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EPA scientists claim pesticide industry pressure: EPA is expected to approve over twenty organophosphates and carbamates this week without adequate study, according to EPA scientists. Unions representing thousands of staff scientists complain of pressure from the pesticide industry to approve the dangerous chemicals. The New York Times reports.
Bt cotton farmers using more insecticides: Though genetically modified cotton has been promoted as a way to reduce pesticide use, a long-term study shows that after the first few years when insecticide use goes down, farmers must use almost as much insecticide as before they first started using the GM seed. A new study from Cornell University reveals that farmers in China growing Bt cotton increased their use of insecticides to control secondary pests not influenced by the Bt modifications that were designed to control boll worm. Due to the higher costs of Bt cotton seeds, the additional insecticide expenses are making adoption of GM cotton more costly than conventional farming without reducing the promised environmental damage of pesticides. Read more.
States' Rights, Public Health Threatened: "Republicans prepare another gift to chemical industry," according to a July 22 editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about Congressional attempts to override states' rights on environmental and public health legislation. The Star Tribune states, "This is not a trivial issue, nor a theoretical one. EPA inaction has prompted several states to outlaw or sharply restrict pesticides and other industrial chemicals on their own. Some Minnesota legislators think this state should phase out the herbicide atrazine, strongly implicated in frog deformities but, after a series of industry-friendly reviews, still blessed by EPA." Click here to read the entire editorial.
EPA Admits Texas town is contaminated: Residents of Mission, Texas, are dealing with the legacy of an old manufacturing plant that left behind toxic pesticides. Though as recently as January 2006 EPA was reluctant to admit a public health threat to people complaining of health problems, a recent Agency memo says, "EPA sampling had detected 12 hazardous pesticides that may be carcinogenic, alter genetic material, and cause reproductive disorders." Read more about it in The Monitor, a local newspaper that has been reporting on this problem since 2002.
Spraying for West Nile Virus -- new cumulative risk: "A chemical sprayed over Sacramento County last summer to control West Nile virus doubled the toxicity of pesticides that had already accumulated in local creeks from urban runoff," a UC Berkeley study found (read the abstract). Researcher Donald Weston notes that this is the first evidence "that one pesticide can combine with pyrethroids in the environment for a more toxic effect. It adds to recent alarm bells about pyrethroids, which have come to dominate the pesticide market." The Sacramento Bee reports.
DDT linked to brain damage: A researcher writing in the journal Behavioral Brain Research reports "the first study that documented a neural effect from DDT in a natural population in any species" (read the abstract). "Robins exposed to DDT before birth had damage to regions of the brain that enable them to sing and protect territory. Both functions are integral to mating. The report's authors, from Canada's University of Alberta, are concerned that indigenous people who depend on wildlife for food may be at risk as well. LiveScience.com has the story.
Pesticide use challenged in New Jersey: Residents in New Jersey are being canvassed by the New Jersey Environmental Federation (NJEF) to support local bans on pesticide use. Jane Nogaki, NJEF's Pesticides Campaign Coordinator says, "We're asking towns to designate playgrounds and parks as 'Pesticide Free Zones,' because the hazards to children are higher, because they are more vulnerable to pesticide use." Read the story here.
PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don't always get coverage by the mainstream media. It's produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.