to protect farmers, consumers, and the environment. Please tell APHIS to abandon its proposal and support a regulatory system that is consistent with modern science. Tell USDA not to allow companies to approve their own GE crops. The rules would govern USDA’s role in the outdated and fatally flawed “Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.” The Framework fails to account for the unique risks of genetic engineering, using existing laws like the Plant Protection Act to address issues for which they were not designed. This proposal weakens the APHIS regulations even more. All genetically engineered (GE) organisms—plants, animals, or microorganisms—should be subjected to systematic assessments of human and environmental effects and indirect economic effects (such as contamination of organic or non-GE crops leading to rejection in foreign markets, spread of resistant pests, etc.) before being allowed on the market. These assessments must be made available to the public […]

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Swiss Government Challenged by United Nations for Human Rights Violations Associated with Pesticide Use and Actions of Pesticide Companies

Friday, June 28th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2019) As is the case in many countries, the conversation about the use of pesticides has been especially vigorous in the past few years. Switzerland is a case in point: it is undergoing deep scrutiny of pesticide use, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, has now said publicly that pesticide companies’ behavior is “seriously deficient” regarding human rights (especially those of children), and that the Swiss government should act more aggressively to phase out use of these hazardous chemicals. Recently, the pesticide conversation has ratcheted up several notches, not only in the U.S., but also globally, due to greater public awareness of the health and environmental threats of pesticide use, more and more research underscoring those threats, and pointedly, the cascade of litigation against Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) for harm to individuals who have used its glyphosate-based products. Public awareness in Switzerland is also mounting in response to global developments, to recent discoveries that small streams in Swiss agricultural areas are heavily polluted with pesticides, and to broadening recognition that pesticides are linked to a plethora of harms to human health, pollinators, water, farmworkers, wildlife, ecosystems and biodiversity, and more. In 2017, a UN […]

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Researchers Find that Fipronil Causes Transgenerational Toxic Effects

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

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

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

Friday, June 7th, 2019

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

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Trump Officials Propose to Rollback Endangered Species Protection, Break Agreements to Act, and Block Public Review of Decisions

Monday, May 13th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2019) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed four lawsuits last week challenging the Trump administration’s failure to release a trove of documents detailing how the administration is regulating dangerous pesticides, especially as they relate to endangered species. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a set of proposed changes last week that would dramatically reduce protections for the nation’s most endangered plants and animals from pesticides known to harm them. The proposals ignore the real-world, science-based assessments of pesticides’ harms, instead relying on arbitrary industry-created models. The EPA proposals would, for example, gut protections for endangered plants that are pollinated by butterflies and other insects by ignoring the fact that animals routinely move back and forth between agricultural areas and places where endangered species live. The proposals follow intensive efforts by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to halt federal work on protecting wildlife from pesticides. They were released over a year after a draft biological opinion that was scuttled by the Trump administration found that the loss of pollinators from the insecticide chlorpyrifos would put hundreds of endangered species on a path to extinction. The so-called “refinements” will make it easier for the EPA to claim that pesticides […]

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UN Brings Together 145 Experts, 50 Countries, 15,000 Studies, Documents Accelerating Biodiversity Loss Threatening All Life; Ecosystem Protections Urgently Needed

Friday, May 10th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2019) The Earth, its natural systems, and as many as a million species are at enormous risk from human activity, says a new assessment from the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity project — the IPBES Global Assessment Summary for Policymakers. The net finding might be expressed as: humans are not immune from the sequelae of biodiversity loss; the ecosystem functions on which human lives depend are in increasingly dire straits. The 1,500-page report, convened by IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), is the most comprehensive look to date at the biodiversity crisis and its implications for human civilization. A summary of the report’s findings, approved by representatives from the U.S. and other member countries, was released in Paris on May 6; the complete report is expected later in 2019. It is of note and commendable that the summary, though lengthy, is digestible for a lay audience. IPBES is an intergovernmental body of 132 member states, established in 2012, that assesses the state of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services such diversity provides to societies. The group also provides reporting to policymakers on those assessments, and on the dynamics (i.e., causes and impacts) between human […]

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Contradicting Scientific Evidence, EPA Releases Interim Decision Denying Glyphosate Carcinogenicity

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

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

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Documents Reveal that Interior Nominee Censored Endangered Species Assessment of Organophosphates

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2019) A set of documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity reveals that the Trump administration has known for over a year – and actively concealed – that the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos jeopardizes the existence of 1,399 endangered species. Top officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior, including Acting Secretary David Bernhardt, were privy to and prevented the release of a “biological opinion,” completed by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 2017, which contains a full analysis of the extensive environmental impacts wrought by three organophosphate insecticides. While chlorpyrifos is the worst of the three, the censored biological opinion includes similarly concerning findings for two other organophosphate pesticides, malathion and diazinon, which are currently jeopardizing 1,284 and 175 species, respectively. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that that all organophosphates have a common mechanisms of effect and therefore the multiple exposures to these pesticides lead to a cumulative risk. “It’s outrageous that Trump, Bernhardt and the industry hacks inhabiting this administration are speeding the extinction of nearly 1,400 endangered species by refusing to take any action on chlorpyrifos,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity […]

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