What do grizzly bears, gray wolves, California condors, and coho salmon have in common? All are protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and all are likely to be harmed by three commonly used pesticides, according to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In fact, these three pesticides—chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion—are likely to harm 97 percent of the plants and animals listed under the ESA. Read more
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Pointing to a growing consensus in the scientific community about pesticides’ impacts on honey bees and other pollinators, beekeepers in the state have worked with environmental groups to effect local policy. Last week, the Maryland state legislature passed the Pollinator Protection Act, which would ban consumers from buying pesticides that contain “neonics” beginning in 2018. Read more
Monarch butterflies are in serious trouble. Perhaps the most iconic insect in the United States, this butterfly has existed for countless millennia and, every year, it accomplishes the longest known migration of any insect in the world.
Monarch butterflies have been decimated over the past 20 years due to the loss of milkweed in the Midwest. This once common plant is the only food the butterflies’ larvae eat, and as milkweed goes, so go the monarchs. What’s worse, is the fact that these butterflies’ main summer mating grounds are smack in the middle of the U.S. Corn Belt, where milkweed has been almost eliminated due to the large-scale use of glyphosate (or Roundup) herbicide on genetically engineered corn and soybeans. Read more
One year ago, an agency of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) declared that glyphosate (or Roundup), the world’s most widely used herbicide, probably causes cancer. Then, in the fall, the European Food Safety Agency’s (EFSA) responded with an assessment that disagreed with the WHO’s findings. Read more
Most scientists, farmers, and regulators usually consider the health effects of pesticides one at a time. But that’s not always how they’re used.
A new report by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles’s Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (STPP) took a rare look at several pesticides—all fumigants—that are often applied in combination, chloropicrin, 1,3-dichloropropene, and metam salts. It found that when mixed together, the chemicals can interact and become more toxic, endangering and leaving farmworkers, neighbors, and schoolchildren without adequate protection.
“We know these are being applied on purpose together,” and some have similar health effects, including cancer, says report co-author Susan Kegley, principal, and CEO of the California-based Pesticide Research Institute.
Millions of pounds of these three pesticides are commonly used in combination to grow strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, grapes, nuts, and other crops. All together about 30 million pounds were used on California farm fields in 2013 alone and together they account for about a fifth of all pesticides used in the state.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the nation’s chief food safety regulator, plans to start testing certain foods for residues of the world’s most widely used weed killer after the World Health Organization’s cancer experts last year declared the chemical a probable human carcinogen. Read more
Colorado is now home to some of the nation’s first certified organic cannabis, which comes with a blessing from federal regulators. CBDRx, a Longmont, Colorado cannabis farm, has secured a certification to market its products with the organic seal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a major coup for the plant’s enthusiasts. Read more
Neonicotinoids—the world’s most widely used and fastest growing type of insecticide—have been at the center of the conversation about bee die-offs for several years. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently acknowledged that very small quantities can impact pollinators. But what about human health?
“There is an amazing lack of information for such widely used pesticides,” Mount Sinai professor of pediatrics and preventative medicine and dean for global health Philip Landrigan told Civil Eats. Read more
Seed company mergers have been all over the news lately. First, there was Monsanto’s rebuffed attempts to buy Syngenta, followed by a proposed merger between DuPont and Dow. Then, a Chinese company expressed interest in buying Syngenta, which lead to Syngenta’s renewed interest by Monsanto. As this chart by Michigan State University’s Phillip Howard shows, all this recent merger activity is the culmination of about two decades of the world’s largest seed companies swallowing up smaller companies by the score.
And while most of these developments have been reported as business stories, they also have huge implications for agriculture and our food supply. Read more
Lately it seems like bees just can’t get a break. This is the tenth consecutive year of exceptional annual bee losses. And despite heightened attention to the plight of the nation’s pollinators—which are essential to producing $15 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products a year—these losses continue to grow. Read more