A Year in Review—2020
Beyond Pesticides wishes our supporters all the best for the holiday season and new year. We look forward to working with you in the new year to meet the serious environmental and public health challenges with truly organic solutions.
With your support of Beyond Pesticides this year, our goal to reverse the destructive environmental and public health path that we’re on is more likely than ever, as we advance the adoption of organic practices and policies that respect life. Our accomplishments are your victories. We are seeing the outcomes in communities across the country—the adoption of organic land management policies and practices that eliminate toxic pesticides, protect children, pets, and families, and protect the local ecology.
Here are some highlights of how our supporters have helped us this year:
Read Our Entire Message Below
MEETING THE CHALLENGES AHEAD
Beyond Pesticides is working toward the societal transition to practices and policies that eliminate toxic pesticide use. This work intersects with daily decisions made in households, school districts, and municipal and state governments, as well as at the federal level, on crucial issues relating to the health of children, families, and workers, the climate crisis, and biodiversity. Our work helps to inform practices and policies that go to the core of public health protection and the sustainability of ecosystems. Beyond Pesticides has a vibrant program of information services, policy advocacy, and hands-on support to communities, local organizations, and people, as we advocate and teach organic practices.
During these challenging times, as the pandemic emerged, we have keyed into timely practical issues of safe disinfectants (with a new webpage and factsheets) that protect without exacerbating the very conditions caused by Covid-19—respiratory, neurological, and immunological illness—at the same time that we participate in virtual community hearings and meetings to advance organic land management that protects people and communities. This work aligns with our work to assist with informed decision making, ensuring the accessibility of important scientific findings through our databases (Pesticide Gateway and Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database), and Daily News tracking of information that is a tool for effective action.
Our broader strategic work continues, as we went virtual with our community-based program across the country to transition land management to organic practices. Our information and community support continue to be an important source of independent scientific and practical information to inform the transition away from toxic pesticides in the face of dramatic declines in environmental quality, the climate crisis, and the insect apocalypse. We will continue to advocate for community policies and practices that embrace transparent decision making with public participation, and organic compatible materials for land and building management.
At this pivotal time in our country’s history, we are working to not only reverse bad decisions that have ignored science over the last four years, but to institute broader changes that effect a shift, in both policy and practice, away from pesticide use and to organic land management. We are committed to advancing this vision with the Biden administration. Outside of the opportunities for more protective decisions at the federal level, in the next year we will continue to seek the adoption of model, local, organic land management policies and/or practices in at least a dozen new communities, adding to the 41 communities in 22 states where we are currently working across the country—as we strive to see these models expand to every community in the nation.
Our program bridges policy and practice—reframing strategies that simply go after the endless list of toxic chemicals—and advancing a holistic approach that recognizes complex biological communities, the importance of soil microbiota, trophic effects, and ecosystem services in the context of broader human health and environmental protection. This is the framework we adopt as we work at the local, state, and federal level in advancing policy reform. It is especially important as national attention is focused on meaningful systemic change that addresses disproportionate risk to people of color communities and workers, from landscapers to farmworkers.
TAKING A STAND
Beyond Pesticides’ program supports a clear message: End toxic pesticide use and embrace organic practices and policies that respect the power of nature to heal—in the face of devastating and destructive toxic chemical-dependency. This past year has again elevated important public discourse on the threats that pesticides pose to health and the environment. We see in the mainstream culture increased understanding that pesticides threaten health, wreak havoc with ecosystems, create imbalances in nature that escalate threats—and are not needed for cost-effective land and building management. Also, reinforced in the last year, is a deep appreciation for the reality that local advocacy drives the changes that are critical to a livable future—scientific facts coupled with action advance the adoption of solutions that are within our reach.
We filed lawsuits against two major corporations for misleading the public on the safety of their products and the adverse impact they have on the environment. TruGreen—a nationwide chemical-intensive lawn treatment company—and ExxonMobil, an oil and gas producer of petrochemicals that are the basis for pesticides. In both cases, the companies are engaging in fraudulent and misleading practices that misstate the truth and the facts, leading the public to believe that they are offering solutions that people want to support with their purchasing power, according to separate lawsuits filed by Beyond Pesticides in Washington, DC. We are represented by the Richman Law Group, headquartered in New York City.
The Case Against ExxonMobil. As a company, the vast majority of ExxonMobil Corporation’s (Exxon) business is in the production and use of petroleum, natural gas, and petrochemicals, including pesticides—activities that are significant contributors to the climate crisis and the decline of pollinators and biodiversity, threatening the viability of biological systems that sustain life. As we state in our lawsuit, (Beyond Pesticides v. ExxonMobil Corporation) filed in DC Superior Court, Exxon engages in “false and deceptive marketing,” misrepresenting to consumers that it “has invested significantly in the production and use of “clean” energy and environmentally beneficial technology.” Exxon’s false and misleading representations and omissions violate the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (“DC CPPA”), D.C. Code §§28-3901, et seq., according to the complaint.
Exxon’s deceptive statements are especially problematic, given that real solutions to the climate crisis and biodiversity destruction are within our reach, if not slowed by deceptive practices of Exxon and other powerful corporations. The coronavirus pandemic challenges us to think differently and act urgently to prioritize the importance of science in government and corporate decision-making, take the necessary steps to avert looming crises that affect public health and the environment, and hold companies accountable to practices that protect life.
The Case Against TruGreen. We filed a complaint against TruGreen for advertising to consumers that it offers environmentally friendly, sustainable lawn care services that use no chemicals that may cause cancer, allergic reactions, or other health or environmental harms. We argued that these claims are false and deceptive and illegal under the laws of the District of Columbia. This case takes on elevated importance during the coronavirus pandemic because of lawn care pesticide applications in neighborhoods across the U.S. cause involuntary exposure to chemicals that exacerbate respiratory and immune system illness and risk factors associated with Covid-19.
We reached a settlement in the case after TruGreen agreed to modify or remove certain of the marketing statements at issue in the lawsuit. Central to our continuing work is shifting the lawn care industry to organic practices and organic compatible products—a systems approach that eliminates toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers and builds organic matter and soil biology as a means of cycling nutrients for plant health. This approach is successfully and economically used in managing lawns, parks, and playing fields across the country. TruGreen’s false and misleading representations and omissions violated the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (“DC CPPA”), D.C. Code §§28-3901, et seq.
Dr. Earth. We approached the organic garden product manufacturer, Dr. Earth, to explore with them their misleading approach to product substitution absent a more robust explanation of and support for organic management practices. We sent a friendly letter (not an intent to sue) with background on Beyond Pesticides’ long commitment to organic and said that we have “become aware of certain labeling and marketing practices of Dr. Earth, Inc. which may create mistaken impressions about your products and lead to consumer confusion" about organic management being simply a product replacement strategy rather than a holistic strategy to support and nurture soil health and utilize cultural practices.
We acknowledge that their products are for home use, but explain that, in advertising compliance with organic law (OFPA) through a listing with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), they are pointing to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, and ultimately the systems approach required in the underlying organic law. In establishing that systems approach, the law allows inputs on the National List/OMRI list if delineated cultural practices have proved insufficient. In the case of agriculture, that includes crop rotation and soil nutrition and fertility management, sanitation, the introduction of beneficial predators, etc. Our position is that similar practices are required if the product manufacturer wants to display the OMRI listing on its packaging and in its advertising. The products we cite in our letter include a fungicide, a general garden insect killer, and a snail and slug killer.
Litigation Against EPA on Enlist Duo. We sued EPA for its registration of Dow Chemical’s herbicide Enlist Duo, comprised of two active ingredients, 2,4-D, and glyphosate. The chemical integral to the production of GE crops. This case challenges the “new use” that allows direct spraying over-the-top of crops engineered to resist both pesticides, and used on soy, corn, and cotton grown across 34 states, totaling over 185 million acres. It is estimated by EPA that the registration increases 2,40D use by 200 to 600 percent. Bad news: We lost on the merits of all but one FIFRA and Endangered Species Act claims and the court did not vacate the registration, despite one FIFRA win. Good news: we did get a FIFRA win on our side, as the panel held that EPA’s determination for monarchs was not supported by substantial evidence (a claim advanced by NRDC in a parallel suit that we agreed with/supported).
ELEVATING SCIENCE THAT CALLS FOR URGENT NEED TO ACT
From a public health and environmental protection perspective, these are challenging times. Amid the attack on institutions and laws established to protect children, families, and the environment under the current federal administration, there is an incredibly positive groundswell of activity seeking to achieve these protections in communities across the U.S. We are inspired by the level of effective advocacy and changes in practices that are moving forward nationwide.
We started the year with a press conference in front of City Hall in New York City, calling for the passage of legislation to ban toxic pesticides in the city’s parks—part of a nationwide campaign we are spearheading. At that press conference in January, The Black Institute, flanked by the bill sponsors, Council Members Ben Kallos and Carlina Rivera, Beyond Pesticides, and others, spoke to the disproportionate harm from pesticide exposure to people of color using the New York City parks. As we have reported, The Black Institute’s report, Poison Parks, released in January, finds, “In Manhattan, Harlem was disproportionately sprayed in comparison with the rest of Manhattan.” The report points out that government regulation “has failed to address large-scale environmental practices, funded by big business, [that] disproportionately affect communities of color”— from fenceline communities near chemical production plants, farmworkers facing hazardous and inhumane working conditions in agricultural fields, landscape workers handling hazardous pesticides, to black and brown people, who suffer elevated risk factors that exacerbate pesticide hazards.
In the Face of a Pandemic. We embraced the teachable moment of national recognition that there are racial disparities in the distribution of harm, given exposure patterns associated with those on the frontlines, and connected the exposure of pesticides to the exacerbating of risk factors—respiratory illness, immune and neurological illness, as well as others. As the coronavirus hit, we quickly saw disparities in who is at the highest risk of infection, not just in age groups, but along racial lines. In every state, we see that people of color suffer higher rates of infection, illness, and death than their percentage of the population. The reporting recognized that this is occurring because they are disproportionately “essential workers,” delivering essential services with daily exposure to the virus. They are among the lowest-income workers in society and, as a result, have medical comorbidities that elevate risk factors, and are most likely to have limited, if any, health insurance. For millions of people outside the black and brown community, this has raised a heightened awareness of societal inequities along racial lines.
The concept of disproportionate harm has been elevated in the public mind as people nationwide have seen numerous news reports that show people of color, as essential workers with greater exposure to Covid-19 and elevated rates of comorbidities are experiencing rates of illness and death far greater than their percentage of the population. This awareness opens opportunities for advancing policies that address the underlying causes of environmental racism and another seemingly broader awareness of the need for systemic change to address the symptoms of the inequities that people of color experience.
We expect that this understanding will serve us as we pursue policies that advance systemic change, rather than tinker with mitigation measures and risk assessment.
Outdated chemical-intensive practices are tied to the belief that parks, playing fields, home lawns, and agriculture require toxic chemicals and synthetic fertilizers to meet expectations. So, an approach that recognizes the importance of soil biology in cycling nutrients naturally to feed plants is often new to many land managers who have not evaluated and nurtured the web of microorganisms living in the soil. This attention to the soil systems has been foundational to the success of organic agriculture nationwide. Those critics, who often have a vested economic interest or history in pesticide use and proclaim that organic does not work, are, in effect, challenging the underlying principles of soil management that have enabled the exponential growth of the organic agricultural sector— now a $50 billion industry and the fastest-growing part of the agricultural economy.
Meeting the Challenges with a Transformative Strategy
Our efforts focus on shifting communities’ approach to land and building management to address critical health and environmental issues. To move this goal forward, we carry out activities that advance a holistic awareness of the complex adverse effects and unknowns associated with pesticide-dependent management practices and policies. On a daily basis, we bring attention to and broader understanding of the actual hands-on practices that are protective of health and in sync with nature.
Keeping Organic Strong
National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The 15-member board, consisting of four farmers, three environmentalists, three consumers, two food processors, and one retailer, scientist, and certifying agent, votes to allow or prohibit substances and practices in certified organic food and farming. The NOSB acts as a sounding board within the federal government for the organic community, as it considers input from you, the public—the concerned citizens and consumers upon whom organic integrity depends.
OrganicEye. When we launched OrganicEye in September 2019, we had no idea the world would be entering a period of unprecedented upheaval, both socially and in terms of the economy. In spite of those challenges, OrganicEye marked its first birthday as an investigative arm and project of Beyond Pesticides in September 2020, and is having an impact, while expanding our capacity to carry out our mission—protecting the organic farming movement as a true marketplace alternative. This watchdog project will focus on defending the “time-honored philosophy and legal definition of organic farming and food production.” With Beyond Pesticides’ executive director having served on the National Organic Standards Board, this is a critical time to advocate for organic integrity.
Highlights of our work (available publicly on the website www.organiceye.org) include:
- Regulatory capture–OrganicEye Analyzes USDA Appointments to the NOSB (1/2020)
- Cracking Down on “Organic” Livestock Factories (8/2020)
- Case Study: The Wild West of Organic Labeling – CBD Products (9/2020)
- Kastel’s Kitchen (launched 10/2020)
Stonyfield PlayFree and Organic Transition Program. As a result of a large influx of new training sites from the Stonyfield PlayFree and Organic Community Land Management Program, staff have expanded the reach of its community-based work throughout the country. We evaluate management practices and soil biology and then develop a plan for organic practices and compatible products. The program offers training of city and private landscapers and provides ongoing consultative services to ensure successful implementation of the plan. We partner with community organizations to form a collaborative effort to keep the program on track to protect public health and the local ecology.
Local land management and ordinances across the country are just as much about preventing hazards and filling an increasing gap in protection from regulators as it is about recognizing the viability of sound land management practices. These practices do not use toxic chemicals and result in a healthier and more resilient plant life that stands up to stress and is less reliant on limited water resources.
Creating model communities
We are well-positioned to effect changes in communities that serve as a model for other communities. We continue to develop the informational tools that support change agents, whether they are advocates or elected officials. We are also able to provide the technical skills to land managers, which ensure effective implementation of policies and plans for sustainable and organic land management.
Organic Land Management. This year, Beyond Pesticides delivered testimony before communities seeking to advance pesticide restrictions and the adoption of organic land management. We used the data from The Black Institute in testimony before the Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Philadelphia city councils and the Prince George’s (MD) County Council. We have generally been successful, but do run into roadblocks when the chemical industry and chemical lawn care industry come out in force, making false safety claims and threatening economic ruin. Nevertheless, more often than not, municipalities move forward to transition to organic parks and playing fields throughout the country (as documented in this report).
We continue to expand our work in Tucson and Tempe (AZ), Richmond and UC Berkeley (CA), Longmont and Englewood (CO), Oakland Park and Wilton Manors (FL), Big Island and Kaua’i (HI), Portland and South Portland (ME), Minneapolis (MN), Manchester and Portsmouth (NH), Hyattsville (MD), Cambridge (MA), Great Neck (NY), South Orange (NJ), five sites throughout Oregon (from Eugene, Springfield to Talent, Ashland, and the surrounding area), Pittsburgh (PA), Mt. Pleasant (SC), Salt Lake City (UT), Spokane (WA), Madison (WI), South Euclid and University Heights (OH), while other communities are being added. We conduct soil analysis, site reviews, and staff training to implement organic practices. This year, working the community-based Protect South Portland (ME), the city passed legislation that bans the use of synthetic fertilizers, with few exceptions, as part of the city’s commitment to climate action and protection of its coastal waterways. Key to the passage of the ban is the community understanding that moving to organic land management requires only natural fertilizers that feed the microbial life in the soil and sequesters atmospheric carbon.
Hawai’i Organic Land Management Program Food Sovereignty in the Face of Coronavirus. Maui Food Hub is a new aggregation, storage, processing, sales and distribution service, started as a partnership between Beyond Pesticides, Common Ground Collective and the Haleakala Chapter of the Hawai’i Farmers Union. It was put together quickly as a response to the challenges facing our local farmers due to the Covid-19 crisis. However, it seeks to establish long-term institutional change to create food sovereignty, a distribution mechanism for small farmers, consumer access to locally grown food, and the growth of the organic market. Additionally, the allocation of funds, normally earmarked for the Maui Visitors Bureau, to support native and small farmers with microgrants for infrastructure purchases changes long-term opportunities. In this sense, the pandemic offered us the opportunity to apply our thinking to effect lasting change.
Action of the Week (AOTW) provides our network with one concrete action that can be taken each week to have our collective voice heard to stop governmental actions that adversely affect public, worker, and environmental health, increase overall pesticide use or undermine the advancement of organic, sustainable, and regenerative practices and policies. With almost 24,000 subscribers, the actions generate between 2,000 and 4,000+ participants weekly.
The top five AOTWs with the most contributions include:
- Tell Congress that EPA Needs to Listen to Science, not Pesticide Manufacturers and Biotech Companies (10/05/2020)
- Tell USDA to Strengthen Organic Enforcement and Allow More Time for Public Comments (09/28/2020)
- Tell the National Organic Standards Board to Support Core Organic Values (09/21/2020)
- Ask Congress to Help Farmers of Color and Small and Medium-Sized Farms Selling in Local Food Markets (09/14/2020)
- Tell Canada to Ban Pentachlorophenol (09/08/2020)
Beyond Pesticides issues unique reports to support local activism to move changes in practices and policies that eliminate pesticide use. With this information and the model policy that we have created, local people nationwide have successfully moved change.
Providing a Framework for Advancing Transformative Change
Beyond Pesticides issues unique reports to support local activism to move changes in practices and policies that eliminate pesticide use. With this information and the model policy that we have created, local people nationwide have successfully moved change. Reports include: Scientific Findings Support Replacing Poisons with Precaution—Studying the health effects of pesticides, from evaluating toxicity, exposure, and health outcome, has a lot of complexities; Precaution vs. Crisis (Early Warnings Unheeded Lead to Current Environmental Crises)—Current policies ate inadequate and have failed to support public and environmental health; While France Bans a Common Endocrine Disrupting Pesticide, EPA Goes Silent—U.S. ignores statutory mandate to review endocrine disrupting pesticides that cause deadly illnesses at low doses, defying classical toxicology; Organic Systems: The Path Forward—Public health threats of foodborne diseases are curtailed through soil health and balanced ecological systems; EPA’s Proposal to Eliminate Animal Testing May Speed Up Pesticide Safety Reviews, but at What Cost?—Any new assessment protocols must consider alternatives to toxic pesticide use; Supporting Life in the Soil: The Foundation of an Organic System—Hydroponic production defies the foundational organic principle of “feed the soil, not the plant.”
The Path Moving Forward: Biden Transition
The Biden transition plan for combatting climate change caused by agriculture does not mention organic. Our goal is to change that. Research shows the potential of organic agriculture to reduce and prevent climate change. These studies also apply to land management in cities, parks, and playing fields. Organic agriculture practices combat climate change by:
Reducing Emissions of Nitrogen Oxides. Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers in chemical-intensive agriculture is driving global nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions higher than any projected scenario, putting the world at greater risk of a climate catastrophe. According to research published by an international team of scientists in the journal Nature, failure to adequately address nitrous oxide emissions has the potential to impede the ability for the world to keep warming below the 2°C target established under the Paris Climate Agreement, necessitating further cuts in other greenhouse gasses.
A 2018 study from the University of Virginia and The Organic Center found that “reactive” nitrogen, in the form readily available to be taken up by plants, is conserved in organic systems. Jessica Shade, Ph.D. of The Organic Center, noted that the research was “significant and timely because its findings show that many common organic farming practices—like composting and the use of manure fertilization in place of synthetic fertilizers—can recycle reactive nitrogen that is already in the global system, rather than introducing new reactive nitrogen into the environment, and thus have a much smaller environmental impact.”
Sequestering Carbon. Organic systems sequester significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere into on-farm soil carbon. A report from the Rodale Institute expounds on these benefits. It reads, “Simply put, recent data from farming systems and pasture trials around the globe show that we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term 'regenerative organic agriculture.' These practices work to maximize carbon fixation while minimizing the loss of that carbon once returned to the soil, reversing the greenhouse effect.”
Preserving Natural Lands and Biodiversity. Natural forests are more effective than tree plantations in sequestering carbon. Preserving natural land increases biodiversity, which also reduces dependence on petroleum-based pesticides. Organic farms are required to “comprehensively conserve biodiversity by maintaining or improving all-natural resources, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife, as required by § 205.200 of the regulations and per the § 205.2 definition of Natural resources of the operation.”
The Biden transition team for agriculture, which has made mitigating climate change a major emphasis, must focus its attention on promoting organic agriculture. It can start by appointing organic leaders as Secretary and other leadership positions.
Unfortunately, a movement by promoters of chemical-intensive agriculture has fooled some environmentalists into supporting toxic “regenerative” agriculture. The so-called “regenerative agriculture” promoted by these groups ignores the direct climate impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the damage to soil health caused by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and the fact that pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing is dependent on fossil fuels—as key ingredients and also for the heat and energy driving chemical reactions. It is important to see through this deception.
Beyond Pesticides' website serves as a hub for a range of regulatory and policy advocacy, information services to people nationwide and around the globe, networking through coalition work and the convening of our National Forum, and on-site training on organic land management in communities that are collaborating with Beyond Pesticides on demonstration parks and playing fields.
New and Updated Webpages
Beyond Pesticides' website serves as a hub for a range of regulatory and policy advocacy, information services to people nationwide and around the globe, networking through coalition work and the convening of our National Forum, and on-site training on organic land management in communities that are collaborating with Beyond Pesticides on demonstration parks and playing fields.
New and Updated Webpages
The information we provide performs the unique function of providing hands-on information and strategy. We are working daily with grassroots people, volunteer and nonprofit organizations, and those in policy, decision-making, and land and facilities management positions to address issues on the hazards of pesticide use, safe and organic alternative strategies that eliminate toxic pesticides, and local and state policies that embrace the adoption of ecological approaches to land and building management.
Some of our most recently added or updated webpages include:
- Children and Schools
- Golf Courses
- Healthy Hospitals
- Pesticide-Free Holidays: Christmas; New Year
- Pesticide Topic Submission Portal
- Pesticide-Induced Diseases Relational Database Search
- Safer Disinfectants and Sanitizers
Regulatory Action and Comments
We create a public record on scientific decisions that are being undermined by poor public policy that allows hazardous pesticide use, despite the availability of alternatives. We commented on key issues on paraquat and Parkinson’s disease, the environmental impact of herbicide use in Lake Tahoe and broader implications for aquatic weed management, neonicotinoid insecticide effects to pollinators and ecosystems, EPA interim decisions and mitigation proposals on widely used synthetic pyrethroid insecticides, among others.
Policy & Action
FIFRA Reform: Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act. We have engaged with efforts to enact comprehensive FIFRA Reform. Beyond Pesticides endorsed the act—jointly introduced by retiring U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and U.S. Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO)—but noted that the bill did not represent the sort of comprehensive, systemic reform that is necessary to truly impact the way pesticides are approved in the U.S. We are developing a document and additional material that will further support our position, as well as present reasonable amendments to this bill that would improve its impact and further energize the grassroots. In the least, we are glad that important conversations are occurring around FIFRA reform.
Massachusetts School Reform and Glyphosate Bill. We continue to work closely with Northeast Organic Farming Association-Massachusetts (NOFA-MA) on state-level pesticide reform in the state. The glyphosate bill was worked up and amended, making the chemical restricted use, which was a welcome surprise to many advocates. However, coronavirus has set back advocacy efforts in MA as the legislature conducts its work virtually. With a strong public interest coalition, we are pushing to advance these bills before the session ends. Given the experience with other pesticide legislation in the state, however, it is likely that this reform will be a multi-year effort.
Maui Pesticide Bill. We are currently in the middle of committee hearings on a bill that would prohibit pesticides and synthetic fertilizers on all county-owned lands including parks, roads, and the county golf course. We are weaving climate change solutions into the conversation about the pesticide bill, in the community, media, and council hearings.
Model Mosquito Policy. As part of the compromise mosquito legislation in MA, local communities are required to establish their own mosquito plan in order to opt-out of state spraying. Beyond Pesticides has put together a model mosquito management policy for communities, with two versions of the policy created. Our goal is to have communities in MA adopt these policies as an opt-out from state spraying. As we are currently updating our mosquito webpage, we also plan to publish this policy as part of our new content.
Saving New Hampshire’s Pollinator’s Act – HB646. We continue to fight for the passage of HB646. Although it is unlikely that HB646 will pass in its entirety—as many were concerned about the structure of the pollinator board and applicability to agriculture—we do think that a consumer, Maryland, or Connecticut style ban is very possible. We are working to see the passage of some piece of legislation through this committee in the near future.
Save America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA) 2020. We continue to advocate for the passage of SAPA, which was reintroduced by U.S. Representatives Blumenhauer and McGovern. Beyond Pesticides jumped on this opportunity and volunteered to lead efforts to draft legislation that would create a board to oversee other pollinator-toxic pesticides. We drafted a large amendment to SAPA that creates a Pollinator Protection Board (PPB) with far-reaching implications for pesticide regulation. The bill now has 79 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.
The Fight Against Pentachlorophenol (Penta). After working with a reporter to stop the construction of a penta plant in South Carolina, we continue to watch the global wood preservative market. Canada is currently in the process of banning penta, and EPA is going through a regulatory review that may result in a phase-out, according to an industry insider that contacted us. We did an action on this to encourage Canada to move ahead with a penta ban quickly.
Toxic ‘Sock Masks’ in Tennessee. We were contacted by Phil Williams, an investigative reporter for Nashville’s News channel 5. He called after the Governor of Tennessee spent over $8 million to purchase 5 million masks repurposed from sock material. The sock material in question contains a Silvadur treatment, a silver metal antimicrobial, and he wondered if we could provide input on the implications of the Silvadur treatment on public health. As a result, we drew upon the expertise of our board and put Mr. Williams in contact with Warren Porter. Warren provided a recorded zoom interview for News Channel 5 where he outlined the hazards of unnecessary antimicrobial use. We had a lengthy conversation with media in Nashville and Chattanooga, produced a factsheet, followed by an article in Pesticides and You.
Clopyralid Proposed Interim Decision (PID), Highly Persistent Herbicide
Clopyralid, Case Number 721. The comments to EPA show that the use of clopyralid poses unreasonable risks to human health, property, and the environment that are borne mostly by those who do not receive any benefit from the use of the herbicide. The risks are not outweighed by benefits, so the registration of clopyralid should be canceled.
Docket No. APHIS–2020–0021 Determinations of Nonregulated Status for Multi-Herbicide-Tolerant MON 87429 Corn. The comments to APHIS demonstrate that the agency has a responsibility under the law to prohibit and/or restrict any plant or plant product that poses a risk to the environment. APHIS must meet its statutory duty to fully review the salient impacts of multi-herbicide-tolerant MON 87429 corn and the expected increase in herbicide use. Therefore, we urge the agency to reject the petition for deregulation.
Draft Endangered Species Act Biological Evaluations: Carbaryl and Methomyl. The comments address the process used in the biological evaluations (BE), as published in the March 2020 revision of the Revised Method for National Level Listed Species Biological Evaluations of Conventional Pesticides (Revised Methods). The new methods pose great risks to the endangered and threatened species who most need protection. The determination of the species at risk and the actions necessary to protect them lies with the Services, which have competence and responsibility in dealing with population dynamics and risk to species. EPA’s role should be that of providing data required by the Services on toxicity and other harms, identifying pesticide use sites, and, in the end, taking action to remove uses that jeopardize threatened and endangered species.
Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and a TRPA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Tahoe Keys Lagoons Aquatic Weed Control Methods Test.
We wrote in response to the call for comments on the draft EIR/EIS for the proposed Tahoe Keys Lagoons Aquatic Weed Control Methods Test. In general, we find the draft EIR/EIS fairly detailed and thorough. However, we disagree with the general conclusion in the EIR/EIS that “all effects for the Proposed Project and Action Alternatives have been reduced to less than significance”. We recommend that TRPA/LRWQCB continue and expand existing efforts limiting nutrient inputs that aggravate aquatic weed proliferation in the Tahoe Keys lagoons and will continue to hinder weed control efforts.
Draft Proposal to Improve Pest Resistance for Plant-Incorporated Protectants [EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0682]. These comments demonstrate that the proposed new resistance management framework with new resistance definitions, increased resistance monitoring, and mitigation efforts, and modified annual reporting to the Agency will do little to curb the trajectory in the increasing resistance from Bt toxins in lepidopteran pests. We would encourage incorporating biological control procedures into best management practices (BMPs) and integrated pest management (IPM) strategies for mitigating lepidopteran resistance in Bt crops. The agency should further coordinate and cooperate with the USDA/National Institute of Food and Agriculture Integrated Pest Management Program to further research and deploy biological control methodologies against lepidopteran pests in corn and cotton crops as a more sustainable option to effectively control lepidopteran pests.
Proposed exemptions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) for certain Plant Incorporated Protectants (PIPs) created through biotechnology [EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0508]. These comments demonstrate that we oppose blanket exemptions for cisgenic developed PIPs. Due to the variety and complexity of risks associated with these PIPs, the developers should not be allowed to self-assess their PIP crops' ability to meet EPA safety requirements. The potential for the gene-edited crop to possibly be created through conventional breeding is not adequate to allay all risk concerns as the plant was not developed by conventional breeding and may still pose novel and significant risks as outlined above. A developer should instead request a formal exemption and submit supporting documentation demonstrating safety requirements for the agency to comprehensively assess.
EPA Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0264: Dinotefuran. The comments to EPA for dinotefuran, as a neonicotinoid insecticide, show that this chemical presents an alarming hazard for bees and other pollinators. Like other neonicotinoids, it is systemic and can indiscriminately poison any insects feeding on nectar, pollen, or exudates. It is also highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates and soil organisms, as well as being highly persistent. In addition to the serious ecological impacts, dinotefuran is toxic to the immune system. This is, of course, an effect that should be avoided during the coronavirus pandemic—when the immune system is under attack.
National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Comments. We sent out an Action Alert on the opportunity for public comment before the NOSB. The following are the key issues to which we alerted the public: Do Not Allow Virgin Paper in Organic Crop Production Aids—The Crops Subcommittee proposes to allow planting aids, including paper pots, seed tape, and plant collars, made from virgin paper; Get Plastic Out of Organic—Scientists are increasingly concerned about the impacts of microplastics, plastic fragments less than 5 mm in size in size, on a wide range of organisms; Protect Marine Life—Seaweeds (marine algae) and fish byproducts are used as inputs into organic crop production but there is concern about the impacts of overharvesting and destructive harvesting methods, so the Materials Subcommittee proposes to allow marine algae to be used only when the harvest meets specific conditions; Tell the National Organic Program to Finally Take Action on “Inert” Ingredients—After years of NOSB action and NOP inaction on “inerts,” the Crops Subcommittee proposes the only action it can to stimulate NOP into action, it proposes to remove List 4 from the National List.
Pesticide Registration Review: Proposed Interim Decisions (PID) for Several Neonicotinoid Pesticides (EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0844-1608). These comments to EPA come after EPA determined unequivocally that neonicotinoids pose risks to the environment that cannot be acceptably mitigated in any long-term, sustainable way. The agency in its proposed interim decisions for these chemicals identifies several uses for imidacloprid, clothianidin, and dinotefuran that meet the threshold for cancellation. Given the frequency of detection in U.S. waterways, soil, and plants the acute and recognized chronic risks posed to pollinators, aquatic invertebrates, vertebrate wildlife, and human health, this is pitifully insufficient and we urge EPA to quickly cancel all remaining neonicotinoid uses. Additional data to address existing uncertainties and gaps will not alter nor lessen the environmental and health risks already unmistakably recognized.
Proposed Special Review Decision PSRD2020-03, Special Review of Pentachlorophenol and Its Associated End-use Products. These comments to Canada address the use of Penta. Penta is used to pressure-treat wood, to prolong its use in utility poles and railroad ties. Beyond Pesticides has sounded the alarm on Penta and other wood preservatives for over 20 years, starting with the reports Poison Poles and Pole Pollution, which outlined the science on the hazards and alternatives to preservative-coated utility poles. Canada is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which voted 90-2 to ban Penta in 2015. Canada, in moving ahead with a pentachlorophenol ban, can show leadership in the protection of health and the environment—something the U.S. has not done.
Washington State Permit for Oyster Farming in National Wildlife Refuge—Reference Case #: 2007-1213 (1) & (2). Our first set of comments details the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe which comes from a cultural heritage that lived sustainably in its ecology for many generations long before National Wildlife Refuges were found to be necessary to protect a small part of the ecology of North America from an exploitive culture. Additionally, the second set of comments details a permit process for the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge that negotiating cultures, and explains why the Washington Department of Ecology should recognize that, in the larger historical context, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe comes from a cultural heritage that lived sustainably in its ecology. We requested that some protections be included in the permit, including pesticide use should be prohibited; use of plastic should be prohibited; the permit should require that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recommendations for reducing impacts to wildlife and habitats be followed.
Daily News Blog. These information-rich articles are posted every business day on the Beyond Pesticides website. Between regular readers and traffic driven by google news results and social media, the blog has tremendous reach. In fact, thanks to YOU, the total number of reads this year surpassed 355,000, with an average of over 2,500 readers per blog post.
Some of this year's top Daily News stories include:
Glyphosate in Roundup Linked to Parkinson’s Disease (6,837)—05/15/2020
ManageSafe. Our hands-on information through ManageSafe, our database of practical solutions to pest issues, is a central clearinghouse of information on eliminating hazardous pesticides in land and building management. Our neighbor-to-neighbor program distributed 294 Pesticide-Free Zone signs (ladybug, bee, and organic landscape) and 2,230 doorknob hangers on safe lawns and mosquito management in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database (PIDD). We updated the website to incorporate more recent scientific studies to the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database (PIDD), update any missing or outdated information on the Pesticide Gateway, and continue the process of re-linking, removing, and updating source links throughout the website. We developed a relational search engine to enable a search for multiple diseases, some of which can be co-occurring. This search engine is helpful to medical professionals, academic scholars, lawncare/landscape workers, and laypeople alike, as its ease of use allows users to find over 1,138 studies (up from 1,046 articles cited in the last report) related to pesticide exposure and over 75+ diseases. Additionally, the “and”/“or” function of the search engine allows users to find articles related to pesticide exposure and multiple diseases at once.
Pesticide-Induced Diseases Relational Database Search. Connections to pesticide exposure are being found in a growing number of studies that evaluate the causes of preventable diseases—including asthma, autism and learning disabilities, birth defects and reproductive dysfunction, endocrine disruption, immune system disorder, brain and nervous system disorders, and several types of cancer. Beyond Pesticides’ relational Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database further serves the purpose of demonstrating how pervasive pesticides exposure and how exposure can impact human health with numerous adverse health outcomes. Those exposed to pesticides do not only develop one symptom or disease but can develop multiple, interconnected diseases. Studies find that pesticide exposure can cause oxidative stress leading to various illnesses, including neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, or oncological diseases. Many of the studies available in PIDD challenge the effectiveness of risk‐assessment‐based regulation which is intended to manage adverse disease outcomes.
“We created this unique database to fill the gap between pesticides and multiple disease pathways. Pesticide exposure can promote the development of various diseases, many of which are co-occurring. This tool makes it easy for consumers and health officials alike to access scientific resources that bring to light both specific illnesses and a range of illnesses that effect public health from pesticide exposure,” Warren Porter, PhD, Beyond Pesticides board member and professor emeritus of zoology and environmental toxicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Pesticide Gateway. The Gateway is an expanding database of over 300 pesticides containing information about specific pesticide environmental and health effects, regulatory action, and uses. Recent additions to the Gateway include two synthetic pyrethroids etofenprox and prallethrin, and the herbicide imazamox. The Gateway provides valuable information about pesticides that anyone can access. Most recently, the organization Maui Reef used information from Beyond Pesticides’ Gateway search to find information on pesticides that impacts aquatic organism/fish.
Pesticide Information Submission Portal. Beyond Pesticides launched its new Pesticide Topic Submission Portal, where consumers and scientists can directly submit personal stories, anecdotes, news articles, and scientific findings. The portal allows users to submit pesticides-related topics, whether it be testimonials, local news sources, scientific studies, or personal anecdotes related to pesticides (i.e., insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, disinfectants, wood preservatives), in addition to, information or anecdotes about organic practices, and least-toxic pesticide management tips! The purpose of this forum is to increase public engagement and improve our tracking of the impact of our work.
Pollinators: What the Science Shows (WTTS). Our What the Science Shows—containing over 254 studies about pesticides exposure to pollinators, including 136 studies about pesticides exposure to bees, 25 studies about pesticide exposure to other pollinators (butterflies, beetles, etc.), 60 studies about pesticides exposure to beneficial organisms (soil microbes, aquatic invertebrates, etc.), and 33 studies about how pesticides exposure exacerbates the impacts of viruses and parasites on non-target species—tracks the science on pollinators and pesticides.
Safer Disinfectants & Sanitizers. Under the “Programs” section on the website, we developed a new webpage—Disinfectants and Sanitizers—providing information about safer disinfectant and sanitizer choices during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The webpage includes access to up-to-date information on safe hand sanitizers, safe disinfectants, a link to Beyond Pesticides’ factsheet on “Protecting Yourself from Covid-19 Without Toxic Sanitizers and Disinfectants,” a link to Beyond Pesticides’ factsheet on “Reopening School Safely During the Covid-19 Pandemic,” and a link to Beyond Pesticides’ factsheet on "Quaternary Ammonium Compound." The sub-pages under the “Disinfectants and Sanitizers” page include the factsheet “Protecting Yourself from Covid-19 Without Toxic Sanitizers and Disinfectants,” and a Q&A style factsheet on “Answering Questions About Toxic Sanitizers and Disinfectants.”
Why We Give Focus to Biodiversity. A vast amount of research demonstrates the importance of protecting complex biological communities. The interrelationship and interdependency of organisms are critical to ecological balance and human survival. With broad-spectrum pesticide use and indiscriminate poisoning with systemic pesticides, an ecological imbalance is created, sacrificing the benefits of nature and escalating pest problems.
Beyond Pesticides thanks all of our donors and supporters for their contributions over the year. Without your help, our mission would not be possible.
Members and Donors. It's a fact, your support makes our work possible. We provide up-to-the-minute information about the health and environmental hazards of pesticides, pesticide regulation and policy, pesticide alternatives and cutting-edge science—free of charge to the public. We can't do it without the generosity of people like you. Your donation helps us have the resources we need to continue our important work to protect people and the planet. Please make a year-end gift today!
Natural Grocers Campaign. As a part of an important partnership, Natural Grocers kicked off a month-long fundraising campaign in September 2020, with the goal to raise $100,000 in September for Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Community Land Management Program. With a donation and organic pledge campaign, Natural Grocers’ partnership with Beyond Pesticides surpassed the goal and raised $125,000! These resources will be plowed back into our community work to grow the transition to organic land management!
The challenges ahead require that we redouble our efforts. Beyond Pesticides’ collaboration with people and communities in every state is providing the energy and enthusiasm to embrace the changes necessary to stop toxic pesticide use and embrace organic practices and policies. We know it can be done if we join together to protect health and the environment with science, policy, and activism. The solutions are within our reach. We look forward to working with you—with the required sense of urgency—to ensure that change happens.