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  • Urgent: Urge Senator Leahy to Help Stop a Farm Bill Amendment that Weakens Organic Law

    Looks like the Farm Bill is moving in the lame-duck Congress. We were just told that the deals are being hammered out in the conference committee this weekend and we need to urge Senator Leahy to stand up for organic (as he always has!) and help stop an amendment in the Senate Farm bill.

    Ask Senator Leahy to tell Farm Bill conferees to reject Section 10104(e)–National Organic Standards Board in the Senate Farm Bill (S.3042), a provision that will increase the use of synthetic substances in organic food production.

    Please urge Senator Leahy to contact the conference committee leaders and urge the rejection of Section 10104(e) in the final farm bill, a provision that will open the floodgates to allowed synthetic chemicals in organic production, handling, and processing under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). Senator Leahy, in a letter to USDA, has in the past voiced his strong opposition to this change. Like you, we believe that it is critical to have a strong organic law to stop contamination of our food, air, and water, while sequestering carbon and fighting global climate change. OFPA incorporates values and principles that build and regenerate soil, protect pollinators and biodiversity, eliminate toxic pesticide use, and contains a default provision that strictly limits synthetic chemicals in certified organic products. This will all change with the Farm bill amendment.

    OFPA incorporates language that ensures that the process for allowing synthetic chemicals in organic production, handling, and processing is very rigorous. This meets a public expectation that food labeled organic is subject to a higher degree of scrutiny than food produced by chemical-intensive agriculture. This distinguishes food labeled under OFPA from food produced with pesticides registered under the pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

    If synthetic materials are allowed in organic production, they, by law, are subject to a no adverse effects standard, a cradle-to-grave analysis, a determination of essentiality (necessity) of the material, and
    a sunset clause that subjects allowed synthetics to a rigorous reevaluation every five years. This time-limited sunset contains a default assumption that continued allowance of the synthetic substance will not be permitted unless the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) votes decisively to recommend its continued allowance to the Secretary of Agriculture.

    OFPA implements a belief that organic growers will continue to adopt methods not dependent on outside inputs –that there would be continuous improvement. At the same time, the NOSB’s deliberations on the allowance of a synthetic substance is informed by new science as it emerges and is reviewed in Technical Review documents prepared for the NOSB. By design, this process contrasts dramatically with the allowance of pesticides under FIFRA, where once a decision is made to allow a chemical, it is extremely difficult or virtually impossible to reverse that decision without serious political or public pressure –typically as a result of a crisis or litigation. The continued allowance of a synthetic chemical under organic law is subject to the same rigorous review that was conducted when the substance was first permitted on the National List, which requires that two-thirds of the board must vote to list. As intended by Congress, this review process repeats at the end of a five-year cycle, when the board again must vote by two-thirds to relist the synthetic chemical, under current statutory language.

    A Change in NOSB Process will Weaken Oversight of Synthetic Chemicals in Organic Production. This Senate Farm Bill provision brings uncertainty to the five-year sunset process and undermines a basic tenet of the law. Without this sunset provision, synthetic materials may remain on the National List and attempts to introduce alternative materials and find new creative management practices will be disincentivized.

    The Senate provision [Section 10104(e) National Organic Standards Board] may seem like it does not do anything (changes in law always do something, whether intended or not): “Any vote on a motion proposing to amend the national list shall be considered to be a decisive vote that requires 2/3 of the votes cast at a meeting of the Board at which a quorum is present to prevail.” A likely interpretation of this provision is that any change to the National List is an amendment to the list (or amends the national list) requiring a 2/3 vote to make a change – whether taking the synthetic off or putting it on the National List. However, OFPA as written has been historically implemented with the default assumption that synthetic materials come off the list after five years unless the board votes decisively (2/3) to keep it on the list.

    This NOSB process has worked for two decades to help grow the organic sector to a $53 billion industry with public trust in a rigorous review process. With the erosion of this basic tenet of the law under the Senate Bill provision, consumer trust in the USDA organic label is seriously threatened by an inability to remove synthetic materials shown to be hazardous or unnecessary.

    Ask Senator Leahy to tell Farm Bill conferees to reject Section 10104(e)–National Organic Standards Board in the Senate Farm Bill (S.3042), a provision that will increase the use of synthetic substances in organic food production.
     

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  • Tell the Secretary of Agriculture to Restore Fairness to Organic Dairy

    The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requires organic milk and dairy products labeled as organic to come from dairy cows continuously managed as organic from the last third of gestation. Because of the short supply of organic dairy breeder stock when the law was passed in 1990, a one-time conversion of conventional dairy cows to organic was allowed, as long as they are managed organically.  

    >> Please urge the Secretary of Agriculture to issue a final rule for Origin of Organic Livestock, as urged by the NOSB.

    Unfortunately, the National Organic Program (NOP) allowed two interpretations of this provision, turning the provision into a loophole that has allowed some large dairy operations to circumvent the last third of gestation requirement altogether, and bringing conventionally managed animals into their operations on a continuous basis. 
     

    In 2015, USDA proposed an Origin of Livestock rule to clarify that section of the law and ensure consistent enforcement of the standards, but appears to have no plans to finalize the rule. In its October 2018 meeting, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recognized the unfairness that allows large organic dairies to profit at the expense of smaller dairies who follow the spirit of the law. In a rare demonstration of unity, the NOSB unanimously passed this resolution:

    It has come to the attention of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that the continued state of varying interpretations and practices around the Origin of Livestock standards is creating market instability for organic producers. The 2015 USDA Origin of Livestock Proposed Rule was based on six recommendations from the NOSB between 1994 and 2006. The proposed rule responds to findings from the July 2013 USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit report on organic milk operations stating that certifying agents were interpreting the origin of livestock requirements differently. Rulemaking is necessary to ensure consistent interpretation and enforcement of the standards for origin of livestock and provide industry with additional clarity of application of the organic dairy standards. In early 2017 the Origin of Livestock Proposed Rule was removed from the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. Support for this rule has been expressed through public comment by the majority of organic stakeholders. Strong federal oversight is essential for creating a fair and level playing field for all certified organic operations. 

    Therefore, be it resolved by unanimous vote, the National Organic Standards Board—as USDA’s Federal Advisory Board on organic issues and representing organic farmers, ranchers, processors, retailers and consumers—urges the Secretary to directly issue a final rule for Origin of Livestock that incorporates public comments submitted in response to the Proposed Rule (Docket Number AMS-NOP-11-0009).

  • Urgent: Help protect the integrity and meaning of the USDA organic label

    Protect the integrity of the organic standard setting process that determines whether a synthetic substance will be allowed in food labeled organic. Help stop an attack on the meaning of the organic label in the Farm Bill, which may be voted out of conference committee by the end of November. By changing the substance review process, a provision will open the floodgates to allowed synthetic chemicals in organic production, handling, and processing under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). OFPA incorporates values and principles that build and regenerate soil, protect pollinators and biodiversity, eliminate toxic pesticide use, and contains a default provision that strictly limits synthetic chemicals in certified organic products. This will all change with the Farm Bill amendment.

     

    >> Ask your U.S. Representative and Senators to tell Farm Bill conferees to reject Section 10104(e) National Organic Standards Board in the Senate Farm Bill (S.3042), a provision that will increase the use of synthetic substances in organic food production.

     

    OFPA incorporates language that ensures that the process for allowing synthetic chemicals in organic production, handling, and processing is very rigorous. This meets a public expectation that food labeled organic is subject to a higher degree of scrutiny than food produced by chemical-intensive agriculture. This distinguishes food labeled under OFPA from food produced with pesticides registered under the pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

     

    If synthetic materials are allowed in organic production, they, by law, are subject to a no adverse effects standard, a cradle-to-grave analysis, a determination of essentiality (necessity) of the material, and a sunset clause that subjects allowed synthetics to a rigorous reevaluation every five years. This time-limited sunset contains a default assumption that continued allowance of the synthetic substance will not be permitted unless the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) votes decisively to recommend its continued allowance to the Secretary of Agriculture.

     

    OFPA implements a belief that organic growers will continue to adopt methods not dependent on outside inputs –that there would be continuous improvement. At the same time, the NOSB’s deliberations on the allowance of a synthetic substance is informed by new science as it emerges and is reviewed in Technical Review documents prepared for the NOSB. By design, this process contrasts dramatically with the allowance of pesticides under FIFRA, where once a decision is made to allow a chemical, it is extremely difficult or virtually impossible to reverse that decision without serious political or public pressure –typically as a result of a crisis or litigation. The continued allowance of a synthetic chemical under organic law is subject to the same rigorous review that was conducted when the substance was first permitted on the National List, which requires that two-thirds of the board must vote to list. As intended by Congress, this review process repeats at the end of a five-year cycle, when the board again must vote by two-thirds to relist the synthetic chemical, under current statutory language.

     

    A Change in NOSB Process will Weaken Oversight of Synthetic Chemicals in Organic Production. This Senate Farm Bill provision brings uncertainty to the five-year sunset process and undermines a basic tenet of the law. Without this sunset provision, synthetic materials may remain on the National List and attempts to introduce alternative materials and find new creative management practices will be disincentivized.

     

    The Senate provision [Section 10104(e) National Organic Standards Board] may seem like it does not do anything (changes in law always do something, whether intended or not): “Any vote on a motion proposing to amend the national list shall be considered to be a decisive vote that requires 2/3 of the votes cast at a meeting of the Board at which a quorum is present to prevail.” A likely interpretation of this provision is that any change to the National List is an amendment to the list (or amends the national list) requiring a 2/3 vote to make a change – whether taking the synthetic off or putting it on the National List. However, OFPA as written has been historically implemented with the default assumption that synthetic materials come off the list after five years unless the board votes decisively (2/3) to keep it on the list.

     

    This NOSB process has worked for two decades to help grow the organic sector to a $53 billion industry with public trust in a rigorous review process. With the erosion of this basic tenet of the law under the Senate Bill provision, consumer trust in the USDA organic label is seriously threatened by an inability to remove synthetic materials shown to be hazardous or unnecessary.

     

    >> Ask your U.S. Representative and Senators to tell Farm Bill conferees to reject Section 10104(e) National Organic Standards Board in the Senate Farm Bill (S.3042), a provision that will increase the use of synthetic substances in organic food production.

  • Tell California Department of Pesticide Regulation to Ban Chlorpyrifos

    The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is accepting comments on its proposal to classify chlorpyrifos as a toxic air pollutant. The classification would require DPR to develop control measures that adequately protect public health. What happens in California affects all of us because products of California agriculture are available all over the country –and the world. In addition, policies set by the state of California are often examples for other states and the federal government.

     
    California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) states:

    Under the Toxic Air Contaminant Identification and Control Act (AB 1807, Chapter 1047, Statutes of 1983) and its implementing regulations (Title 3, California Code of Regulations, Section 6864), one of the criteria for identifying a pesticide as a TAC is if its concentration in the air exceeds one-tenth of the level that has been determined to be adequately protective of human health. The draft TAC document shows that bystanders can be exposed to modeled air concentrations of chlorpyrifos that exceed one-tenth the protective level, and thus meet the criteria for TAC identification. OEHHA’s findings below serve to reinforce this overall conclusion, and further support the identification of chlorpyrifos as a TAC.

    In addition to modeled results, OEHHA found that those exposed to chlorpyrifos during 2004-2014 most often reported systemic symptoms including (including headache, nausea and dizziness), eye irritation, and respiratory complaints (breathing difficulties, cough, and throat irritation). Almost 90% of those reporting such symptoms were bystanders.

    OEHHA points out that many studies link exposure to chlorpyrifos to developmental neurotoxicity at very low rates of exposure, and this has been confirmed by the state’s Proposition 65 Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee. In addition, children may be bystanders exposed to chlorpyrifos who may suffer greater respiratory effects because of their developing lungs.
    The details of the assessment support OEHHA’s conclusion that chlorpyrifos is a toxic air contaminant requiring control measures that adequately protect human health. Given the range of toxic impacts at low levels of exposure, DPR must cancel the registration of chlorpyrifos.


    >> Tell California Department of Pesticide Regulation to ban chlorpyrifos.

  • Tell Kroger to stop selling food grown with toxic pesticides

    As a leader in organic sales, it is critical that Kroger take additional expedited steps to increase the market share of organic food and eliminate the use of toxic pesticides harmful to public health and the environment. Kroger is among the major food retailers that sells food that has been grown with toxic pesticides, such as the extremely hazardous insecticide chlorpyrifos which causes neurological and brain damage in children. Kroger should immediately end its misleading and fraudulent advertising and labeling of food products as “natural” and replace these with certified organic products. In fact, by misleading consumers with “natural” labeling and advertising of food, Kroger supports chemical-intensive agriculture that poisons children, causes cancer, and threatens biodiversity through the use of toxic chemicals like chlorpyrifos, glyphosate, and neonicotinoids. This is unnecessary and unacceptable.

     >> Tell Kroger to stop selling food grown with toxic pesticides.

     Chlorpyrifos  is a highly neurotoxic organophosphate pesticide that is linked to neurologic developmental disorders in children. Exposure to even low levels of organophosphates like chlorpyrifos during pregnancy impairs learning, changes brain function, and alters thyroid levels of offspring into adulthood. EPA’s own assessment finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have developmental delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders, and concluded that there is “sufficient evidence” that there are neurodevelopmental effects at low levels, and that current approaches for evaluating chlorpyrifos’ neurological impact are “not sufficiently health protective.” Yet, EPA reversed the ban based on the judgment of its own scientists and when ordered by the courts to reinstate the ban, appealed.

     As documented by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015, glyphosate causes cancer. IARC classifies glyphosate as a Group 2A “probable” carcinogen, which means that the chemical is probably carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. It has been specifically linked to non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) and multiple myeloma. Glyphosate disrupts a crucial pathway for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants and bacteria, and has been patented as an antibiotic. The destruction of bacteria in the human gut is a major contributor to disease, and the destruction of soil microbiota leads to unhealthy agricultural systems with an increasing dependence on agricultural chemicals.

     Kroger has already announced that it will phase out the sale of live garden plants grown with neonicotinoid insecticides. In a press release in June 2018, Kroger said, “Kroger also offers one of the largest organic produce departments in America, which is desirable for customers seeking to minimize potential exposure to synthetic pesticides. Representing nearly 20 percent of America's annual organic produce business, Kroger sales in this sector reached $1 billion in 2017.”

     Given Kroger’s existing commitment to offering organic food, it is reasonable to ask the company to commit to substituting organic products for those that deceptively portrayed as “natural” and “free from 101+ artificial ingredients and preservatives,” but are grown with and have residues of hazardous pesticides.

     >> Tell Kroger to stop selling food grown with toxic pesticides.

     

  • Restore Voices for Children’s Protection and Science at EPA

    In two separate moves, EPA placed the head of the Office of Children’s Health Protection on administrative leave and plans to dissolve its Office of the Science Advisor. These moves further degrade the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s reliance on scientific input into its decision making process.

    >> Ask your members of Congress to insist that the head of the Office of Children’s Health Protection and Office of the Science Advisor be reinstated at the highest level.

    The Office of Children’s Health Protection was created by President Bill Clinton in 1997 to advise EPA on meeting its mandate to protect children from environmental health hazards. Children are generally more vulnerable to toxic chemicals than adults due to their small and developing bodies and because their size and activities result in greater exposures. Focusing on children’s health typically leads to more protective regulatory decisions.   

    Ruth Etzel, M.D., Ph.D., who was placed on non-disciplinary leave, became director of the office in 2015, after serving as a senior officer for environmental health research at the World Health Organization. She is a pediatrician and epidemiologist who has been a leader in children’s environmental health for 30 years. Recently, Dr. Etzel opposed EPA’s plan to allow farmworker children to apply the most toxic (“restricted use”) pesticides.

    Removing Dr. Etzel from her position overseeing the office is seen by pediatricians and epidemiologists as a step toward eliminating the office and its critical work to protect children’s health. The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for her reinstatement.

    In another action, EPA plans to eliminate the Office of the Science Advisor, which reports directly to the EPA administrator on science relating to agency regulations.

    Both changes are a result of the agency’s reorganization that will result in placing several intermediates between science advisers and the head of EPA. In a New York Times op-ed, Philip Landrigan, M.D., renowned pediatrician and epidemiologist, and Lynn Goldman, M.D., pediatrician and former EPA assistant administrator for pesticides and toxic substances, wrote, “[T]here is no question that if Dr. Etzel is pushed aside, the chemical industry will benefit and America’s children will be harmed.” Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, in an interview with Bloomberg, said, “By dissolving the science adviser’s office and putting it several layers down in ORD [Office of Research and Development], that greatly accelerates the decay of science advice within the EPA administrator’s office.” 

    It is vital that EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler receive the information that is needed to make decisions that affect the lives of children and protect our environment.

    >> Ask your members of Congress to insist that the head of the Office of Children’s Health Protection and Office of the Science Advisor be reinstated at the highest level.

  • Stop the Gutting and Politicizing of USDA Research

    In a move that critics fear may be a pretext for gutting federal agricultural research, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has proposed overhauling two federal offices overseeing food and agriculture research and moving them out of the Washington, DC area. A plan announced in August to relocate one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) top research office — the Economic Research Service — into the Office of the Secretary, a political branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is raising alarm from scientists. Concerned researchers see the move as a way to cut funding to important projects on climate change and nutrition, among others, consistent with other Administration moves to reduce input of scientists into public policy.

     The plan by the Trump administration to overhaul two federal offices overseeing food and agriculture research, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and move them out of Washington by the end of 2019 is being cited by leading agricultural scientists and economists as a ploy to stifle important federal research.
     

    >> Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to urge Agriculture Secretary Perdue to keep the research programs of USDA in place, and stop the cuts and reorganization.                                                          

    The Trump administration has targeted ERS for severe funding cuts and says streamlining USDA’s operations would save taxpayer money and help the agency recruit and retain top staff, but the move will only serve to isolate the agency from key colleagues and resources concentrated in the capital. This will weaken ERS research by making it more difficult for agency economists to consult with other federal research offices, lawmakers, and federal policy groups. More troubling is that relocating ERS to the Office of the Secretary could compromise and politicize federal research responsible for nonpartisan food and agricultural economic analysis; an issue the office’s current placement was designed to prevent. 

    The August announcement noted that new locations have yet to be determined, and that ERS and NIFA may be co-located when their new homes are found. ERS and NIFA account for just over half of the $2.5 billion Congress budgeted for agricultural research in 2018. ERS employs 300 people in the D.C. region, according to USDA. NIFA, which funds competitive research grants at U.S. universities, employs a D.C. staff of roughly 400.

    ERS research covers a range of issues, studying trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America from crop yields and food prices to farm conservation practices, rural employment, and nutrition assistance. Key reports serve those who make or influence public policy decisions around farm and food, and include Congress, other federal agencies, and state and local governments. For instance, recent ERS findings have concluded that trade liberalization benefits U.S. farmers, despite the Trump administration contrary stance. 

    NIFA was established by the 2008 Farm Bill with a mission of finding innovative solutions to issues related to agriculture, the environment, and communities. Its goals include global food security, mitigating impacts of climate change, increasing agricultural production while protecting natural resources, and combating childhood obesity by ensuring the availability of affordable, nutritious, and safe food. 

    Scott Swinton, PhD, an agricultural economist at Michigan State and the former president of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, said, “The administration is now doing by fiat what it could not persuade Congress to do. Its plan to relocate ERS employees away from Washington is likely to trigger widespread staff resignations.”

    >> Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to urge Agriculture Secretary Perdue to keep the research programs of USDA in place, and stop the cuts and reorganization.

     

  • Comment by October 4 to Protect Organic Integrity!

    The Fall 2018 NOSB meeting dates have been announced and public comments are due by October 4, 2018. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov  until 11:59 pm ET October 4, 2018. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time.

    The proposals of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment. The public comment period will end October 4, 2018. On this page, Beyond Pesticides will be providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration of the Board when it meets in Saint Paul, MN on October 24 - 26, 2018. You can view USDA's announcement of the NOSB's meeting and proposals here.

    Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either the subject of petitions or the subject of sunset review (concerning whether to be allowed for another 5 years). To be allowed, materials must have evidence summarized in the proposals that they meet the OFPA requirements of essentiality, no adverse effects on humans and the environment, and compatibility with organic practices.

    Major issues before the NOSB at the Fall 2018 meeting include:

    ·      Natamycin is an antimicrobial proposed for post-harvest use on organic food crops. It is used in medicine to treat a number of diseases. Natamycin is produced by fermentation, and the NOSB may classify it as a natural material, which would allow its use without restriction. The NOSB should list natamycin on Sections 602 and 604, to prohibit its use in organic crop and livestock production, where use would promote resistance to this medically valuable antimicrobial medication. See Beyond Pesticides draft comments.

    ·       Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) is proposed as a crop fumigant. It would be difficult to find a practice less compatible with organic production than soil fumigation with a “broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound that effectively kills both plant pathogens and beneficial soil microorganisms.” Organic production uses practices that feed soil organisms who feed crop plants. It creates healthy soil food webs. Using a toxic chemical to wipe out soil biology is the antithesis of organic practices. The petition for AITC should be rejected because it is hazardous, not essential for organic production, and incompatible with organic practices. See Beyond Pesticides draft comments.

    ·       Silver Dihydrogen Citrate (SDC) is an antimicrobial with important medical uses that is proposed for use in handling produce and poultry carcasses. Although the proposed annotation eliminates the nanosilver form, SDC poses health and environmental risks –particularly the risk of increasing resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobials. The petition for SDC must be denied to protect the effectiveness of remaining antimicrobial medications. See Beyond Pesticides draft comments.

    Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov  until 11:59 pm ET October 4, 2018.

    Not sure how to use our suggested language to comment? Follow these simple steps:

    1.      Select the text in our comments (place your cursor before the first word in the text, then press and hold down the left mouse button and, without releasing the button, move the cursor to the end of the comments).

    2.      Copy the selected text by selecting the Ctrl and C keys simultaneously.

    3.      Click on this link to open a new tab and in that tab, place your cursor in the "Comment" box.

    4.      Paste the comments you copied by selecting the Ctrl and V keys simultaneously.

    5.      Personalize your comments before entering your contact information and selecting "Continue".

    More information will be available soon on Beyond Pesticides’ Keeping Organic Strong webpage to learn more about these and other substantive issues, and to provide a unique public comment to the NOSB.

    Thank you for helping to protect and uphold organic integrity!

  • Tell Senator Collins to Protect the Right of Local Governments to Restrict Pesticides

    The negotiations on the Farm Bill between the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate begin on September 5. It is critical that we stop a provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticides. Ask your elected officials to speak out against this assault on the democratic process.

    We must stop the adoption of a law that will prohibit local communities from restricting pesticides. Request that Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, lead the effort to protect a basic principle of local democratic decision making, especially in light of inadequate federal environmental and health protections. 

    Sen. Roberts can stop this provision, which is not in the Senate Farm Bill. 

    >> Tell Senator Collins that Sen. Pat Roberts must stand up for democracy, public health, and environmental protection in the Farm Bill!

    In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.2  (the Farm Bill), including a provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions. Existing local laws in two states, Maine and Maryland, will be overturned with final passage of this law. In those 43 states that forbid local pesticide laws by state law, future reconsideration of such state prohibitions would be foreclosed —a squelching of local authority pushed by the chemical and pest management industries.

    The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. In response to the Supreme Court decision in Wisconsin Pub. Intervenor v. Mortier, which found in favor of local authority, the pesticide lobby immediately formed the “Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy” and developed boilerplate legislative language to restrict local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking, and in most cases passing, preemption legislation whose text was often identical to the coalition’s. Since the passage of those state laws, there have been numerous efforts to preempt local authority in states that do not prohibit local action on pesticides. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-backed group, appeared to be behind a failed effort over the last two years to preempt local authority in the Maine state legislature.

    In addition to the preemption language, the House Farm Bill contains other provisions that weaken protections against pesticides. The bill would:

    • Change definitions in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), which would open the law to new interpretations of its core standard setting practices, which currently ensure rigorous review of synthetic substances in organic production and processing;
    • Exempt the use of pesticides from the Endangered Species Act, effectively dooming hundreds of endangered species to extinction, and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time;
    • Eliminate litigation as a remedy when pesticide decisions threaten endangered species;
    • Eliminate all protections under the Clean Water Act when toxic pesticides are sprayed directly into rivers and streams;
    • Enact the “Pesticide Registration Improvement Act,” providing long-term funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for expedited processing of pesticide approvals, without accompanying measures to ensure that farmworkers and other pesticide applicators are safe;
    • Weaken restrictions on the use of the highly toxic ozone deplete, methyl bromide; and
    • Provide state pesticide regulatory agencies a secret chance to slow or effectively veto EPA pesticide protections before they are proposed.

     >> Tell Senator Collins that Sen. Pat Roberts must stand up for democracy, public health, and environmental protection in the Farm Bill!

  • Tell Senate Democrats that They Must Stop Congress from Trampling the Right of Communities to Restrict Pesticides

    The negotiations on the Farm Bill between the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate begin on September 5. It is critical that we stop a Republican provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticides. Ask your elected officials to speak out against this assault on the democratic process.

    We must stop the adoption of a law that will prohibit local communities from restricting pesticides. Request that Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, lead the effort to protect a basic principle of local democratic decision making, especially in light of inadequate federal environmental and health protections. 

    As Democratic leadership, Sen. Stabenow can stop this provision, which was unanimously rejected by Democrats in the House and is not in the Senate Farm Bill. 

    >> Tell your Democratic Senators that Sen. Debbie Stabenow must stand up for democracy, public health, and environmental protection in the Farm Bill!

    In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed –with no support from Democrats— H.R.2  (the Farm Bill), including a provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions. Existing local laws in two states, Maine and Maryland, will be overturned with final passage of this law. In those 43 states that forbid local pesticide laws by state law, future reconsideration of such state prohibitions would be foreclosed —a squelching of local authority pushed by the chemical and pest management industries.

    The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. In response to the Supreme Court decision in Wisconsin Pub. Intervenor v. Mortier, which found in favor of local authority, the pesticide lobby immediately formed the “Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy” and developed boilerplate legislative language to restrict local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking, and in most cases passing, preemption legislation whose text was often identical to the coalition’s. Since the passage of those state laws, there have been numerous efforts to preempt local authority in states that do not prohibit local action on pesticides. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-backed group, appeared to be behind a failed effort over the last two years to preempt local authority in the Maine state legislature.

    In addition to the preemption language, the House Farm Bill contains other provisions that weaken protections against pesticides. The bill would:

    • Change definitions in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), which would open the law to new interpretations of its core standard setting practices, which currently ensure rigorous review of synthetic substances in organic production and processing;
    • Exempt the use of pesticides from the Endangered Species Act, effectively dooming hundreds of endangered species to extinction, and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time;
    • Eliminate litigation as a remedy when pesticide decisions threaten endangered species;
    • Eliminate all protections under the Clean Water Act when toxic pesticides are sprayed directly into rivers and streams;
    • Enact the “Pesticide Registration Improvement Act,” providing long-term funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for expedited processing of pesticide approvals, without accompanying measures to ensure that farmworkers and other pesticide applicators are safe;
    • Weaken restrictions on the use of the highly toxic ozone deplete, methyl bromide; and
    • Provide state pesticide regulatory agencies a secret chance to slow or effectively veto EPA pesticide protections before they are proposed.

     >> Tell your Democratic Senators that Sen. Debbie Stabenow must stand up for democracy, public health, and environmental protection in the Farm Bill!

  • Tell Democratic Conferees on Farm Bill to Not Let Congress Trample the Right of Communities to Restrict Pesticides

    The negotiations on the Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate begin on September 5. Your elected official in the U.S. Congress is a member of the conference committee that is negotiating a final bill. It is critical that we stop a Republican provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticides. Ask your elected officials to stand up and forcefully oppose this assault on the democratic process.

    We must stop the adoption of a law that will prevent local communities from restricting pesticides. Request that your elected member of Congress to lead the effort to protect a basic principle of local democratic decision making, especially in light of inadequate federal environmental and health protections.

    Democrats on the Farm Bill conference committee are in a position to oppose dangerous provisions in the Republican bill passed by the House of Representatives. As a member of the conference committee, your elected member of Congress can help stop this provision, which was unanimously rejected by Democrats in the House and is not in the Senate Farm Bill.
     

    >> Tell your Democratic member of Congress on the Farm Bill Conference Committee to stand up for democracy, public health, and environmental protection in the Farm Bill!

    In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed –with no support from Democrats— H.R.2  (the Farm Bill), including a provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions. Existing local laws in two states, Maine and Maryland, will be overturned with final passage of this law. In those 43 states that forbid local pesticide laws by state law, future reconsideration of such state prohibitions would be foreclosed —a squelching of local authority pushed by the chemical and pest management industries. 

    The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. In response to the Supreme Court decision in Wisconsin Pub. Intervenor v. Mortier, which found in favor of localities’ authority, the pesticide lobby immediately formed the “Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy,” and developed boilerplate legislative language to restrict local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking, and in most cases obtaining, pre-emption legislation whose text was often identical to the coalition’s. Since the passage of those state laws, there have been numerous efforts to pre-empt local authority in states that do not prohibit local action on pesticides. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-backed group, appeared to be behind a failed effort during the last two years to pre-empt local authority in the Maine state legislature.

    In addition to the pre-emption language, the House Farm Bill contains other provisions that weaken protections against pesticides. The bill would:
    • Exempt the use of pesticides from the Endangered Species Act, effectively dooming hundreds of endangered species to extinction, and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time;
    • Eliminate litigation as a remedy when pesticide decisions threaten endangered species;
    • Eliminate all protections under the Clean Water Act when toxic pesticides are sprayed directly into rivers and streams;
    • Enact the “Pesticide Registration Improvement Act,” providing long-term funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for expedited processing of pesticide approvals, without accompanying measures to ensure that farmworkers and other pesticide applicators are safe;
    • Weaken restrictions on the use of the highly toxic ozone deplete, methyl bromide; and
    • Provide state pesticide regulatory agencies a secret chance to slow or effectively veto EPA pesticide protections before they are proposed; and
    • Change definitions in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), which would open the law to new interpretations of its core standard setting practices, which currently ensure rigorous review of synthetic substances in organic production and processing.

  • Tell Your Public Officials to Stop Spraying Pesticides and Adopt a Safe, Effective Mosquito Management Plan

    Does your community spray toxic pesticides for mosquitoes? In a well-intentioned but ill-informed attempt to prevent mosquito-borne illness such as West Nile virus, many communities spray insecticides (adulticides) designed to kill flying mosquitoes. If your community is one of these, then your public officials need to know that there is a better, more-effective, way to prevent mosquito breeding. 

    >> Tell your public officials to stop spraying pesticides and adopt a mosquito management plan that protects public health and the environment.

    The problem with mosquito pesticides. Two classes of insecticides are favored by mosquito spray programs –organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids. In order to better target flying mosquitoes, adulticides are generally applied as ultra-low-volume (ULV) formulations that will float in the air longer than usual. 

    Organophosphates, which include malathion (Fyfanon), naled (Dibrom), and chlorpyrifos (Mosquitomist), are highly toxic pesticides that affect the central nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. Symptoms of poisoning in humans include: numbness, tingling sensations, headache, dizziness, tremors, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating, incoordination, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, slow heartbeat, loss of consciousness, incontinence, convulsions, and death. Some organophosphates have been linked to birth defects and cancer. Breakdown times range from a few days to several months, depending on conditions.

    Synthetic pyrethroids, which include resmethrin (Scourge), sumithrin (Anvil), and permethrin are adulticides patterned after pyrethrum (an insecticide derived from chrysanthemum plants), that have been chemically engineered to have greater toxicity and longer breakdown times. Almost all synthetic pyrethroid mosquito products use synergists like piperonyl butoxide (PBO), which increases potency and compromises the body's ability to detoxify the pesticide. PBO causes a range of short- and long-term effects, including cancer and adverse impacts on liver function and the nervous system.Symptoms of synthetic pyrethroid poisoning include: dermatitis and asthma-like reactions, eye and skin irritation, and flu-like symptoms. Synthetic pyrethroids are endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast and prostate cancer. People with asthma and pollen allergies should be especially cautious. Exposure has resulted in deaths from respiratory failure. Breakdown times range from a few hours to several months.

    Mosquito spraying also hurts the environment. Naled, an organophosphate commonly used for mosquito control, affects a variety of non-target animals, including fish, insects, aquatic invertebrates, and honey bees. Naled is moderately acutely toxic to mammals, moderately to very highly toxic to freshwater fish and birds, highly toxic to honey bees, and very highly toxic to freshwater aquatic invertebrates, and estuarine fish and invertebrates. Elevated mortality rates among honey bees have been documented after nighttime aerial ULV applications of naled. Average yield of honey per hive is significantly lower in exposed hives.

    Synthetic pyrethroids are highly toxic to fish and honey bees, even in low doses. Beneficial insects, including mosquito predators like dragonflies, will be killed by synthetic pyrethroids and organophosphates.

    In addition to the dangers, adulticiding is usually the least effective mosquito control method.

    Preventing the problem. Beyond Pesticides offers resources for managing mosquitoes and mosquito-borne disease without the use of toxic pesticides. A better mosquito management plan protects public health and the environment. There are steps that can be taken to eliminate breeding sites around homes and buildings, and throughout the community. For example:

    • Clean up standing water on residential property.
    • Get rid of unnecessary debris, such as old tires, on residential and commercial property.
    • At least twice a week, empty water from toys, buckets, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, and any other areas where water can collect.
    • Drill holes in swing tires, and in the bottoms of recycling bins and other outside containers.
    • Clean out rain gutters and make sure they drain properly.
    • Turn garbage can covers right side up.
    • Utilize safe repellents and other methods to protect against mosquito bites.
    • Establish community-wide public awareness campaigns.

    Local public policy is key to long-term solutions. Outbreaks of disease-carrying mosquitoes often result from habitat disturbance, such as deforestation, impairing wetlands, and spraying insecticides. Restoring the health of ecosystems helps keep mosquitoes under control. Native minnows, for example, can provide effective control of mosquito larvae breeding in standing water.

  • Tell Democratic Leadership that They Must Stop Congress from Trampling the Right of Communities to Restrict Pesticides

    The negotiations on the Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate begin on September 5. It is critical that we stop a Republican provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticides. Ask your elected officials to speak out against this assault on the democratic process.

    We must stop the adoption of a law that will prevent local communities from restricting pesticides. Request that Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi on the House side and Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, lead the effort to protect a basic principle of local democratic decision making, especially in light of inadequate federal environmental and health protections. 

    As Democratic leadership, Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Stabenow can stop this provision, which was unanimously rejected by Democrats in the House and is not in the Senate Farm Bill. 

    >> Tell your Democratic representatives in Congress that Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Debbie Stabenow must stand up for democracy, public health, and environmental protection in the Farm Bill!

    In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed –with no support from Democrats— H.R.2  (the Farm Bill), including a provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions. Existing local laws in two states, Maine and Maryland, will be overturned with final passage of this law. In those 43 states that forbid local pesticide laws by state law, future reconsideration of such state prohibitions would be foreclosed —a squelching of local authority pushed by the chemical and pest management industries. 

    The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. In response to the Supreme Court decision in Wisconsin Pub. Intervenor v. Mortier, which found in favor of localities’ authority, the pesticide lobby immediately formed the “Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy,” and developed boilerplate legislative language to restrict local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking, and in most cases obtaining, pre-emption legislation whose text was often identical to the coalition’s. Since the passage of those state laws, there have been numerous efforts to pre-empt local authority in states that do not prohibit local action on pesticides. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-backed group, appeared to be behind a failed effort during the last two years to pre-empt local authority in the Maine state legislature.

    In addition to the pre-emption language, the House Farm Bill contains other provisions that weaken protections against pesticides. The bill would:
    • Exempt the use of pesticides from the Endangered Species Act, effectively dooming hundreds of endangered species to extinction, and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time;
    • Eliminate litigation as a remedy when pesticide decisions threaten endangered species;
    • Eliminate all protections under the Clean Water Act when toxic pesticides are sprayed directly into rivers and streams;
    • Enact the “Pesticide Registration Improvement Act,” providing long-term funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for expedited processing of pesticide approvals, without accompanying measures to ensure that farmworkers and other pesticide applicators are safe;
    • Weaken restrictions on the use of the highly toxic ozone deplete, methyl bromide; and
    • Provide state pesticide regulatory agencies a secret chance to slow or effectively veto EPA pesticide protections before they are proposed.

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  • AOTW Tell USDA that Mutagenesis is GMO

    Tell USDA to Follow the EU in Classifying New Mutagenesis Techniques as GMO


    The Court of Justice of the European Union has highlighted the fact that failing to classify mutagenesis (purposeful changes in DNA) as genetic engineering is a backdoor way of allowing GMOs (genetically modified organisms) without labeling them as such. The court issued an opinion on July 25, saying, “Organisms obtained by mutagenesis are GMOs [genetically engineered organisms] and are, in principle, subject to the obligations laid down by the GMO directive.” Although the opinion does not apply to techniques that “have been conventionally used in a number of applications and have a long safety record,” the court says that member states may subject even those organisms to the obligations of the GMO or other directives. The court finds that the risks of new mutagenesis techniques, may yield results –and risks— similar to those of transgenesis (introducing genes from other organisms), and should thus be regulated as genetically engineered organisms. 

    >> Tell USDA to classify mutagenesis techniques as GMO.

    This issue is one on which the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture requested comment during an informal comment period that ended July 17. Given the importance of the EU Court finding for consumer transparency and international trade, AMS must consider the ruling in defining “bioengineering” (genetic modification) for the purposes of labeling GMO food produced in the U.S. It must also consider it in developing regulations and policies governing the National Organic Program.

    The opinion of the Advocate General of the EU Court of Justice states, “For the Applicants, the use of herbicide resistant seed varieties obtained by mutagenesis carries a risk of significant harm to the environment and to human and animal health. It leads to an accumulation of carcinogenic molecules or endocrine disruptors in cultivated plants intended for human or animal consumption. The Applicants refer, moreover, to the risks of unintentional effects, such as undesired or off-target mutations on other parts of the genome. They consider that this is the result of the techniques employed when modification of the genome takes place in vitro and for the regeneration of plants from the cells thus modified.”

    >> Tell USDA to classify mutagenesis techniques as GMO.

  • Protect the Endangered Species Act from Sneak Attacks!

    Tell Your Senators to Oppose Attacks Against Endangered Species

    In place of open debate, Congressional Republicans have once again used riders in three must-pass funding and authorization bills to remove protection from endangered species. It adds up to a huge attack on an immensely popular law. From wolves and grizzly bears to monarchs and burying beetles, everyone is at risk.

    Wolves could lose protection nationwide. Toxic pesticides could be exempt from environmental review. Threatened wildlife could be forced to wait for lifesaving protection while industry gets the green light to destroy our public lands. And that's just a glimpse of what Congress is trying to get away with.

    >> Tell your U.S. Senators to oppose these attacks on the Endangered Species Act.

    Avoiding direct conflict with a law supported by about 83 percent of Americans (including a large majority of conservatives), according to an Ohio State University poll, Congress has launched hundreds of backdoor attempts to gut the Endangered Species Act and sidestep the laws that protect our air, water, and public lands. If passed, they would change which species get protected, how critical habitat is chosen, and whether climate change can be considered a factor at all. The sneak attacks include:

    National Defense Authorization Act: The act contains provisions that would undermine the Endangered Species Act. They include two provisions that would wrongfully prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the greater sage grouse and lesser prairie chicken for at least 10 years; one that would prematurely remove protection for American burying beetles; and language targeting vulnerable whales, dolphins, and sea turtles, and robbing them of safeguards under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

    2018 Farm Bill: Two versions of the bill must be reconciled in conference committee, but under consideration are provisions that attack some of our nation's most iconic species, threaten to pollute our waters, and jeopardize our public lands. If enacted into law, critical safeguards protecting our drinking water and wildlife will be dismantled, as requested by the pesticide lobby.

    Fiscal Year 2019 Interior and EPA Appropriations Bill: This bill contains a rider that would prematurely remove protection for gray wolves, both in the Great Lakes region and nationwide. This rider also blocks judicial review, impeding every citizen's right to hold our government accountable when it acts unlawfully. The best way to get a species off the endangered list is to fully fund the implementation of the Endangered Species Act, and allow it to do its job of recovering species. The bill also attacks wildlife refuges, prohibiting the funding of any refuge that limits planting of genetically modified crops. Use of GMOs in our refuges reduces biodiversity and harms native plants and animals.

    >> Tell your U.S. Senators to oppose these attacks on the Endangered Species Act.

  • A Call to Action: Aternative to Pesticides NOW!

    Date: TOMORROW, Thursday, July 26
    Location: The Abundant Table 1012 W Ventura Blvd. Camarillo, CA 93010
    Time: 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT
    Hosted by: Coalition Advocating For Pesticide Safety – Ventura County.

    Speakers include:

    • Olga Medina, Lideres Campesinas, farmworker advocate
    • Dr. Minako Watabe, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Santa Paula
    • Jan Dietrick & Ron Whitehurst, Rincon-Vitova Insectaries
    • Reyna Ortega & Guadalupe Rojas, Abundant Table, organic farmers
    • Adam Vega, Central Coast Alliance United For a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), organizer

    Organizers are asking:

    1. that buffer zones between application and sensitive sites be increased to at least 1-mile,
    2. for advanced notification of applications taking place near those sensitive sites at least one week prior,
    3. that notices of intent to use chlorpyrifos be approved ONLY after growers demonstrate trying least-toxic methods and alternatives beforehand.

    Background:
    Already banned for home use in 2000, chlorpyrifos is still applied in huge quantities (26,836 lbs applied last year in Ventura County alone). After exhaustive scientific review, the EPA declared the chemical unsafe to use in any amount, and proposed a total ban.  However, the Trump Administration’s EPA demonstrated its hostility to EPA scientists’ own scientific findings by reversing the ban on March 29, 2017.  Since then, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment (OEHHA) has listed chlorpyrifos as a Prop 65 Reproductive Toxin, and Hawaii initiated a statewide ban.

    A new Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner was just announced.  Ventura County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety says: Stop harming kids’ brains; use alternatives to chlorpyrifos now!

    Purpose:
    Organizers hope to get the attention of the new County Agricultural Commissioner and the Department of Pesticide Regulation to ask that they side with the scientific data that shows chlorpyrifos should be suspended/discontinued/banned by the state of California.

    Ventura County’s farmworkers, organic growers, health professionals, and experts in biological pest-management are calling on State and County regulators to: 1) step up and enact a statewide ban of the brain-harming organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos, 2) educate the agriculture industry and the public about the many available alternatives to this dangerous chemical.

    “Join together as a community to demand that more is done beyond the minimal protections proposed by the state.”

    Hope you can make it! And please spread the word to friends and family.

  • Tell Whole Foods to Get Back on Track in Labeling GMOs

    Whole Foods Quietly Put Its Comprehensive Labeling Policy on Hold

    As USDA’s proposal to use smiley face labels for genetically engineered (GE) foods or genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) nears implementation, it is more essential than ever that retailers step up to identify genetically engineered foods in their stores. Five years ago, Whole Foods Market announced a plan to label food with GE ingredients sold in its stores. Whole Foods’ plan requires a label for all GE food sold in its stores by the end of 2018, noting that the move was made in response to customers’ increased demand for labeled products. “Some of our manufacturers say they’ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled [as non–GMO],” explains A.C. Gallo, Whole Foods president and chief operating officer. The chain’s labeling requirements include all of its North American stores, as its European supermarkets already require this label. Consumers Reports found that 92% of people surveyed (2014) want their food labeled for ingredients that are genetically engineered.

     >> Tell Whole Foods and owner Amazon to Get Back on Track in Labeling GMOs. 

    In an email to suppliers on May 18, 2018, Whole Foods’ Mr. Gallo announced that the company, which has recently been acquired by Amazon, would pause its GE labeling requirements in response to suppliers’ concerns about having to comply with two competing sets of rules –Whole Foods’ own labeling requirements and rules newly proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which were then open for public comment.
     As currently written, Whole Foods’ requirements would be more stringent than the proposed USDA rules in at least two significant ways. First, USDA has suggested letting companies label GE ingredients by QR code, meaning that customers would need to be directed to a website via smartphone to find out what’s in their food, while Whole Foods never planned to allow QR codes as disclosures. Second, USDA rules contain exemptions for meat products, which are regulated under a different system.
     
    The USDA proposed rule fails in every important respect:
    ·       It allows information to be conveyed by QR codes, whose use requires a cell phone (with camera function) and a reliable broadband connection.
    ·       It allows GE food to be identified as “bioengineered” or by a smiley-faced symbol containing the letters “be.”
    ·       It does not cover highly processed GE foods, like vegetable oils or sugar, and does not include newer genetic engineering techniques, such as CRISPR (a gene editing tool).
    ·       Implementation is delayed. 

    Given the problems with the USDA proposed rule, including delay in implementation until 2022, it is important for Whole Foods to get back on schedule. Other retailers will certainly follow its lead.

    >> Tell Whole Foods and owner Amazon to Get Back on Track in Labeling GMOs.

  • Federal Bill Benefits Monsanto/Bayer, Overriding Labeling of Roundup/Glyphosate as a Carcinogen under California Law

    Legislative Sneak Attacks Continue

    Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to oppose S.3019/H.R.6022

    Yet another bill has been introduced in Congress to remove accountability from Monsanto/Bayer for its glyphosate herbicide Roundup.™ The so-called “Accurate Labels Act” (S.3019/H.R.6022) would repeal most, if not all, existing labeling and information disclosure laws adopted by state or local governments, including California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop 65), which has been responsible for the removal of hundreds of dangerous toxic chemicals, including lead, cadmium, and mercury, from commercial and consumer products nationwide. California listed Roundup as a probable carcinogen in 2015, requiring a label warning in the state, and California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld the decision in April of this year, rejecting Monsanto’s challenge to the listing.

    California will not only move ahead with warning labels on products that contain glyphosate, but also, prohibit discharge of the pesticide into public waterways. Proposition 65 requires notification, primarily through labeling, of all chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, and prohibits their discharge into the state’s drinking waters.

    As with previous sneak attacks, Monsanto’s fingerprints — if not its name – are all over this bill. Other legislation that would help remove Monsanto/Bayer accountability for glyphosate is contained in appropriations for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Farm Bill. The House appropriations bill for ATSDR includes “report language” that would restrict independent evaluation of pesticide hazards by ATSDR. Monsanto pushed to stop ATSDR from researching the cancer-causing properties of its glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup.
     
    In April, the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture moved H.R.2 (the Farm Bill) out of committee with a provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions. The full House passed the bill in June. Existing local laws in two states, Maine and Maryland, will be overturned with final passage of this law. In those 43 states that forbid local pesticide laws by state law, future reconsideration of this state prohibition — a squelching of local authority pushed by the chemical and pest management industry — will be foreclosed.

    The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. In response to the Supreme Court decision in Wisconsin Pub. Intervenor v. Mortier, which found in favor of localities’ authority, the pesticide lobby immediately formed the “Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy,” and developed boilerplate legislative language that restricts local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The Coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking and in most cases passing, preemption legislation whose text was often identical to the Coalition’s. Since the passage of those state laws, there have been numerous efforts to preempt local authority in states that do not prohibit local action on pesticides. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-backed group, appeared to be behind a failed effort over the last two years to preempt local authority in the Maine state legislature.
     

  • Endangered Species Need Protection to Support Biodiversity and Life

    The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to take action to protect 23 wildlife species in the Southeast that are at risk of extinction. Citing deep concerns about unprecedented assaults on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), CBD’s letter reiterates the critical need for FWS to provide timely protection to the most critically imperiled species.

    >> Urge FWS to provide Endangered Species Act protection for 23 species in the Southeast. Urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to support the ESA’s scientific review process and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats. 

    CBD’s letter highlights the plight of 23 freshwater animals and plants, including the Southern snaketail and the sunfacing coneflower, and the failure of FWS to meet its deadlines for issuing proposals on species whose status has been determined as “may warrant protection.” CBD urges FWS to follow the law –to review and publish species protection proposals.

    A declining budget and opposition from the Trump administration are stalling these critical protections. This administration has proposed slashing the budget for endangered species listings by half, from $20.5 to $10.9 million, and prioritizing the delisting of species rather than granting protection to new ones. These budget cuts are being proposed despite FWS’s backlog of hundreds of species found to warrant consideration for protection. Since 2000, several southeastern species have been identified as extinct, including the beaverpond marstonia snail; Tatum Cave beetle; Florida zestos skipper and rockland grass skipper butterflies; green blossom, yellow blossom, tubercled blossom, and turgid blossom pearly mussels; Florida fairy shrimp; and South Florida rainbow snake. Many of the species CBD petitioned for are still awaiting reviews, while others were withdrawn from the petition.

    “Endangered species decisions have long been plagued by delay and political interference, but these problems are becoming a crisis under Trump,” said Tierra Curry, a CBD senior scientist. “Rather than following the law and reviewing the status of species like the Southern snaketail, the administration wants to push them out the back door and ignore those at risk of extinction.”

    Attacks on ESA have been a regular occurrence since the inauguration of the U.S. Congress on January 3, 2017. This Congress already has seen at least 63 legislative attacks seeking to strip federal protections from specific species or undercutting the Endangered Species Act. Among the attacks is a provision in the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill to exempt the use of pesticides from ESA review, threatening hundreds of endangered species, and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time.

    With species decline increasing across the globe, it is critical that we protect those species already at heightened risk. An important provision of ESA is the requirement that each federal agency that proposes to authorize, fund, or carry out an action that may affect a listed species or its critical habitat must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. Although many species –including the bald eagle, Florida manatee, and California condor— have been protected and brought back from the brink of extinction under the ESA, an estimated 500 species have disappeared in the past 200 years.

    >> Urge FWS to provide Endangered Species Act protection for 23 species in the Southeast. Urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to support the ESA’s scientific review process and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats.

  • Another Sneak Attack on Science (with Monsanto’s Fingerprints?)

    Protect Independent Government Evaluation of Pesticide Hazards

    The U.S. House of Representatives is considering an appropriations bill that includes “report language” that would restrict independent evaluation of pesticide hazards by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report language, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies FY2019 Appropriations Bill, directs ATSDR to “focus on its core mission of assessing hazardous exposures and working with communities, if requested, near toxic waste sites and not agricultural operations” [emphasis added]. As some may recall from “The Monsanto Papers,” Monsanto pushed to stop ATSDR from researching the cancer-causing properties of its herbicide Roundup/glyphosate. [Unsealed internal Monsanto documents from a federal lawsuit, dubbed “The Monsanto Papers,” showed evidence of questionable research practices by the company, inappropriate ties to a top EPA official, and possible “ghostwriting” of purportedly “independent” research studies.] There is also a significant cut to the budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee does not include the same restrictive language. 


    The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services charged with protecting communities from harmful health effects related to exposure to natural and human-made hazardous substances.

    ATSDR’s unique focus is on the impact of hazardous substances on human health –attempting to ensure that Americans have a safe and healthy environment in which to work, play, and live. The agency also responds to environmental health emergencies; investigates emerging environmental health threats; conducts research on the health impacts of hazardous waste sites; and builds the capabilities of, and provides actionable guidance to, state and local health partners. It is the only federal agency that works directly with concerned citizens and communities to address environmental hazards.

    In its examination of hazardous chemicals in the environment, ATSDR has developed toxicological profiles for many pesticides, including
    chlorpyrifos, but not yet Monsanto's glyphosate. The toxicological profiles examine in detail hazards of, and routes of exposure to, the chemicals. Because the profiles contain results based on real world exposures, they are generally held in higher regard than risk assessments produced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is important to maintain the ability of ATSDR to continue to examine agricultural hazards.

     

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  • Clean Up the Farm Bill, Protect Organic

    Farm Bill Headed for a Showdown on Key Environmental, Public Health, and Organic Issues

    With a flawed bipartisan Farm Bill expected to sail through the U.S. Senate this week, we need to turn our attention to the upcoming House-Senate Conference Committee that will attempt to resolve differences between the Republican House bill (with no support from Democrats) and the Senate bill. Despite some advances in the Senate Farm Bill for the organic market, including boosts to organic research funding, some provisions to address fraudulent imports, some enhanced conservation programs, and maintaining certification cost-share programs, the Senate bill contains troubling language affecting organic standard setting that could open the door to more damaging provisions in the House bill. It’s like fixing up a house while allowing the foundation to crumble. 

    >> Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to protect organic in the Farm Bill, remove any changes to the organic standard setting process, and uphold environmental protections.

    Beyond Pesticides opposes any provisions in the Farm Bill that amend the standard setting procedures of the federal organic law and believes that no improvements are worth the damage that can be done to the standard setting process and public trust in the organic seal in the marketplace. Beyond Pesticides is urging the conferees on the House-Senate Farm Bill conference committee over the next weeks to eliminate amendments that change any aspect of organic standard setting under the Organic Foods Production Act (OPFA).

    The Farm Bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2, is a direct attack on: organic standard setting; the authority of local governments to restrict toxic pesticides; and, the protection of farmworkers, endangered species, and the environment. Now, the Senate is getting ready to pass a bill that opens the door to an attack on organic. While the Senate train is speeding down the track, it is important to keep these damaging provisions out of the final (conference) bill.

    Protect Organic Standards. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) gives the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) broad authority and responsibility to ensure organic integrity. The House version of the Farm Bill contains provisions that will give USDA greater direct and indirect power to allow products and practices that were not intended to be a allowed in organic – hydroponics, poultry houses without real access to the outdoors, and dairy operations without meaningful pasture. The Senate bill opens up the dangerous possibility of a change to the organic standard setting process. There should be no changes to the process that establishes organic standards in order to protect the meaning and value of organic in the marketplace.

    The Farm Bill should not:

    • Change definitions that open OFPA to new interpretations of its core standard setting practices, which ensure rigorous review of synthetic substances in organic production and processing;
    • Permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sidestep the NOSB in allowing toxic post-harvest handling substances (sanitizers) to be used in organic production;
    • Change the classification of types of people who may be appointed to the NOSB by adding employees of farmers, handlers, and retailers; and
    • Force consideration of allowing the use of products in organic that are subject to weaker standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

    The Farm Bill should also not contain provisions that:

    • Amend the federal pesticide law to preempt local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions;
    • Exempt the use of pesticides from the Endangered Species Act, effectively dooming hundreds of endangered species to extinction and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time;
    • Eliminate litigation as a remedy when pesticide decisions threaten endangered species;
    • Eliminate all protections under the Clean Water Act when toxic pesticides are sprayed directly into rivers and streams;
    • Enact the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, providing long-term funding to EPA for expedited processing of pesticide approvals, without accompanying measures to ensure that farmworkers and other pesticide applicators are safe;
    • Weaken restrictions on the use of the highly toxic ozone deplete, methyl bromide; and
    • Give states authority to delay pesticide restrictions. 

    >> Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to protect organic in the Farm Bill, remove any changes to the organic standard setting process, and uphold environmental protections.

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  • Salsa Staff - Copy of Urgent! Tell your U.S. Representatives to Oppose the Farm Bill

    The U.S. House Is Trying Again to Pass a Horrific Farm Bill;

    Will Undercut Organic and Basic Health and Environmental Protection

    The Farm Bill may be up for a vote again in the U.S. House of Representatives as early as today or tomorrow (Thursday-Friday, June 21-22), after failing to pass last month. While the bill passed the House Agriculture Committee without any Democratic support, it failed in the House because some members have been holding up the legislation over a demand for moving their immigration bill. Over the last several weeks, the Republican leadership has been working to get the necessary Republican support.

    >> Tell your U.S. Representative to vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed.


    The Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2, reported favorably out of the House Agriculture Committee, was defeated on the floor over unrelated immigration legislation, but will be considered again soon. The House bill is a direct attack on organic standard setting, the authority of local governments to restrict toxic pesticides, and the protection of farmworkers, endangered species, and the environment.

    Protect Organic Standards. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) gives the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) broad authority and responsibility to ensure organic integrity. The House version of the Farm Bill contains provisions that will give USDA greater direct and indirect power to allow products and practices that were not intended to be a allowed in organic – hydroponics, poultry houses without real access to the outdoors, and dairy operations without meaningful pasture.

    The Farm Bill should not:

    • Permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sidestep the NOSB in allowing toxic post-harvest handling substances (sanitizers) to be used in organic production;
    • Change the classification of types of people who may be appointed to the NOSB by adding employees of farmers, handlers, and retailers; and
    • Force consideration of allowing the use of products in organic that are subject to weaker standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    The Farm Bill should also not contain provisions that:

    • Amend the federal pesticide law to pre-empt local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions;
    • Exempt the use of pesticides from the Endangered Species Act, effectively dooming hundreds of endangered species to extinction and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time;
    • Eliminate litigation as a remedy when pesticide decisions threaten endangered species;
    • Eliminate all protections under the Clean Water Act when toxic pesticides are sprayed directly into rivers and streams;
    • Enact the “Pesticide Registration Improvement Act,” providing long-term funding to EPA for expedited processing of pesticide approvals, without accompanying measures to ensure that farmworkers and other pesticide applicators are safe;
    • Weaken restrictions on the use of the highly toxic ozone deplete, methyl bromide; and
    • Provide state pesticide regulatory agencies a secret chance to slow or effectively veto EPA pesticide protections before they are proposed.

    >> Tell your U.S. Representative to vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed.

    We encourage you to customize this message to maximize its impact.

  • Urgent! Tell your U.S. Representatives to Oppose the Farm Bill

    The U.S. House Is Trying Again to Pass a Horrific Farm Bill;

    Will Undercut Organic and Basic Health and Environmental Protection

    The Farm Bill may be up for a vote again in the U.S. House of Representatives as early as today or tomorrow (Thursday-Friday, June 21-22), after failing to pass last month. While the bill passed the House Agriculture Committee without any Democratic support, it failed in the House because some members have been holding up the legislation over a demand for moving their immigration bill. Over the last several weeks, the Republican leadership has been working to get the necessary Republican support.

    >> Tell your U.S. Representative to vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed.


    The Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2, reported favorably out of the House Agriculture Committee, was defeated on the floor over unrelated immigration legislation, but will be considered again soon. The House bill is a direct attack on organic standard setting, the authority of local governments to restrict toxic pesticides, and the protection of farmworkers, endangered species, and the environment.

    Protect Organic Standards. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) gives the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) broad authority and responsibility to ensure organic integrity. The House version of the Farm Bill contains provisions that will give USDA greater direct and indirect power to allow products and practices that were not intended to be a allowed in organic – hydroponics, poultry houses without real access to the outdoors, and dairy operations without meaningful pasture.

    The Farm Bill should not:

    • Permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sidestep the NOSB in allowing toxic post-harvest handling substances (sanitizers) to be used in organic production;
    • Change the classification of types of people who may be appointed to the NOSB by adding employees of farmers, handlers, and retailers; and
    • Force consideration of allowing the use of products in organic that are subject to weaker standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    The Farm Bill should also not contain provisions that:

    • Amend the federal pesticide law to pre-empt local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions;
    • Exempt the use of pesticides from the Endangered Species Act, effectively dooming hundreds of endangered species to extinction and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time;
    • Eliminate litigation as a remedy when pesticide decisions threaten endangered species;
    • Eliminate all protections under the Clean Water Act when toxic pesticides are sprayed directly into rivers and streams;
    • Enact the “Pesticide Registration Improvement Act,” providing long-term funding to EPA for expedited processing of pesticide approvals, without accompanying measures to ensure that farmworkers and other pesticide applicators are safe;
    • Weaken restrictions on the use of the highly toxic ozone deplete, methyl bromide; and
    • Provide state pesticide regulatory agencies a secret chance to slow or effectively veto EPA pesticide protections before they are proposed.

    >> Tell your U.S. Representative to vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed.

    We encourage you to customize this message to maximize its impact.

  • Ask Your State Officials to Protect Pollinators

    Since 2006, honey bees and other pollinators in the U.S. and throughout the world have experienced ongoing and rapid population declines. This ongoing crisis threatens the stability of ecosystems, the economy, and our food supply: one in three bites of food is dependent on pollinator services.

    >> Tell your elected state officials to stop the use of neonicotinoid pesticides that are harming pollinators and aquatic life.


    The preponderance of independent science links a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids (or neonics) with the dramatic decline of pollinators and other wildlife. Bees, butterflies, birds, and a range of soil and aquatic organisms essential to healthy ecological systems are imperiled by the use of these systemic and persistent pesticides. Systemic pesticides are chemicals that can be taken up by the vascular system of a plant, and then expressed throughout the plant, including pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets, indiscriminately exposing target pests and non‐target organisms alike.

    A comprehensive assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirms that neonicotinoids, the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, pose risks to honey bees and wild pollinators. EFSA analyzed over 1,500 studies from academia, beekeeper associations, chemical companies, farmer groups, non-governmental organizations, and national regulators. EFSA’s risk assessment provides a definitive, independent conclusion that overall, continued use of these chemicals risks the long-term health of pollinator populations.

    >> Tell your elected state officials to stop the use of neonicotinoid pesticides that are harming pollinators and aquatic life.

    Over the past year, major actions in Europe and Canada have been taken to ban or restrict the use of neonicotinoids. After the European Union (EU) instituted its initial moratorium on neonic applications to flowering crops in 2013, accumulated research led to a permanent extension of this ban to include all outdoor uses of these systemic insecticides in May 2018. Canadian regulators have issued interim decisions on several neonicotinoids, with recommendations that will significantly curtail their uses, but the country has stopped short of banning the chemicals all together.

    In the United States, EPA issued very minor changes to neonicotinoid product labels in 2013, but has yet to take substantive action to restrict use. President Obama created a National Pollinator Health Strategy with a number of lofty goals, but there is no indication that the Trump Administration is continuing this work. However, state level action has been seen in Connecticut and Maryland, where consumer uses of neonicotinoids have been eliminated.

    >> Tell your state legislators to follow the lead of Maryland and Connecticut. Maryland and Connecticut residents, please send a thank you to your representatives.

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  • Tell Congress to Save America's Pollinators

    The Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R. 5015), reintroduced in February by U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jim McGovern (D-MA), suspends the registration of certain neonicotinoid insecticides until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducts a full scientific review ensuring that these chemicals do not harm pollinators. The bill is necessary to protect pollinators in the face of ongoing obstruction by an increasingly industry-influenced EPA.

    >>Tell your Representative to cosponsor the Save America’s Pollinators Act!

    “Pollinators are the backbone of America’s agriculture system. Acting now to protect them and stop their decline is essential to the sustainability of our nation’s food supply,” Rep. McGovern said. “Simply taking the word of the manufacturers that their products are safe is not an option. Consumers need strong oversight. That is why I am proud to join Congressman Blumenauer in demanding the EPA fully investigate the effect that certain harmful pesticides may have on the vitality of our pollinators.”

    Numerous scientific studies implicate neonicotinoid pesticides as key contributors to the global decline of pollinator populations. EPA’s own scientists have found that neonicotinoids pose far-reaching risks to birds and aquatic invertebrates. For example, they find deadly impacts to birds from neonicotinoid-treated seeds, poisoned insect prey, and contaminated grasses. Researchers have found that tiny amounts of neonicotinoids are enough to cause migrating songbirds to lose their sense of direction and become emaciated. A recent study by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers found neonics widespread in the Great Lakes at levels that harm aquatic insects, or the aquatic food web—the foundation of healthy aquatic ecosystems.

    “The health of our food system depends on the health of our pollinators. The status quo is like flying blind –we shouldn’t be using these pesticides when we don’t know their full impact,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “The EPA has a responsibility to get to the bottom of this issue and protect pollinators.”

    Canada’s pesticide regulatory agency has recommended banning the most widely used neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, based on harms to aquatic ecosystems. Europe has instituted a temporary ban on neonicotinoids based on their harms to pollinators, and the European Commission recently proposed extending the ban indefinitely and eliminating all agricultural uses of the chemicals.

    Given the ongoing obstruction by EPA leadership, however, Representatives Blumenauer and McGovern are offering a legislative remedy to address the national pollinator crisis. But Congress won’t act unless members hear from their constituents. Help push EPA to take substantive action on neonicotinoids by urging your Representative to cosponsor the Saving America’s Pollinators Act.and thanking those who are already cosponsors.

  • Take Action to Ban Mosquito Misters

    Mosquito misters pose a threat to human health. They also harm bees and other flying pollinators and are the least effective way to deal with biting mosquitoes. These devices are typically placed outdoors and continuously spray insecticides –mostly in an attempt to control mosquitoes.  In May, the Connecticut state legislature voted to ban the use of residential pesticide misting systems.
     
    >> Urge your Governor and state legislature to ban pesticide misters.

    In addition to the threat to people’s health, misters harm pollinators who may be foraging in an area where the devices are used. Studies find that sublethal concentrations of synthetic pyrethroids significantly reduce bee fecundity and decrease the rate at which bees develop to adulthood and reproduce. Field and laboratory studies using pyrethroids have consistently documented decreases in foraging activity and activity at the hive entrance after exposure.

    While pesticides are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pesticide misters and other application devices are not subject to EPA oversight, leaving states with the authority to control their use. Connecticut appears to be the first state to restrict pesticide misting machines through legislation. The state of New York took an administrative approach to regulating these devices, as the commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation used his authority to deem pesticides used in misting systems as restricted use (only available to certified applicators).

    In 2015, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, detailing false and deceptive claims by manufacturers of pesticide misters. Specifically, PEER noted that manufacturers claim that these misters (1) are effective in controlling mosquitoes despite contention from experts and even the American Mosquito Control Association that they are not effective, (2) have the ability to kill ticks, of which there is no evidence, and (3) are “safe” and “natural,” despite their use of highly toxic pesticides. Absent federal action, the responsibility to regulate these dangerous devices falls to the states.

    >> Urge your Governor and state legislature to ban pesticide misters.


    Staying mosquito-free in one’s backyard requires both individual and community efforts. For the individual, during mosquito season use least-toxic repellents like oil of lemon eucalyptus. If possible, wear loose, light colored long-sleeved clothing. If you want to spend protected periods outside sipping lemonade during a hot summer evening, sit next to an oscillating fan, as mosquitoes are not great fliers. For more protection, sit inside a screened deck, or pop-up tent.

    At the community level, you can achieve neighborhood-level reductions in mosquitoes by joining with your neighbors in regularly dumping out standing water and encouraging flying and swimming predators. Using biological larvacides on sites that cannot be drained is more effective than spraying adults, but still disrupts ecological forces that maintain balance. Most common mosquitoes do not fly too far from where they hatched, and often one location in a community, such as stagnant water in a neighbor’s gutter, can be a major source for mosquito breeding throughout the neighborhood.

    Use Beyond Pesticides’ mosquito doorknob hangers to get the word out. Contact the office for 25 free hangers, or purchase more at Beyond Pesticides’ Storefront. If you are concerned about broader aerial or truck-mounted spraying campaigns by governments or vector control districts, also reach out to Beyond Pesticides at info@beyondpesticides.org or 202-543-5450 for organizing strategies to stop toxic mosquito spray in your community.

    Model Legislative Language: Connecticut General Assembly SB104.

    >> Urge your Governor and state legislature to ban pesticide misters.

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  • Local Governments Must Take Action to Protect Us from Glyphosate

    With news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate to be used despite evidence that it causes developmental effects following low-dose exposure, it is crucial that citizens demand that local governments provide the protection that EPA refuses. A pilot study —the first stage of the Global Glyphosate Study by the Ramazzini Institute (Italy) released in May— found that doses of either glyphosate or Roundup considered “safe” by EPA produce genotoxicity, alterations in sexual development, and changes in the intestinal microbiome.

    Tell your local leaders to take action to protect families from pesticides!

    This study adds to the urgent need for action, given previous findings that Roundup is: (1) linked to cancer by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and its subsequent listing on California’s Prop 65 (“chemicals known to cause cancer”) list; (2) promoted by its manufacturer, Monsanto, on the basis of questionable research practices; and (3) challenged in a consensus statement by scientists and medical doctors.

    Glyphosate is not the only pesticide to which we all, including children, are exposed in schools and parks, but it is widely used and portrayed as “safe.” In order to protect children, our local governments and school districts should adopt these policies:

    1. A precautionary approach to use of toxic chemicals –when in doubt, throw it out;
    2. Organic land management practices, which create healthy environments and playing fields by building healthy soils;
    3. Techniques not reliant on pesticides –such as using a steam machine or goats to manage weeds in difficult situations;
    4. Limiting chemical use to an allowed list of organic-compatible fertilizers and pest control materials (see Products Compatible with Organic Landscape Management); and
    5. An organic land management policy that protects children, families, and the local ecology.

    If your community has not already acted to stop glyphosate use and adopt an organic land management policy, start the ball in motion in your town with the following letter to your local elected officials.

    Tell your local leaders to take action to protect families from pesticides!

  • Tell Your State Legislator: Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides in Massachusetts!

    Time is running out. We’ve got just two months for Massachusetts legislators to take legislative action to save bees from toxic pesticides.

    Bees are dying at alarming rates. This year, beekeepers lost nearly 50% of their hives. And bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides are largely to blame.

    The Massachusetts state legislature is considering a bill to ban consumer use of these chemicals. We need your help to make sure it passes soon.

    Tell your legislator: ban bee-killing pesticides in Massachusetts!

    Research confirms that neonics kill and harm bees and other pollinators like butterflies and birds. This poses a serious threat to our food supply, public
    health and environment. After all, bees and other pollinators are responsible for one in three bites of food we eat.

    The European Union recently voted to ban all outdoor uses of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. Canada just announced it is following through on its proposal to phase out most outdoor and agricultural uses of these pesticides. And, the Massachusetts Medical Society just passed a resolution noting its concern about the public health impacts of neonicotinoids.

    With President Trump in the White House and Administrator Scott Pruitt in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we’re facing an uphill battle to restrict these pesticides at the federal level. But Massachusetts can be a leader on this issue by taking action now. So, we need your help to make sure Massachusetts legislators prioritize and pass a bill that will help stop the consumer use of these toxic pesticides in the state!

    Tell your legislator: Help save bees from toxic pesticides!

    There is overwhelming support across the state for a ban on consumer use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. There are
    134 cosponsors on the bill from both sides of the aisle, over 100 Massachusetts scientists and academics have voiced support for it and over 80 businesses and beekeeping, farming, and conservation organizations have endorsed it.

    Let’s not allow the legislative session to end without a vote on this bill. The only thing needed now is for the bill to be brought to the House floor for a vote. Your voice is needed to help make this happen.


    For maximum impact, we encourage you to personalize this message.You message will be delivered to your Massachusetts Sentate and House representative.

    Tell your legislator: ban bee-killing pesticides in Massachusetts!

  • Action of the Week: Defeat the Farm Bill –Unless a Miracle Happens

    The Farm Bill is beginning to move in the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and your voice is critically needed to help stop provisions that are harmful to health and the environment

    >> Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative that they should vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed.

    In addition to sending this urgent action on the Farm Bill, consider reaching out to your U.S. Senators and Representative when they return to your state for the Memorial Day holiday. If you’re part of a group, ask for a meeting. If you see them at an event or in town, let them know how important it is to keep the dangerous provisions listed below out of the Farm Bill

    The Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2, reported favorably out of the House Agriculture Committee, is stalled, after being defeated on the floor over unrelated immigration legislation. The House bill is a direct attack on organic standard setting, the authority of local governments to restrict toxic pesticides, and the protection of farmworkers, endangered species, and the environment. Without public outcry, it is likely that the bill produced by the Senate Agriculture Committee will be at least as bad as the House bill.

    Protect Organic Standards. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) gives the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) broad authority and responsibility to ensure organic integrity. The House version of the Farm Bill contains provisions that will give USDA greater direct and indirect power to allow products and practices that were not intended to be a allowed in organic – hydroponics, poultry houses without real access to the outdoors, and dairy operations without meaningful pasture. The Farm Bill should not:

    • Permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sidestep the NOSB in allowing toxic post-harvest handling substances (sanitizers) to be used in organic production;
    • Change the classification of types of people who may be appointed to the NOSB by adding employees of farmers, handlers, and retailers; and
    • Force consideration of allowing the use of products in organic that are subject to weaker standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    The Farm Bill should also not contain provisions that:

    • Amend the federal pesticide law to pre-empt local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions;
    • Exempt the use of pesticides from the Endangered Species Act, effectively dooming hundreds of endangered species to extinction and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time;
    • Eliminate litigation as a remedy when pesticide decisions threaten endangered species;
    • Eliminate all protections under the Clean Water Act when toxic pesticides are sprayed directly into rivers and streams;
    • Enact the “Pesticide Registration Improvement Act,” providing long-term funding to EPA for expedited processing of pesticide approvals, without accompanying measures to ensure that farmworkers and other pesticide applicators are safe;
    • Weaken restrictions on the use of the highly toxic ozone deplete, methyl bromide; and
    • Provide state pesticide regulatory agencies a secret chance to slow or effectively veto EPA pesticide protections before they are proposed.

    >> Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators that they should vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed.

    We encourage you to customize this message to maximize its impact.



  • Defeat the Farm Bill –Unless a Miracle Happens

    The Farm Bill is beginning to move in the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and your voice is critically needed to help stop provisions that are harmful to health and the environment. The Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2, reported favorably out of the House Agriculture Committee, is stalled, after being defeated on the floor over unrelated immigration legislation. The House bill is a direct attack on organic standard setting, the authority of local governments to restrict toxic pesticides, and the protection of farmworkers, endangered species, and the environment. Without public outcry, it is likely that the bill produced by the Senate Agriculture Committee will be at least as bad as the House bill.

    >> Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative that they should vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed.

    Protect Organic Standards. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) gives the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) broad authority and responsibility to ensure organic integrity. The House version of the Farm Bill contains provisions that will give USDA greater direct and indirect power to allow products and practices that were not intended to be a allowed in organic – hydroponics, poultry houses without real access to the outdoors, and dairy operations without meaningful pasture. The Farm Bill should not:

    • Permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sidestep the NOSB in allowing toxic post-harvest handling substances (sanitizers) to be used in organic production;
    • Change the classification of types of people who may be appointed to the NOSB by adding employees of farmers, handlers, and retailers; and
    • Force consideration of allowing the use of products in organic that are subject to weaker standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    The Farm Bill should also not contain provisions that:

    • Amend the federal pesticide law to pre-empt local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions;
    • Exempt the use of pesticides from the Endangered Species Act, effectively dooming hundreds of endangered species to extinction and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time;
    • Eliminate litigation as a remedy when pesticide decisions threaten endangered species;
    • Eliminate all protections under the Clean Water Act when toxic pesticides are sprayed directly into rivers and streams;
    • Enact the “Pesticide Registration Improvement Act,” providing long-term funding to EPA for expedited processing of pesticide approvals, without accompanying measures to ensure that farmworkers and other pesticide applicators are safe;
    • Weaken restrictions on the use of the highly toxic ozone deplete, methyl bromide; and
    • Provide state pesticide regulatory agencies a secret chance to slow or effectively veto EPA pesticide protections before they are proposed.

    >> Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators that they should vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed.

  • Tell U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Eliminate Pesticide Use on Refuges

    490,000 Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Sprayed on National Wildlife Refuges in 2016
     

    The nation’s 562 national wildlife refuges play a critical role in protecting fish, plants, and other wildlife. They include forests, wetlands, and waterways vital to thousands of species of plants and animals, including 280 that are protected under the Endangered Species Act. However, private chemical-intensive commercial farming of crops like corn, soybeans, and sorghum has become common on refuge lands, with the increasing use of highly toxic pesticides that threaten the long-term health of sensitive habitats and the creatures who depend on them. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) estimates that 490,000 pounds of pesticides were applied to commodity crops like corn, soybeans, and sorghum grown in national wildlife refuges in 2016, the most recent year for which data are available.

    >>Tell FWS to take toxic pesticides out of wildlife refuges.


    The nearly half million pounds of pesticides used on wildlife refuges in 2016 include 2,4-D, dicamba, and paraquat, all of which are toxic to fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and other animals. Also included are 116,200 pounds of glyphosate, the herbicide that has caused widespread decreases in milkweed plants, helping to trigger the 80 percent population decline of monarch butterflies over the past two decades.

    In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced a phase-out of the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops to feed wildlife and a ban on neonicotinoid insecticides from all wildlife refuges nationwide by January 2016. CBD found that although 498 pounds of neonicotinoid pesticides were applied in 2016 to potato crops on the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, all neonicotinoid use has now been discontinued in the refuge system. The heavy use of glyphosate, generally used on crops that are engineered to tolerate it, suggests that the phase-out of GE crops may not have been so successful.

    Refuges exist for the protection of wildlife, and activities there should not jeopardize their health. FWS should require that organic practices be used in any farming on refuges.

    >>Tell FWS to take toxic pesticides out of wildlife refuges.

  • Pesticide Safety Data Transparency a Blind Spot under EPA Policy

    Under EPA Administrator Pruitt’s proposed “transparency” plan, the public will still lack access to key data about the effects and efficacy of commercial poisons approved for sale and application in their communities and homes.

    >>Tell EPA to adopt a real transparency plan for pesticides!

    The proposed policy, posted on April 30 in the Federal Register, declares that it will “help ensure that EPA is pursuing its mission of public health and the environment in a manner that the public can trust and understand,” yet it applies only to a very limited set of studies used to support certain EPA regulations. The pesticide registration and review processes are particularly lacking in transparency, opportunity for public review, and access to data. Because pesticides are toxic chemicals broadcast into the environment, nowhere is transparency more important than in pesticide registration.

    The proposed new policy does not cover pesticide registrations, warning labels, use restrictions, or proof of effectiveness. In the current process, the pesticide manufacturer produces the underlying data for these EPA approvals and controls access to them. Thus, despite Pruitt’s sweeping claims of “transparency in regulatory science”:

    • The public does not have access to the underlying data provided by the manufacturer to justify registering a new pesticide for commercial distribution;
    • Industry will not have to provide the data used to assess health and environmental effects and farmworker impacts to set allowable dietary and non-dietary exposure limits; and

    On the product’s efficacy, the public also does not have access to the underlying data, nor does EPA even review manufacturer data on product effectiveness, except for very limited purposes.

    To ensure full review, it is critical that the public and independent scientific community have complete access to safety testing data before poisonous pesticide products enter the marketplace. If EPA applies the proposed policy to pesticides, the failure to allow consideration of independent study results without disclosing confidential patient information will cripple the validity of EPA safety reviews. Furthermore, the failure to label all ingredients in pesticide products used by the public runs contrary to the basic principle of informed decision making.

    Mr. Pruitt’s plan does not enable the public to have any meaningful information about “environmental health risk or safety risk,” as he claims. Under a false flag of scientific transparency, Mr. Pruitt’s scheme hobbles scientific work used to protect the public, but shields industry data that may demonstrate a public health peril.

    EPA pesticide regulation is based on secret science.

    Although EPA has proposed a rulemaking that purports to make science used in EPA regulatory decision making transparent and available to the public, the proposal applies only to “significant” EPA rulemakings, but not to matters such as pesticide registrations, through which private companies seek authorization to market products that may be harmful to public health and the environment. The pesticide registration and review processes are particularly lacking in transparency and opportunity for public review and access to data.

    Data used to approve pesticides are not available to the public
    .
    Pesticides are registered (authorized for use) based on studies and data submitted by the manufacturer (registrant) —not based on science conducted or commissioned by EPA. Such registrant data are not available for public review until after the pesticide is registered. The nonpublic data submitted by the registrant are used by EPA to assess health and environmental effects of the pesticide and impacts on farmworkers, and to set allowable human exposures through dietary and non-dietary routes —all without any opportunity for public review of the underlying data.

    After registration, the public can access the materials on the basis of which the registration was granted only through making requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a lengthy process. Even then, much information is withheld as purportedly “confidential.” If problems are identified that uncover a hazard from the pesticide, a member of the public would need to petition for a proceeding to cancel the registration, a long and unwieldy process during which the pesticide remains on the market.

    EPA’s registration, registration review, and cancellation of pesticides raise numerous issues regarding the application of legitimate scientific process, risk assessment, exposure assumptions, sensitive populations, and the “reasonableness” of what are found to be “acceptable” hazards. Transparency of agency processes and underlying data is key to allowing public participation concerning these issues.  

    Full disclosure of known and unknown adverse effects is needed.
    EPA does not currently require that registrants disclose data submitted to EPA or label pesticides (including household pesticides) with data concerning the full extent of knowledge and/or ignorance of possible adverse effects, including data gaps and chronic health effects. Registrants’ exposure and toxicology studies are not released to the public so that any interested stakeholder can review them prior to a product being permitted on the market.

    Conditional registration is missing crucial data.

    Pesticide registrations under special circumstances, known as “conditional registrations,” allow widespread use of toxic chemicals that are not fully tested. Conditional registration of pesticides allows market entry for a product in the absence of certain data normally required for registration. As one glaring example, EPA came under scrutiny when it conditionally registered the neonicotinoid pesticide clothianidin, tied to dramatic declines in pollinators, without required pertinent field data on honeybees, even though the pesticide is known to pose risks to these vulnerable pollinators.

    Efficacy data on pesticide products are lacking.
    The public does not have access to, and EPA does not review, manufacturer data on pesticide efficacy, even though the statutory registration standard requires weighing the risks of pesticides against their benefits. Without efficacy information, the real benefits of a pesticide are unknown, and the reasonableness of pesticide use cannot be assessed. The lack of efficacy data review results in escalating and predictable insect and weed resistance, unnecessary increases in pesticide use, and increased risk for farmers of crop loss and economic damage. The only instance in which EPA evaluates pesticide efficacy is as a part of public health (not agricultural) pesticide registrations, and even this is without public disclosure or opportunity for comment.

    Secret ingredients in pesticide products are not disclosed.
    Currently, pesticide labels do not identify “inert” ingredients that have been classified as hazardous under a variety of environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. Disclosure would provide information about almost 400 hazardous chemicals in pesticide products.

    Only active ingredients, not formulations, are tested.

    EPA does not require testing data on the full formulation of a pesticide product, including all of the “inert” ingredients. Thus, data on the human health and environmental effects of the actual product on the market are entirely lacking.

    The federal government needs a vision for pesticide policy across relevant agencies that seeks to replace outdated approaches and technologies, reliant on toxic chemicals, with green approaches advanced through incentives, assistance, and restrictions. This cannot be achieved without full transparency and disclosure of toxic hazards of pesticide products in the marketplace. Without full information on pesticide hazards, access to underlying data on hazards, and a transparent assessment of the reasonableness of risk (given the availability of less or non-toxic alternatives), the public is left in the dark. Credible reviews, subject to public oversight, are essential in EPA’s regulation of pesticides to prevent contamination of air, land, water, and food.

    >>Tell EPA to adopt a real transparency plan for pesticides!

  • Pesticide Safety Data Transparency a Blind Spot under EPA Policy

    Under EPA Administrator Pruitt’s proposed “transparency” plan, the public will still lack access to key data about the effects and efficacy of commercial poisons approved for sale and application in their communities and homes.

    >>Tell EPA to adopt a real transparency plan for pesticides!

    The proposed policy, posted on April 30 in the Federal Register, declares that it will “help ensure that EPA is pursuing its mission of public health and the environment in a manner that the public can trust and understand,” yet it applies only to a very limited set of studies used to support certain EPA regulations. The pesticide registration and review processes are particularly lacking in transparency, opportunity for public review, and access to data. Because pesticides are toxic chemicals broadcast into the environment, nowhere is transparency more important than in pesticide registration.

    The proposed new policy does not cover pesticide registrations, warning labels, use restrictions, or proof of effectiveness. In the current process, the pesticide manufacturer produces the underlying data for these EPA approvals and controls access to them. Thus, despite Pruitt’s sweeping claims of “transparency in regulatory science”:

    • The public does not have access to the underlying data provided by the manufacturer to justify registering a new pesticide for commercial distribution;
    • Industry will not have to provide the data used to assess health and environmental effects and farmworker impacts to set allowable dietary and non-dietary exposure limits; and

    On the product’s efficacy, the public also does not have access to the underlying data, nor does EPA even review manufacturer data on product effectiveness, except for very limited purposes.

    To ensure full review, it is critical that the public and independent scientific community have complete access to safety testing data before poisonous pesticide products enter the marketplace. If EPA applies the proposed policy to pesticides, the failure to allow consideration of independent study results without disclosing confidential patient information will cripple the validity of EPA safety reviews. Furthermore, the failure to label all ingredients in pesticide products used by the public runs contrary to the basic principle of informed decision making.

    Mr. Pruitt’s plan does not enable the public to have any meaningful information about “environmental health risk or safety risk,” as he claims. Under a false flag of scientific transparency, Mr. Pruitt’s scheme hobbles scientific work used to protect the public, but shields industry data that may demonstrate a public health peril.

    EPA pesticide regulation is based on secret science.

    Although EPA has proposed a rulemaking that purports to make science used in EPA regulatory decision making transparent and available to the public, the proposal applies only to “significant” EPA rulemakings, but not to matters such as pesticide registrations, through which private companies seek authorization to market products that may be harmful to public health and the environment. The pesticide registration and review processes are particularly lacking in transparency and opportunity for public review and access to data.

    Data used to approve pesticides are not available to the public
    .
    Pesticides are registered (authorized for use) based on studies and data submitted by the manufacturer (registrant) —not based on science conducted or commissioned by EPA. Such registrant data are not available for public review until after the pesticide is registered. The nonpublic data submitted by the registrant are used by EPA to assess health and environmental effects of the pesticide and impacts on farmworkers, and to set allowable human exposures through dietary and non-dietary routes —all without any opportunity for public review of the underlying data.

    After registration, the public can access the materials on the basis of which the registration was granted only through making requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a lengthy process. Even then, much information is withheld as purportedly “confidential.” If problems are identified that uncover a hazard from the pesticide, a member of the public would need to petition for a proceeding to cancel the registration, a long and unwieldy process during which the pesticide remains on the market.

    EPA’s registration, registration review, and cancellation of pesticides raise numerous issues regarding the application of legitimate scientific process, risk assessment, exposure assumptions, sensitive populations, and the “reasonableness” of what are found to be “acceptable” hazards. Transparency of agency processes and underlying data is key to allowing public participation concerning these issues.  

    Full disclosure of known and unknown adverse effects is needed.
    EPA does not currently require that registrants disclose data submitted to EPA or label pesticides (including household pesticides) with data concerning the full extent of knowledge and/or ignorance of possible adverse effects, including data gaps and chronic health effects. Registrants’ exposure and toxicology studies are not released to the public so that any interested stakeholder can review them prior to a product being permitted on the market.

    Conditional registration is missing crucial data.

    Pesticide registrations under special circumstances, known as “conditional registrations,” allow widespread use of toxic chemicals that are not fully tested. Conditional registration of pesticides allows market entry for a product in the absence of certain data normally required for registration. As one glaring example, EPA came under scrutiny when it conditionally registered the neonicotinoid pesticide clothianidin, tied to dramatic declines in pollinators, without required pertinent field data on honeybees, even though the pesticide is known to pose risks to these vulnerable pollinators.

    Efficacy data on pesticide products are lacking.
    The public does not have access to, and EPA does not review, manufacturer data on pesticide efficacy, even though the statutory registration standard requires weighing the risks of pesticides against their benefits. Without efficacy information, the real benefits of a pesticide are unknown, and the reasonableness of pesticide use cannot be assessed. The lack of efficacy data review results in escalating and predictable insect and weed resistance, unnecessary increases in pesticide use, and increased risk for farmers of crop loss and economic damage. The only instance in which EPA evaluates pesticide efficacy is as a part of public health (not agricultural) pesticide registrations, and even this is without public disclosure or opportunity for comment.

    Secret ingredients in pesticide products are not disclosed.
    Currently, pesticide labels do not identify “inert” ingredients that have been classified as hazardous under a variety of environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. Disclosure would provide information about almost 400 hazardous chemicals in pesticide products.

    Only active ingredients, not formulations, are tested.

    EPA does not require testing data on the full formulation of a pesticide product, including all of the “inert” ingredients. Thus, data on the human health and environmental effects of the actual product on the market are entirely lacking.

    The federal government needs a vision for pesticide policy across relevant agencies that seeks to replace outdated approaches and technologies, reliant on toxic chemicals, with green approaches advanced through incentives, assistance, and restrictions. This cannot be achieved without full transparency and disclosure of toxic hazards of pesticide products in the marketplace. Without full information on pesticide hazards, access to underlying data on hazards, and a transparent assessment of the reasonableness of risk (given the availability of less or non-toxic alternatives), the public is left in the dark. Credible reviews, subject to public oversight, are essential in EPA’s regulation of pesticides to prevent contamination of air, land, water, and food.

    >>Tell EPA to adopt a real transparency plan for pesticides!

  • Action of the Week: Help Finalize Decision to Keep Imidacloprid Out of Willapa Bay

    Help Finalize Decision to Keep Imidacloprid Out of National Treasure, Willapa Bay; Previous Public Comments Led to Temporary Denial of Use.

    The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) temporarily denied a permit to spray Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor with the toxic neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid. National Treasure Willapa BayYour comments helped achieve the temporary decision and comments are now needed again to make the denial permanent. The public comment period closes on May 14, 2018.

    >>Tell Ecology to restore the bays instead of spraying them!

    Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, with a number of unique ecosystems, and among the most pristine estuaries in the U.S., have been targeted with a plan to spray the toxic neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid to kill the native burrowing shrimp in beds of commercial Japanese oysters. This insecticide use will have deadly effects on keystone aquatic organisms. Based on a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and public input, Ecology temporarily denied the permit.

    Ecology bases its decision on these factors:

    • Too great an impact on the marine organisms that live in the sediments where the pesticide application is proposed.
    • Too much uncertainty about the long-term impacts associated with this pesticide.
    • Negative impacts on fish and birds caused by killing sources of food and disrupting the food web.
    • Even at low concentrations, imidacloprid has significant impacts on the environment.

    Among the knowledge gaps found by Ecology are uncertainties over whether imidacloprid is effective for its stated purpose. These uncertainties are crucial, because no spraying can be justified if it is not effective.

    The SEIS finds a number of uncertainties concerning the direct effects of spraying imidacloprid, including accumulation in sediments, long-term toxic impacts, impacts on zooplankton, sublethal effects, impacts on vegetation, impacts of degradation products, and the area that would be affected.

    The SEIS does not evaluate synergistic impacts of imidacloprid combined with other chemicals (“inert” or non-disclosed ingredients, other chemicals used in the bays, and other pollutants) or other stressors. Among the organisms known to be at risk is the commercially important Dungeness crab, which has been shown to be susceptible to the effects of imidacloprid, and whose populations experience large natural fluctuations, putting them at risk of extinction.

    Given the systemic mode of action of imidacloprid in crop plants, the permit cannot be approved without accounting for impacts on non-target animals consuming vegetation in treated areas.

    Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor have been affected over the past century by human activity that has contributed to problems experienced by all who use the bays. The best alternative to address these problems is one that was not considered in the SEIS –restoring the habitat by removing stressors coming into the bays from streams flowing into them.

    Please use the letter below, with your own adapatations. When you press "submit," it will be delivered to the Washington State Department of Ecology.

  • Tell Congress to Vote Against the Farm Bill if It Weakens Organic Standards

    Organic standards are under attack in the Farm Bill, H.R. 2, passed by the Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and in language emerging in the Senate Agriculture Committee. This adds to the attacks on which we have previously taken action.

    >>Tell Congress to Vote Against the Farm Bill if It Weakens Organic Standards

    The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) gives the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) broad authority and responsibility to ensure organic integrity. The Farm Bill contains provisions that:

    • Will permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sidestep the NOSB in allowing post-harvest handling substances (sanitizers) to be used in organic production;
    • Change the classification of types of people who may be appointed to the NOSB by adding employees of farmers, handlers, and retailers; and
    • Force consideration of the judgment of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when those agencies find a material to meet their own (less stringent) criteria for use.


    These provisions are a direct attack on the strength of organic standards. When OFPA was passed and placed under USDA authority, Congress established a board composed of members of the organic community –farmers, handlers/processors, retailers, environmentalists, public interest groups, scientists, and certifiers— to provide direction to USDA and maintain the integrity of the organic label. Organic production arose out of a concern about hazardous chemical-intensive practices and unprotective laws and regulations; hence, OFPA and standards recommended by the NOSB and adopted by USDA for organic production are more stringent than standards adopted by FDA and EPA. Now that organic production has become a nearly $50 billion dollar enterprise, politicians are under pressure from large producers that would like to get a share of the organic premium without meeting current standards. We must stop this attack and protect organic as a real choice for health and environmental protection.

    These Farm Bill provisions will give USDA greater direct and indirect power to change the materials allowed in organic production to favor producers who do not meet all the criteria traditionally considered to be required of organic certified operations –such as hydroponics, poultry houses without real access to the outdoors, and dairy operations without meaningful pasture. Organic means something important. Let’s keep it that way!

    >>Tell Congress to Vote Against the Farm Bill if It Weakens Organic Standards

    See two other problem amendments in the Farm Bill: preemption of local regulation of pesticides, and elimination of EPA’s legally mandated scientific consultations on pesticides with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
    .

  • Tell EPA to Ban Glyphosate

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting comments on its human health and environmental risk assessments of glyphosate (sold as Roundup™, Rodeo™, and many other products) until April 30. Evidence is mounting that glyphosate products cause cancer and many other human health and environmental problems.

    >>Sign the petition asking EPA to ban glyphosate.

    Despite the prevalent myth that this widely used herbicide is harmless, glyphosate is associated with a wide range of illnesses, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, genetic damage, liver and kidney damage, and endocrine disruption, as well as environmental damage, including water contamination and harm to amphibians. Researchers have also determined that the “inert” ingredients in glyphosate products, especially polyethoxylated tallow amine or POEA –a surfactant commonly used in glyphosate and other herbicidal products— are even more toxic than glyphosate itself. Monsanto, manufacturer of glyphosate, formulates many products (such as Roundup and Rodeo) and markets formulations exclusively used on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, due in large part to the increased cultivation of GE crops that are tolerant of the herbicide.  

    This petition summarizes the reasons glyphosate should be banned. More information can be found in the Beyond Pesticides factsheet and Pesticides and You article.

    For even greater effectiveness, use the information in this petition and Beyond Pesticides’ comments to submit your own comments at Regulations.gov.

  • Urgent Action: Sneak Attack on Local Pesticide Laws by Chemical and Pest Management Industry in Farm Bill Passed by House Agriculture Committee

    Help stop an extraordinary sneak attack on the right of Maine communities to protect people and the environment from pesticides in the Republican Farm Bill, passed by the Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 18 on a straight party line vote.

     
    >>Send a letter to your U.S. Representative and Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, requesting that they reject a provision in the House Farm Bill that prohibits local laws on pesticides.

    The language inserted in the Farm Bill amends the federal pesticide law with a provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions. Local laws in two states, Maine and Maryland, will be overturned with final passage of this law in the U.S. House and Senate. In those 43 states that forbid local pesticide laws by state law, future reconsideration of this prohibition, enacted at the behest of the chemical and pest management industry, will be foreclosed. Laws protecting the environment and public health have historically emerged out of local governments, which have adopted laws related to recycling, smoking, pet waste, building codes, and zoning.

    The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. The Court specifically upheld the authority of local governments to restrict pesticides throughout their jurisdictions under federal pesticide law. In Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier, the Court ruled that pesticide law does not prohibit, or preempt, local jurisdictions from restricting the use of pesticides more stringently than the federal government. According to Mortier, however, states do retain authority to restrict local control. In response to the Supreme Court decision, the pesticide lobby immediately formed the Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy and developed boilerplate legislative language that restricts local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The Coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking and, in most cases, passing, preemption legislation that was often identical to the Coalition’s wording.

    Since the passage of those state laws, there have been numerous efforts to preempt local authority in states that do not prohibit local action on pesticides, most recently in Maine. An industry-backed attempt to enact pesticide preemption in the state of Maine failed after bill LD 1853 was voted down in March. The bill resembled a similar bill that failed in the same legislative committee in 2017. Similarly, in Maryland, the chemical industry was unsuccessful in its attempts in the mid-1990s and more recently to pass legislation seeking explicit preemption in Maryland.

    With an ever increasing number of communities stepping up to protect their residents and unique local environment from pesticide poisoning and contamination, the repeated introduction of preemption legislation means that health advocates and forward-thinking communities must continue to remain vigilant, and ready to fight to maintain their right to home rule. Having failed to curtail local action and the growing number of communities deciding to act, the chemical industry is flexing its muscle with a sneak attack in a Congress friendly to its position.

  • Urgent Action: Sneak Attack on Local Pesticide Laws by Chemical and Pest Management Industry in Farm Bill Passed by House Agriculture Committee

    Help stop an extraordinary sneak attack on the right of Maryland communities to protect people and the environment from pesticides in the Republican Farm Bill, passed by the Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 18 on a straight party line vote.

     
    >>Send a letter to your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators, requesting that they reject a provision in the House Farm Bill that prohibits local laws on pesticides.

    The language inserted in the Farm Bill amends the federal pesticide law with a provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions. Local laws in two states, Maine and Maryland, will be overturned with final passage of this law in the U.S. House and Senate. In those 43 states that forbid local pesticide laws by state law, future reconsideration of this prohibition, pushed by the chemical and pest management industry, will be foreclosed. Laws protecting the environment and public health have historically emerged out of local governments, which have adopted laws related to recycling, smoking, pet waste, building codes, and zoning.

    The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. The Court specifically upheld the authority of local governments to restrict pesticides throughout their jurisdictions under federal pesticide law. In Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier, the Court ruled that pesticide law does not prohibit, or preempt, local jurisdictions from restricting the use of pesticides more stringently than the federal government. According to Mortier, however, states do retain authority to restrict local control. In response to the Supreme Court decision, In response to the Supreme Court decision, the pesticide lobby immediately formed the Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy, and developed boilerplate legislative language that restricts local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The Coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking and, in most cases, passing, preemption legislation that was often identical to the Coalition’s wording.

    Since the passage of those state laws, there have been numerous efforts to preempt local authority in states that do not prohibit local action on pesticides, most recently in Maine. An industry-backed attempt to enact pesticide preemption in the state of Maine failed after bill LD 1853 was voted down in March. The bill resembled a similar bill that failed in the same legislative committee in 2017. Similarly, in Maryland, the chemical industry was unsuccessful in its attempts in the mid-1990s and more recently to pass legislation seeking explicit preemption in Maryland.

    With an ever increasing number of communities stepping up to protect their residents and unique local environment from pesticide poisoning and contamination, the repeated introduction of preemption legislation means that health advocates and forward-thinking communities must continue to remain vigilant, and ready to fight to maintain their right to home rule. Having failed to curtail local action and the growing number of communities deciding to act, the chemical industry is flexing its muscle with a sneak attack in a Congress friendly to its position.

  • Urgent Action: Sneak Attack on Local Pesticide Laws by Chemical and Pest Management Industry in Farm Bill Passed by House Agriculture Committee

    Help stop an extraordinary sneak attack on the right of local communities to protect people and the environment from pesticides in the Republican Farm Bill, passed by the Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 18 on a straight party line vote.

     
    >>Send a letter to your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators, requesting that they reject a provision in the House Farm Bill that prohibits local laws on pesticides.

    The language inserted in the Farm Bill amends the federal pesticide law with a provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions. Local laws in two states, Maine and Maryland, will be overturned with final passage of this law in the U.S. House and Senate. In those 43 states that forbid local pesticide laws by state law, future reconsideration of this prohibition, enacted at the behest of the chemical and pest management industry, will be foreclosed. Laws protecting the environment and public health have historically emerged out of local governments, which have adopted laws related to recycling, smoking, pet waste, building codes, and zoning.

    The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. The Court specifically upheld the authority of local governments to restrict pesticides throughout their jurisdictions under federal pesticide law. In Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier, the Court ruled that pesticide law does not prohibit, or preempt, local jurisdictions from restricting the use of pesticides more stringently than the federal government. According to Mortier, however, states do retain authority to restrict local control. In response to the Supreme Court decision, the pesticide lobby immediately formed the Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy, and developed boilerplate legislative language that restricts local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The Coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking and, in most cases, passing, preemption legislation that was often identical to the Coalition’s wording.

    Since the passage of those state laws, there have been numerous efforts to preempt local authority in states that do not prohibit local action on pesticides, most recently in Maine. An industry-backed attempt to enact pesticide preemption in the state of Maine failed after bill LD 1853 was voted down in March. The bill resembled a similar bill that failed in the same legislative committee in 2017. Similarly, in Maryland, the chemical industry was unsuccessful in its attempts in the mid-1990s and more recently to pass legislation seeking explicit preemption in Maryland.

    With an ever-increasing number of communities stepping up to protect their residents and unique local environment from pesticide poisoning and contamination, the repeated introduction of preemption legislation means that health advocates and forward-thinking communities must continue to remain vigilant, and ready to fight to maintain their right to home rule. Having failed to curtail local action and the growing number of communities deciding to act, the chemical industry is flexing its muscle with a sneak attack in a Congress friendly to its position.

  • Dump Scott Pruitt Now!

    Ethics scandals pile on top of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s failure to do his job, leading to the inevitable conclusion that he must go.

    >>Tell Congress and the President to dump Pruitt.

    On the ethics side, there are:

    All of these ethics issues are in addition to Pruitt’s attacks on the environment he is charged with protecting:

    >>Tell Congress and the President to dump Pruitt.

  • Tell Congress to Sign UN Biodiversity Convention

    A new international study finds that the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources worldwide has reached critical proportions, causing biodiversity loss and land degradation that threaten the food and water security of an estimated 3.2 billion people. Congress must act for the U.S. to become a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity, joining the global community in working to develop and implement solutions to the biodiversity crisis. 

    >>Urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to call for a vote in Congress to support the U.S. becoming a signatory to the UN Convention on Biodiversity.

    The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report unearths the crisis faced by two-fifths of the world’s population due to the worsening of land degradation, declining species biodiversity, and the intensification of climate change. Though the report presents a bleak picture of how humans have substantially degraded the natural resources essential to survival, it holds up indigenous knowledge and land-use practices as potential models for how to use natural resources for human benefit, while still protecting biodiversity. However, the cultures that possess this knowledge are also in jeopardy. More than 60 percent of indigenous languages and cultures in the Americas are declining or dying.

    In addition to detailing the root causes of biodiversity losses and ecosystem damages, the report also examines the social, cultural, political, and economic influences that can affect long-lasting change. Central to the extensively peer-reviewed report is a strong and often-repeated message that the window of opportunity for reversing land degradation and its impacts is closing. The report’s Chair, Robert Watson, PhD, warns that, “We must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature –or risk not only the future we want, but even the lives we currently lead.”

    Biodiversity has been most strongly affected by agriculture, followed by forestry, infrastructure development, urban encroachment, and climate change. The resultant reduction and elimination in the suitability of habitats is the major cause of biodiversity losses. IPBES identified a nearly 40 percent decline in the average population size of wild terrestrial vertebrate species and an 81 percent decline in freshwater vertebrate species between 1970 and 2012. UN Administrator of the Development Program, Achim Steiner, argues that “Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it supports are not only the foundation for life on Earth, but critical to the livelihoods and well-being of people everywhere.”

    Agriculture affects biodiversity through use of pesticides and fertilizers in chemical-intensive farming, and direct destruction of habitats in order to expand farmland. Concrete solutions offered in the report include: halting agriculture expansion into native habitats, improving soil health, conservation agriculture, shifts toward integrated crop, livestock, and forestry agriculture, more plant-based foods, and food waste reduction.

    Chief among the cultural drivers of land degradation is the high-consumption lifestyles of people living in advanced industrialized countries, the growing consumption in emerging economies, and increasing population growth. All of these behaviors cause land degradation through natural resource and mineral extraction and by fueling agricultural and urban sprawl. Such activities have left less than 25% of the Earth’s surface free from degradation, mostly in deserts, tundra, mountains, and polar -regions.

    Authors of the IPBES report have dubbed its findings “a wake-up call for all of us.” It will also undoubtedly serve that function for the 198 parties to the Convention on Biodiversity who will be attending the upcoming meeting in Egypt in November of this year. Aided by conclusions drawn from the report, agreements will be made on targets for improving biodiversity and strengthening compliance with the treaty. Although the U.S. is a party to the convention, it is not a signatory, which means that it is not legally bound by treaty provisions.

    >>Urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to call for a vote in Congress to support the U.S. becoming a signatory to the UN Convention on Biodiversity.

  • Urgent: The Attack on Local Pesticide Restrictions Is Still On

    Hearing scheduled Wednesday this week on bill to stop local cities and towns from adopting ordinances that restrict pesticide use.

    Tell your state legislators and members of the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government to oppose LD1853.

    To recap what we told you a couple a weeks ago before this legislation moved through the agriculture committee. LD1853 will take away the authority of local governments in the state to restrict toxic pesticides use. LD1853 has the misleading title of “An Act to Ensure the Safe and Consistent Regulation of Pesticides throughout the State by Providing Exemptions to Municipal Ordinances that Regulate Pesticides” and is sponsored by Senator Tom Saviello of Franklin.

    The democratic process is foundational to the culture of Maine and the country. LD 1853 betrays the democratic process and the will of communities and their elected officials to protect health and the environment. As you may know from the debate on a similar piece of legislation that failed last session, LD 1505, Maine communities want to be able to adopt standards that exceed or are more stringent than state standards as a matter of public health and environmental protection, or quality of life.

    LD1853 is a blatant attempt to subvert the will of the democratic process to limit the commercial use of toxic pesticides, despite the availability of less or non-toxic alternative practices and products. From a health and environmental perspective in the community, it does not matter whether a pesticide is applied by a commercial operators or a homeowner. The point is that the democratic process has resulted in a restriction of toxic pesticide use in the community.

    When the U.S. Supreme Court looked at this issue in 1991 and voted to uphold the rights of local communities under the federal pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), it found that the law “does not equate registration and labeling requirements with a general approval to apply pesticides throughout the Nation without regard to regional and local factors, like climate, population, geography and water supply [emphasis added].” In effect, the court recognized the value of local authority in addressing pesticide use in the context of local conditions and concerns.

    When the chemical industry tried similar legislation last year, the bill failed. Now, pesticide proponents are trying again.

    Tell your state legislators and members of the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government to oppose LD1853.

  • Action of the Week: Tell Your Governor to Ban Neonicotinoid Insecticides

    European Regulators Confirm Neonicotinoids Harm Bees, Increasing Likelihood of Continent-Wide Ban

    A comprehensive assessment released last week by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed that neonicotinoids, the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, pose risks to honey bees and wild pollinators. EFSA analyzed over 1,500 studies from academia, beekeeper associations, chemical companies, farmer groups, non-governmental organizations, and national regulators. EFSA’s risk assessment provides a definitive, independent conclusion that overall, continued use of these chemicals risks the long-term health of pollinator populations.

    >>Tell Your Governor to Ban Neonicotinoid Insecticides

    “The availability of such a substantial amount of data as well as the guidance has enabled us to produce very detailed conclusions,” said Jose Tarazona, PhD, head of EFSA’s Pesticides Unit in a press release. This is EFSA’s second comprehensive evaluation of the three most commonly used neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam. Earlier research finalized in 2013 led the European Union (EU) to ban use of the three neonicotinoids on agricultural flowering crops. The new assessment applies EFSA guidance to assessing risks to bees and on the initial review. It includes literature not only on honey bees, but also on wild pollinators, including bumblebees and solitary bees.

    EFSA stresses that although some low risks were identified, “In most of the cases where some low risks were identified for a particular use, high risks were also identified for the same use.” Risk assessors looked at three broad routes of exposure: residues from pollen and nectar, dust drift during sowing or application of neonicotinoid-treated seeds, and water consumption. While, for instance, looking at canola production, EFSA determined that chemical residues in nectar and pollen pose a low risk to honey bees, they are at the same time deemed a high risk for bumblebees, and residues via dust drift are likewise considered a high risk to honey bees. Thus, the researchers emphasize that their conclusion of risk is broad and all-encompassing.

    That aspect is important, because throughout the over 11-year crisis, the major manufacturers of neonicotinoids, Bayer and Syngenta, as well as companies like Monsanto that coat their proprietary seeds in these chemicals, have worked hard to muddle and spin scientific conclusions around neonicotinoids. One study showing low risks to one pollinator does not negate high risks to another species, but the chemical industry seeks to downplay hazards, despite the preponderance of evidence linking bee decline to pesticides. Between now and the European Commission’s upcoming vote, these efforts are likely to increase in the media, as well as behind closed doors.

    EFSA’s assessment should be a wake-up call for federal and state regulators in the U.S. In January 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its risk assessment documents on pollinator exposure to neonicotinoids, finding no significant risks despite the overwhelming scientific literature and despite identifying instances where bees could be put at risk.

    The differences between EPA’s  and EFSA’s conclusions highlight the problem with the U.S. system for registering and evaluating pesticides, but also points to an agency that is close to the companies it regulates. While EFSA considered a range of independent data for its assessments, EPA only considers information provided by pesticide manufacturers. The agency has the ability to review independent science or call in additional information from producers to ensure there are no adverse effects from a pesticide’s use, but often neglects to do so. The agency also ignores or minimizes the effect of entire routes of exposure. EPA’s assessment did not consider risks from exposure via water consumption, and did not conduct an assessment on exposure from the dust drift off of treated seeds, instead citing best management practices to reduce dust. Rather than ban or even restrict neonicotinoids, EPA’s only concrete response has been to slightly alter the label language on neonicotinoid products. At present, the agency is preparing to reregister these insecticides for another 15-year period.

    In view of EPA’s failure to act, states must take the lead in protecting the nation’s pollinators.

    >>Tell Your Governor to Ban Neonicotinoid Insecticides

  • Ban Chlorpyrifos in California

    Even if you don’t live in California, chances are that you eat food that is grown there. Unless all that food is organic, some of it was probably sprayed with chlorpyrifos, exposing not only you, but also the farmworkers responsible for its cultivation and harvest. Farmworker families –especially children— who usually live close to the treated fields, suffer higher impacts than those living further away.

    Five months after the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) issued its weak and inadequate draft risk assessment for the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos, the state's Scientific Review Panel (SRP) ordered DPR back to the drawing board to produce a much stronger draft that properly considers the risk of harm to the developing brain.  

    In view of EPA’s retraction of its proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of the highly neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos, despite its own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is especially important that California take action to ban the chemical. California, the home of the largest agriculture industry in the country, used over one million pounds of chlorpyrifos on over a million acres in 2012. EPA’s assessment is also supported by the classification of chlorpyrifos as a developmental toxicant by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which oversees the “Prop 65” list.  

    EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 federal Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. In 2016, EPA concluded that there is “sufficient evidence” that there are neurodevelopmental effects at low levels, and that current approaches for evaluating chlorpyrifos’s neurological impact are “not sufficiently health protective.” 

    As stated by U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) in introducing S. 1624 to ban chlorpyrifos, “The science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage and neurodevelopmental disorders in children is undeniable. The EPA's own scientists have established that chlorpyrifos on food and in groundwater is a threat to public health and should be banned."  

    Epidemiological data also points to subpopulations that are disproportionately affected by chlorpyrifos exposures. Low-income African-American and Latino families, including farmworker families, continue to suffer the most, and this disproportionate impact creates an environmental justice problem that the state cannot continue to ignore. 

    >>Tell Governor Brown to ban chlorpyrifos now, for the sake of the children.

     

  • Urgent: Stop Maine Legislation to Overturn Local Pesticide Ordinances

    Last minute vote scheduled this week to stop local cities and towns from adopting ordinances that restrict pesticide use.

    Tell your state legislators and members of the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to oppose LD1853.
     
    Just last Thursday, a bill was introduced in the Maine state legislature to take away the authority of local governments in the state to restrict toxic pesticides use. The bill, LD1853, has the misleading title of “An Act to Ensure the Safe and Consistent Regulation of Pesticides throughout the State by Providing Exemptions to Municipal Ordinances that Regulate Pesticides” and is sponsored by Senator Tom Saviello of Franklin.

    The democratic process is foundational to the culture of Maine and the country. LD 1853 betrays the democratic process and the will of communities and their elected officials to protect health and the environment. As you may know from the debate on a similar piece of legislation that failed last session, LD 1505, Maine communities want to be able to adopt standards that exceed or are more stringent than state standards as a matter of public health and environmental protection, or quality of life.

    LD1853 is a blatant attempt to subvert the will of the democratic process to limit the commercial use of toxic pesticides, despite the availability of less or non-toxic alternative practices and products. From a health and environmental perspective in the community, it does not matter whether a pesticide is applied by a commercial operator or a homeowner. The point is that the democratic process has resulted in a restriction of toxic pesticide use in the community.

    When the U.S. Supreme Court looked at this issue in 1991 and voted to uphold the rights of local communities under the federal pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), it found that the law “does not equate registration and labeling requirements with a general approval to apply pesticides throughout the Nation without regard to regional and local factors, like climate, population, geography and water supply [emphasis added].” In effect, the court recognized the value of local authority in addressing pesticide use in the context of local conditions and concerns.

    When the chemical industry tried similar legislation last year, the bill failed. Now, pesticide proponents are trying again.

    Tell your state legislators and members of the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to oppose LD1853. You will send an email to your state legislators and to the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.  (A personal note is best. We encourage you to change the subject and the body of your email.) If you would like to call a member of the committee, see the call list below.

                             

  • Ban Chlorpyrifos in California

    Even if you don’t live in California, chances are that you eat food that is grown there. Unless all that food is organic, some of it was probably sprayed with chlorpyrifos, exposing not only you, but also the farmworkers responsible for its cultivation and harvest. Farmworker families –especially children— who usually live close to the treated fields, suffer higher impacts than those living further away.

    Five months after the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) issued its weak and inadequate draft risk assessment for the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos, the state's Scientific Review Panel (SRP) ordered DPR back to the drawing board to produce a much stronger draft that properly considers the risk of harm to the developing brain.  

    In view of EPA’s retraction of its proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of the highly neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos, despite its own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is especially important that California take action to ban the chemical. California, the home of the largest agriculture industry in the country, used over one million pounds of chlorpyrifos on over a million acres in 2012. EPA’s assessment is also supported by the classification of chlorpyrifos as a developmental toxicant by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which oversees the “Prop 65” list.  

    EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 federal Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. In 2016, EPA concluded that there is “sufficient evidence” that there are neurodevelopmental effects at low levels, and that current approaches for evaluating chlorpyrifos’s neurological impact are “not sufficiently health protective.” 

    As stated by U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) in introducing S. 1624 to ban chlorpyrifos, “The science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage and neurodevelopmental disorders in children is undeniable. The EPA's own scientists have established that chlorpyrifos on food and in groundwater is a threat to public health and should be banned."  

    Epidemiological data also points to subpopulations that are disproportionately affected by chlorpyrifos exposures. Low-income African-American and Latino families, including farmworker families, continue to suffer the most, and this disproportionate impact creates an environmental justice problem that the state cannot continue to ignore. 

    >>Tell Governor Brown to ban chlorpyrifos now, for the sake of the children.

     

  • Urge your state senator to vote YES on SB500 to #BanChlorpyrifos

    In 2015, the EPA was set to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos after years of study proved it to be too dangerous for use. Incoming EPA Administrator Pruitt reversed this decision, but Maryland can ensure protections, even if the EPA doesn’t.

    Chlorpyrifos is a highly toxic, nerve agent pesticide proven to cause brain damage in children and harm the environment and wildlife. After years of scientific review, EPA determined chlorpyrifos to have no safe levels of exposure for humans. EPA was in process of banning it federally, then EPA Administrator Pruitt reversed his agency’s decision. Help our legislators protect Maryland—send them an email now.

  • Tell Your Representative to Cosponsor the Saving America's Pollinators Act

    U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) reintroduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R. 5015), which suspends the registration of certain neonicotinoid insecticides until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducts a full scientific review that ensures these chemicals do not harm pollinators. Last week, Beyond Pesticides joined Rep. Blumenauer and other experts from environmental, conservation, whistleblower, and farmworker health groups on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to take action to protect pollinators in the face of ongoing obstruction by an increasingly industry-influenced EPA.

    >>Tell your Representative to cosponsor the Save America’s Pollinators Act!

    “Pollinators are the backbone of America’s agriculture system. Acting now to protect them and stop their decline is essential to the sustainability of our nation’s food supply,” Rep. McGovern said. “Simply taking the word of the manufacturers that their products are safe is not an option. Consumers need strong oversight. That is why I am proud to join Congressman Blumenauer in demanding the EPA fully investigate the effect that certain harmful pesticides may have on the vitality of our pollinators.”

    Numerous scientific studies implicate neonicotinoid pesticides as key contributors to the global decline of pollinator populations. EPA’s own scientists have found that neonicotinoids pose far-reaching risks to birds and aquatic invertebrates. For example, they find deadly impacts to birds from neonicotinoid-treated seeds, poisoned insect prey, and contaminated grasses.

    “EPA’s recent assessment confirms what the science has already shown: that neonicotinoids are highly toxic not just to bees, but to aquatic species and birds. To protect our waterways and pollinators it is imperative that action be taken to ban these chemicals,” said Nichelle Harriott, science and regulatory director at Beyond Pesticides.

    University researchers have found that tiny amounts of neonicotinoids are enough to cause migrating songbirds to lose their sense of direction and become emaciated. A recent study by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers found neonics widespread in the Great Lakes at levels that harm aquatic insects, or the aquatic food web—the foundation of healthy aquatic ecosystems.

    “The health of our food system depends on the health of our pollinators. The status quo is like flying blind – we shouldn’t be using these pesticides when we don’t know their full impact,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “The EPA has a responsibility to get to the bottom of this issue and protect pollinators.”

    Canada’s pesticide regulatory agency has recommended banning the most widely used neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, based on harms to aquatic ecosystems. Europe has instituted a temporary ban on neonicotinoids based on their harms to pollinators, and the European Commission recently proposed extending the ban indefinitely and eliminating all agricultural uses of the chemicals.

    Given the ongoing obstruction by EPA leadership, however, Representatives Blumenauer and McGovern are offering a legislative remedy to address the national pollinator crisis. But Congress won’t act unless members hear from their constituents. Help push EPA to take substantive action on neonicotinoids by urging your Representative to cosponsor the Saving America’s Pollinators Act.

  • Tell Your Representative to Support the Saving America's Pollinators Act

    U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) announced plans to reintroduce the Saving America’s Pollinators Act, (previously H.R. 3040) which suspends the registration of certain neonicotinoid insecticides until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducts a full scientific review that ensures these chemicals do not harm pollinators. Last week, Beyond Pesticides joined Rep. Blumenauer and other experts from environmental, conservation, whistleblower and farmworker health groups on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to take action to protect pollinators in the face of ongoing obstruction by an increasingly industry-influenced EPA.

    >>Tell your Representative to support the Save America’s Pollinators Act!

    “Pollinators are the backbone of America’s agriculture system. Acting now to protect them and stop their decline is essential to the sustainability of our nation’s food supply,” Rep. McGovern said. “Simply taking the word of the manufacturers that their products are safe is not an option. Consumers need strong oversight. That is why I am proud to join Congressman Blumenauer in demanding the EPA fully investigate the effect that certain harmful pesticides may have on the vitality of our pollinators.”

    Numerous scientific studies implicate neonicotinoid pesticides as key contributors to the global decline of pollinator populations. EPA’s own scientists have found that neonicotinoids pose far-reaching risks to birds and aquatic invertebrates. For example, they find deadly impacts to birds from neonicotinoid-treated seeds, poisoned insect prey, and contaminated grasses.

    “EPA’s recent assessment confirms what the science has already shown: that neonicotinoids are highly toxic not just to bees, but to aquatic species and birds. To protect our waterways and pollinators it is imperative that action be taken to ban these chemicals,” said Nichelle Harriott, science and regulatory director at Beyond Pesticides.

    University researchers have found that tiny amounts of neonicotinoids are enough to cause migrating songbirds to lose their sense of direction and become emaciated. A recent study by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers found neonics widespread in the Great Lakes at levels that harm aquatic insects, or the aquatic food web—the foundation of healthy aquatic ecosystems.

    “The health of our food system depends on the health of our pollinators. The status quo is like flying blind – we shouldn’t be using these pesticides when we don’t know their full impact,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “The EPA has a responsibility to get to the bottom of this issue and protect pollinators.”

    Canada’s pesticide regulatory agency has recommended banning the most widely used neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, based on harms to aquatic ecosystems. Europe has instituted a temporary ban on neonicotinoids based on their harms to pollinators, and the European Commission recently proposed extending the ban indefinitely and eliminating all agricultural uses of the chemicals.

    Given the ongoing obstruction by EPA leadership, however, Representatives Blumenauer and McGovern are offering a legislative remedy to address the national pollinator crisis. But Congress won’t act unless members hear from their constituents. Help push EPA to take substantive action on neonicotinoids by urging your Representative to support the Saving America’s Pollinators Act.

  • Tell your legislators: Ban bee-killing pesticides in Vermont!

    Bees are dying at alarming rates – largely due to neonicotinoid pesticides.

    Now, Vermont has a chance to lead the country in saving bees from these pesticides. The state legislature is considering a bill to ban consumer use of these chemicals. We need your help to make sure it passes!

    Research confirms that neonics kill and harm bees and other pollinators, like butterflies and birds. This poses a serious threat to our food supply, public health and environment. After all, bees are responsible for one in three bites of food we eat.

    And our state’s bees are dying at an alarming rate — Vermont beekeepers lost an average of 48 percent of their bees last year, which is higher than the national average.

    With Donald Trump in the White House and Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA, we’re facing an uphill battle to ban these pesticides at the federal level. But Vermont’s bees can’t wait – they need us to take action now. So we need your help to stop the bee crisis in our state!

    Connecticut and Maryland have already passed similar measures. Vermont could help set an example for the rest of the country by passing this critical piece of legislation.

    The committee where this bill sits only has until March 2nd to advance it. In the past two years, this committee has not advanced similar legislation. We can’t let legislators continue to drag their feet. 
    Tell your legislator to be bold and save bees by passing H.688 to ban bee-killing pesticides!

    This will generate emails to each of the members of the Agriculture and Forestry Committe(see list below).

    We encourgage you to personalize the subject and the body of your message to reflect your commitment to protecting pollinators. Doing so also helps maximize each message's impact.

  • SalsaStaff 221901: Demo of autofilling a targeted action

    The most recent findings on the development of Parkinson’s disease after exposure to the highly toxic paraquat add to the well-established body of scientific literature linking the herbicide to Parkinson’s, which should lead to finally eliminating the use of the herbicide in the U.S. The chemical was banned in the European Union in 2007, and many health groups, including Beyond Pesticides and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the use of paraquat by denying its upcoming reregistration.

    >> Tell EPA to ban paraquat!

    In addition to its connection with Parkinson’s disease, paraquat is known to be highly acutely toxic. By generating free radicals, it essentially burns its way through the body, targeting the lungs —causing lung fibrosis— and other organs. Most acutely toxic exposures result in death, sometimes delayed as much as three weeks.
     
    Although paraquat is a restricted use pesticide (RUP), EPA is proposing to eliminate the minimum age for applying RUPs, which would permit teenagers to use it.
     

  • Ask Wilsonville's City and School Leaders To Stop Applying Toxic Pesticides!

    Wilsonville's parks, athletic fields, schools, and Villebois Arbor HOA community are regularly sprayed with toxic pesticides. That is why we are asking the West Linn-Wilsonville School District and Wilsonville's City leaders to make our children's health their priority in managing playing fields for weeds.

    The vast majority of the areas treated with pesticides are used by children (especially schools and playing fields). That is why we are asking our school district and Wilsonville’s City leaders to make children’s health their priority over weed control. 

    Hazardous exposure can be accumulative and is not limited to contact with land: It occurs through air and water, too, as a pesticide application moves off the treated site and spreads in air currents and water runoff to neighboring properties and waterways.

    During the 2016-2017 reporting year, the City applied: Roundup Pro (glyphosate), Speed Zone (Active Ingredient 2,4-D); and Pendulum 2G (active Ingredient pendimethalin)  just to name a few. This information was extracted from the Annual Stormwater Permit Report that is submitted to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

    From June 2013 to December 2017, the Lowrie Primary School has been treated with Roundup Pro Max (glyphosate) for weed abatement and Dicamba and 2,4-D on the turf field and landscape grass to remove clover.

    Villebois Arbor HOA Landscape Company uses Ranger Pro (active Ingredient glyphosate) to kill weeds and Wisdom TC Flowable (active Ingredient bifenthrin) used for control of the European Crane Fly.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics says that there is no safe level of pesticide exposure for children. Pesticides are toxic chemicals - poisons created to kill. They are dangerous for all living things, including adults and pregnant women, and are particularly dangerous for a child’s developing organ systems.

    “The major challenge with showing that a chemical causes cancer in humans [as opposed to animals] is that the cancer typically develops many years after exposure,” says Non Toxic advisor,  Bruce Blumberg, PhD. University of California, Irvine professor of developmental and cell biology, and professor of pharmaceutical sciences.

    "By allowing children to be exposed to toxins or chemicals of unknown toxicity, we are unwittingly using our children in a massive experiment," says Non Toxic advisor, Bruce  Lanphear, professor of health sciences, Simon Fraser University, Canada

    In March 2015, the World Health Organization declared that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is a probable human carinogen. Despite this grave warning, the City of Wilsonville, the School District, and HOA landscaping company continue to spray Roundup in the places where children play.

    2,4-D is one of the key ingredients in Agent Orange.

    Scientific studies show that 2,4-D applied to lawns drift and is tracked indoors where it settles in dust, air, and surfaces and may remain for up to a year in carpets. (Nishioka, M., et al. 1996. “Measuring lawn transport of lawn-applied herbicide acids from turf...” Env Science Technology, 30:3313-3320; Nishioka, M., et al. 2001. “Distribution of 2,4-D in Air and on Surfaces Inside Residences...”Environmental Health Perspectives 109(11).

    Also alarming, the interactions between the many chemicals being sprayed near our homes and in our parks are unknown. According to David Bellinger, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, “Impacts from multiple chemicals may simply add up, amplify one another's effects.”

    This issue affects every person and pet in Wilsonville. We are asking Wilsonville's City Council, School Board, and Villebois Arbor HOA landscaping company leaders to immediately stop the use of all toxic pesticides and switch to proven organic methods that are cost comparable and require 80% less water. You can find this information on our partners website  www.nontoxicIrvine.org

    Harvard University, City of Irvine, CA, and The Irvine Unified School District all have successfully switched to organic landscaping practices. Other cities across the U.S. are banning the use of toxic pesticides, and we would like to see Wilsonville join in this endeavor. The City of Irvine has demonstrated you can have beautiful parks, playing fields and lawns that meet community expectations without the use of toxic pesticides.

    Please send an email to tell these leaders that you want them to stop allowing these toxic landscaping practices. It should be a basic human right for a child to play in a park and not be exposed to toxic pesticides.

    This form will generate individual emails to:

    School Superintedent Kathy Ludwig
    Director of Operations Tim Woodley
    School Board Member Regan Molatore
    School Board Member Dylan Hydes
    School Board Member Ginger Fitch
    School Board Member Chelsea Martin
    School Board Member Betty Reynolds

    Mayor Tim Knapp
       
    City Council President Scott Starr
    City Councilor Susie Stevens
    City Councilor Charlotte Lehan
    City Councilor Kristin Akervall

    The email content is provided as a model. Please feel free to personalize it to reflect your, and your family's, experiences and concerns.

  • Tell Your Governor to Ban Bug Bombs

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that EPA label restrictions on total release foggers, otherwise known as “bug bombs,” are a public health failure. Bug bombs pose a significant risk of acute illness to individuals even when they attempt to follow new label instructions. Beyond Pesticides has long called for bug bombs to be banned, as there are a myriad of non-toxic alternative strategies to successfully manage household pests.

    >>Urge your Governor to ban bug bombs in your state!

    Bug bombs are small cans primarily comprised of an insecticide, often a synthetic pyrethroid, a synergist such as piperonyl butoxide (PBO), and an aerosol propellant. In addition to the explosion/fire risk if the aerosol product is used in an unattended home near a pilot light or other spark-producing appliance, both synthetic pyrethroids and PBO pose acute and chronic human health risks. PBO is added to pesticide formulations to increase the toxicity of synthetic pyrethroids, and has been linked to childhood cough. Peer-reviewed research associates synthetic pyrethroids with behavioral disorders, ADHD, and delayed cognitive and motor development, and premature puberty in boys. Not only can bug bombs acutely poison, but once applied these chemicals can persist in the home for over a year, putting individuals and families at risk of chronic exposure and subsequent health issues.

    CDC’s report, Acute Illnesses and Injuries Related to Total Release Foggers, updates a previous study released in 2008 with new data reveals that EPA’s attempt to reduce bug bomb illness and injury through label changes was unsuccessful. Looking at records from 2007-2015, a total of 3,222 unique cases of illness and injury were reported. The report indicates, “No statistically significant reduction in overall incidence of TRF [total release fogger]-associated injuries and illnesses was observed in the first 3 years after the label revisions took effect.” Incidents ranged from failing to leave an area after releasing the bug bomb, reentering the premises too early, use of too many products for the space provided, and even explosions related to the ignition of aerosols released from the product. 
    With EPA’s failure to protect people from the aptly named “bombs,” it is important for states to take action to protect citizens. If you have had problems with these products, please add your own experience to the suggested letter below.

  • Action of the Week: Tell EPA and Congress to Ban Paraquat!

    The most recent findings on the development of Parkinson’s disease after exposure to the highly toxic paraquat add to the well-established body of scientific literature linking the herbicide to Parkinson’s, which should lead to finally eliminating the use of the herbicide in the U.S. The chemical was banned in the European Union in 2007, and many health groups, including Beyond Pesticides and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the use of paraquat by denying its upcoming reregistration.

    >> Tell EPA and Congress to Ban Paraquat!

    In addition to its connection with Parkinson’s disease, paraquat is known to be highly acutely toxic. By generating free radicals, it essentially burns its way through the body, targeting the lungs —causing lung fibrosis— and other organs. Most acutely toxic exposures result in death, sometimes delayed as much as three weeks.

    Although paraquat is a restricted use pesticide (RUP), EPA is proposing to eliminate the minimum age for applying RUPs, which would permit teenagers to use it. 

    >> Tell EPA and Congress to Ban Paraquat!

     

  • Action of the Week: Tell EPA and Congress to Ban Paraquat!

    The most recent findings on the development of Parkinson’s disease after exposure to the highly toxic paraquat add to the well-established body of scientific literature linking the herbicide to Parkinson’s, which should lead to finally eliminating the use of the herbicide in the U.S. The chemical was banned in the European Union in 2007, and many health groups, including Beyond Pesticides and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the use of paraquat by denying its upcoming reregistration.

    >> Tell EPA and Congress to Ban Paraquat!

    In addition to its connection with Parkinson’s disease, paraquat is known to be highly acutely toxic. By generating free radicals, it essentially burns its way through the body, targeting the lungs —causing lung fibrosis— and other organs. Most acutely toxic exposures result in death, sometimes delayed as much as three weeks.

    Although paraquat is a restricted use pesticide (RUP), EPA is proposing to eliminate the minimum age for applying RUPs, which would permit teenagers to use it. 

    >> Tell EPA and Congress to Ban Paraquat!

     

  • AOTW: Ban Paraquat

    The most recent findings on the development of Parkinson’s disease after exposure to the highly toxic paraquat add to the well-established body of scientific literature linking the herbicide to Parkinson’s, which should lead to finally eliminating the use of the herbicide in the U.S. The chemical was banned in the European Union in 2007, and many health groups, including Beyond Pesticides and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the use of paraquat by denying its upcoming reregistration.

    >> Tell EPA to ban paraquat!

    In addition to its connection with Parkinson’s disease, paraquat is known to be highly acutely toxic. By generating free radicals, it essentially burns its way through the body, targeting the lungs —causing lung fibrosis— and other organs. Most acutely toxic exposures result in death, sometimes delayed as much as three weeks.
     
    Although paraquat is a restricted use pesticide (RUP), EPA is proposing to eliminate the minimum age for applying RUPs, which would permit teenagers to use it.
     

  • Test of SSL New Creation - Not a Copied Action

    Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

  • Testing, Testing, 123

    We are all concerned about the workers who grow and harvest our food. A sustainable food system must protect the land and the people who work the land, including the children and families of farmworkers. In two related actions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to remove age requirements for application of pesticides. The actions involve changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) which went into effect this January and covers farmworkers hired to apply pesticides, and the Certification of Applicators (CA) rule, which will go into effect May 22 and covers those allowed to apply highly toxic restricted use pesticides (RUPs), the most toxic pesticides. The proposals to remove the age requirements present unacceptable risks to teenagers, who “are still developing in critical physical and emotional areas, with particular regard to their brains and reproductive systems,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

    >> Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA must not eliminate the minimum age requirement.

    Under the Obama administration, EPA added a minimum age requirement of 18 to both rules. A 16-year-old may apply RUPs under the supervision of a certified applicator under the CA rule. Reportedly, the reason for removing the age requirement is that “teenagers often work for less money than older employees.”

    The removal of the age requirement is opposed by farmworker and children’s health advocates. Farmworker Justice applauded the rule, including the age requirement, then earlier this year sued EPA to implement the rule. AAP points out that dangers of pesticide exposures to teens include long term damage to nervous and reproductive systems. It also points out that 16-17-year-old workers in other industries are prohibited from working with hazardous chemicals.

    At a U.S. Senate oversight hearing last week, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker blasted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for his lack of concern over environmental justice issues. In particular, Sen. Booker noted the proposal to drop the minimum age requirement for agricultural workers who can use pesticides. Many of these workers, Sen. Booker noted, come from "communities of color, indigenous communities and low income communities." When Sen. Booker asked, "Do you think that children handling dangerous pesticides is a good idea?" Mr. Pruitt responded –as he had to other Senators’ questions—by changing the subject.

    >> Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA must not eliminate the minimum age requirement.

    Please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you.

  • Action of the Week: Tell Congress That EPA Must Not Allow Children to Apply Toxic Pesticides

    We are all concerned about the workers who grow and harvest our food. A sustainable food system must protect the land and the people who work the land, including the children and families of farmworkers. In two related actions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to remove age requirements for application of pesticides. The actions involve changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) which went into effect this January and covers farmworkers hired to apply pesticides, and the Certification of Applicators (CA) rule, which will go into effect May 22 and covers those allowed to apply highly toxic restricted use pesticides (RUPs), the most toxic pesticides. The proposals to remove the age requirements present unacceptable risks to teenagers, who “are still developing in critical physical and emotional areas, with particular regard to their brains and reproductive systems,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

    >> Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA must not eliminate the minimum age requirement.

    Under the Obama administration, EPA added a minimum age requirement of 18 to both rules. A 16-year-old may apply RUPs under the supervision of a certified applicator under the CA rule. Reportedly, the reason for removing the age requirement is that “teenagers often work for less money than older employees.”

    The removal of the age requirement is opposed by farmworker and children’s health advocates. Farmworker Justice applauded the rule, including the age requirement, then earlier this year sued EPA to implement the rule. AAP points out that dangers of pesticide exposures to teens include long term damage to nervous and reproductive systems. It also points out that 16-17-year-old workers in other industries are prohibited from working with hazardous chemicals.

    At a U.S. Senate oversight hearing last week, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker blasted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for his lack of concern over environmental justice issues. In particular, Sen. Booker noted the proposal to drop the minimum age requirement for agricultural workers who can use pesticides. Many of these workers, Sen. Booker noted, come from "communities of color, indigenous communities and low income communities." When Sen. Booker asked, "Do you think that children handling dangerous pesticides is a good idea?" Mr. Pruitt responded –as he had to other Senators’ questions—by changing the subject.

    >> Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA must not eliminate the minimum age requirement.

    Please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you.

  • Tell Congress This Is No Way to Balance a Budget

    Scientists, public health managers, and others charged with protecting the health of the public and the environment at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are being encouraged to exit the agency –as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt plans to meet his goal of cutting agency staff and programs by 50 percent.

    >>Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA’s staff and budget cuts are false economy!

    Aides to Mr. Pruitt confirmed to the Washington Examiner that by the end of President Trump’s first term, the agency’s staff will be cut by nearly half. Administrator Pruitt told the Washington Examiner he was “proud” of his efforts to dismantle –some say cripple— the very agency he leads. This is false economy. It endangers the American public and its air, land, water, and biodiversity.

    EPA is responsible for enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act, with a goal of making the nation’s waters fishable and swimmable. EPA enforces the Clean Air Act, which has cleaned up American cities, reducing illness and property damage from smog. And EPA is responsible for overseeing the clean-up of contaminated sites, thus preventing further pollution and illness.
    The agency also regulates pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

    All of EPA’s programs require the application of science to public policy. Among the people who are being encouraged to retire —via “buyouts” and attractive retirement benefits to incentivize exits— are more than 200 scientists and nearly 100 environmental protection specialists.

    Since the Trump administration took office, more than 700 employees have left EPA. According to the Washington Examiner, as of January 3, 2018, the EPA had 14,162 employees. In fiscal year 1988, when Ronald Reagan was President, the EPA employee level was 14,440. Twenty-three percent of EPA employees are currently eligible to retire with full benefits, and another 4 percent can retire at the end of 2018. Additionally, another 20 percentwill be eligible to retire in the next five years. Taken together, nearly 50 percent of EPA staff will be encouraged to leave, in one way or another, over the next five years. One administration official is quoted, in the Washington Examiner, as saying, “We’re happy to be at Reagan-level employment numbers and the future retirements show a preview of how low we could get during this administration. It would be fair to say that anywhere from 25 to 47 percent of EPA could retire during this administration.”

    EPA has been plagued with budget constraints for many years, but now, with such drastic cuts (both personnel and budgetary), programs spearheaded by EPA to protect air, water, people, and wildlife from toxic pollution will suffer —a goal made clear by the Trump Administration. Eliminating resources needed to prevent problems means that more money will need to be spent repairing damage and treating disease.

    Although, as documented by Beyond Pesticides, EPA’s regulation of pesticides is flawed, the agency plays a critical role in reviewing science and implementing laws protecting human health and the environment. Science itself has been under attack by the Trump Administration, as evidenced by its issuance of scientific grant and hiring freezes at EPA and other agencies nationwide, along with a ban on science communications through social media platforms. Under a dismantled EPA, experts say that even the limited advances made will be undermined. For instance, the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, which endangers children, was proposed to be revoked in 2015 due to findings and recommendations of EPA’s own scientists and a 2016 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP). However, one of Administrator Scott Pruitt’s first acts in office was to rescind the proposal, claiming more evidence was needed.

    Though environmentalists and public health experts have criticized EPA for lax or inadequate regulation of pesticides, the clear attacks on public health and the environment through proposed budget cuts, by the Trump administration and EPA’s Mr. Pruitt, demand urgent action.

    >>Tell your Congressional delegation to hold the line on EPA’s budget to protect health, resources, and the economy!

    Please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you.

  • Tell EPA to Ban Three Pesticides That Threaten Endangered Species

    The organophosphate pesticides chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered species and adversely modify their critical habitats, according to the newly released report from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). By law, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must not allow their use.

    >>Tell EPA to ban chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon unless it can restrict uses to protect endangered species.

    Under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), any agency action requires a finding that the action “is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat.” The December 31, 2017 Biological Opinion from NMFS followed an ecological assessment that relied upon multiple lines of evidence to determine effects on species and their designated habitats.

    These impacts include:
    • “the direct and indirect toxicity of each chemical to aquatic taxa groups (e.g., fish, mammals, invertebrates);
    • specific chemical characteristics of each pesticide (e.g., degradation rates, bioaccumulation rates, sorption affinities, etc.);
    • expected environmental concentrations calculated for generic aquatic habitats
    • authorized pesticide product labels;
    • maps showing the spatial overlap of listed species’ habitats with pesticide use areas; and
    • species’ temporal use of those lands and/or aquatic habitats on which each pesticide has permitted uses.”

    The Biological Opinion finds, “[P]esticides containing chlorpyrifos are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of 38 of the 77 listed species, and adversely modify 37 of the 50 designated critical habitats.” For malathion, 38 of 77 listed species are likely to be jeopardized and 37 of the 50 designated critical habitats adversely modified. Likewise, diazinon likely jeopardizes 25 of 77 listed species and adversely modifies 18 of the 50 designated critical habitats. Species affected include salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, coral, and sea turtles, as well as orcas and seals that depend on salmon as a food source.

    This Biological Opinion, which resulted from a lawsuit filed against EPA in 2014 for failure to comply with the ESA, is in line with the 2016 findings by EPA that chlorpyrifos and malathion are “likely to adversely affect” 97% of listed and candidate species, and diazinon “likely to adversely affect” 79% of endangered species under the ESA. Although EPA is required to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and NMFS when registering a pesticide, the agencies have been sued over the years for disregarding this requirement and failing to ensure adequate protections for endangered species. A 2013 report from the National Academy of Sciences identified deficiencies and provided recommendations for all the agencies involved in pesticide consultations.

    >>Tell EPA to ban chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon unless it can restrict uses to protect endangered species.

    The three organophosphates are highly toxic to mammals, fish, and aquatic invertebrates, and are used widely in agriculture, as well as on forested lands, and even in mosquito spraying. According to NMFS, current application of these pesticides produces aquatic concentrations that are likely to harm aquatic species, as well as contaminate their designated critical habitats. Species and their prey residing in shallow aquatic habitats proximal to pesticide-use sites are expected to be at greatest risk. NMFS made several risk-reduction recommendations, including no-spray buffer zones of more than 300 meters alongside habitats, and removal of high-risk label uses.

    According to Earthjustice, federal inaction against these pesticides puts at risk billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Salmon and steelhead fishing in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Northern California is responsible for $1.25 billion in the regional economy, and supports more than 62,000 family wage jobs. But salmon populations have declined over the years due to damming activity, climate change, widespread habitat loss, and pesticide runoff. Scientists have found that, even at low levels, pesticides can cause the abnormal sexual development of salmon and impair their swimming ability, growth, development, behavior, and reproduction.

  • Tell EPA that neonics pose unacceptable ecological threats!

    In spite of findings that neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides pose both acute and chronic risks to pollinators, aquatic life, and birds, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comment that could support their continued use. Comments are due by February 20, 2018. 

    >>Tell EPA that neonics pose unacceptable risks to pollinators, aquatic life, and birds! Tell your Congressional delegation what you think.

    Last month, EPA released preliminary ecological (non-pollinator) assessments for the neonicotinoids clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, and the terrestrial ecological assessment for imidacloprid, finding that these pesticides pose both acute and chronic risks to aquatic life and birds. Treated seeds are identified as posing the highest dietary risks to birds, confirming previous research that neonics are highly hazardous not only to bees, but also, to birds, aquatic life, and other non-target organisms. However, EPA’s assessments also cover spray treatments.

    EPA opened the public comment period for these assessments on December 15, 2017. Along with outlining the risks identified in the assessments, the agency is especially requesting feedback on the benefits of continued use of the neonics on cotton and citrus crops, identified in last year’s pollinator assessments as posing risks to honey bees. In spite of evidence of long-term systemic exposures to non-target organisms, which supports a phase-out of these pesticides, EPA states, “We believe early input from the public will be helpful in developing possible mitigation options that may be needed to address risks to bees.” EPA believes that neonicotinoids are crucial for the management of the Asian citrus psyllid, an invasive pest that causes citrus greening, and of plant bugs and stink bugs in cotton. However, non-chemical, or biological, management methods have been successfully employed.

    >>Tell EPA that neonics pose unacceptable risks to pollinators, aquatic life, and birds! Tell your Congressional delegation what you think.

    EPA found that risks to certain birds from eating neonic-treated seeds exceed the agency’s level of concern by as much as 200-fold. For clothianidin, the agency finds that as few as 1–5 seeds of treated corn will be enough to exceed acute and chronic levels of concern for birds. Specifically, EPA states, “Dietary exposures from clothianidin treated seeds are noted to result in the highest acute and chronic risks from the terrestrial risk assessment to birds and mammals.” Clothianidin, which is widely used as a seed coating on millions of acres of planted corn and soybean crops, is also determined by EPA to be very highly toxic to other taxa, including shrimp and aquatic insects. Reproductive effects are observed in several freshwater and estuarine/marine invertebrates. Developmental effects have occurred in benthic invertebrates (those living at the bottom of water bodies).

    EPA has already released the preliminary pollinator assessment for the neonics, which identifies risks to pollinators from a variety of uses on agricultural crops. The aquatic assessment for imidacloprid, also released last year, finds that it threatens the health of U.S. waterways with significant risks to aquatic insects and cascading effects on aquatic food webs.

    Other neonics are also problematic. For example, for thiamethoxam, EPA finds, “Chronic risk concerns for aquatic insects result from exceedances of effect levels on larval survival. Effect levels are also exceeded frequently (in 10–29 years over a 30-year period) for foliar treatments, suggesting yearly variations (e.g., in weather) do not change risk potential.” And for dinotefuran, “A number of uses of dinotefuran have the potential for direct adverse effects to aquatic invertebrates on an acute and chronic basis based on an evaluation of multiple lines of evidence.”

    As a result of risks to pollinators and aquatic organisms, regulators in Canada, the UK, and Europe have adopted or are considering bans on neonics. Research has consistently linked their use to reduced learning in bees, and as a contributing factor to reduced colony size, and reproductive success. U.S. beekeepers lost an unsustainable 33% of their hives between 2016 and 2017.

    Studies on songbirds find that exposure to widely used insecticides such as neonicotinoids results in failure to orient properly for migration, thus adding weight to arguments that pesticides are a likely cause in the decline of migratory bird populations.

    Neonics are also detected regularly in the nation’s waterways at concentrations that exceed acute and chronic toxicity values for sensitive organisms. The Beyond Pesticides report Poisoned Waterways documents the persistence of neonicotinoids in U.S. waterbodies and the danger they cause to aquatic organisms, resulting in complex cascading impacts on the aquatic food web. The report also highlights current regulatory failures of EPA aquatic standards, which continue to underestimate risks to sensitive species, due to a reliance on test protocols that do not reflect real-world exposures or susceptibilities.

    The comment period is open until February 20, 2018. You can view EPA’s assessments here and submit your comments here. Note: the link to Regulations.gov should open in a new browser window/tab, making it easier to return to this page. You may copy the letter below and paste it into the space provided at Regulations.gov.

    Note: For letters to Congress, please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a required title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate.

    Thank you for taking action!

    Suggested comments to EPA:

    Neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides have been shown to pose unacceptable risks to pollinators, aquatic life, and birds, so their uses should be cancelled.

    EPA found that risks to certain birds from eating neonic-treated seeds exceeded the agency’s level of concern by as much as 200-fold. For clothianidin, the agency finds that as little as 1–5 seeds of treated corn will be enough to exceed acute and chronic levels of concern for birds. Specifically, EPA states, “Dietary exposures from clothianidin treated seeds are noted to result in the highest acute and chronic risks from the terrestrial risk assessment to birds and mammals.”

    Clothianidin, which is widely used as a seed coating on millions of acres of planted corn and soybean crops, is also determined by EPA to be very highly toxic to other taxa, including shrimp and aquatic insects. Reproductive effects are observed in several freshwater and estuarine/marine invertebrates. Developmental effects have occurred in benthic invertebrates (those living at the bottom of water bodies).

    EPA has already released the preliminary pollinator assessment for the neonicotinoids, which identifies risks to pollinators from a variety of uses on agricultural crops. The aquatic assessment for imidacloprid, also released last year, finds that it threatens the health of U.S. waterways with significant risks to aquatic insects and cascading effects on aquatic food webs.

    Other neonics are also problematic. For example, for thiamethoxam, EPA finds, “Chronic risk concerns for aquatic insects result from exceedances of effect levels on larval survival. Effect levels are also exceeded frequently (in 10–29 years over a 30-year period) for foliar treatments, suggesting yearly variations (e.g., in weather) do not change risk potential.” And for dinotefuran, “A number of uses of dinotefuran have the potential for direct adverse effects to aquatic invertebrates on an acute and chronic basis based on an evaluation of multiple lines of evidence.”

    As a result of risks to pollinators and aquatic organisms, regulators in Canada, the UK, and Europe have adopted or are considering bans on neonics. Research has consistently linked their use to reduced learning in bees, and as a contributing factor to reduced colony size, and reproductive success. U.S. beekeepers lost an unsustainable 33% of their hives between 2016 and 2017.

    Studies on songbirds find that exposure to widely used insecticides such as neonicotinoids results in failure to orient properly for migration, thus adding weight to arguments that pesticides are a likely cause in the decline of migratory bird populations.

    Neonics are also detected regularly in the nation’s waterways at concentrations that exceed acute and chronic toxicity values for sensitive organisms. The Beyond Pesticides report Poisoned Waterways documents the persistence of neonicotinoids in U.S. waterbodies and the danger they cause to aquatic organisms, resulting in complex cascading impacts on the aquatic food web. The report also highlights current regulatory failures of EPA aquatic standards, which continue to underestimate risks to sensitive species due to a reliance on test protocols that do not reflect real-world exposures or susceptibilities.

    Neonicotinoids are not used in organic agriculture, and organic farmers are able to produce citrus, cotton, and other crops on which neonics are used in chemical-intensive agriculture. Organic agriculture should be the norm against which so-called “benefits” of pesticides are evaluated. The wide range of serious environmental impacts is not acceptable when crops can be grown without them.

    Sincerely,

  • Fight back for organic integrity and animal welfare!

    Comments are needed by January 17 on plans announced by the Trump Administration to scuttle the final rule on organic animal welfare (the Organic Livestock Poultry Practices rule, or OLPP) that was adopted as a final rule a year ago.

    U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue has repeatedly delayed implementation of the final rule on animal welfare in organic production. The effective date of the final rule published on January 19, 2017, delayed on February 9, 2017, and again on May 10, 2017, is now delayed until May 14, 2018. By setting minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements and defining “outdoors,” the rule would make it more difficult for factory egg and poultry farms to be certified organic. Although many wished it to be stronger, the rule received widespread support. More than 40,000 agriculture groups, farmers, and others urged USDA to finalize the standard; only 28 commenters opposed it. The Organic Trade Association sued USDA in September for failing to finalize the standard. Now, USDA proposes to withdraw the rule altogether.

    >>Tell USDA to implement the Organic Livestock Poultry Practices rule now! [Sample letter here.] [Regulations.gov here.] Then give your message to your U.S. Senators and Representative by pressing the submit button below.

    The OLPP requires that organic chickens have access to the outdoors, space to move around, sunlight and fresh air, and that animals on farms be protected from unnecessary and potentially harmful procedures, such as tail docking of cows and unrestricted beak trimming on birds. The majority of organic livestock farmers already comply with these rules. USDA’s inexcusable rollback of organic standards is the biggest attack on organic since it tried to allow GMOs in the original standard nearly 20 years ago.

    >>Tell USDA to implement the Organic Livestock Poultry Practices rule now! [Sample letter here.] [Regulations.gov here.] Then give your message to your U.S. Senators and Representative by pressing the submit button below.

    Note: The link below should open in a new browser window/tab, making it easier to return to this page. You may copy the letter below and paste it into the space provided at Regulations.gov. It may help to identify yourself as an organic consumer or producer, as appropriate.

    For letters to Congress, please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a required title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you for taking action!

    Sample letter to USDA:

    I oppose USDA’s proposal to withdraw the final Organic Livestock Poultry Practices rule. These standards are critical to preserving trust in the organic label. If consumers see that the standards for poultry and livestock products are not consistent across operations, consumer confidence in the organic label overall will be negatively impacted.

    The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule has widespread support from the industry and a full spectrum of stakeholders. It is the result of more than a decade of work on the part of the National Organic Standards Board and organic community. The USDA has received thousands of comments in support of letting the rule move forward without further delays. During the last comment period, 99 percent of commenters asked the USDA to let the rule go into effect as written without further delays.

    This attempt to withdraw the animal care standards was done without consultation with the National Organic Standards Board — the very group of farmers, processors, scientists, and public representatives designated by Congress to advise USDA on organic standards.

    The majority of organic livestock farmers already comply with these rules. Farmers who already adhere to high standards are being undercut because of loopholes that allow a small number of producers to deny meaningful outdoor access to animals.

    Sincerely,

  • Act Today! Support HB399, Restricting Toxic Pesticides Where Children Play

    Kids deserve to play in a toxin-free environment. As soon as tomorrow, the New Hampshire State House will vote on HB399, a bill that would restrict toxic pesticide use on school grounds, athletic fields, day care centers, and playgrounds. This common-sense measure aims to replace the use of toxic pesticides linked to health outcomes like cancer, learning disabilities and behavioral problems, with non and least-toxic alternative products and practices.

  • Tell Congress to Support Organic Certification Cost Share

    Organic certification cost share enables small and medium-sized organic farms to become certified. The costs of annual certification are increasing.  The two federal programs providing certification cost share offer a modest, partial (75 percent) reimbursement of up to $750 annually per certification, to help defray these costs. Having a diversity of scale of operations involved in organic production helps to maintain the integrity, vitality and opportunity of the U.S. organic sector. 

    >> Tell Congress to reauthorize both the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program through the next Farm Bill, to provide assistance needed by small and medium-sized organic producers.

    Organic certification cost share helps to increase domestic production of organic products to better meet growing demand. Sales of organic products continue to grow at a rapid rate. Nationwide, U.S organic sales reached $47 billion in 2016, with nearly 24,000 family farms and other businesses represented. However, U.S. organic production is lagging behind demand for organic products.  Unless we are able to get more U.S. farmers certified as organic, the United States will continue to import a growing percentage of organic food and feed from other nations.

    There are many economic and environmental benefits of organic production. Small and medium-sized organic farms support rural economies and protect natural resources. Organic farming results in cleaner air, water, and soil, and helps fight climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil.

    Organic production provides critical jobs in farming and food processing that can and should be kept here at home.  It is critical to address the challenges that hinder growth in U.S. organic production and send U.S. dollars abroad to meet the growing organic demand.

    The cost of annual organic certification can be a barrier for some farmers. One of the unique costs faced by organic farmers and those transitioning to organic, is the cost of annual organic certification.  These costs can be particularly burdensome for many small and medium-sized organic farms and businesses. The organic certification process is necessary ensure that farmers and handlers who market their products as organic are meeting strict USDA organic standards. However, one of the barriers to getting farmers to transition is the concern about the annual costs of organic certification.

    Currently, two programs provide organic certification cost share assistance.  

    •    The Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA), enacted as part of the Federal Crop Insurance Act, provides certification cost share assistance for organic farmers (but not handlers) in 16 states. The AMA program also provides risk management and conservation grants to producers in those states as well.

    •    The National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), enacted as Section 10606 of the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized through the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, provides organic certification cost share for organic farmers in states not covered by the above-mentioned AMA program, and for organic handlers in all States.  The program has operated through State Departments of Agriculture. The one-year Farm Bill extension legislation passed by Congress on January 1, 2013 did not provide any funding for the NOCCSP, so the program was dormant for 2013, which caused a great deal of confusion and disruption. 

    >> Tell Congress to reauthorize both the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program through the next Farm Bill, to provide assistance needed by small and medium-sized organic producers.

    Please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you.

  • (No Title)
  • Tell NRCS to Support Safe Monarch Habitat

    Tell the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to substantially increase the amount of funding spent on the conservation of monarch butterflies and the restoration of their habitat, and to ensure that restored habitat is not poisoned with hazardous pesticides.

    Although the agency has taken some steps to protect monarchs –including the implementation of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project and support for the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund— last year’s NRCS expenditure of $4 million was insufficient to prevent the monarchs’ decline, and could not even begin stemming the loss of milkweed habitat. Restoring the monarch butterfly and its habitat will require a substantial contribution from the agricultural sector and strong leadership from the NRCS. Agricultural lands encompass 77% of all prospective monarch habitat, and thus are indispensable to reaching these goals.

    >>Tell NRCS to Support Safe Monarch Habitat!

    Monarch populations have fallen more than 80 percent over the last 20 years, and it is estimated that there is a 60 percent chance the multigenerational migration of these butterflies would completely collapse in the next 20 years. Milkweed, the only forage for monarch caterpillars, has decreased by 21 percent, especially in the Midwest, where agricultural fields and pesticide use have expanded.

    Scientists estimate that to meet the monarch protection goal in the 2015 National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, the U.S. needs to plant approximately 1.6 billion more milkweed stems to support a population of 225 million butterflies and the goal of six hectares of overwintering monarchs –a population goal that is still substantially lower than the monarch butterfly population in the early 1990s, but one that would drastically reduce the likelihood of monarch extinction.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is set to determine whether to protect monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. An agreement with Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity in July 2016 requires the agency to decide by June 2019 whether the butterflies will receive federal protection. This agreement came in response to a lawsuit earlier that year to force the agency to set a legally binding deadline for a decision on a 2014 petition calling for protection of the species. FWS’s consideration of federal protection for monarchs is a positive step toward improving habitat and raising awareness about the decline of the butterfly, as well as the plight of other pollinator populations. Restoration of safe monarch habitat is essential to building populations, allowing the monarch to be delisted in the near future. Ensuring that this habitat is safe for monarchs by requiring that no pesticides are used would have benefits in building soil biology and protecting other pollinators.

    The Monarch butterfly is one of many important pollinator species that have experienced drastic declines in recent years. Along with threats from glyphosate use and habitat loss, the use of insecticides, like neonicotinoids, has also been linked to monarch declines. The use of genetically engineered (GE) crops (Roundup-ready crops) allows the use of Monsanto’s glyphosate in cropland, an important factor in the decline of the monarch. Glyphosate eradicates milkweed, and the dramatic surge in Roundup use and “Roundup Ready” crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in Midwestern corn and soybean fields. It is estimated that these butterflies have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat. A 2016 study found that the increasing use of neonicotinoid insecticides is correlated with a steep decline in butterfly health and reproductive success.

    >>Tell NRCS to Support Safe Monarch Habitat!

    Please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a title, when required, will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you.

  • Don’t Allow Dow to Poison Farms and Communities: Tell the Arkansas Pesticide Board Not to Allow 2,4-D To Be Used on Tolerant Cotton

    You told the Arkansas Plant Board to exercise its authority to protect farmers, consumers, and the environment from use of the herbicide dicamba on genetically engineered (GE) soybeans, and the board listened. Now, we need to ask the board to stop the use of 2,4-D on GE cotton. The action of states is critical as the federal government ignores basic safety concerns. Action in Arkansas will influence other states.

    The decision concerning 2,4-D use on herbicide-tolerant cotton goes to the Arkansas Plant Board on December 12. The choice has many similarities to the decision to allow –and then prohibit— the use of dicamba on herbicide-tolerant soybean varieties. Both 2,4-D and dicamba are phenoxy herbicides –2,4-D being the infamous ingredient (with 2,4,5-T) of Agent Orange. Our voices were heard when the Arkansas Plant Board considered dicamba, so please weigh in on 2,4-D.

    At this same meeting, the Arkansas Plant Board is holding a hearing on a proposed regulation that would allow the Board to request more information from pesticide registrants that could support restrictions based on conditions within Arkansas. The proposed regulation is a straightforward authorization to seek further information, with a requirement to disclose how it is used. Arkansas law allows the state to restrict or prohibit use of a pesticide to prevent unreasonable adverse effects caused by drift.

    >>Tell the Arkansas Plant Board to adopt the proposed rule and to prohibit use of 2,4-D on cotton!

    Both phenoxy herbicides are noted for their propensity to drift –both as droplets during application and as vapor afterwards. Both have a wide range of health effects, as well as the environmental impacts of their application. Broad-leaved crops, including soybeans, non-GE cotton, grapes, and vegetables, are susceptible to damage by phenoxy herbicides. The state of Arkansas has a growing wine industry that deserves to be protected from 2,4-D drift. The proposed rule will enable the state to request information from registrants that enables it to better protect farms and communities from drift.

    Like dicamba in soybeans, 2,4-D use in cotton represents movement in the wrong direction –harmful to productivity and ecosystem services. Reliance on toxic herbicides and GE crops has failed farmers in a world where organic production is a viable alternative. The predictable problems associated with 2,4-D can and should be avoided.

    >>Tell the Arkansas Plant Board to adopt the proposed rule and to prohibit use of 2,4-D on cotton!

  • aotw save farms communities 2,4-D AR
  • Action of the Week: Tell your Congressional delegation to cosponsor food and farm act

    AOTW: Tell Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act!

    As we approach 2018, Congress is working on the next Farm Bill, which will determine how $956 billion of our tax money will be spent over the coming years in shaping our food system. This year, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced a bill that, if passed, will implement many of the food policy reforms that sustainable agriculture policy advocates have long supported.

    >> Tell Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act!

    The bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Don Beyer (D-VA), is a result of a two-year conversation, “Sing Your Own Farm Bill,” in which the U.S. Representative engaged a diverse group of farmers, ranchers, fiscal hawks, food and agriculture policy experts, environmentalists, animal welfare advocates, and others to brainstorm ideas for shaping future farm and food policy.

    According to Farm Forward, factory farms receive approximately $4 billion in annual benefits under the current Farm Bill –which result in many negative impacts, such as:
    •    Diet-Related Disease – A diet high in food commodities subsidized by the Farm Bill is linked to a greater probability of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
    •    Climate Change –The top five factory-farm mega-corporations combined emit more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than Exxon, or Shell, or BP (formerly British Petroleum).
    •    Water Pollution – Farm Bill subsidy programs contribute to the pollution of drinking water, imposing billions of dollars in healthcare and water cleanup costs on downstream communities.

    Highlights of Rep. Blumenauer’s Food and Farm Act include:

    Title I: Commodities and Crop Insurance
    Title I cuts, caps, and clarifies the farm subsidy programs available in the commodity, conservation, and crop insurance titles of the Farm Bill. It expands coverage for non-commodity farms and ensures that farmers who receive subsidies reduce their environmental impact.
    Title II: Conservation
    Title II reforms existing conservation programs to focus on performance by distributing resources based on how effectively a project achieves conservation goals and minimizing the environmental impact of agriculture practices.
    Title III: Food Assistance
    Allows more flexibility in determining what food aid works best for each situation, providing USAID’s implementing partners the ability to use either U.S. commodities or local and regional procurement as they see fit, while eliminating the process by which 15% of non-emergency donated food is sold in local food markets, disrupting local food prices.

    Title IV: Nutrition
    Title IV expands access to healthy food in schools and underserved areas and at farmers markets through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other initiatives.
    Title V: Future of American Farmers
    Title V provides support for beginning farmers and ranchers to enter and stay in the agriculture sector. It also assists those in the business who are ready to retire by helping them transition out of farming while keeping the industry vibrant.
    Title VI: Food Waste
    Title VI establishes the first Food Waste Title of the Farm Bill, which focuses the federal government on food waste reduction and directs USDA to develop methods for measuring, aggregating, and disseminating food waste information to the public.
    Title VII: Research, Extension, and Related Matters
    Title VII invests in research and education programs that improve sustainable agriculture practices, while also supporting research to help farmers and ranchers succeed in a changing climate.
    Title VIII: Animal Welfare
    Title VIII establishes the first Animal Welfare Title in the Farm Bill, incorporating reforms to ensure that the treatment of animals is a central part of the country’s food and agriculture policy.
    Title IX: Regional Food Systems
    Title IX invests in existing programs and creates new ones to support vibrant local and regional food systems, increases transparency within USDA’s existing programs, and streamlines grant program application procedures to make them more accessible.

    >> Tell Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act!

    Please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you.

  • Show Your Support for a Pesticide Use Ordinance in Portland that Protects Health and the Environment!

    The Portland City Council is on the cusp of passing one of the strongest organic land care ordinances in the country, and we need your help to get it over the finish line.

    There are efforts by some in the City to weaken certain aspects of the law, so we need to make a big push to urge City Councilors to strengthen, not weaken, the ordinance before the vote!

    The City Council is likely to vote on the ordinance at the December 18th Council Meeting, taking place at Portland City Hall. Please join advocates that day at 5:00pm to speak out in support of the ordinance. Help pack the room, and consider making a short public statement before the City Council in support of the ordinance!


    In the meantime, we need one last big push to show Portland Council members that the community wants a safer, healthier, pesticide-free Portland that uses organic land management practices! These practices are safe for our community –our children, pets, pollinators, and the health of the Bay. Email the City Council, and please consider following up with a phone call!

    Ask your Councilor to support the pesticide use ordinance, which will put in place organic land management practices to protect Portland residents from unnecessary pesticide exposure. The ordinance will:

    • Require organic land care and prohibits conventional pesticides on all municipal property beginning in 2018 and all private property in 2019.

    Ask your Councilor to support strengthening amendments to the ordinance that address current weaknesses in the bill, which:

    • Allows prohibited pesticides to be used on Portland varsity athletic fields until January 2021, when the council may issue an extension. (Leading organic expert Chip Osborne advised the council that three years may be needed to transition an athletic field to complete organic management.)
    • Exempts Riverside Golf Course (the city's biggest pesticide user), Hadlock Field, invasive insects (even ones where there are organic and mechanical removal alternatives), old elm trees, rights-of-way, and "health and safety" applications.
    • Creates a 7-person oversight board and requires that three of the members have organic credentials (which means the majority could still be pro-pesticide individuals).
    • Establishes a 2-person waiver committee, including one city staffer with organic credentials, which will approve or deny waiver requests. The City Manager would handle any appeals of those decisions.
    • Prohibits abutters from appealing waivers granted for prohibited pesticide use on neighboring properties.
    • Does NOT restrict synthetic fertilizer use or retail sales of pesticides and fertilizers.

    Additionally, ask your Councilor to reject further weakening of the bill, including city staff-recommended amendments that will:

    • Remove the public from the process of evaluating wavier requests;
    • Delay the start date to 2019;
    • Extend the current 3-year deadline for athletic fields to transition from prohibited pesticides to organic land care;
    • Allow prohibited herbicides to be used on invasive plants;
    • Remove the requirement that the city staffer assigned to the pesticide oversight board maintain organic land care credentials;
    • Make the ordinance sunset in 2023.

    The full ordinance can be read here.

  • (No Title)
  • Oppose Legislation Weakening Endangered Species Protection From Pesticides

    The pesticide industry is drafting legislation that threatens to remove provisions of the Endangered Species Act that protect species from pesticides.

    >>Tell your Congressional delegation to oppose all efforts to reduce endangered species protections from pesticides.

    The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of America’s most effective and important environmental laws. It represents a commitment to protect and restore those species most at risk of extinction. Recent polling shows 84 percent of Americans support the Endangered Species Act, and 87 percent agree that it is a successful safety net for protecting wildlife, plants, insects, and fish from extinction. Although many species –including the bald eagle, Florida manatee, and California condor— have been protected and brought back from the brink of extinction under the ESA, an estimated 500 species have disappeared in the past 200 years.

    An important provision of the ESA is the requirement that each federal agency that proposes to authorize, fund, or carry out an action that may affect a listed species or its critical habitat must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. In the case of pesticides, EPA is required to perform such a consultation if it finds that the pesticide may affect endangered species, and the Services may initiate such a consultation if they disagree with EPA’s assessment. In addition, citizens may file lawsuits to ensure that species are adequately protected. These consultation provisions are under attack by pesticide industry lobbyists promoting legislation allowing EPA to “self-consult” on pesticide registrations.

    At least 59 legislative attacks on the ESA have been introduced in Congress this year. We have learned of draft legislation being drafted by the pesticide industry, which strikes against ESA protections of plants and animals from pesticides. It seeks to severely curtail the ESA's Section 7 consultation provisions from pesticide reviews and eliminate all liability under Section 9 of the ESA, which prohibits the taking, injury, death, or harm of endangered animals.

    >>Tell your Congressional delegation to oppose all efforts to reduce endangered species protections from pesticides.

    Please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you.

  • (No Title)
  • Oppose Monsanto-Bayer Merger

    A Bayer-Monsanto Merger is Bad for Farmers, Bad for Consumers

    Tell the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to Block this Dangerous Merger!

    In late 2016, Monsanto and Bayer announced a $66 billion merger. The Department of Justice is in the midst of reviewing it, and a decision is expected in late 2017.  Should this merger go through, only four companies in the world will control all seed and agricultural chemical business: Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-DuPont, ChemChina-Syngenta, and BASF.

    >>Tell the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to stop the Bayer-Monsanto merger, which would have severe repercussions for farmers and consumers.

    Should Bayer and Monsanto merge, the entity will become:
    •    The world’s largest vegetable seed company, with a virtual lock on broccoli, carrots, and onions.
    •    The world’s largest cotton seed company, responsible for the seed for about 70% of all the cotton grown in the US.
    •    Along with another company (Dow-DuPont), in control of 77% of all the seed corn in the US.
    •    The world’s largest manufacturer and seller of herbicides.
    •    The world’s largest owner of the intellectual property/patents for herbicide tolerance seed traits: 69% of all herbicide tolerance traits approved for use in the US for alfalfa, canola, cotton, corn, soybean, and wheat. (An herbicide tolerance trait is the gene that is inserted into the seed that allows the crop to withstand the use of the herbicide, e.g. Roundup).

    For farmers and farmworkers this means:
    •    Increased cost. Estimates predict an 18% increase in cotton seed prices, 2.3% increase for corn, and 1.9% for soybeans. Dairies and ranchers could face increased feed prices from both genetically engineered (GE) and non-GE alfalfa.
    •    Increased pesticide and genetic contamination. For organic farmers, greater market penetration of GE seeds increases potential for cross-farm genetic contamination (and company lawsuits against farms alleging improper use of patent-protected traits); greater use of pesticides/pesticide-resistant varieties would likely bring greater incidence of pesticide drift-related damage to organic fields.
    •    Lack of Access and Diversity. Farmers will be further locked-in to using product mixes (seeds, pesticides) designed by these companies.  With fewer companies in the marketplace, GE seed and pesticides will dominate the marketplace, reducing the availability of untreated, non-GE seed, which means fewer choices will be available to farmers.
    •    Research & Development. Current and new research investment will focus on patentable GE seeds, reducing and undermining research into and the availability of diverse, non-GE, locally-appropriate seed varieties which benefit both conventional and organic producers.
    •    Farmworker exposures. Increased use of pesticides and expansion of pesticide-treated seed varieties will lead to greater pesticide exposure for farmworkers.
    •    Increased power of industry. The dominance of industry in the pesticide regulation process may result in less stringent controls over pesticide use and thus greater harm to farmworkers, and the environment.

    For consumers, this means:
    •    Increased grocery bills. The impact on prices of inputs for farmers could drive up consumer prices for all foods, especially those with commodity-crop ingredients (corn, soy, and wheat). Animal products could also be affected with increases in alfalfa and other feed prices; clothing made from U.S. cotton could be similarly affected.
    •    Strains on Organic. Consumers committed to eating GE-free foods like organic will face additional difficulties as the market dominance of GE crops is consolidated and deepened. Further, with increased environmental contamination, organic farmers will face challenges meeting organic standards.
    •    Increased environmental concerns. Further entrenchment of a farming system dominated by GE seeds and pesticide-intensive production will lead to increased contamination of the environment due to pesticide and genetic drift, water contamination and impacts to non-target organisms.

    >>
    Tell the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to stop the Bayer-Monsanto merger, which would have severe repercussions for farmers and consumers.

    For more information
    http://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2016/11/state-attorney-generals-join-fight-stop-agrochemical-industry-mergers/
    http://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2016/09/two-chemical-companies-tied-human-environmental-atrocities-bayer-monsanto-set-merge/
    http://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2016/09/bayer-increases-historic-takeover-bid-monsanto/

    Please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you.

  • Oppose Monsanto-Bayer Merger

    A Bayer-Monsanto Merger is Bad for Farmers, Bad for Consumers

    Tell the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to Block this Dangerous Merger!

    In late 2016, Monsanto and Bayer announced a $66 billion merger. The Department of Justice is in the midst of reviewing it, and a decision is expected in late 2017.  Should this merger go through, only four companies in the world will control all seed and agricultural chemical business: Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-DuPont, ChemChina-Syngenta, and BASF.

    >>Tell the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to stop the Bayer-Monsanto merger, which would have severe repercussions for farmers and consumers.

    Should Bayer and Monsanto merge, the entity will become:
    •    The world’s largest vegetable seed company, with a virtual lock on broccoli, carrots, and onions.
    •    The world’s largest cotton seed company, responsible for the seed for about 70% of all the cotton grown in the US.
    •    Along with another company (Dow-DuPont), in control of 77% of all the seed corn in the US.
    •    The world’s largest manufacturer and seller of herbicides.
    •    The world’s largest owner of the intellectual property/patents for herbicide tolerance seed traits: 69% of all herbicide tolerance traits approved for use in the US for alfalfa, canola, cotton, corn, soybean, and wheat. (An herbicide tolerance trait is the gene that is inserted into the seed that allows the crop to withstand the use of the herbicide, e.g. Roundup).

    For farmers and farmworkers this means:
    •    Increased cost. Estimates predict an 18% increase in cotton seed prices, 2.3% increase for corn, and 1.9% for soybeans. Dairies and ranchers could face increased feed prices from both genetically engineered (GE) and non-GE alfalfa.
    •    Increased pesticide and genetic contamination. For organic farmers, greater market penetration of GE seeds increases potential for cross-farm genetic contamination (and company lawsuits against farms alleging improper use of patent-protected traits); greater use of pesticides/pesticide-resistant varieties would likely bring greater incidence of pesticide drift-related damage to organic fields.
    •    Lack of Access and Diversity. Farmers will be further locked-in to using product mixes (seeds, pesticides) designed by these companies.  With fewer companies in the marketplace, GE seed and pesticides will dominate the marketplace, reducing the availability of untreated, non-GE seed, which means fewer choices will be available to farmers.
    •    Research & Development. Current and new research investment will focus on patentable GE seeds, reducing and undermining research into and the availability of diverse, non-GE, locally-appropriate seed varieties which benefit both conventional and organic producers.
    •    Farmworker exposures. Increased use of pesticides and expansion of pesticide-treated seed varieties will lead to greater pesticide exposure for farmworkers.
    •    Increased power of industry. The dominance of industry in the pesticide regulation process may result in less stringent controls over pesticide use and thus greater harm to farmworkers, and the environment.

    For consumers, this means:
    •    Increased grocery bills. The impact on prices of inputs for farmers could drive up consumer prices for all foods, especially those with commodity-crop ingredients (corn, soy, and wheat). Animal products could also be affected with increases in alfalfa and other feed prices; clothing made from U.S. cotton could be similarly affected.
    •    Strains on Organic. Consumers committed to eating GE-free foods like organic will face additional difficulties as the market dominance of GE crops is consolidated and deepened. Further, with increased environmental contamination, organic farmers will face challenges meeting organic standards.
    •    Increased environmental concerns. Further entrenchment of a farming system dominated by GE seeds and pesticide-intensive production will lead to increased contamination of the environment due to pesticide and genetic drift, water contamination and impacts to non-target organisms.

    >>
    Tell the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to stop the Bayer-Monsanto merger, which would have severe repercussions for farmers and consumers.

    For more information
    http://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2016/11/state-attorney-generals-join-fight-stop-agrochemical-industry-mergers/
    http://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2016/09/two-chemical-companies-tied-human-environmental-atrocities-bayer-monsanto-set-merge/
    http://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2016/09/bayer-increases-historic-takeover-bid-monsanto/

    Please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you.

  • Ask Your Council Member to Protect Children Before Election Day

    In 2014, kindergarteners from PS 290 asked their Councilmember to introduce a bill to ban toxic pesticides. In 2015, INTRO 0800 was introduced. In 2017, the children, area residents, and environmental activists testified at a hearing of the City Council Committee on Health.

    Now, let’s help the children fulfill their dream – please!

    Letter Writing and Phone Call Campaign

    We need 17 more Councilmembers to co-sponsor INTRO 0800.
    The 9 co-sponsors of INTRO 0800 - 2015 are listed in green.
    Help turn at least 17 City Council from red to green. Ask them to co-sponsor INTRO 0800.
    Email your Councilmember today. If he or she is a co-sponsor, you ll send them a thank you for their support. If they have not yet co-sponsored INTRO 088, your email will urge them to co-sponsort INTRO 0800 and protect  the children and all of the families who use the parks, playgrounds and other public spaces of New York City.

  • AOTW Organic in the Next Farm Bill

    AOTW: Tell Your U.S. Representative to Support Organic in the Next Farm Bill

    The next Farm Bill will be up for negotiation soon. Bi-partisan legislation has been introduced to address two issues that are important for organic agriculture –increasing funding for organic research and strengthening enforcement of the organic standards:

    1.    The Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) will provide $50 million in funding annually for the USDA’s flagship organic research program, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).
    2.    The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act of 2017 will improve oversight of organic imports.

    >>Ask your U.S. Representative to support organic in the next Farm Bill by co-sponsoring these two bills. If your Representative is already a co-sponsor, send a thank you.

    Organic is one of the fastest growing sectors in U.S. agriculture. The bi-partisan Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will help more farmers transition to organic production in response to growing demand in the marketplace.  Organic research helps farmers become more productive, efficient, and profitable and leads to the development of new agricultural practices that can be used by conventional and organic farmers alike. Unfortunately, over the past five years, while overall funding for agricultural research has grown significantly, funding for organic research has stagnated. This bill would go a long way towards closing that gap. The Organic Agriculture Research Act has 50 co-sponsors, and the list is growing.

    The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3871) introduced by Congressman John Faso (R-NY) is needed to strengthen oversight of the $47 billion organic industry. Strengthening enforcement of the organic standards, especially for imported organic products, is critical to safeguard the integrity of the organic label and to ensure consumer trust. A recent Washington Post investigation and USDA’s own investigations have shown that some imported organic products have been fraudulently labeled. A report from the USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) revealed areas that need to be improved in the oversight of international organic trade and the enforcement of organic standards for imported organic products. Organic farms and operations that comply with the stringent organic standards are undercut when they are forced to compete with fraudulent products in the marketplace. The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act has 20 co-sponsors, and the list is growing.

    >>Ask your U.S. Representative to support organic in the next Farm Bill by co-sponsoring these two bills. If your Representative is already a co-sponsor, send a thank you.

    Please note that the menu of choices for "title" is dictated by the recipients of these letters, and letters without a title will not be delivered. We suggest that those who would like a gender-neutral title award themselves an honorary doctorate. Thank you.

  • AOTW Organic in the Next Farm Bill

    AOTW: Tell Your U.S. Representative to Support Organic in the Next Farm Bill

    The next Farm Bill will be up for negotiation soon. Bi-partisan legislation has been introduced to address two issues that are important for organic agriculture –increasing funding for organic research and strengthening enforcement of the organic standards:

    1.    The Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) will provide $50 million in funding annually for the USDA’s flagship organic research program, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).
    2.    The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act of 2017 will improve oversight of organic imports.

    >>Ask your U.S. Representative to support organic in the next Farm Bill by co-sponsoring these two bills. If your Representative is already a co-sponsor, send a thank you.

    Organic is one of the fastest growing sectors in U.S. agriculture. The bi-partisan Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will help more farmers transition to organic production in response to growing demand in the marketplace.  Organic research helps farmers become more productive, efficient, and profitable and leads to the development of new agricultural practices that can be used by conventional and organic farmers alike. Unfortunately, over the past five years, while overall funding for agricultural research has grown significantly, funding for organic research has stagnated. This bill would go a long way towards closing that gap. The Organic Agriculture Research Act has 39 co-sponsors, and the list is growing.

    The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3871) introduced by Congressman John Faso (R-NY) is needed to strengthen oversight of the $47 billion organic industry. Strengthening enforcement of the organic standards, especially for imported organic products, is critical to safeguard the integrity of the organic label and to ensure consumer trust. A recent Washington Post investigation and USDA’s own investigations have shown that some imported organic products have been fraudulently labeled. A report from the USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) revealed areas that need to be improved in the oversight of international organic trade and the enforcement of organic standards for imported organic products. Organic farms and operations that comply with the stringent organic standards are undercut when they are forced to compete with fraudulent products in the marketplace. The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act has 20 co-sponsors, and the list is growing.

    >>Ask your U.S. Representative to support organic in the next Farm Bill by co-sponsoring these two bills. If your Representative is already a co-sponsor, send a thank you.

  • Action of the Week Save a National Treasure --Willapa Bay

    Your Comments Are Needed, Again, to Save a National Treasure --Willapa Bay

    Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, with a number of unique ecosystems, and among the most important estuaries in the U.S, are once more in danger of being sprayed with the toxic neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid. A draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) produced by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) considers two options for spraying imidacloprid and one no-action alternative. Imidacloprid would be sprayed to kill the native burrowing shrimp in beds of commercial Japanese oysters.

    >>Tell Ecology to restore the bays instead of spraying them!

    Ecology’s summary highlights:
    ⦁    Immediate adverse, unavoidable impacts to juvenile worms, crustaceans, and shellfish in the areas treated with imidacloprid and the nearby areas covered by incoming tides.
    ⦁    Limited impacts bay-wide, but significant uncertainty about the cumulative impacts and other unknown impacts, including those to other marine invertebrates and lifecycles.
    ⦁    Little direct risk to fish, birds, marine mammals, and human health.
    ⦁    Potential indirect impacts to fish and birds if food sources are disrupted.
    ⦁    Continued knowledge gaps about imidacloprid. Further research is needed.

    The SEIS fails to give adequate weight to the “knowledge gaps” it identifies, in some cases indicating that monitoring during use of imidacloprid could be used to reduce uncertainty. In order to protect the bays, facts need to be established before permitting the use of another toxic chemical in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

    Among the knowledge gaps found by Ecology are uncertainties over whether imidacloprid is effective for its stated purpose. These uncertainties are crucial, since no spraying can be justified if it is not effective.

    The SEIS finds a number of uncertainties concerning the direct effects of spraying imidacloprid, including accumulation in sediments, long-term toxic impacts, impacts on zooplankton, sub-lethal effects, impacts on vegetation, impacts of degradation products, and the area that would be affected.

    The SEIS does not evaluate synergistic impacts of imidacloprid combined with other chemicals (“inert” ingredients, other chemicals used in the bays, and other pollutants) or other stressors. Among the organisms known to be at risk is the commercially important Dungeness crab, which has been shown to be susceptible to the effects of imidacloprid, and whose populations experience large natural fluctuations, putting them at risk of extinction.

    Given the systemic mode of action of imidacloprid in crop plants, the failure to account for impacts on non-target animals consuming vegetation in treated areas is not acceptable.

    Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor have been affected by human activity over the past century that has contributed to problems experience by all who use the bays. Of the three alternatives presented, the "No Action" option is the best. However, what is truly necessary to address these problems is an alternative that was not considered in the SEIS –a plan to restore the habitat by removing stressors from streams flowing into the bays.

    >>Please adapt and press "Submit" to send the letter below to Washington State Department of Ecology.

  • Action of the Week: Oppose Dourson EPA Appointment

    Tell Your Senators to Vote Against EPA Nominee with Chemical Industry Ties

    Tell your U.S. Senators to oppose the Trump Administration’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Michael L. Dourson, Ph.D., who has spent a good deal of his career helping chemical companies resist restrictions on their toxic compounds. The U.S. Senate’s August 20 hearing on Dr. Dourson’s nomination, was abruptly postponed on August 19, with no reason offered, but later held on October 4 under a cloud of controversy.

    >>Write your Senators now!

    Critics, including former EPA officials, Congressional Democrats, and public health scientists say that Dr. Dourson’s close ties to the chemical industry should disqualify him from becoming the country’s chief regulator of toxic chemicals.http://action.beyondpesticides.org/images/money%20dance.jpg

    U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) said, “Dr. Dourson’s consistent endorsement of chemical safety standards that not only match industry’s views, but are also significantly less protective than EPA and other regulators have recommended, raises serious doubts about his ability to lead those efforts. This is the first time anyone with such clear and extensive ties to the chemical industry has been [nominated] to regulate that industry.”

    Dr. Dourson’s professional history provides important context for considering his nomination. He did a turn at EPA from 1980 to 1994, starting as a staff toxicologist, and then leading a pesticide and toxics group that supports EPA’s regulatory work. However, in 1995, Dr. Dourson started the consulting group, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), which has done contract work for chemical companies, producing research and reports that often “downplayed the health risks posed by their compounds.”

    TERA’s clients have included Dow Chemical Company, Koch Industries Inc., Monsanto, Chevron Corporation, and the industry lobby group, the American Chemistry Council –companies that make pesticides, processed foods, cigarettes, plastics, and other chemical products. The Associated Press reports that Dr. Dourson has, for some time, received payments for his critical assessments of peer-reviewed studies that identified concerns with the safety of his clients’ products. Examples of the kinds of “industry shielding” work TERA did can be reviewed here.

    >>Write your Senators now!

    According to the New York Times, Adam Finkel, executive director of the Penn Program on Regulation at University of Pennsylvania Law School, who worked as a partner on a project with Dr. Dourson, said, “Most of what he has done over time is to rush headlong to exonerate chemicals.” Four controversial toxic chemicals –1,4-dioxane1-bromopropane, trichloroethylene and chlorpyrifos– currently under EPA review are manufactured by Dow, a company that Dr. Dourson represented. If confirmed, he would oversee the regulation of these chemicals, which are associated with severe health issues, including cancer, birth defects, and developmental problems in children.

    The Associated Press cites the example of Dr. Dourson’s Dow-sponsored review of chlorpyrifos (a neurotoxic pesticide that harms children’s brains, even at very low exposure levels), which claimed flaws in peer-reviewed studies linking delays in fetal development with exposure to the chemical. The credibility of EPA’s regulation of chlorpyrifos is already in question due to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to overrule the recommendation of agency scientists that would have banned the chemical. Mr. Pruitt claims the science is “unresolved” and has delayed a decision on chlorpyrifos until 2022.

    Dr. Dourson is a recent example of the “revolving door” phenomenon –the movement of people between roles as agency regulators or legislators, and positions in the industries that are regulated by those government roles. The door revolves in both directions, with regulators leaving government to join industry, and vice versa. This ready switching of roles creates unavoidable conflicts of interest. Indeed, ethics experts say that, if confirmed, Dr. Dourson’s work on behalf of industry could constitute significant conflicts of interest.

    Industry has a long history of using the revolving door. When people are allowed to move from industry to regulatory agency (or the reverse) without constraint, the resultant conflicts of interest not only unduly shape policy or ratchet up industry influence, but cast huge doubt on the individual’s ability to act independent of industry’s interests, and in the best interest of the public and an agency’s charge.


     

  • Insist that USDA Require On-Package Labeling for GE Foods in View of USDA Study

    A congressionally mandated study belatedly released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) questions the feasibility of electronic disclosures as a means of providing consumers with information on genetically engineered (GE) food ingredients, but leaves the door open for USDA to continue with the system, based on improving technology. The study confirms concerns held by many that “electronic and digital disclosures” (QR codes) will pose technological challenges for consumers, limiting access to food information.

    The study was required by the 2016 Federal Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standards Act (the “GE Labeling Act”) to help inform the establishment of federal standards for labeling by July 2018. The labeling law allows USDA to consider several options: on-package text, a GE symbol on packages, or “electronic or digital disclosures,” which would require shoppers to use a smart phone to scan packages to access a website or call a 1-800 number for every single product to find out if it was produced with genetic engineering

    The study is crucial in analyzing whether QR codes will make the information accessible or not, based on several factors. The study found that the proposed food labeling measures will not serve consumers who do not have access to technology. Specifically, the researchers found key technological challenges that prevented nearly all participants from obtaining the information through electronic or digital disclosure methods:
    ⦁    Technological challenges disproportionately impact low-income earners, rural residents, and Americans over the age of 65.
    ⦁    Consumers are unfamiliar with QR codes or do not know that digital links contain food information.
    ⦁    Many of the more than 100 apps on the market that scan QR codes are not intuitive to use and include pop-up ads, causing consumer confusion.
    ⦁    Consumers may not have equipment capable of scanning digital links on their own, and in most cases there is not a viable alternative provided by retailers.
    ⦁    Consumers without phones are unlikely to find in-store scanners available and landlines do not provide a practical way of getting the information.
    ⦁    Consumers may be unable to connect to broadband, or connect at a speed that is so slow that they cannot load information, particularly rural and low-income consumers.
    ⦁    In-store scanners may be cost prohibitive for small and rural retailers and provide limited benefit due to limited consumer understanding and rapidly changing technology.
    ⦁    The study also concluded that “offline alternatives are necessary for consumers who lack access to a scanning device or broadband.

    According to the study, 53 percent of adults say they care about the issue of GE food, with a third of that group caring a great deal. Half of all shoppers would likely be sensitive to labeling changes, as evidenced by increased consumer desire for food information which is pervasive across region, age, income, and gender.

    It is unclear how USDA plans to comply with the federal law’s other mandates for the study, including that the public be given the right to comment on it.  The labeling option that makes sense is on-package labeling which is quick, simple and effective, but the study keeps the door open for electronic options by concluding, “Education for consumers and retailers around electronic and digital disclosure links and bioengineered foods will improve access and understanding.” The study also concludes, “Developing or endorsing user-friendly scanner apps will ease the consumer experience.”

    U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and your Congressional delegation need to hear from you in view of this study showing the challenges of the electronic option. Please send the letters below to Secretary Perdue, your Representative, and your Senators.

  • Tell California to ban chlorpyrifos, a dangerous developmental poison!

    Ask California to ban the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos that’s on the food we eat from California –since the administrator of EPA refused to take the action agency scientists said is necessary to protect children.

    In view of EPA’s retraction of its proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of the highly neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos, despite its own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is especially important that California take action to ban the chemical. California, the home of the largest agriculture industry in the country, used over 1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos on over a million acres in 2012. EPA’s assessment is also support for the classification of chlorpyrifos as a developmental toxicant, an issue being considered on a parallel track by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which oversees the “Prop 65” list.

    EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. In 2016, EPA concluded that there is “sufficient evidence” that there are neurodevelopmental effects at low levels, and that current approaches for evaluating chlorpyrifos’s neurological impact are “not sufficiently health protective.”

    As stated by U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) in introducing S. 1624 to ban chlorpyrifos, “The science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage and neurodevelopmental disorders in children is undeniable. The EPA's own scientists have established that chlorpyrifos on food and in groundwater is a threat to public health and should be banned."

    Epidemiological data also points to subpopulations that are disproportionately affected by chlorpyrifos exposures. Low-income African-American and Latino families, including farmworker families, continue to suffer the most, and this disproportionate impact creates an environmental justice problem that the state cannot continue to ignore.

  • Help Stop Glyposate (Roundup) Use and Support Safe Parks in NYC!

    While NYC passed a pesticide reduction policy in 2005, there is growing recognition that the law has not done enough to stop the use of toxic chemicals that endanger human health.
     
    In 2014, NYC Public School teacher Paula Rogovin’s kindergarten class, after learning about the dangers of chemical pesticides, wrote their Councilmember Ben Kallos, asking him to “Make a Law!” and stop the use of harmful insecticides and herbicides in City parks and public spaces. And Councilmember Kallos did just that -introducing Intro 800 in 2015. However, that law now needs your support to pass through the NYC Committee on Health.

    NYC has an opportunity to significantly improve the health and safety of its residents, particularly children that play in City parks and public spaces. The law will also protect pets from unnecessary pesticide exposure, and will limit the introduction of toxic chemicals in our water and air.

    Please take the time to urge your City Councilmember to pass Intro 800, and consider following up with a phone call to their office to show that you’re serious.

  • Tell Ben & Jerry's CEO: Get pesticides out of your ice cream!

    Think about it: Ten of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s dangerous Roundup herbicide.

    The ice cream brand claims its social mission “seeks to meet human needs and eliminate the injustices in our local, national and international communities,” and that its focus is “on children and families, the environment and sustainable agriculture on family farms.”

    Behind the iconic ice cream brand’s greenwashed façade is an unfortunate truth: its ice cream relies on a dairy industry that produces contaminated food, poisons Vermont’s waterways, abuses animals, exploits workers, bankrupts farmers, and contributes to climate change.

    Unless Ben & Jerry's goes organic, its practices are responsible for:
    •    Running Vermont family farms out of business.
    •    Polluting Vermont’s waterways.
    •    Abusing animals.
    •    Exploiting farmworkers.
    •    Contributing to climate change.
    •    Putting human health at risk. In addition to the above problems, pesticides like Roundup, atrazine, and metolachlor —all carcinogens and endocrine disruptors— have devastating effects on human health. And they're in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

    Yet, the Vermont brand that has used the image of cows grazing on endless pastures to sell their products now buys milk from ‘confined animal feeding operations’ or CAFOs, where cows graze on concrete with a diet rich in GMO corn and pesticides.

    This is greenwashing. It’s time for Ben & Jerry’s to come clean.

    If Ben and Jerry’s wants to live up to its image, it needs to go organic –like Alden’s Organic, Julie’s Organic and Three Twins --all of which tested negative for glyphosate.

    Sign the petition below to Ben and Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim –to truly protect the environment, children, and workers, and support sustainable agriculture, Ben and Jerry’s must go 100% organic.

  • Tell Ben & Jerry's CEO: Get pesticides out of your ice cream!

    Think about it: Ten of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s dangerous Roundup herbicide.

    The ice cream brand claims its social mission “seeks to meet human needs and eliminate the injustices in our local, national and international communities,” and that its focus is “on children and families, the environment and sustainable agriculture on family farms.”

    Behind the iconic ice cream brand’s greenwashed façade is an unfortunate truth: its ice cream relies on a dairy industry that produces contaminated food, poisons Vermont’s waterways, abuses animals, exploits workers, bankrupts farmers, and contributes to climate change.

    Unless Ben & Jerry's goes organic, its practices are responsible for:
    •    Running Vermont family farms out of business.
    •    Polluting Vermont’s waterways.
    •    Abusing animals.
    •    Exploiting farmworkers.
    •    Contributing to climate change.
    •    Putting human health at risk. In addition to the above problems, pesticides like Roundup, atrazine, and metolachlor —all carcinogens and endocrine disruptors— have devastating effects on human health. And they're in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

    Yet the Vermont brand that has used the image of cows grazing on endless pastures to sell their products now buys milk from ‘confined animal feeding operations’ or CAFOs, where cows graze on concrete with a diet rich in GMO corn and pesticides.

    This is greenwashing. It’s time for Ben & Jerry’s to come clean.

    If Ben and Jerry’s wants to live up to its image, it needs to go organic –like Alden’s Organic, Julie’s Organic and Three Twins --all of which tested negative for glyphosate.

    Send the letter below to Ben and Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim –to truly protect the environment, children, and workers, and support sustainable agriculture, Ben and Jerry’s must go 100% organic.

  • Tell Your Governor to Stop Monsanto’s False Safety Claims that Hurt Workers this Labor Day

    Tell your Governor to stop Monsanto from making false and deceptive claims about glyphosate (Roundup) –a pesticide that hurts workers. Because of its wide use by workers in parks, along utility and railroad rights-of-way, and on farms, use of Monsanto’s glyphosate results in more exposure than any other pesticide. Monsanto has developed and continues to grow its market for this product with false claims of the safety of the toxic chemical. Glyphosate is listed as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (World Health Organization) and disrupts a pathway in humans necessary for healthy functioning of the gut microbiome. Meanwhile, Monsanto actively advertises and promotes its Roundup products as targeting an enzyme “found in plants but not in people or pets.”

    Although EPA considers glyphosate to be “of relatively low oral and dermal acute toxicity,” symptoms workers could experience following exposure to glyphosate formulations include: swollen eyes, face and joints; facial numbness; burning and/or itching skin; blisters; rapid heart rate; elevated blood pressure; chest pains, congestion; coughing; headache; and nausea.

    Ingredients in Roundup can be more toxic than glyphosate alone, resulting in a number of chronic, developmental, and endocrine-disrupting effects. The “inert” (non-disclosed) ingredients in Roundup formulations kill human cells at very low concentrations. At least some glyphosate-based products are genotoxic.

    Because glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway, crucial for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants but not animals, Monsanto claims that it does not harm humans. However, many beneficial bacteria use the shikimate pathway, and glyphosate, in fact, is a patented antibiotic. Glyphosate destroys bacteria in the human gut and, therefore, is a major contributor to disease. Disturbing the microbiota can contribute to a whole host of “21st century diseases,” including diabetes, obesity, food allergies, heart disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer, asthma, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. The rise in these same diseases is tightly correlated with the use of glyphosate herbicides, and glyphosate exposure can result in the inflammation that is at the root of these diseases.  Glyphosate appears to have more negative impacts on beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to flourish and enhancing antibiotic resistance.

    Although consumers are at risk from Monsanto’s glyphosate products, the workers who apply it and work in fields and parks, and along rights-of-way where it is used are at greatest risk.

    There is precedent for states acting on false claims by manufacturers. Massachusetts sued Bayer for false and deceptive claims on the label for its neonicotinoid products that harm bees. Every state can seek to protect against a false and deceptive claim under consumer protection and truth in advertising law.

    Please urge your Governor to act on false claims by Monsanto by sending this letter today.

  • This Labor Day, Tell Your Governor to Stop Monsanto’s False Safety Claims that Hurt Workers

    Tell your Governor to stop Monsanto from making false and deceptive claims about glyphosate (Roundup) –a pesticide that hurts workers. Because of its wide use by workers in parks, along utility and railroad rights-of-way, and on farms, use of Monsanto’s glyphosate results in more exposure than any other pesticide. Monsanto has developed and continues to grow its market for this product with false claims of the safety of the toxic chemical. Glyphosate is listed as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (of the World Health Organization) and disrupts a pathway in humans necessary for healthy functioning of the gut microbiome. Meanwhile, Monsanto actively advertises and promotes its Roundup products as targeting an enzyme “found in plants but not in people or pets.”

    Although EPA considers glyphosate to be “of relatively low oral and dermal acute toxicity,” symptoms workers could experience following exposure to glyphosate formulations include: swollen eyes, face, and joints; facial numbness; burning and/or itching skin; blisters; rapid heart rate; elevated blood pressure; chest pains, congestion; coughing; headache; and nausea.

    The additional ingredients in Roundup can be more toxic than glyphosate alone, resulting in a number of chronic, developmental, and endocrine-disrupting effects. The “inert” (non-disclosed) ingredients in Roundup formulations kill human cells at very low concentrations. At least some glyphosate-based products are genotoxic.

    Because glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway, crucial for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants but not animals, Monsanto claims that it does not harm humans. However, many beneficial bacteria use the shikimate pathway, and glyphosate, in fact, is a patented antibiotic. Glyphosate destroys bacteria in the human gut and, therefore, is a major contributor to disease. Disturbing the microbiota can contribute to a whole host of “21st century diseases,” including diabetes, obesity, food allergies, heart disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer, asthma, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. The rise in these same diseases is tightly correlated with the use of glyphosate herbicides, and glyphosate exposure can result in the inflammation that is at the root of these diseases. Glyphosate appears to have more negative impacts on beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to flourish and enhancing antibiotic resistance.

    Although consumers are at risk from Monsanto’s glyphosate products, the workers who apply it and work in fields and parks, and along rights-of-way where it is used are at greatest risk.

    There is precedent for states acting on false claims by manufacturers. Massachusetts sued Bayer for false and deceptive claims on the label for its neonicotinoid products that harm bees. Every state can seek to protect against a false and deceptive claim under consumer protection and truth-in-advertising law.

    Please urge your Governor to act on false claims by Monsanto by sending this letter today.

  • Action of the Week: Back to School

    Back-to-School? Stop the Toxic Pesticide Use

    School policies must protect children from pesticides by adopting organic land and building management policies and serving organic food in cafeterias. At the start of the school year, it is critical for school administrators to make sure that students and teachers are learning and teaching in an environment where no hazardous pesticides are used in the school’s buildings or on playing fields. It is also essential that children have access to organic food in food programs and manage school gardens organically.

    Jump to Submit.

    In addition, there are other things you can do:

    Whether a parent, teacher, student, school administrator, landscaper or community advocate, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the school environment is a safe from toxic chemicals, as the new school year begins.

    For Parents and Teachers:

    Because children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure due to their smaller size and developing organ systems, using toxic pesticides to get control insects, germs, and weeds can harm students much more than it helps. The good news is that these poisons are unnecessary, given the availability of practices and green materials that do not poison people or the environment.

    Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage. This is supported by the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which concluded, “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity.” You can help to eliminate children’s exposure to toxic chemicals by urging school administrators to implement organic management practices that use cultural, mechanical, and biological management strategies, and, as a last resort, defined least-toxic pesticides. See Beyond Pesticides ManageSafeTM database for managing all insects and weeds without toxic pesticides.

    Find Out About Your School’s Pest Management Program
    One way to protect children is to find out whether the school has a pest management policy in place already, and identify key allies to improve it. Since toxic pesticides are not necessary to effective pest management, it is important that schools and school districts have a written organic pest management program. This will ensure that the program is institutionalized and will continue to flourish over time. See here for more details and practical steps on how to get organized and improve a school’s pest management program. For additional information, see Beyond Pesticides’ School Organizing Guide.

    Non-Toxic Lice Management

    Children going back to school may face challenges with head lice, and research has found that lice in 25 of 30 states in a U.S. study have developed resistance to common over-the-counter treatments like the insecticide permethrin, which therefore are not effective. Utilizing non-toxic approaches and products is critical, especially since lice are not a vector for insect-borne disease, and typical pesticide products used to treat them can be neurotoxic or carcinogenic. Fortunately, this nuisance insect can be managed utilizing a number of alternative lice treatment methods that do not include the use of toxic chemicals. One method for eliminating head lice is the use of hot air, which desiccates the insects and eggs, killing them. Lice and their eggs (or nits) can be combed and handpicked, and then destroyed in soapy water. Beyond Pesticide’s ManageSafe Database has a comprehensive webpage dedicated to safe management of lice, in addition to preventive practices.

    Pack Organic Lunches or Start an Organic Garden
    Organic foods have been shown to reduce dietary pesticide exposure. Children who eat a conventional diet of food produced with chemical-intensive practices carry residues of neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides that are reduced or eliminated when they switch to an organic diet.  The effects of pesticide exposure have been well documented, particularly for vulnerable segments of the population like children and pregnant women. In 2012, AAP weighed in on the organic food debate, recognizing that lower pesticide residues in organic foods may be significant for children. In addition to direct health effects, the Academy also noted that choosing organic is based on broad environmental and public health concerns, including pollution and global climate change —a position that is supported by Beyond Pesticides. Ask the school to adopt an organic lunch program, starting with organic produce, milk or juice. See School Lunches Go Organic for more information.

    In addition to serving organic food in the cafeteria, it can be both helpful and a valuable part of the lesson plan to grow food in an organic school garden. For more information, The Organic School Garden (or Grow Your Own Organic Food for technical advice). School gardens teach children where food comes from and establishes healthy relationships with food and the natural world.

    Promote Biodiversity with Organic Landscapes and Turf
    Biodiversity helps bees and other pollinators; diverse plants produce a supply of nectar throughout the growing season, and biodiversity of soil organisms promotes healthy plants that grow well without the introduction of poisonous pesticides.

    Playing fields that are intensively managed with chemicals are at greater risk for disease and weed infestation (leading to a dependence on chemical inputs), compared with practices that build healthy, balanced soil. Similarly, chemically-managed fields are generally harder and more compacted due to a loss of natural soil biology, while organic management focuses on cultural practices, such as aeration, that alleviate compaction, improve moisture retention, and provide a softer, better playing surface. See the factsheet, Pesticides and Playing Fields, for more information.

    Protect biodiversity through organic turf, playing fields and landscape policies. Encourage the school to plant pollinator-attractive plants in its garden as part of its biology class. If the school does not have a garden, request one be integrated into the curriculum. Wildflowers, native plant and grass species should be encouraged on school grounds. For more information on attractive flowers, see the BEE Protective Habitat Guide. Also see the Do-It-Yourself Biodiversity factsheet and Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind for resources on building and protecting biodiversity.

    For College Students:

    On college campuses nationwide, grounds crews and landscapers often maintain the land with toxic pesticides, even though safer alternatives exist. College students across the country want their campuses to be a safe and healthy environment. To assist with college studies, Beyond Pesticides has developed the BEE Protective Ambassador Program.

    BEE Protective College Ambassador Program

    The widespread use of systemic pesticides in agriculture and landscaping, specifically, a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids (neonics), has been implicated in causing poor pollinator health and widespread bee deaths. Therefore, a key focus of the program is to eliminate the use of neonics on college campuses.  A critical part of being a BEE Protective Ambassador is to engage with college administrators in the creation of a pollinator-friendly campus.
    “BEE” prepared: you may get some pushback about phasing out toxic pesticides on campus. But contrary to what some administrators and groundskeepers may tell you, a college campus can be maintained successfully without toxic, systemic pesticides!

    With the fall semester rapidly approaching, now is a great time to take the BEE Protective Ambassador Pledge. With assistance from Beyond Pesticides, BEE ambassadors will be given  educational information to with college  administrators. Students who are interested in joining the movement to protect pollinators and save the bees, can become a Bee Protective Ambassador and sign the pledge!

  • Action of the Week: Back to School

    Back-to-School? Stop the Toxic Pesticide Use

    School policies must protect children from pesticides by adopting organic land and building management policies and serving organic food in cafeterias. At the start of the school year, it is critical for school administrators to make sure that students and teachers are learning and teaching in an environment where no hazardous pesticides are used in the school’s buildings or on playing fields. It is also essential that children have access to organic food in food programs and manage school gardens organically.

    Jump to Submit.

    In addition, there are other things you can do:

    Whether a parent, teacher, student, school administrator, landscaper or community advocate, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the school environment is a safe from toxic chemicals, as the new school year begins.

    For Parents and Teachers:

    Because children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure due to their smaller size and developing organ systems, using toxic pesticides to get control insects, germs, and weeds can harm students much more than it helps. The good news is that these poisons are unnecessary, given the availability of practices and green materials that do not poison people or the environment.

    Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage. This is supported by the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which concluded, “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity.” You can help to eliminate children’s exposure to toxic chemicals by urging school administrators to implement organic management practices that use cultural, mechanical, and biological management strategies, and, as a last resort, defined least-toxic pesticides. See Beyond Pesticides ManageSafeTM database for managing all insects and weeds without toxic pesticides.

    Find Out About Your School’s Pest Management Program
    One way to protect children is to find out whether the school has a pest management policy in place already, and identify key allies to improve it. Since toxic pesticides are not necessary to effective pest management, it is important that schools and school districts have a written organic pest management program. This will ensure that the program is institutionalized and will continue to flourish over time. See here for more details and practical steps on how to get organized and improve a school’s pest management program. For additional information, see Beyond Pesticides’ School Organizing Guide.

    Non-Toxic Lice Management

    Children going back to school may face challenges with head lice, and research has found that lice in 25 of 30 states in a U.S. study have developed resistance to common over-the-counter treatments like the insecticide permethrin, which therefore are not effective. Utilizing non-toxic approaches and products is critical, especially since lice are not a vector for insect-borne disease, and typical pesticide products used to treat them can be neurotoxic or carcinogenic. Fortunately, this nuisance insect can be managed utilizing a number of alternative lice treatment methods that do not include the use of toxic chemicals. One method for eliminating head lice is the use of hot air, which desiccates the insects and eggs, killing them. Lice and their eggs (or nits) can be combed and handpicked, and then destroyed in soapy water. Beyond Pesticide’s ManageSafe Database has a comprehensive webpage dedicated to safe management of lice, in addition to preventive practices.

    Pack Organic Lunches or Start an Organic Garden
    Organic foods have been shown to reduce dietary pesticide exposure. Children who eat a conventional diet of food produced with chemical-intensive practices carry residues of neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides that are reduced or eliminated when they switch to an organic diet.  The effects of pesticide exposure have been well documented, particularly for vulnerable segments of the population like children and pregnant women. In 2012, AAP weighed in on the organic food debate, recognizing that lower pesticide residues in organic foods may be significant for children. In addition to direct health effects, the Academy also noted that choosing organic is based on broad environmental and public health concerns, including pollution and global climate change —a position that is supported by Beyond Pesticides. Ask the school to adopt an organic lunch program, starting with organic produce, milk or juice. See School Lunches Go Organic for more information.

    In addition to serving organic food in the cafeteria, it can be both helpful and a valuable part of the lesson plan to grow food in an organic school garden. For more information, The Organic School Garden (or Grow Your Own Organic Food for technical advice). School gardens teach children where food comes from and establishes healthy relationships with food and the natural world.

    Promote Biodiversity with Organic Landscapes and Turf
    Biodiversity helps bees and other pollinators; diverse plants produce a supply of nectar throughout the growing season, and biodiversity of soil organisms promotes healthy plants that grow well without the introduction of poisonous pesticides.

    Playing fields that are intensively managed with chemicals are at greater risk for disease and weed infestation (leading to a dependence on chemical inputs), compared with practices that build healthy, balanced soil. Similarly, chemically-managed fields are generally harder and more compacted due to a loss of natural soil biology, while organic management focuses on cultural practices, such as aeration, that alleviate compaction, improve moisture retention, and provide a softer, better playing surface. See the factsheet, Pesticides and Playing Fields, for more information.

    Protect biodiversity through organic turf, playing fields and landscape policies. Encourage the school to plant pollinator-attractive plants in its garden as part of its biology class. If the school does not have a garden, request one be integrated into the curriculum. Wildflowers, native plant and grass species should be encouraged on school grounds. For more information on attractive flowers, see the BEE Protective Habitat Guide. Also see the Do-It-Yourself Biodiversity factsheet and Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind for resources on building and protecting biodiversity.

    For College Students:

    On college campuses nationwide, grounds crews and landscapers often maintain the land with toxic pesticides, even though safer alternatives exist. College students across the country want their campuses to be a safe and healthy environment. To assist with college studies, Beyond Pesticides has developed the BEE Protective Ambassador Program.

    BEE Protective College Ambassador Program

    The widespread use of systemic pesticides in agriculture and landscaping, specifically, a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids (neonics), has been implicated in causing poor pollinator health and widespread bee deaths. Therefore, a key focus of the program is to eliminate the use of neonics on college campuses.  A critical part of being a BEE Protective Ambassador is to engage with college administrators in the creation of a pollinator-friendly campus.
    “BEE” prepared: you may get some pushback about phasing out toxic pesticides on campus. But contrary to what some administrators and groundskeepers may tell you, a college campus can be maintained successfully without toxic, systemic pesticides!

    With the fall semester rapidly approaching, now is a great time to take the BEE Protective Ambassador Pledge. With assistance from Beyond Pesticides, BEE ambassadors will be given  educational information to with college  administrators. Students who are interested in joining the movement to protect pollinators and save the bees, can become a Bee Protective Ambassador and sign the pledge!

  • Insist that the organic label be regulated on the basis of law, not whim!

    Consumers of organic food expect a clear set of production standards that are enforced with a rigorous system of inspection and certification. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) is currently undermining this central organic principle. During a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) webinar, NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy extolled the new “flexibility” of his program in allowing organic certification of operations not permitted by regulations. Although the webinar focused on the program’s allowance of hydroponics, Mr. McEvoy’s comments apply to a wide variety of permitted practices for which USDA has yet to approve standards.

    Some NOSB members pointed out the problems with NOP’s arbitrary approach to standards –that the criteria for approving them have not gone through the transparent public review process required by law; that problems of health and environmental impacts and consistency with organic principles may be discovered during the public process; that consumers expect certification to be based on uniform standards enforced consistently; and that once such practices are allowed, it is extremely difficult to prohibit them. Other NOSB members appeared to approve of NOP’s “flexible” (arbitrary) procedures.

    NOSB member Harriet Behar put the matter succinctly: “Without clear, consistent standards, the integrity of the entire label is at risk. It is not acceptable to allow different certifiers to interpret the regulations in lots of different ways. This is the whole reason for the label - consumer trust that stems from uniform standards, enforced in a consistent way, and backed by good process.”

    This action allows you to send letters to Deputy Administrator McEvoy and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and your Congressional delegation, and will take you to Regulations.gov, where you can enter a comment for the NOSB. See some suggested language below.

    Suggested comment to NOSB:

    Dear NOSB members:

    During the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) webinar on August 14, National Organic Program (NOP) Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy applauded the “flexibility” of his program in allowing organic certification of operations not permitted by regulations. Although the webinar was focused on hydroponics, Mr. McEvoy’s comments applied to a wide variety of production areas where USDA has yet to approve standards. In accordance with your responsibilities under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) to advise the Secretary on implementation of the act, please tell NOP to correct this statement through a policy memo that explains the necessity of developing standards before allowing certification. Regardless of your feelings about the hydroponics issue, please let NOP know that it must follow the rule of law, rather than arbitrarily allowing certification decisions to be made in the hodge-podge of actions that OFPA was designed to avoid.

    The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) provides requirements for the organic label in law, and regulations. These legal standards are developed through a transparent public process that ensures that they are not arbitrary, but meet the needs of organic producers and consumers. The law and the standards are public documents, which keep certifiers accountable. The purposes of OFPA are stated in §6501:

    It is the purpose of this chapter—
    (1) to establish national standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced products;
    (2) to assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard; and
    (3) to facilitate interstate commerce in fresh and processed food that is organically produced.

    To suggest that organic is “flexible” enough to certify products for which there are no standards is a dangerous mistake. This sort of thinking has landed us in the predicament in which we currently find ourselves with hydroponics –where some certifiers certify hydroponic operations as organic, while others do not.

    Certifiers interpret and consistently apply standards through the certification process and are held accountable through NOP accreditation. We cannot expect certifiers to uphold the integrity of the label in the absence of clear, applicable standards.  The standards must come first, created through a public process, with the certified products following.

    NOP must correct this statement through a policy memo that explains the necessity of developing standards before allowing certification.

    Thank you for your attention to this urgent issue.

    Sincerely,

  • Insist that the organic label be regulated on the basis of law, not whim!

    Consumers of organic food expect a clear set of production standards that are enforced with a rigorous system of inspection and certification. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) is currently undermining this central organic principle.

    Two-Part Action

    In Part 1, you will send a letter to USDA and your Congressional delegation. After you hit “Submit,” you will be taken to the Regulations.gov page so that you can also submit a comment to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). As you may know, to submit a comment through regs.gov, you need to fill in text on the government website. You can copy the language below (before hitting "Submit") and paste the language into the form at Regulations.gov. We apologize that it is not easier to submit a comment to the government, but this is the system, and much more effective than signing your name to a petition. Jump to "Submit" for Part 1. Jump to Part 2.

    Part 1. Letter to USDA and your Congressional delegation

    During a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) webinar, NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy extolled the new “flexibility” of his program in allowing organic certification of operations not permitted by regulations. Although the webinar focused on the program’s allowance of hydroponics, Mr. McEvoy’s comments apply to a wide variety of permitted practices for which USDA has yet to approve standards.

    Some NOSB members pointed out the problems with NOP’s arbitrary approach to standards –that the criteria for approving them have not gone through the transparent public review process required by law; that problems of health and environmental impacts and consistency with organic principles may be discovered during the public process; that consumers expect certification to be based on uniform standards enforced consistently; and that once such practices are allowed, it is extremely difficult to prohibit them. Other NOSB members appeared to approve of NOP’s “flexible” (arbitrary) procedures.

    NOSB member Harriet Behar put the matter succinctly: “Without clear, consistent standards, the integrity of the entire label is at risk. It is not acceptable to allow different certifiers to interpret the regulations in lots of different ways. This is the whole reason for the label - consumer trust that stems from uniform standards, enforced in a consistent way, and backed by good process.”

    This action allows you to send letters to Deputy Administrator McEvoy and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and your Congressional delegation, and will take you to Regulations.gov, where you can enter a comment for the NOSB. See some suggested language below.

    Jump to "Submit" for Part 1.

    Part 2. Letter to NOSB on the regs.gov website.

    Suggested comment to NOSB:

    Dear NOSB members:

    During the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) webinar on August 14, National Organic Program (NOP) Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy applauded the “flexibility” of his program in allowing organic certification of operations not permitted by regulations. Although the webinar was focused on hydroponics, Mr. McEvoy’s comments applied to a wide variety of production areas where USDA has yet to approve standards. In accordance with your responsibilities under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) to advise the Secretary on implementation of the act, please tell NOP to correct this statement through a policy memo that explains the necessity of developing standards before allowing certification. Regardless of your feelings about the hydroponics issue, please let NOP know that it must follow the rule of law, rather than arbitrarily allowing certification decisions to be made in the hodge-podge of actions that OFPA was designed to avoid.

    The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) provides requirements for the organic label in law, and regulations. These legal standards are developed through a transparent public process that ensures that they are not arbitrary, but meet the needs of organic producers and consumers. The law and the standards are public documents, which keep certifiers accountable. The purposes of OFPA are stated in §6501:

    It is the purpose of this chapter—
    (1) to establish national standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced products;
    (2) to assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard; and
    (3) to facilitate interstate commerce in fresh and processed food that is organically produced.

    To suggest that organic is “flexible” enough to certify products for which there are no standards is a dangerous mistake. This sort of thinking has landed us in the predicament in which we currently find ourselves with hydroponics –where some certifiers certify hydroponic operations as organic, while others do not.

    Certifiers interpret and consistently apply standards through the certification process and are held accountable through NOP accreditation. We cannot expect certifiers to uphold the integrity of the label in the absence of clear, applicable standards.  The standards must come first, created through a public process, with the certified products following.

    NOP must correct this statement through a policy memo that explains the necessity of developing standards before allowing certification.

    Thank you for your attention to this urgent issue.

    Sincerely,

  • Support Senate Bill to Ban Chlorpyrifos, the Neurotoxic Pesticide that Harms Children’s Brains

    In March 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed a 2015 proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of the highly neurotoxic insecticide, chlorpyrifos, despite EPA’s own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children. A revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances would have effectively banned the chemical from use in agriculture. Instead, Administrator Pruitt’s decision indicated the agency will continue to study chlorpyrifos and would not take any action until 2022.

    EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. In 2016, EPA concluded that there is “sufficient evidence” that there are neurodevelopmental effects at low levels, and that current approaches for evaluating chlorpyrifos’ neurological impact are “not sufficiently health protective.”

    Epidemiological data also points to subpopulations that are disproportionately affected by chlorpyrifos exposures. Low-income African-American and Latino families, including farmworker families, continue to suffer the most, and this disproportionate impact creates an environmental justice problem that the agency cannot continue to ignore.

    Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced a bill that would ban use of chlorpyrifos. The bill, “Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act,” S. 1624, amends the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) that oversees pesticide food exposures to prohibit all chlorpyrifos use. In addition, the bill directs EPA to partner with the National Research Council to assess the neurodevelopmental and other low-dose effects of exposure to organophosphate pesticides to agricultural workers and children.

    "Congress must act because Administrator Pruitt has shown that he won’t. There is no question chlorpyrifos needs to come off the market. The science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage and neurodevelopmental disorders in children is undeniable. The EPA's own scientists have established that chlorpyrifos on food and in groundwater is a threat to public health and should be banned." Sen. Udall said. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

  • Ask Your Senators to Co-Sponsor Bill to Ban Chlorpyrifos, the Neurotoxic Pesticide that Harms Children—After EPA Reversal

    Ask your U.S. Senators to co-sponsor legislation to ban the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed the previous administration’s proposal to discontinue its food uses. [The bill is currently co-sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).]

    With EPA’s own  assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is time for Congress to intervene to get this highly toxic pesticide off the market.


    In March 2017, Mr. Pruitt reversed a 2015 proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos. A revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances would have effectively banned the chemical from use in agriculture. Instead, Administrator Pruitt’s decision indicated the agency will continue to study chlorpyrifos and would not take any action until 2022.

    EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have developmental delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. In 2016, EPA concluded that there is “sufficient evidence” that there are neurodevelopmental effects at low levels, and that current approaches for evaluating chlorpyrifos’s neurological impact are “not sufficiently health protective.”

    Epidemiological data also points to subpopulations that are disproportionately affected by chlorpyrifos exposures. Low-income African-American and Latino families, including farmworker families, continue to suffer the most, and this disproportionate impact creates an environmental justice problem that the agency cannot continue to ignore.

    U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the bill to ban the use of chlorpyrifos. The bill, “Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act,” S. 1624, amends the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) that oversees pesticide food exposures to prohibit all chlorpyrifos use. In addition, the bill directs EPA to partner with the National Research Council to assess the neurodevelopmental and other low-dose effects of exposure to organophosphate pesticides to agricultural workers and children.

    "Congress must act because Administrator Pruitt has shown that he won’t. There is no question chlorpyrifos needs to come off the market. The science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage and neurodevelopmental disorders in children is undeniable. The EPA's own scientists have established that chlorpyrifos on food and in groundwater is a threat to public health and should be banned," Senator Udall said.

  • Tell Your Councilmember to Defend the Healthy Lawns Act!

    A state circuit court judge on August 3, 2017 overturned Montgomery County’s landmark bill restricting toxic pesticide use on private property. Help protect people, pets, and pollinators with your action!

    The fight is far from over. We need you to urge the Council to file an appeal before the 30 day deadline is up on September 2nd.

    By passing the Healthy Lawns Act, the Montgomery County Council acknowledged growing demand within the community for natural and organic lawn care practices and compatible products. These cost-effective lawn care methods have been shown to eliminate the need for toxic pesticide use through improvements in soil biology that support more resilient plants. But now, the court’s decision puts over one million residents at continued risk of hazardous pesticide exposure.

    While this ruling doesn’t affect aspects of the Act that ban toxic pesticides used on county-owned public land, it does strike down key provisions that stop unnecessary pesticide use on private property. We know that when pesticides are used in the community, they drift and run-off the target site, polluting the entire community’s air, water, and soil. And, they are not needed for a beautiful lawn and landscape.

    Health and environmental advocates indicate Judge McGann’s ruling ignores historical precedent set by Maryland counties in leading the way on health and environmental laws, including bans on plastic bags and coal-tar sealants. At times, the Judge’s written opinion is dismissive of the danger posed by pesticide use, including an aside opining “…why neighborhood children sell lemonade on the street corner and not pesticides.”

    Over 150 communities in 23 states restrict chemical pesticide use, according to Beyond Pesticides’ Map of U.S. Pesticide Reform Policies. Many local governments in Maryland and throughout the United States will be watching Montgomery County’s response.

    Please help us send a message to the lead plaintiff, Complete Lawn Care, and Scotts, TruGreen and the lawn chemical industry that communities should be able to set higher standards to restrict toxic pesticide use, especially when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state are not providing adequate protection. Urge the County Council to continue to defend the Healthy Lawns Act by appealing the recent court decision by September 2nd!

  • Tell Your Councilmember to Defend the Healthy Lawns Act!

    A state circuit court judge on August 3, 2017 overturned Montgomery County’s landmark bill restricting toxic pesticide use on private property. Help protect people, pets, and pollinators with your action!

    The fight is far from over. We need you to urge the Council to file an appeal before the 30 day deadline is up on September 30th.

    By passing the Healthy Lawns Act, the Montgomery County Council acknowledged growing demand within the community for natural and organic lawn care practices and compatible products. These cost-effective lawn care methods have been shown to eliminate the need for toxic pesticide use through improvements in soil biology that support more resilient plants. But now, the court’s decision puts over one million residents at continued risk of hazardous pesticide exposure.

    While this ruling doesn’t affect aspects of the Act that ban toxic pesticides used on county-owned public land, it does strike down key provisions that stop unnecessary pesticide use on private property. We know that when pesticides are used in the community, they drift and run-off the target site, polluting the entire community’s air, water, and soil. And, they are not needed for a beautiful lawn and landscape.

    Health and environmental advocates indicate Judge McGann’s ruling ignores historical precedent set by Maryland counties in leading the way on health and environmental laws, including bans on plastic bags and coal-tar sealants. At times, the Judge’s written opinion is dismissive of the danger posed by pesticide use, including an aside opining “…why neighborhood children sell lemonade on the street corner and not pesticides.”

    Send a letter to your Councilmember urging that they appeal Judge McGann's ruling!

    Over 150 communities in 23 states restrict chemical pesticide use, according to Beyond Pesticides’ Map of U.S. Pesticide Reform Policies. Many local governments in Maryland and throughout the United States will be watching Montgomery County’s response.

    Please help us send a message to the lead plaintiff, Complete Lawn Care, and Scotts, TruGreen and the lawn chemical industry that communities should be able to set higher standards to restrict toxic pesticide use, especially when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state are not providing adequate protection. Urge the County Council to continue to defend the Healthy Lawns Act by appealing the recent court decision by September 2nd!

  • Contact Montgomery County Council Members to Appeal Court Decision On Healthy Lawns Act!

    Lower Court judge overturns Healthy Lawns Act, denying residents in Montgomery County, MD the right to protect ourselves from harmful lawn pesticides.
     
    WE NEED YOU to Call/Email the councilmembers and urge them to file an appeal before the 30 day deadline runs out (Sept 2).
     
    We are urging our Council to appeal and defend the county from state preemption.
    We know we have a strong case, but this has been a David v. Goliath situation from Day 1.

     
    You have been steadfast in your support for our campaign for safer lawns in Montgomery County.  In 2015 the Mo Co Council passed the Healthy Lawns Act, 52-14, to restrict the cosmetic use of lawn pesticides on public & private property. Our parks are now safer for kids and pets (and grownups) because of this law BUT the pesticide lobbysists and some local lawn care companies, along with Scotts & TruGreen, challenged the private property provision. The lower court judge, Terrence McGann, agreed with them, and denied the county the right to pass a law that offers more protections for residents and environmental health than the state.  Now a million residents will be negatively impacted by one judge's decision.
     
    Contact information for each councilmember is below and a brief message you can use:

  • AOTW - Oppose Release of Genetically Engineered Moth in NY

    Following a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Cornell University’s proposed release of genetically engineered diamondback moths (DBMs), there is a need to ensure that the state of New York addresses issues that APHIS failed to consider. These include  concerns that are based on problems with possible contamination of organic crops with illegal GE residues, as well as others raised by scientists at the Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch, and GeneWatch UK.

    The FONSI absolves APHIS from the duty to perform an in-depth environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) points out that this is the first use of this particular kind of GE technology –using a genetically engineered male to produce inviable female offspring— and, as such, deserves the full investigation of an EIS, rather than the more cursory evaluation of the environmental assessment that led to the FONSI.

    Besides NEPA, New York state law requires that all "discretionary" decisions of an agency to approve, fund, or directly undertake an action which may affect the environment are subject to review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). We believe that Cornell must receive a permit under New York Environmental Conservation Law §11-0507 in order to release the insects from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), as it did for the release of caged insects in the past. However, DEC has denied responsibility for permitting the action. As a state university, Cornell is subject to SEQR. If Cornell or DEC does not perform the required EIS, enforcement is up to citizens. According to the DEC website, “[C]itizens or groups who can demonstrate that they may be harmed by this failure may take legal action... Project approvals may be rescinded by a court and a new review required under SEQR. New York State's court system has consistently ruled in favor of strong compliance with the provisions of SEQR.” NOFA-NY has made a strong showing that organic growers may be harmed by this release.

    This is an issue that affects all of us –not just New Yorkers— because the moths do not respect state boundaries, and this action would set a precedent for other states.

    Organic growers may be harmed if the moths escape from the research plots. The engineered trait is designed to leave behind dead moth larvae and pupae resulting from the mating of the engineered males with wild females. These residues, if left on organic crops (cabbage, broccoli, and other brassica plants) would be prohibited under the “excluded methods” regulation of the National Organic Program. In addition, there are plausible scenarios that would result in release of viable DBMs, which could increase damage to crops.

    In general, the cursory EA performed by APHIS ignored a number of important issues, including: contamination of crops with GE dead insects; the impacts on the ecological balance of native brassicas; the lack of research on the migration of DBMs from site to site; impacts in the future if engineered DBMs are released in commercial agriculture; other alternatives besides “no action,” such as the systems approach used by organic growers; the lack of adequate monitoring and buffer zones; food safety; impacts on predators; antibiotic resistance as a result from the use of tetracycline in breeding the moths; other ecological effects; and movement of the DBM across international borders.

    Voice your opposition to the release of genetically engineered DBMs to Cornell University (which proposes to release the moths), DEC (which is responsible for state permits of releases of wild animals), and Governor Cuomo (who is responsible for ensuring that state agencies meet their responsibilities.)

  • AOTW - Oppose Release of Genetically Engineered Moth in NY

    Help stop a dangerous plan hatched in New York to control a caterpillar in cabbage. Under the plan, up to 10,000 genetically engineered (GE) male diamondback moths (DBMs) will be released each week during the cabbage planting cycle (which runs about three to four months). According to USDA, “The males are genetically engineered with a lethal gene that they pass on to females when they mate.”Related image

    Because of the widespread release, this plan –a first of its kind in food crops– will contaminate organic farms with genetically engineered material. And, this is all being done based on a cursory environmental assessment without an in-depth environmental impact assessment.

    This is an issue that affects all of us –not just New Yorkers–because the moths do not respect state boundaries, and this action would set a precedent for other states.

    Following a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Cornell University’s proposed release, there is an urgent need to ensure that the state of New York addresses contamination issues that APHIS failed to consider. At the top of the list is possible contamination of organic crops, which could threaten the standing of organic products with consumers and holds the threat of decertification. Other  contamination concerns are  raised by scientists at the Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch, and GeneWatch UK.

    The FONSI absolves APHIS from the duty to perform an in-depth environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) points out that this is the first food use of this particular kind of GE technology –using a genetically engineered male to produce inviable female offspring— and, as such, deserves the full investigation of an EIS, rather than the more cursory evaluation of the environmental assessment that led to the FONSI.

    In addition to NEPA, New York state law requires a state agency to conduct a review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) . when it uses its "discretionary" authority to approve, fund, or directly undertake an action that may affect the environment. In order to release the insects, Cornell must receive a permit under New York Environmental Conservation Law §11-0507 from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), as it did for the release of caged insects in the past. However, DEC has denied responsibility for permitting the action. As a university with a state extension service, Cornell is subject to SEQR. If Cornell or DEC does not perform the required EIS, enforcement is up to citizens. According to the DEC website, “[C]itizens or groups who can demonstrate that they may be harmed by this failure may take legal action. . . . Project approvals may be rescinded by a court and a new review required under SEQR. New York State's court system has consistently ruled in favor of strong compliance with the provisions of SEQR.” NOFA-NY has made a strong showing that organic growers may be harmed by this release.

    Organic growers may be harmed if the moths escape from the research plots. The engineered trait is designed to leave behind dead moth larvae and pupae resulting from the mating of the engineered males with wild females. These residues, if left on organic crops (cabbage, broccoli, and other brassica plants), could threaten the standing of organic products with consumers and threaten decertification. In addition, there are plausible scenarios that would result in release of viable DBMs, which could increase damage to crops.

    In general, the environmental assessment performed by APHIS ignored a number of important issues, including: contamination of crops with GE dead insects; the impacts on the ecological balance of native brassicas; the lack of research on the migration of DBMs from site to site; impacts in the future if engineered DBMs are released in commercial agriculture; other alternatives besides “no action,” such as the systems approach used by organic growers; the lack of adequate monitoring and buffer zones; food safety; impacts on predators; antibiotic resistance as a result from the use of tetracycline in breeding the moths; other ecological effects; and movement of the DBM across international borders.

    Voice your opposition to the release of genetically engineered DBMs to Cornell University (which proposes to release the moths), DEC (which is responsible for state permits of releases of wild animals), and Governor Cuomo (who is responsible for ensuring that state agencies meet their responsibilities.)

  • Protect organic farmers and consumers from fraudulent imports

    At a time when the U.S. market demands more organic corn and soybeans than are supplied by domestic organic growers, those same growers are threatened by the flooding of the market with cheaper fraudulent grains. The resulting impacts of eliminating market opportunities while at the same time threatening the value of the organic label hurt organic farmers in this country.

    The National Organic Program (NOP) must take action to protect the organic label.

    According to the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), the U.S. currently produces only about 60% of the organic corn and 10-30% of the organic soybeans the market demands, while demand is increasing by about 14% per year. Meanwhile, the U.S. market is being flooded with fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans. In May, the Washington Post documented three large shipments –totaling 7 percent of annual organic corn imports and 4 percent of organic soybean imports— originating from questionable overseas certification and fraud.

    OFARM says, “For over two years, organic grain producers have seen their prices, market opportunities and bottom-lines on their farms decline due to fraudulent imports. The losses to the twelve Midwestern state organic grain producers (ND, SD, NE, KS, MO, IL, IA, WI, IN, MI, MN, OH) totals over $150 million in lost income for the crop years 2015 and 2016 and if all 48 states and 2017 income losses are included, it is over $250 million. This situation is unsustainable and will not grow the domestic supply of organic grain.”

    USDA must exercise its authority to enforce existing regulations and develop additional stringent regulatory oversight procedures to fulfill its obligations under the Organic Foods Production Act and safeguard the integrity of the USDA organic seal. USDA must immediately:
    ⦁    Enforce the currently enacted regulations to ensure imports comply with the U.S. organic standards;
    ⦁    Implement additional regulations to deter and prevent the import of fraudulent organic products; and
    ⦁    Regulate third-party certifiers and equivalent agencies in other countries administering USDA organic standards.

    If you are a farmer who has been harmed by import fraud, please add your story to the letter.

  • Protect organic farmers and consumers from fraudulent imports

    At a time when the U.S. market demands more organic corn and soybeans than are supplied by domestic organic growers, those same growers are threatened by the flooding of the market with cheaper fraudulent grains. The resulting impacts of eliminating market opportunities while at the same time threatening the value of the organic label hurt organic farmers in this country.

    The National Organic Program (NOP) must take action to protect the organic label.

    According to the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), the U.S. currently produces only about 60% of the organic corn and 10-30% of the organic soybeans the market demands, while demand is increasing by about 14% per year. Meanwhile, the U.S. market is being flooded with fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans. In May, the Washington Post documented three large shipments –totaling 7 percent of annual organic corn imports and 4 percent of organic soybean imports— originating from questionable overseas certification and fraud.

    OFARM says, “For over two years, organic grain producers have seen their prices, market opportunities and bottom-lines on their farms decline due to fraudulent imports. The losses to the twelve Midwestern state organic grain producers (ND, SD, NE, KS, MO, IL, IA, WI, IN, MI, MN, OH) totals over $150 million in lost income for the crop years 2015 and 2016 and if all 48 states and 2017 income losses are included, it is over $250 million. This situation is unsustainable and will not grow the domestic supply of organic grain.”

    USDA must exercise its authority to enforce existing regulations and develop additional stringent regulatory oversight procedures to fulfill its obligations under the Organic Foods Production Act and safeguard the integrity of the USDA organic seal. USDA must immediately:
    ⦁    Enforce the currently enacted regulations to ensure imports comply with the U.S. organic standards;
    ⦁    Implement additional regulations to deter and prevent the import of fraudulent organic products; and
    ⦁    Regulate third-party certifiers and equivalent agencies in other countries administering USDA organic standards.

    If you are a farmer who has been harmed by import fraud, please add your story to the letter.

  • Protect the organic label from fraudulent imports!

    At a time when the U.S. market demands more organic corn and soybeans than are supplied by domestic organic growers, those same growers are threatened by the flooding of the market with cheaper fraudulent grains. The resulting impacts of eliminating market opportunities while at the same time threatening the value of the organic label hurt organic farmers in this country.

    The National Organic Program (NOP) must take action to protect the organic label.

    According to the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), the U.S. currently produces only about 60% of the organic corn and 10-30% of the organic soybeans the market demands, while demand is increasing by about 14% per year. Meanwhile, the U.S. market is being flooded with fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans. In May, the Washington Post documented three large shipments –totaling 7 percent of annual organic corn imports and 4 percent of organic soybean imports— originating from questionable overseas certification and fraud.

    OFARM says, “For over two years, organic grain producers have seen their prices, market opportunities and bottom-lines on their farms decline due to fraudulent imports. The losses to the twelve Midwestern state organic grain producers (ND, SD, NE, KS, MO, IL, IA, WI, IN, MI, MN, OH) totals over $150 million in lost income for the crop years 2015 and 2016 and if all 48 states and 2017 income losses are included, it is over $250 million. This situation is unsustainable and will not grow the domestic supply of organic grain.”

    USDA must exercise its authority to enforce existing regulations and develop additional stringent regulatory oversight procedures to fulfill its obligations under the Organic Foods Production Act and safeguard the integrity of the USDA organic seal. USDA must immediately:
    ⦁    Enforce the currently enacted regulations to ensure imports comply with the U.S. organic standards;
    ⦁    Implement additional regulations to deter and prevent the import of fraudulent organic products; and
    ⦁    Regulate third-party certifiers and equivalent agencies in other countries administering USDA organic standards.

    If you are a farmer who has been harmed by import fraud, please add your story to the letter.