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Court Order Leads to EPA Finding that Neonicotinoid Pesticides Are a Serious Threat

Friday, June 24th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2022) As reported by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), on June 16 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released final Biological Evaluations, for three neonicotinoid insecticides, that indicate that these pesticides are “likely to adversely affect” the vast majority of endangered or threatened species and/or their designated critical habitats. These evaluations for imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam have been a long time coming, and represent, according to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the first time EPA “has completed biological evaluations of any neonicotinoids’ harms to the nation’s most imperiled plants and animals.” These evaluations evidence what CFS, CBD, Beyond Pesticides, and others have maintained for years: that neonicotinoid compounds are very serious threats to the survival and well-being of myriad organisms and habitats. A Biological Evaluation (BE) is an EPA analysis of potential harmful impacts of a registered pesticide on any species federally listed, per the Endangered Species Act, as endangered or threatened, or on their critical habitats. EPA was legally required to issue the determinations by the June 2022 deadline, per CFS litigation and a subsequent 2019 legal settlement. EPA was the defendant in 2017 litigation brought by CFS, with Beyond Pesticides, several beekeepers, and the Center for Environmental […]

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Drift-Prone Weed Killer Out of Control with the Chemical Industry at the Wheel

Friday, May 27th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2022) In a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) court document filed on May 16, the agency signaled potential changes to the labeling it requires for “over the top” (OTT, or post-emergent) herbicides containing dicamba, a very problematic pesticide. The filing — in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, where EPA currently faces litigation about its 2020 dicamba registrations — comes as a result of Bayer, Inc.’s March 2022 proposed amendments to EPA registration for its XtendiMax herbicide, which contains dicamba and glyphosate. Beyond Pesticides has covered the dicamba saga for years, including the EPA Office of the Inspector General’s critical 2021 report citing an abandonment of science and assault on agency integrity for EPA’s dicamba decisions during the Trump years. Dicamba has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, birth defects, and kidney and liver damage. It is toxic to birds, fish, and other aquatic organisms, and is known to leach into waterways after application. Dicamba also causes serious damage to non-GE (genetically engineered), non-target plants, damaging habitat and food sources for various organisms, especially for birds and insects. According to Progressive Farmer, EPA is currently considering some dicamba use restrictions after Bayer submitted them to […]

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Chemical No-Till Failure Due to Herbicide Resistance Increases Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2022) Widespread weed resistance on chemical corn and soybean farms is leading farmers to till their fields more often, significantly increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These findings were published late last month in the journal Nature Food by a team of Iowa State University researchers. With agricultural practices accounting for roughly 10% of U.S. GHG emissions, and 25% of worldwide releases, farming practices that preserve soil health and sequester GHGs are essential for the future of food production. Tillage is a farming practice that can provide a range of benefits for crop production, but only in the right conditions. A range of tillage practices exist, ranging from yearly conventional tillage, where most crop residue is plowed into the soil, to conservation tillage where some residue remains, and no-till systems where the soil remains covered. Repeated tillage causes significant harm to soil structure and biology, and result in erosion and the release of GHGs like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide from soil into the atmosphere. The harms of tillage have led both chemical and organic farmers toward no-till or reduced tillage systems. Organic no-till farming, as practiced by farming groups like the Rodale Institute, employs the […]

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Texas AG Tells Fed Endangered Habitat Should Not Stand in Way of Border Wall

Friday, April 29th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2022) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) plan to list a rare milkweed species, and the areas in which it grows in south Texas, as critical and endangered has garnered political pushback from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. In February, FWS announced its intention to list 691 acres of prostrate milkweed habitat in order to protect it, given its critical role in supporting monarch butterfly populations. But Attorney General (AG) Paxton sent a letter to FWS saying that the critical and endangered determination “would further destabilize Texas’s border, hindering the construction of the border wall,” and that it would risk security on the border with Mexico. FWS countered with a press release stating that, “This listing and critical habitat proposal is based on the best available science, including a species status assessment that included input and review from academia and state agencies.” The 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) mandates that federal agencies, in consultation with FWS and/or the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service, ensure that any actions in which they engage (whether authorizing, implementing, or funding) are unlikely to jeopardize the existence of a listed species, or have negative impacts on […]

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Animals in Wildlife Sanctuaries at Greater Risk of Pesticide Exposure from Internal Agricultural Practices

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2022) An article by the Audubon Society covers ongoing advocacy to end pesticide spraying in wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges act as a sanctuary, providing habitat and protection essential for the survival and recovery of species nationwide. However, portions of the wildlife sanctuary can have agricultural uses, allowing farmers to cultivate crops on various acres, subsequently applying pesticides. Pesticide spraying in or around wildlife refuges threatens the survivability and recovery of species that inhabit the area. Moreover, many of these pesticides are highly toxic to human and animal health. Analyses like these are significant, especially since the globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to enforce policies that eliminate pesticide use in wildlife refuges. Ending pesticide applications in sanctuaries can protect the well-being of animals, humans, and the ecosystem. Hannah Connor, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), notes, “It’s not a huge economic driver of the refuge system, and it is truly problematic in terms of fulfilling its mission and goals[…]. That just means it should be […]

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Environmentalists Outraged at Probability that EPA Will Allow Continued Use of Deadly Pesticides, the Neonicotinoids

Friday, March 25th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2022) Recent coverage by The Guardian of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan — to extend the registration of several demonstrably harmful neonicotinoid insecticides — compels Beyond Pesticides to identify, once again, the agency’s failures to enact its core mission. That mission is “to protect human health and the environment,” and to ensure that “national efforts to reduce environmental risks are based on the best available scientific information.” EPA has undertaken a review of the registration of several members of the neonicotinoid (neonic) family of pesticides and, despite the agency’s own findings of evidence of serious threats to pollinators, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife, it issued interim decisions on these neonics in January 2020 that disregard the science on the pesticides’ impacts. EPA appears to be prepared to finalize these registrations late in 2022; this would, barring further action, extend the use of these harmful compounds for 15 years. Neonics are used widely in the U.S., both on crops to kill sucking insects, and as seed treatments with the same goal for the developing plant. These insecticides are systemic compounds, meaning that once applied, they travel to all parts of a plant through the vascular […]

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Pesticide Drift or Chemical Trespass Continue Uncontrolled, Despite Successful Litigation

Friday, March 18th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2022) A 2020 lawsuit related to pesticide drift was resolved on March 8, 2022 in San Joaquin (California) Superior Court with the finding that Alpine Helicopter Services, which specializes in pesticide applications for government and tourism entities, had violated pesticide drift laws and endangered public health and safety. The court further found Alpine liable for damage related to its actions, though penalties in the case, brought by California state prosecutors and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), have yet to be determined. The case exposes a handful of the many instances of pesticide drift, also known as “chemical trespass,” that occur every year in the U.S. In 2004, Beyond Pesticides covered the issue with Getting the Drift on Chemical Trespass; its monitoring of drift issues is ongoing, as can be seen in its “Pesticide Drift” archives. The long history of nontarget exposure, contamination, and poisoning teaches that drift is a function of pesticide use, but not considered adequately by regulators who allow the marketing of poisons that are known to move through the environment uncontrolled. Cases like the Alpine case highlight a relentless problem associated with the daily use of pesticides. Pesticide drift is any airborne […]

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Are Your Plants “Talking”? New Study Finds Plants Communicate and Prepare Defenses when a Predator Is Nearby

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2022) Pest damaged plants release volatile chemical “scents” that alert other nearby plants of potential predators and give them time to prepare their defenses, according to research recently published in Plant Physiology by researchers at Tokyo University of Science. The findings have important implications for agriculture, including new practices that utilize this novel process. “The effective use of plants’ natural survival strategies in production systems will bring us closer to the realization of a sustainable society that simultaneously solves environmental and food problems,” says study coauthor Gen-ichiro Arimura, PhD. Budding research conducted since the turn of the century has discovered and confirmed that plants can communicate through specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  These compounds, referred to by researchers as “infochemicals,” can act as airborne signals that an herbivore danger is in the vicinity. Not only can plants within the same species communicate, there is evidence that plants will react to infochemicals produced by different species the other plant cannot produce, and may never have encountered. A recent experiment found, for instance, that soybean plants grown near mint are better able to withstand pest pressure by “eavesdropping” on VOCs produced by mint. Likewise, corn and tomato plants […]

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Monoculture Rice Production Outperformed by Traditional Techniques that Integrate Aquatic Animals

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2022) Adding animal diversity to rice paddy farms reduces weed pressure, increases food production, and makes fertilizer use more efficient, according to a study published late last month in the journal eLife. As chemical-dependent, industrialized agriculture has spread across the world, local farmers are increasingly pressured into eschewing traditional agricultural practices in favor of monocultures in an attempt to meet the demands of global markets. This one-size-fits-all approach oversimplifies the interdependency within ecosystems, failing to incorporate the complexity of nature that many traditional and organic practices embrace. As the present study shows, research and investment into systems that promote natural diversity can provide insights that allow these approaches to leapfrog the chemical-dependent, monoculture paradigm of industrial agriculture. Rice paddy fields are intentionally flooded, and crops are often grown in shallow water. In industrialized fields, monocultures of rice are planted out, and fertilizers and weed killers are applied at regular intervals. However, many traditional rice farmers around the world integrate aquatic animals into their paddies. In the present experiment, researchers conducted a 4-year long evaluation comparing the benefits of monoculture production against co-cultures of rice and aquatic animals. Co-culturing animals and rice differs slightly from traditional practices […]

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Minnesota Biomonitoring Study Addresses Children’s Exposure to Pesticides, Air Pollutants, and Toxic Metals

Wednesday, March 9th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2022) In response to local concerns around children’s environmental exposures, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently published biomonitoring data collected from young children living in urban and rural areas of the state. The findings provide local residents and lawmakers with baseline data on the hazards children are encountering where they live, learn, or play, and point to ways in which families can reduce or eliminate these dangers. With evidence that early life exposures during “critical windows of vulnerability” increase risk of long-term health problems, it is critical for state agencies to both collect data, and take meaningful action to protect children from future harms. Minnesota lawmakers established a state biomonitoring program in 2007, and have since expanded the project. The current report represents the results of MDH’s Healthy Rural and Urban Kids Project aimed at biomonitoring chemicals in young children. For this round, the agency focused on preschool-aged children living in MN’s rural Becker, Todd, and Wadena counties, as well as those living in urban North Minneapolis. MDH enrolled 232 families during the summer of 2018, provided them with a questionnaire, and tested children for 21 different chemicals in their urine. The chemicals tested were […]

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Pesticide Use on Crops for Meat and Dairy Feed Further Threatens Endangered Species

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2022) A report by the Independent finds chemical-intensive farming of crops for animal feed puts thousands of endangered species at risk. U.S. farmlands use more than 235 million pounds of pesticide (i.e., herbicides and insecticides) solely for animal feed production, many of which are highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs). Several HHP hazard categories include acutely toxic, chronic health hazards, and environmental hazards. Therefore, animal feed production intensifies global pollution, increases pesticide exposure, and degrades human, animal, and ecological health.  Although the report demonstrates a need to eliminate toxic pesticide use for the sake of human, animal, and ecosystem health, it will take more than eliminating the worst chemicals to address the impending biodiversity collapse and the climate crisis. Experts highlight the need for an urgent shift to organic land and agricultural management practices. The study notes, “These pesticides are taking a toll on our environment and biodiversity. Endangered species like the highly imperiled whooping crane, monarch butterflies, all species of salmon, the rusty-patched bumble bee, the San Joaquin kit fox, and the northern long-eared bat, as examples, all face significant threats from industrial agricultural operations and the chemicals applied. In order to conserve biodiversity and better protect vulnerable species and their habitats, […]

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USDA Genetic Engineered Food Label Misleads Consumers, Took Effect January 1

Friday, January 7th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides. January 7, 2022) Unbeknownst to most Americans when they woke up on New Year’s Day 2022, a new labeling system for genetically modified-engineered foods— promulgated in 2019 — which does not mention genetically engineered or GMO ingredients, went into effect. Consumer, food, and environmental advocates say that the new label is misleading, insufficiently transparent, discriminatory, rife with loopholes, and confusing for consumers. The new labeling requirement mandates that genetically engineered foods bear labels that indicate that they have been “bioengineered” or that provide a text-messaging phone number or a QR code as avenues for further information. (“Additional options such as a phone number or web address are available to small food manufacturers or for small and very small packages.”) The new labeling rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aims, according to the agency, to eliminate the crazy quilt of labels affixed to foods and ingredients that have been scientifically altered. According to an agency spokesperson, the rule is designed to “balance the need to provide information to consumers with the interest in minimizing costs to companies.” Genetically altered food items and ingredients have heretofore been called, and labeled as, “genetically engineered” (GE) or “genetically modified” (GM), […]

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Neonicotinoids Pass Through Aphids, Contaminating Honeydew and Killing off Pest Predators

Thursday, January 6th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2022) Seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides contaminate honeydew, often the biggest source of food for pest predators, according to recent research published in the journal Environmental Pollution. Concerned advocates for pollinators and pesticide reform are likely familiar with fact that neonicotinoids are systemic, and once applied to a seed or sprayed on a plant are taken up by the plant and distributed throughout the pollen, nectar and dew drops that a plant produces. But there is another systemic effect that is not included in that picture, and in monoculture crops, it could be the biggest source of carbohydrates for beneficial pest predators – honeydew. Honeydew is produced from phloem-feeding (sap sucking) pests like aphids, whiteflies, leafhoppers, and other hemipteran insects. The waste that these insects produce is liquid, and full of sugars. “This rich carbohydrate source is a common food for many beneficial insects, including pollinators, such as bees and flies, and some natural enemies of pests, such as ants, wasps and beetles,” said John Tooker, PhD, coauthor of a recent literature review published in Biological Reviews. “Honeydew often is more abundant than nectar in agroecosystems.” In 2019, a study published in the Proceedings of the […]

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Court Steps In to Stop Pesticide Use Not Adequately Regulated, Protects Bees

Friday, December 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2021) In a win for pollinators, a California Superior Court has issued a ruling that sulfoxaflor, a systemic pesticide that is “field legal” but “bee lethal,” can no longer be used in the state. The suit was brought by the Pollinator Stewardship Council and the American Beekeeping Federation. The ruling of the Superior Court of the State of California for Alameda County finds that the argument of the petitioners — that sulfoxaflor approval decisions by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) — is valid. Eliminating this highly bee-toxic pesticide from use in the state is expected to protect not only native bees and other pollinators (including Monarch butterflies in early Spring), but also, the many millions of managed-colony bees that are transported to California for pollination of almond and other crops. The suit was filed against DPR, Corteva inc., Dow Agrosciences LLC, the Siskiyou County Department of Agriculture, and James E. Smith as Siskiyou County Agricultural Commissioner. Having found for the petitioners’ request for a Writ of Mandate (a court order requiring a lower court or public authority to perform its statutory duty), the court instructed the petitioners to […]

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Joining Together to Give Thanks As We Confront the Challenges Ahead

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

  (Beyond Pesticides, November 24, 2021) On Thanksgiving, thank you for being a part of Beyond Pesticides and sharing and contributing to the vision necessary to protect the web and fragility of life. We believe that there is no time like Thanksgiving to think about how we can more effectively join together as families and communities across divisions and different points of view to find a common purpose in protecting the health of the environment and all that inhabit it. Unfortunately, there are a host of pesticides, genetically engineered materials, and others in conventional Thanksgiving foods that not only impact human health, but threaten the environment. With far too many adverse health and ecological effects associated with toxic chemicals, organic practices are viable solutions to mitigate pesticide contamination and subsequent exposure. Read on as we consider the range of challenges we must confront, and the solutions that can bring us all together. The Climate As climate impacts grow, an increase in uses of synthetic pesticides in agriculture is likely — because of waning efficacy (pesticide resistance) of these compounds, and mounting pest pressure (i.e., increasing insect population and metabolism). Production of pesticides contributes to greenhouse gas emissions gas (e.g., nitrous […]

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Organic Takes on Existential Health and Environmental Crises, While Some Critics Lack Context (Response to New Yorker piece)

Friday, November 12th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2021) Omnivorous readers may have encountered an article, in the November 15 issue of The New Yorker magazine, titled — at best misleadingly, and certainly sensationally — “The Great Organic-Food Fraud.” The subhead comports with the tone of the headline: “There’s no way to confirm that a crop was grown organically. Randy Constant exploited our trust in the labels — and made a fortune.” The piece, by Ian Parker, tells a complex tale of the machinations of dishonest and greedy people who saw, in the commerce in organic grains, an opportunity to misrepresent nonorganic crops as organic and make a boatload of money in doing so. What the article fails to do is render any comprehensive picture of how National Organic Program certification and inspection work, and the underlying principles, values, and standards in federal law (the Organic Foods Production Act), nor does it review either the benefits of organic agriculture broadly or the massive harmful impacts of conventional, chemical-intensive agriculture in the U.S. Beyond Pesticides provides ballast, in this Daily News Blog article, to the failings of the New Yorker article and the damage it might do to the organic movement. It is worth noting […]

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Weeds Are Now Developing Resistance to Herbicides They’ve Never Been Exposed To

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2021) Pesticide use in conventional chemical-intensive farming is so pervasive that weeds are developing resistance to herbicides they have never encountered before. According to research published in Plant and Cell Physiology and New Phytologist, the notoriously difficult-to-control weed waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) is outpacing commercial crops in its ability to detoxify after herbicide exposure. “This is probably the first known example where waterhemp has evolved a detox mechanism that a crop doesn’t have. It’s using a completely different mechanism, adding to the complexity of controlling this weed,” says Dean Riechers, PhD, study co-author and professor at University of Illinois. Researchers found waterhemp resistant to the chemical syncarpic acid-3 (SA3). SA3 is one of the earliest versions of a 4-Hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPPD) inhibiting herbicide. HPPD inhibiting herbicides, which include herbicides like isoxaflutole and mesotrione, are selective (ie plant-specific) and break down amino acids that are required for plant growth and development. Corn generally tolerates HPPD-inhibiting chemicals, detoxifying them through different channels depending upon the specific type of HPPD herbicide. Weeds that grow in and around corn fields where these chemicals are regularly sprayed, like waterhemp, have likewise evolved the ability to detoxify HPPD-inhibitors, mostly mimicking the process that […]

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Monoculture Agriculture Leads to Poor Soil Health

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2021) Agricultural soils under monoculture cropping systems are not as healthy as soils with diverse plantings, finds research recently published in the journal Agrosystems, Geosciences and Environment. Soil and soil quality are declining rapidly in the United States and around the world, with recent data indicating that the U.S. Corn Belt has lost 35% of its topsoil. Advocates say it is critical that the response to this problem focus on practices that conserve and improve the soil health by building organic matter and healthy microbial populations. “Understanding the management practices that lead to healthier soils will allow farmers to grow the same crops while reducing costly chemical inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides) and protecting the environment,” said study coauthor Lori Phillips, PhD. To investigate disparities in soil health between cropping systems, researchers analyzed a long-term cropping system that includes 18 years of continuously grown soy, corn, and perennial grasses. Each cropping system was evaluated for its bacterial and fungal population, as well as a test called CNPS, which measures the enzymes produced by microbes specifically related to the soil’s carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur cycles. Researchers indicate that these measurements create “a holistic measure of biological activity,” […]

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Commentary: Will Playing Fields, Parks, and Lawns Be Safe After Glyphosate in Roundup Residential Use Ends in 2023?

Friday, July 30th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2021) Bayer (Monsanto), the maker of the deadly herbicide glyphosate/Roundup, after hinting in May that it would end the weed killer’s residential uses in the U.S., made it official yesterday. With its announcement to shareholders, Bayer puts an end to residential uses beginning in 2023 and allocates $4.5 billion to cover “the company’s potential long-term exposure” from lawsuits by those harmed by the chemical. At the same time, the company announced it is seeking a U.S. Supreme Court hearing to reverse significant jury verdicts (from $289 million to $2 billion) for individuals who have suffered health damage they tie to glyphosate exposure. Bayer claims that it will argue that federal pesticide law preempts litigation against products that it has registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA). Similar arguments have been tried before, most notably in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences (2005), and the Supreme Court has found that federal pesticide law does not protect “manufacturers of poisonous substances.” (See more below.) Despite the extensive scientific review (see Pesticide Gateway) of glyphosate/Roundup and a “probable” cancer causing ranking by the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015, Bayer says, “This move is being made exclusively […]

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Maine Bans Consumer Use of Neonicotinoid Insecticides, with Some Exceptions

Friday, June 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2021) As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to drag its feet on protective regulation of neonicotinoid pesticides, states continue to step up to restrict their use. In April, the Maine legislature passed, and Governor Janet Mills has now signed, a new law that will prohibit use of neonicotinoid pesticides with the “active ingredient[s] dinotefuran, clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam used for application in outdoor residential landscapes such as on lawn, turf or ornamental vegetation” [links by Beyond Pesticides]. Though short of an outright ban, this law is a solid step forward for Maine in reining in use of these compounds, which are neurotoxicants widely implicated in pollinator (and other insect, bird, and mammal) harms or declines. Until a federal ban happens, Beyond Pesticides offers guidance on avoiding use of neonicotinoid pesticides through its fact sheet, Managing Pests Safely Without Neonicotinoids, and its Bee Protective web pages. This new Maine law does, however, include exemptions for wood preservation, indoor pest control, use on pets, treatment of structure foundations, and controlling invasive insect pests, such as the Asian long-horned beetle, emerald ash borer, and hemlock wooly adelgid. The statute leaves other large loopholes that will permit continued use […]

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Inspector General Blasts Trump’s Politicized EPA, No Announced Plans to Reverse Unscientific Decisions

Friday, May 28th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2021) A report by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concludes that scientific analyses by the agency were altered so as to favor top Trump administration officials’ policy choices in the 2018 reapproval of the highly toxic and problematic pesticide, dicamba. The report, “EPA Deviated from its Typical Procedures in Its 2018 Dicamba Pesticide Registration Decision,” was publicly released on May 24. It confirms aspects of what Beyond Pesticides and many others in the science, advocacy, public health, and environmental communities have been saying and reporting since 2016: the Trump administration executed a wholesale assault on scientific integrity in federal decision making. In its research on the matter, the Inspector General’s office (OIG) reviewed EPA’s 2016 and 2018 decisions on dicamba’s registration, documentation that purported to support those decisions, and the concerns forwarded in the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and by many stakeholders. (See more in figure below.) It also reviewed EPA internal procedures and guidance on pesticide registration, and agency scientific integrity materials; interviewed career scientists and other agency staff; and communicated with EPA’s Scientific Integrity (Science Advisor) program staff. As reported […]

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Pesticide Pollution in Recreational Lakes Documented

Friday, April 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2021) Recent research, published in Environmental Pollution in late 2020, examines levels and persistence of pesticide pollution in recreational lakes. The study finds: (1) concentrations of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid at levels exceeding ecotoxicity limits for aquatic invertebrates in a recreational lake that receives predominately urban runoff, and (2) that pesticide residues persist in the studied lakes throughout the growing season. Based on their findings, the scientists emphasized the importance of stricter regulation of insecticide compounds, and of better education about their impacts. Beyond Pesticides maintains that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for several reasons, not least of which is the extreme damage they cause to pollinators. The goal of the study was to evaluate potential ecosystem exposure to pesticide contamination in Midwestern recreational lakes, as well as the persistence of pesticide residues in those water bodies over the course of the growing season. Study authors hypothesized that watersheds with significant agricultural land uses would have higher concentrations of pesticides compared to largely urban and herbaceous watersheds. This research, out of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the University of Kentucky, looked to evaluate the occurrence of neonicotinoid and organothiophosphate insecticides, and some fungicides, in three lakes with differing […]

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Invertebrates and Plants Face Increasing Threat from Pesticide Use, Despite Declining Chemical Use Patterns

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2021) Pesticide use threatens aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and plants more than ever, despite declining chemical use and implementation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the U.S., according to a University Koblenz-Landau, Germany study. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), many environmental agencies have banned the use of pesticides like organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects, particularly on vertebrates, including humans. However, this ban created a pathway for a new generation of pesticides (e.g., neonicotinoids, pyrethroids) to take hold. Although these pesticides are more target-specific, requiring lower chemical concentrations for effectiveness, they have over double the toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators.  Invertebrates and plants are vital for ecosystem function, offering various services, from decomposition to supporting the food web. Furthermore, invertebrates and plants can act as indicator species (bioindicators) that scientists can observe for the presence and impact of environmental changes and stressors. Therefore, reductions in invertebrate and plant life have implications for ecosystem health that can put human well-being at risk. Study lead author Ralf Schulz, PH.D., notes, “[This study] challenge[s] the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM [genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE)] crops and […]

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