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Presence of Weed Killer Glyphosate in Human Sperm Elevates Debate on Pesticide Threats to Human Survival 

Tuesday, June 4th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2024) A study published in the most recent edition of the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety documents for the first time the presence of the herbicide glyphosate in human sperm. The study looked at 128 French men with an average age of 36 years who tested positive for glyphosate in their blood. Seventy-three out of the 128 men were found to also have glyphosate in their seminal plasma. Not only that, the amount of glyphosate in seminal plasma was nearly four times higher than what was detected in the blood.   Methods  The study involved a population of 128 infertile French men from whom seminal and blood plasma samples were collected. The study was conducted at the “Pole Santé Léonard de Vinci” medical center, located centrally near Tours, France. This region is recognized for its urban characteristics as well as being a major agricultural hub, particularly for grain and wine production. The study authors note, “This area reflects the common herbicide exposure in France” and the district ranks third highest in terms of pesticide purchases. While additional qualitative data was collected, only 47 of 128 participants fully completed a questionnaire about their profession, diet (organic or […]

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Government Report Pushes Genetically Engineered Crops, Despite Failure and Effective Alternatives

Friday, May 31st, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 31, 2024) Among the many promises that have been made by agribusiness to farmers and consumers, the glories of crops genetically engineered (GE) to resist pests stand out. GE tools—genes—were touted as “natural,” and promised to reduce the use of toxic pesticides. The first such plants incorporating DNA or RNA from other organisms hit the market in the 1990s. Today more than 70% of all GE organisms are engineered to tolerate herbicides, and the overwhelming majority of corn, soybean and cotton varieties are engineered to to be toxic to insects. See Beyond Pesticides’ backgrounder on GE here. Despite a dramatic increase in the use of herbicides and the fast development of weed and insect resistance to plant incorporated pesticides, this month the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly released a document entitled “The Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology – Plan for Regulatory Reform under the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.” It responds to a 2022 executive order by President Biden to “accelerate biotechnology innovation” and “support the safe use of biotechnology products” by using a “science- and risk-based, predictable, efficient, […]

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House Farm Bill Moves Out of Agriculture Committee Undermining Health, Ecosystems, and Democracy, Advocates Say

Thursday, May 30th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 30, 2024) The House Agriculture Committee voted 33-21 on May 23 to move the Farm, Food, and National Security Act out of committee after a contentious markup and onslaught of amendments that undermine water health, soil health, and local democratic authority to protect people and the environment from toxic pesticide exposure. One of nearly sixty amendments introduced in the markup last week included the continuation of a decade-long attack on National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit via Clean Water Act (CWA) for pesticide discharge. What was most illuminating however was not the passage of the bill itself, but Big Agriculture’s raucous approval. Advocates see pesticide industry and its allies’ support for what it is—the reliance on petrochemical-based pesticides leading to economic instability, ecosystem collapse, and the degradation of democratic institutions. With support for entrenched dependency on petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, the committee’s bill requires taxpayers to pay through the government’s crop insurance program for escalating losses caused by chemical-intensive farming practices, contributing to yield losses that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says are “natural causes such as drought, excessive moisture [e.g., floods], hail, wind, frost, insects, and disease. . .” However, the frequency of these […]

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Study Shows Value of Organic Practices in Lowering Environmental Impact of Agriculture 

Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2024)  A study recently published in the journal Nature compared the impact of organic and conventional food production using eight environmental health indicators and found that organic food has a significantly lower environmental impact than conventional food production for six of the eight indicators, including a lower potential for contributing to acidification of the environment, energy use, and biodiversity loss. For the analysis, scientists reviewed 100 different “life cycle assessments” (LCA) of organic and conventionally grown food products from cradle-to-farm gate.    LCA is a commonly used methodology to estimate food production system impacts on the environment through resource depletion and pollutant emissions. The results—that organic food production is less impactful on the environment—add to the robust body of research that underscores the importance of organic farming to the development of a sustainable global food system while addressing climate change. Beyond Pesticides has long argued that one of the most powerful tools in fighting global warming is organic agriculture, as it sequesters atmospheric carbon, eliminates the use of fossil fuel-based synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, and provides environmental and human health benefits. This study and most of the 100 studies it evaluates, do not recognize that conventional […]

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

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

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

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

Wednesday, May 8th, 2024

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

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Private Capital Invests in “Regenerative Organic” Agriculture

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 2, 2024) There is a nascent capital investment effort in the transition to certified organic agriculture beginning to take hold across the U.S., something advocates say is critically needed to meet the current and escalating existential health threats, biodiversity decline, and climate emergency. Mad Agriculture has received early commitments from the Rockefeller Foundation, Builders Vision, and nearly a dozen other investors to contribute to the $50 million Perennial Fund II (PFII), to advance the growth of “regenerative organic” agriculture. Forbes is reporting that PFII’s primary objective is to jumpstart the organic land transition, given that this slice of U.S. agriculture makes up less than one percent of total farmland in the country relative to the European Union’s nearly 10 percent of total farmland. “We commend the work of Mad Agriculture in harnessing the spirit of organic agriculture and mobilizing the private sector to invest in farmers who engage in regenerative organic agricultural practices,” said Max Sano, organic program associate at Beyond Pesticides. In Rockefeller Foundation’s press release announcing their early commitment, Mad Capital co-founder Brandon Welch spoke on their vision: “We are aiming to build a bridge between two distant worlds that need one another to transition […]

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Mexico Ban on Genetically Engineered Corn Imports Spurs Challenge from U.S. and Canada under Trade Agreement

Wednesday, March 20th, 2024

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

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“Regenerative” Agriculture Still Misses the Mark in Defining a Path to a Livable Future

Thursday, March 7th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2024) As the threats to health, biodiversity, and climate converge in agricultural policy and practices, the question of defining the fundamental changes necessary to reverse these existential crises takes on life-sustaining importance. Despite the existence of an organic community with governing stakeholders (farmers, consumers, conservationists, retailers, processors, inspectors, and scientists) that has evolved over at least seven decades and is codified in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990, the term “regenerative” is now increasingly being advanced as a loosely defined alternative to the organic standard and label, which is transparent, defined, certified, enforced, and subject to public input. The publication AgFunderNews (AFN) last month published its updated “2024 list of agrifood corporates making regenerative agriculture commitments,” a who’s who of the largest food and agribusiness corporations worldwide. The list includes companies such as ADM, Cargill, Danone, General Mills, Tyson, Unilever, Walmart, and more with commitments to millions of acres in their supply chain practicing “regenerative” agriculture with target dates ranging from 2024 to 2050. The AFN author reporting on the “regenerative” trend states, “[O]ne big challenge is that ‘regenerative agriculture’ still has no set definition. While that still holds true, the bigger observation in […]

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

Tuesday, March 5th, 2024

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

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USDA Pesticide Data Program Continues to Mislead the Public on Pesticide Residue Exposure

Thursday, February 15th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2024) The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pesticide residue report, the 32nd Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary report, released in January, finds that over 72 percent of tested commodities contain pesticide residues (27.6 percent have no detectable residues), mostly below the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set for tolerances (allowable residues) whose safety standards have been called into question by advocates. USDA spins its report findings as a positive safety finding because, as the Department says, “[m]ore than 99 percent of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the established EPA tolerances.” USDA continues, “Ultimately, if EPA determines a pesticide use is not safe for human consumption, EPA will mitigate exposure to the pesticide through actions such as amending the pesticide label instructions, changing or revoking a pesticide residue tolerance, or not registering a new use.” As Beyond Pesticides reminds the public annually when USDA uses the report to extol the safety of pesticide-laden food, the tolerance setting process has been criticized as highly deficient because of a lack of adequate risk assessments for vulnerable subpopulations, such as farmworkers, people with compromised health or preexisting health conditions, children, and perhaps, […]

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Court Strikes Down EPA’s Allowance of Weedkiller Dicamba after Scathing Inspector General Report

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2024) Last week, the United States District Court for the District of Arizona struck down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2021 approval of three dicamba-based herbicides. This is the second lawsuit since 2020 to call out EPA’s violation to both the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to authorize the use of over-the-top (OTT) dicamba-based herbicide products from Bayer and other petrochemical pesticide companies. This rejection of dicamba-based herbicides fuels advocates’ push for stronger regulatory actions by EPA for all petrochemical pesticides and their push for the more widespread adoption of organic practices that do not use these chemicals. The case was filed by Center for Food Safety (CFS), Center for Biological Diversity, National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America. Beyond Pesticides has covered the dicamba tragedy for years, including the EPA Office of the Inspector General’s critical 2021 report, EPA Deviated from its Typical Procedures in Its 2018 Dicamba Pesticide Registration Decision. The report identifies EPA’s abandonment of science and assault on agency integrity. In addition to citing adverse impact on nontarget crops and the environment, the Court zeroes in on EPA’s failure to adequately manage […]

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Take Action: EPA Accepting Public Comments on Seeds and Paint that Contain Pesticides

Friday, February 9th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2024) EPA is accepting public comments through today, Friday February 9, on its long-held policy of exempting “treated objects,” including seeds and paint, from pesticide registration. Although EPA does not ask the most important question—“Should pesticide-treated seeds and paint be exempt from the scrutiny given pesticide products?”—this comment period offers an opportunity to respond to EPA’s questions and express concern about hazards associated with chemical use and product ingredients. Despite exposure patterns associated with the use of pesticides in treated objects that are linked to environmental contamination and human poisoning, EPA is focused on labeling and not regulation. Instead of focusing on the exposure and harm associated with the object’s use—whether treated seeds poison pollinators, soil, and water or whether paint treated with fungicides poisons people exposed to the paint—EPA takes the position that unless the manufacturer makes a pesticidal claim, the object is not regulated as a pesticide for its pesticidal effects.  Beyond Pesticides states: At the very least, if EPA deems the hazards associated with the use of the pesticide in the treated article acceptable, then the agency should disclose the chemical used in the treatment (of the seed or the paint) and require […]

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Bill to Protect Birds and Bees in New York Raises Political Challenges to Addressing Ecosystem Collapse

Thursday, January 25th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2024) Legislative efforts to curtail some life-threatening pesticides associated with birds and bees (and other pollinators) decline were weakened in New York State at the end of December 2023 as the governor negotiated and stripped elements of a bill relating to agriculture that had passed the legislature—again illustrating the grip of the agrichemical industry on public policy intended to begin to address the crisis in ecosystem collapse. (See “Study Cites Insect Extinction and Ecological Collapse.”) In passing the Birds and Bees Protection Act, New York joined New Jersey, Nevada, and Maine in banning most nonagricultural uses of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides, but, in last-minute changes to avoid the governor’s veto, failed to phase out corn, soybean, and wheat seeds coated with these chemicals. [Pointing to an exemption in federal law that has been challenged by advocates, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate treated or coated seeds as pesticides despite their toxic pesticidal properties.] In New York State, the governor can, in consultation with the leadership of the legislative branch, negotiate language changes (called Chapter Amendments) in legislature-passed legislation (originally enacted) before deciding to sign it into law or can simply choose to veto the legislation. […]

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Take Action: EPA Challenged for Not Assessing Claimed Pesticide “Benefits,” Opens Public Comment Period

Tuesday, January 16th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2024) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has long been criticized for its failure to evaluate the effectiveness (or efficacy) of all the pesticides it registers. A petition, for which there is now an open public comment period (submit comments by January 22, 2024), challenges what advocates call a basic failure of the agency to evaluate the claimed benefits of pesticides. Because of this long-standing situation, those who purchase pesticides do not know that the pesticides they buy will meet expectations for control. For farmers, that means that EPA has not evaluated whether the pesticide’s use actually increases productivity of the treated crops and/or whether over time the target pest (weed, insect, fungus) will become resistant. For consumers, it also means that there is not an independent analysis of whether the pesticide products work. As EPA implements the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), not only is there no agency assessment of whether the pesticide’s use will achieve its intended purpose, there is not a determination as to whether there is a less toxic way of achieving the pest management goal. As Beyond Pesticides cited last year, a piece published in the Proceedings of the […]

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EPA May Allow Highly Neurotoxic Insecticide, Aldicarb, for Citrus Despite Ban in 2010 for Same Use

Thursday, December 14th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2023) It has been reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is again considering allowing the use of the highly neurotoxic, carbamate insecticide aldicarb for use in Florida citrus, 13 years after the agency and the chemical’s manufacturer, Bayer Crop Science, announced that it was being banned (technically voluntarily canceled). A version of the current EPA proposal and the resource-intensive review process in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs—all being done at taxpayers’ expense—was rebuffed, first by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (April 2021), then by a U.S. Court of Appeals (June 2021). Internal EPA emails, as reported in The New Lede (November 21, 2023), expose the extent to which the agency’s science and political staff have tried to downplay aldicarb’s adverse health and environmental outcomes in order to meet the EPA’s broad, and often described as loose, risk parameters.  This Daily News piece on aldicarb is part of an ongoing story of the politicization of science by political appointees to an agency that is charged with protecting public health and the environment. The degree to which agency scientific staff are complicit in advancing agency positions that are not supported by the scientific […]

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Pesticide-Intensive Agricultural Practices Lead to Elevated Childhood Cancer Rates in Brazil

Tuesday, November 7th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2023) Two decades after the introduction of genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant crops and the consequential exponential growth in weed killers, Brazil is seeing an increase in childhood cancer. This is the conclusion reached in a comprehensive study spanning 15 years (2004-2019), “Agriculture Intensification and Childhood Cancer in Brazil,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in October. For the past 20 years, soybean herbicides have been killing and sickening children in the Cerrado and Amazon regions–where soybean cultivation is concentrated. The study reveals a link between an increase in soy cultivation and a spike in cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer affecting children, among indirectly exposed populations. Researchers identify pesticide-contaminated drinking water as the driving force behind the increased cancer rates occurring downstream from soybean sites.  In 2003, Brazil legalized its first official genetically modified (GM) crop, welcoming the era of GM soybeans and sparking a radical transformation in its agricultural landscape–for better or worse. The introduction of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybean seed promised farmers an efficient and herbicide-resistant alternative to traditional crops. A significant shift occurred in the areas dedicated to soy cultivation in the Cerrado region, tripling from […]

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States Step In to Restrict Bee-Toxic Pesticides, California the Latest in Absence of EPA Action

Friday, November 3rd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2023) California joined 10 other states that have laws partially restricting use of bee-toxic neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides with the enactment of CA AB 363 into law in October, 2023.  California’s new law will ban over-the-counter sales of lawn and garden neonics by 2025, limiting their use to licensed pesticide applicators. The legislation gives the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (CA EPA) until June 30, 2029 to take broader action on neonics, if it determines restrictions are necessary. CA 363 will take neonics out of the hands of homeowners, while allowing lawn care companies to continue use. The California law falls short of the strongest state laws in Nevada, New Jersey, and Maine that eliminate all outdoor (nonagricultural) uses of these chemicals, even by lawn care companies. In June, 2023 Nevada became the third state to ban lawn and garden uses of neonics, while Colorado prohibited homeowner use of land and garden neonic products, similar to laws in Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  Minnesota recently banned neonic use on state lands and granted its home-rule subdivisions the authority to ban “pollinator-lethal pesticides” (those with bee warning labels) under its state law preempting local authority […]

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Don’t Get Comfortable: Government Shutdown Exacerbates Food Safety Threats

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2023) As the immediate threat of a government shutdown has temporarily subsided, concerns are mounting over the potential threats to food safety in the United States if the government shuts down in mid-November. Experts are warning that a shutdown could jeopardize critical food safety inspections and oversight. A partial government shutdown in 2019 disrupted federal oversight of food monitoring for various pathogens and pesticides, as labs were shuttered, with agency employees furloughed. See Beyond Pesticide’s reporting about food safety risks during the last government shutdown. However, it should be noted that residues of pesticides in food continue to raise concerns about safety of food grown in chemical-intensive (conventional) farming operations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) contingency plans dictate that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continue its regulatory inspection of meat, poultry, and egg products, as mandated by law. However, it is important to note that the FSIS will operate with a reduced workforce, with a portion of employees deemed “essential personnel” for food safety operations. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is also preparing for a potential shutdown. According to HHS’s contingency […]

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A Very Slow EPA Settlement Process Keeps a Harmful Herbicide on the Market

Friday, September 15th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, September 15, 2023) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suspended the registration of the herbicide dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate (DCPA) (also widely known as Dacthal), effective August 22, 2023 and leaves existing stocks (products containing DCPA manufactured before August 22) available on the market. The decision is one of a series of EPA attempts dating to 2013 to get more data from the manufacturer as the agency considers reregistration of DCPA. The suspension is toothless, however, since EPA did not totally close the book on this chemical. Six days before the suspension, EPA signed a settlement agreement with the sole manufacturer, AMVAC Corporation, to reinstate the registration upon receipt of the complete toxicological data—that is, animal and laboratory tests— needed to determine the chemical’s safety and how and where it can be used. DCPA is currently classified by EPA as a possible human carcinogen and has also been shown to be a thyroid hormone disrupter. DCPA is regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Pesticides are supposed to undergo reregistration every 15 years to take new science into consideration, but this process is glacial. Congress amended FIFRA in 1988 to speed up reregistration of products registered before 1984, and […]

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Of Note During Organic Month, Study Finds Organic Diet and Location Affect Pesticide Residues in the Body

Thursday, September 7th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, September 7, 2023) During Organic Month, the importance of organic practices is brought into sharp focus by a study published in July in Environmental Health Perspectives, which emphasizes the importance of an organic diet and location to residues of pesticides in the body. The study finds urinary levels of the weed killer glyphosate significantly decrease through an organic diet for pregnant individuals living further than 0.5km (~1640ft) from an agricultural field. However, the study finds that adopting an organic diet among pregnant individuals living closer than 0.5km to an agricultural area does not significantly decrease glyphosate levels, indicating alternative sources of contamination outside of diet. Although past studies prove time and time again that an organic diet can reduce the levels of pesticides in the body, far too few studies investigate how the intervention of the organic diet can alter glyphosate levels among pregnant individuals living near or far from agricultural fields on which the herbicide is used. Furthermore, pesticides’ presence in the body affects human health, especially during vulnerable life stages like childhood, puberty, pregnancy, and old age. The study raises the complexity of fully tracking multiple exposures to glyphosate and other pesticides and the need for […]

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Cultivating with Natural Predators Gets Farmers Off the Pesticide Treadmill, According to Study

Wednesday, July 12th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2023) A study by University of Delaware entomologist Thabu Mugala and colleagues finds that modifications to their farming methods can reduce slug damage when those changes also encourage natural slug predators, allowing farmers to avoid the endless cycle of pesticide dependency, pest resistance, genetically engineered crops, and synthetic fertilizers. With insects as the target for tens of millions of pounds of agricultural use, growers of the highest-production crops in the U.S., corn and soybeans, continue to find slugs to be a serious problem. Corn and soybean growers who have adopted no-till or conservation tillage and cover crops often think these practices worsen the problem by increasing moisture and decaying plant material in fields, which slugs love. But the cause-and-effect picture is more nuanced and requires strategies that nurture ecological balance. Slugs are the most damaging non-arthropod pest in no-till corn production in the U.S., and truly effective chemical deterrents do not exist at agricultural scale, as Beyond Pesticides noted here, although biological methods may be on the horizon, such as a parasitic nematode already used in Europe that shows promise. The most voracious natural slug hunters are ground beetles, but harvestmen (daddy longlegs), and wolf spiders […]

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More Data Shows Failure of Crops Genetically Engineered to Incorporate Insecticide

Friday, April 21st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2023) Into the annals of “entropic methods of agricultural pest control” arrives recent research showing that pests are, unsurprisingly, developing resistance to a genetically engineered (GE) biopesticide used for more than 90% of U.S. corn, cotton, and soybeans. Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a naturally occurring bacterium; the versions deployed in conventional agriculture are engineered into Plant Incorporated Protectants (PIPs) — GE ingredients “inserted” into seeds for multiple kinds of crop plants. These PIPs target multiple crop-destructive insect species, including (in larval form) the corn rootworm and cotton bollworm, in particular. Beyond Pesticides continues to warn that “controls,” whether synthetic chemical pesticides or GE “biological” agents (such as GE Bt) that target living things (e.g., pests and weeds) are not sustainable over time because — in addition to the harms they cause — the issue of resistance will ultimately thwart their efficacy. There are two basic categories of genetic engineering employed in conventional agriculture. One technology transfers genetic material into seed to make plants tolerant of specific herbicide compounds that will be applied after planting (for example, the infamous “Roundup Ready,” glyphosate-tolerant seeds and plants). The other comprises plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs), in which the genetic material introduced […]

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