Beyond Pesticides

Monsanto's Roundup Causes Antibiotic Resistance - a Fact That's Not Considered by Regulators

Both the active and inert ingredients in common herbicides induce antibiotic resistance in human pathogenic bacteria, according to the latest research from New Zealand scientists, published in Microbiology this week.  Previous research from the same team found in 2015 that commercial formulations of Roundup (containing glyphosate and inert ingredients) and Kamba (containing 2,4-D, Dicamba, and inert ingredients) caused antibiotic resistance to develop in Salmonella eterica andEscherichia coli, but this new research drills down into what ingredients in these formulations resulted in the effect. Lead author of the study, Jack Heinemann, PhD, University Canterbury’s School of Biological Sciences, explains that ultimately this research indicates that, “The sub-lethal effects of industrially manufactured chemical products should be considered by regulators when deciding whether the products are safe for their intended use,”

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California Court of Appeal Rejects State's Approval of Bee-Killing Pesticides

The First District California Court of Appeal issued an opinion last week in a lawsuit challenging a California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) decision to approve additional uses for two bee-killing pesticides without disclosing the impact on honeybees.

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After Giving $1 Million to Trump Inauguration, Dow Chemical Urges Administration to Ignore Pesticide Impacts on Endangered Species

After contributing $1 million to Donald Trump’s presidential festivities, pesticide maker Dow Chemical Co. is asking the Administration to set aside previous findings of federal scientists across multiple agencies that confirm the risks that organophosphate pesticides pose to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species. This comes after the Administration abandoned plans to restrict the brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos, also an organophosphate pesticide created by Dow, despite mountains of evidence that show the chemical’s neurotoxic impacts on children’s brains.

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EPA to Investigate Civil Rights Abuses Over Pesticide Use in Hawaii

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is opening an investigation into whether the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and the state Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) are discriminating against Native Hawaiians in their administration of the state’s pesticide program. The investigation comes after a number of local community groups, represented by the nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice, filed a complaint in September 2016 asking EPA to take action against systemic abuses of Native Hawaiian peoples. Local efforts to protect pesticide-exposed communities have been repeatedly stymied by giant pesticide corporations operating on the island, which filed lawsuits that ultimately struck down local laws.

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U.S. Agriculture Still Using Antibiotics That Cause Bacterial Resistance to Life-Saving Medicines

A new report identifies antibiotic use in conventional plant and animal agriculture as contributing to bacterial resistance to critical life-saving human medicines and the importance of organic agriculture in eliminating antibiotic use. The report, Agricultural Uses of Antibiotics Escalate Bacterial Resistance, published in the latest issue of Pesticides and You, finds that while antibiotic use in animal agriculture is widely acknowledged as harmful, the use of antibiotics in chemical-intensive crop production also pose unnecessary and significant risks. The World Health Organization in 2016 identified bacterial resistance to antibiotics as “one of the biggest threats to global health.”

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How Congress Could Allow More Toxic Pesticides Into America's Waterways

The Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last week that will eliminate protections from toxic pesticides for the nation’s waterways. The bill now moves on to the full House for a vote and the public has an opportunity to let Representatives hear the concerns about weakening local protection of waterways from toxic pesticides. HR 953The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (code for the sponsors and supporters as legislation to eliminate environmental protection of water quality), is the committee’s latest effort in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback common sense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. The bill would repeal the Clean Water Act requirement that those who apply pesticides to waterways, with an exemption for farm use pesticides not directly deposited into waterways, obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

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USDA's Proposed Organic Program Would Unfairly Promote Large Organic Industry Over Small Organic Farmers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened a 60-public comment period January 17 on a controversial proposal to establish a federal research and promotion check-off program that has split the organic community, with many family farmers and small farm operators disagreeing with the larger organic industry groups, represented by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), on the benefits that they will derive from a mandatory payment requirement.

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EPA Announcement on Bee-Toxics Pesticides at Odds With Latest Independent Science

Just prior to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement on January 12 that several neonicotinoid insecticides “do not pose significant risks to bee colonies,” the preprint version of a new review of neonics identified the range of lethal and sublethal effects of the chemicals on non-target organisms.

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EPA Bans 72 Toxic Ingredients in Pesticides, but Hundreds of Others Remain - and Aren't Even Listed on Labels

The Environmental Agency (EPA) has finalized a proposal to ban 72 inert (or secret hazardous) ingredients from use in pesticide formulations following a long fight with environmentalists who, in 2006, asked that pesticide product labels disclose any of 371 inert ingredients that could be in products. While this finalization is a step in the right direction, ultimately the move is viewed by advocates as inadequate.

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FDA Stops Testing for Glyphosate as New Report Finds High Levels Are Found in Food

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has suspended testing for glyphosate residues in food, according to a statement made to the Huffington Post. The suspension was announced as a new report was released from Food Democracy Now! and the Detox Project, which has exposed dangerous levels of glyphosate contamination in popular U.S. foods. Glyphosate has been found to cause changes to DNA functioning, resulting in chronic disease, and has been classified as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

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Honey Products Labeled '100% Pure and Natural' Tested Positive for Cancer-Causing Glyphosate Pesticide

Beyond Pesticides and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), represented by Richman Law Group, filed a lawsuit on November 2 in Superior Court in the District of Columbia against Sioux Honey Association, for the deceptive and misleading labeling of its Sue Bee and Aunt Sue’s honey brands. The suit follows news that Sue Bee honey products labeled “100% Pure” and “Natural” tested positive for glyphosate residue. Glyphosate, a known endocrine disrupter and, according to the World Health Organization, a probable human carcinogen, is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

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Pesticide Levels in Breast Milk Have Dropped Significantly, but Health Concerns Remain

Researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and Murdoch University recently released a study whose findings show that levels of pesticides in breast milk have dropped significantly over the past forty years, though some major concerns remain. Published in the international journal Chemosphere, the research shows a 42-fold decrease in levels of pesticides detected in breast milk, and ties the reduction to government efforts to prohibit persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Australia, which has lead to decreased exposure over time.

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EPA Violating Duty Protect Environment by Keeping Bee-Toxic Pesticides on Market

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revealed its plan to register the toxic chemical sulfoxaflor, in the face of overwhelming evidence that it negatively affects bee populations. This decision is the final result of a long-fought legal battle over the chemical’s registration, spearheaded by beekeepers and public health organizations concerned with what has been identified as EPA’s inadequate and flawed pesticide review processes.

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Pesticide Ingredients Found in Dolphins, Bird and Fish Raise Serious Concerns

Chemicals previously used as inert ingredients in pesticide formulations have been detected in a wide range of North American wildlife species, according to research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The compounds, perfluroalkyl phosphinic acids (PFPIAs), were widely used as anti-foaming agents in pesticide formulations until 2006, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took regulatory action to cancel their use, citing “human health and environmental risks of concern.” However, the chemicals continue to be used today in consumer goods, including carpet cleaning formulas.

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Did Dow Chemical's Pesticide Cause Air Pollution Over California?

Last week, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) filed a lawsuit against Dow Agrosciences LLC, also known as Dow Chemical, charging that the “chemical manufacturing giant” fails to warn communities across California about the dangers associated with wide use of the chemical Telone. A trade name for the chemical 1,3-Dicholoropropene, or 1,3-D, Telone is a known carcinogen and is the third most heavily used pesticide in the state. The case focuses on the air pollution caused by the pesticide, as it has been found to linger in the air for multiple days after application, disproportionately impacting the rural communities, often with large minority populations, that live in the immediate vicinity. The case was filed in the State of California Alameda County Superior Court, and Dow has yet to comment or release a statement addressing the allegations against the company.

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23,000 Deaths Every Year in U.S. Alone: The Alarming Rise of Antibiotic Resistance

The United Nations gathered Wednesday to address the alarming rise of antibiotic resistance at a day-long meeting in New York. The U.N. General Assembly, made up of delegates from 193 countries, has only convened health-related meetings on three other issues: Ebola, HIV, and noncommunicable diseases. According to the World Health Organization, which collaborates with the U.N. on health-related priorities, “Antimicrobial resistance has become one of the biggest threats to global health, such as human development.” At this high-profile meeting, Heads of State and Heads of Delegations addressed the urgency of the situation and discussed multisectoral approaches to addressing antimicrobial resistance. This U.N. meeting elevated the discussion to a historic level and led to the approval of a declaration, but did not result in legally binding actions and failed to include language to eliminate excessive antibiotic use in animal agriculture.

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Did the EPA and CDC Mislead Local and State Officials and the Public on Safety of Mosquito Pesticides Used to Fight Zika Virus?

Beyond Pesticides has urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately alert local and state mosquito control officials, elected officials, and the public throughout the U.S. to the fact that EPA’s key data reviews on the safety of widely used mosquito control pesticides, including naled and synthetic pyrethroids, are outdated and incomplete and the scientific literature raises safety concerns. In a letter to EPA, Beyond Pesticides said, “As local and state officials implement mosquito abatement programs to address the Zika virus, it is critical that they have complete transparent safety information that they are not currently getting from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

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Study: GE Crops Lead to Increase in Toxic Herbicide Use

According to a study recently published by scientists at Iowa State, genetically engineered (GE) crops have not lived up to their promise to reduce pesticide use, and have instead led to an increase in toxic herbicide usage. The research, led by Edward Perry, Ph.D., found “clear evidence of increasing herbicide use by [GE] variety adopters over time for both soybeans and maize,” a finding that they credited partly to the emergence of weed resistance. The detailed dataset analyzed came from the company, GfK Kynetec, which conducts surveys of randomly selected farmers to assess decisions about pesticide and seed choices.

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Court Rules Consumers and Farmers Can Sue USDA for Weakening Standard That Allows Synthetics in Organic

Last week, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California rejected the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit (Case No. 15-cv-01590-HSG) that challenges changes to the rules that review the potential hazards and need for allowed synthetic and prohibited natural substances used in certified organic food production. Finding that plaintiffs had established both proper jurisdiction and a viable claim, this ruling allows the case to move forward on its merit. The court will now be able to review the substantive importance of formal notice and public comment regarding the rules for organic food production, which were changed dramatically by USDA in 2013.

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Half of Total Decline in Wild Bees Across U.K. Linked to Neonic Pesticides

Decline of wild bee populations is linked to the use of toxic, systemic neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides used on oilseed rape (canola), according to new research done by a team of scientists at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the United Kingdom. In addition to corn and soybeans, canola is one of the main crops treated with neonicotinoids worldwide. Neonic pesticides have long been identified as a major culprit in bee decline by independent scientists and beekeepers, yet chemical manufacturers like Bayer and Syngenta have focused on other issues such as the varroa mite. As Beyond Pesticides put it in the spring 2014 issue of Pesticides and You, the issue of pollinator decline is No Longer a Big Mystery, and urgent action is needed now to protect pollinators from these toxic pesticides.

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Monsanto's Botched Rollout of New GE Seeds Is Leading to Widespread Crop Damage

Farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee are confronting widespread crop damage and bracing for lower yields as a result of agrichemical giant Monsanto’s botched roll-out of new genetically engineered soybean and cotton crops. The company, whose current line of glyphosate-tolerant crops are failing to control weeds throughout the U.S. and across the globe, developed a new line of soybean and cotton with traits that make it tolerate applications of an older herbicide dicamba. However, while its seeds are available for purchase on the market, and Monsanto is encouraging farmers to grow them, the company has yet to receive EPA regulatory approval for the dicamba herbicide meant to be used with the plants.

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Prenatal Pesticide Exposure Linked to Lower IQs in New Study

A new study finds lower IQ (intelligence quotient) in children born to mothers who during their pregnancy were living in close proximity to chemical-intensive agricultural lands where organophosphate pesticides were used. This study adds to the body of scientific literature that links prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides with lower IQ’s in children.

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Monsanto's Roundup Weedkiller Linked to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS

review of the scientific literature links glyphosate, one of the most popular weed killers in the U.S. and the active ingredient in Roundup, to a wide range of diseases through a mechanism that modifies DNA functioning, adding a new even more troubling dimension to the herbicide’s cancer classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. According to the most recent review, Glyphosate pathways to modern disease V: Amino acid analogue of glycine in diverse proteins, conducted by independent scientists Anthony Samsel, Ph.D. and Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), glyphosate acts as a glycine analogue that incorporates into peptides during protein synthesis. In this process, it alters a number of proteins that depend on conserved glycine for proper function. According to the authors, glyphosate substitution for glycine correlates with several diseases, including diabetes, obesity, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson’s disease, among others.

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Congress Proposes to Strip Farmworker Protection Standards in Funding Bill

A funding bill (H.R. 5538) for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Interior Department is receiving pushback from conservation groups, environmental lobbyists, and workers’ rights advocates for containing dozens of controversial amendments, including one that would strip funding for parts of the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which establishes many protections for those in the country who experience the highest and most dangerous pesticide exposure – farmworkers.

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Senate Making Last-Ditch Attempt to Suppress GE Labeling

In an effort to block the impending implementation of Vermont’s genetically engineered (GE) food labeling law, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MO) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) have struck a deal aimed at continuing to keep consumers in the dark about the ingredients in the food they eat. Vermont’s law, signed on May 8, 2014 by Governor Peter Shumlin (D), is set to go into effect on July 1, 2016. After the state defeated a legal challenge brought by the Grocery Manufacturers of American and other industrial food companies, opponents pivoted their efforts to Congress, where they pushed for the so-called DARK (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, which would have codified a voluntary labeling system nationwide and preempted Vermont’s law. The DARK Act was passed through the House, yet failed to secure enough votes in the Senate.

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How Organic Agriculture Boosts Local Economies

New research links county-level economic health to agriculture, and finds that organic food and crop production, along with the business activities accompanying organic agriculture, creates real and long-lasting regional economic opportunities. The recently completed White Paper, U.S. Organic Hotspots and their Benefit to Local Economies, was prepared for the Organic Trade Association (OTA) by Penn State Agricultural Economist Edward Jaenicke, Ph.D. It finds organic hotspots—counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity whose neighboring counties also have high organic activity—boost median household incomes by an average of $2,000 and reduce poverty levels by an average of 1.3 percentage points. The research highlights the success of organic agriculture and demonstrates, yet again, that organic agriculture can and must feed the world.

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Over 400 Carcinogens Have Been Found in People's Bodies, According to New Report

new report released Tuesday by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that up to 420 known or likely carcinogens have been measured in a diverse array of populations, and that exposure to these carcinogens is not limited to on-the-job contact with industrial chemicals, including pesticides. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 1.7 million new cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016. While some of these cases may be due to genetic makeup, others may be caused by substances in the air, soil, food and other materials in our environment.

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Are There Pesticides in Your Pot? Colorado and Oregon Are Doing Something About It

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) recently released a list of pesticide products available for use on marijuana cultivated within the state. The list, which contains 257 pesticide products, aligns with similar product lists published by Washington State and Colorado, and raises the same concerns over the allowance of products that violate the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and have not been subject to health evaluations of public exposure to the pesticides used. Those concerns were on full display last week in Colorado, when the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) held a public meeting to discuss amendments to its Pesticide Applicators’ Act that would allow growers to use pesticides that violate FIFRA. Additionally, in an attempt to address consumers’ concerns over the issue of unregulated pesticides in marijuana, two lawmakers in Colorado introduced a bill that would establish a program for certifying marijuana as “pesticide free” within the state.

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Monsanto Sues to Keep Glyphosate Off California List of Carcinogens

Monsanto recently filed a lawsuit in California seeking to prevent glyphosate, the main ingredient in its Roundup herbicide, from being added to California’s list of known carcinogens under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Glyphosate is classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for the Research of Cancer (IARC) based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. This is the highest level carcinogen based on laboratory animal studies under IARC’s rating system

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Female Eggs Found in Male Fish Likely Due to Pesticide Pollution

study published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) found large-scale evidence of intersex in smallmouth and largemouth bass in the Northeast United States, an indicator of endocrine disruption. The study, published in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, looks at 19 U.S. National Wildlife Refuges and is the first reconnaissance survey of this scope. The study found that the prevalence of testicular oocytes across all samples was 85% and 27% for male small- and largemouth bass, respectively.

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Native Bee Populations on Decline on U.S.

Native bees are on the decline in some of the major agricultural regions in the United States, according to a new study. The study scientists produced the first national map of bee populations and identified numerous trouble areas. Since 2006, honey bees and other pollinators in the U.S. and throughout the world have experienced ongoing and rapid population declines. The continuation of this crisis threatens the stability of ecosystems, the economy, and food supply, as one in three bites of food are dependent on pollinator services.

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