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EPA sidesteps chance to protect bees

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All too often, the rules of pesticide regulation are cumbersome and make for slow change. But EPA had an opportunity to take swift, decisive action to protect bees — and they let it pass. 

Today, the agency announced it is denying the request by beekeepers to declare Bayer's pesticide, clothianidin, an "imminent hazard" to bees and will not be suspending the chemical's use.  

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Feds ask, "Are the Big 6 too big?"

Eighteen months ago, PAN’s Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman testified at the historic USDA and Dept. of Justice (DOJ) joint hearings on corporate control and competition in agriculture. The hearings were attended by thousands of farmers, ranchers and civil society organizations from across the country, with particularly strong participation in the heartland states.

Then last year many of you joined PAN in urging the DOJ to release a final report about those workshops, and make firm commitments to next steps. The agency has finally delivered — sort of.

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Tighter rules for brain toxicant

Earlier today, EPA announced new restrictions on the insecticide chlorpyrifos, a known brain toxicant linked to learning disabilities in children and commonly sprayed on corn, oranges, grapes and almonds, among other crops.

These new protections are a step in the right direction, and will significantly reduce the amount of chlorpyrifos applied to fields and orchards. But more protection is needed to safeguard the health of farm communities and children who live, learn and play near pesticide application sites.

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The 411: Community watchdogs text for change

Afraid or unsure of who to call about illegal pesticide spraying? Polluters beware: one California county may have found a solution.

The Kern Environmental Enforcement Network (KEEN) is an innovative tool that employs texting and web technology to expands the enforcement capacity of government agencies with the help of alert community members. KEEN enables residents to provide anonymous eyewitness accounts of local problems quickly and accurately, 24 hours a day in both English and Spanish. And it works.

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Poisoned fruit

Last month, 14 children between the ages of two and six lost their lives to pesticide poisoning in Bangladesh after eating contaminated litchi (or lychee) fruit.

As reported by the Bangladesh daily New Age, the specific pesticides responsible have not yet been identified. But samples of the poisonous fruit are currently being tested by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta.

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Buffer zones: Just common sense

Living in a lush, forested area sounds pristine and serene, right? Yes, but you may have to grapple with pesticide drift from periodic aerial spraying of herbicides like 2,4-D and atrazine.

Residents of Lane County, Oregon are fed up. They recently organized a rally protesting this long-standing practice, and calling for buffer zones to protect their communities.

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Poverty & pollution

A recent, powerful series of articles in Environmental Health News marked the 30th anniversary of what many consider the birth of the environmental justice movement. EHN reporters visited low-income communities of color across the country, and found "a legacy of lingering problems and newly emerging threats."

Pollution, Poverty, People of Color” tells the compelling stories of seven communities that are battling the “triple whammy” of race, poverty and environmental contamination. PAN sees this struggle all too often, as we work with community partners to monitor pesticides in their air and water. All of the EHN stories are worth reading; we share brief summaries of just two of them below.

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How Brazil stopped Monsanto's bullying

Brazil, the world’s second largest user of genetically engineered (GE) seeds, just took Monsanto down a notch. The court focused on Monsanto’s harassment and exploitation of farmers — potentially causing huge financial losses to the company, and keeping their army of lawyers busy for a while. Meanwhile, we celebrate a rare commonsense legal decision.

Monsanto's RoundUp Ready soy seeds comprise 85% of all soy grown in Brazil, and the corporation has been making a tidy profit charging farmers a levy of 2% on top of the cost of seed. In April, a Brazilian court ruled this levy illegal.

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Rep. Markey to FDA: Why are lindane shampoos still allowed?

Lice shampoos containing lindane continue to be allowed in the U.S., despite being slated for a global ban due to the organochlorine pesticide's persistence and toxicity. Last week, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) urged the Obama Administration to pull these products from the U.S. market once and for all.

In 2009, more than 160 nations agreed to ban the agricultural uses of lindane, and to phase out pharmaceutical uses around the world by 2014. Lindane shampoos and lotions have been banned in California since 2002, and several other states have moved to severely restrict the use of these products.

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Epigenetics: Gambling with our future

The "obesity epidemic" is constantly in the news. This year's CDC figures show that 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum. Childhood cancers and neurodevelopmental delays are on the rise.

Scientific studies show that many of these health conditions can be linked to exposures to environmental contaminants such as pesticides, and new research is finding that exposures occurring as far back as three generations can cause adverse health conditions today.

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