A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
See PANUPS updates service, for complete information.
June 21, 2007
EPA screens pesticides for endocrine disruption: The US Environmental Protection Agency announced it would begin screening 73 pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, malathion, and atrazine, for their risk of endocrine disruption. They were chosen for their potential for human exposure at home and in the workplace. OMB Watch says this screening is long overdue and that there are flaws in the process: "...scientists are assailing this risk assessment as scientifically weak.... expressing concern EPA has not properly constructed the dose-response assessment, which compares dosage level to health effect. Unlike other contaminants, endocrine disruptors may cause different or more serious adverse effects at trace levels than at greater levels. Scientists are also concerned about the influence of industry in construction of the risk assessment." Read more.
New class of pesticides suspected in bee mystery: Neonicotinoid pesticides may be a factor in the vanishing of thousands of bees in thirty-five states. The Colony Collapse Disorder Working Group, comprised of scientists from government and academia, is leading research on the mysterious disappearance. Diana Cox-Foster, an entomologist at The Pennsylvania State University, testified before the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture in March: "Research is warranted to address the effects on the bees and other pollinators of these compounds at the concentrations found in pollen and honey made from nectar collected by the bees. It is essential to determine whether these pesticides play a role as a causal factor in the [Colony Collapse Disorder] symptoms." Beekeepers are moving their hives away from fields where pesticides are applied, Associated Press reports.
Organochlorine pesticides lead to lower crop production: A new study shows that the presence of organochlorine pesticides and chemicals in soil, including DDT, can harm the ability of leguminous crops in fixing atmospheric nitrogen through symbiosis with nitrogen fixing bacteria. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study reports, "that a subset of organochlorine pesticides, agrichemicals, and environmental contaminants induces a symbiotic phenotype of inhibited or delayed recruitment of rhizobia bacteria to host plant roots, fewer root nodules produced, lower rates of nitrogenase activity, and a reduction in overall plant yield at time of harvest. The environmental consequences of synthetic chemicals compromising symbiotic nitrogen fixation are increased dependence on synthetic nitrogenous fertilizer, reduced soil fertility, and unsustainable long-term crop yields."
EU OK's GMO contamination of organic foods: The European Union's Agricultural Ministers have decided that organic food contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMO's) can still be labeled "organic." Previous standards required zero GMO contamination for organic labeling, and this decision puts the allowable contamination level at 0.9%, the same threshold that triggers GM labeling of non-organic foods. The UK's Natural Choice website reports the reaction of Friends of the Earth's GM Campaigner Clare Oxborrow: "EU Ministers have put the interest of the biotech industry ahead of consumers who believe that organic food should be produced to strict environmental standards. Organic farmers will now find it increasingly difficult to protect their crops from GM. This vote must not be used as a green light to allow routine GM contamination. The EU and UK must now introduce tough legislation to protect organic and conventional farmers from genetic pollution."
New Jersey school contaminated with banned pesticide: Chlordane was found in the soil of West Brook Middle School in Paramus, New Jersey. A PAN "Bad Actor" organochlorine pesticide, chlordane is a probable carcinogen and endocrine disruptor that is banned in the U.S. and targeted for global elimination as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) under the international Stockholm Convention. The toxic dirt was found in a soccer field and near an entryway early this year, and the school failed to notify parents until five months later. North Jersey.com has the story. Michael Gartland, the reporter who broke the story about the toxic soil, was arrested in early June when accompanying a lab technician to collect independent samples of the tainted soil.Your pet can be a video star: "The Truth About Cats, Dogs, and Lawn Chemicals" is a new web-based video series that could star your very own beloved Fido or Boots. The premier episode appeared this week on iTunes, YouTube and on the project's home page, catsdogslawns.org. Film producers Sanford Lewis and Jody Shapiro of Amherst, Massachusetts are using the power of the internet to produce an audience-participatory documentary video. The story-line revolves around "Dr. Dobetter," a well-informed veterinarian concerned about toxic exposure who has a call-in radio show. The callers include people who love and care for their animals, and in a twist of magical realism, the animals themselves speak their minds, presenting their uniquely perceptive and humorous vantage point. Find out more about how to participate with your own stories, videos and photos.