A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
See PANUPS updates service, for complete information.
Protests over methyl iodide; Minnesota right to know hearing; Environmentally just & organic chocolate and more...
October 25, 2008
Protest in Oregon over methyl iodide registration: Residents concerned about the recent approval of methyl iodide protested outside the EPA Region 10 office in Portland, Oregon last week. The Oregonian reports that the protest was, "focused on Portland because the head of the EPA's Northwest region, Elin Miller, is the former chief executive officer of Arysta Life Science, the company that produces the pesticide.... Day Owen, an organic farmer who lives in the Coast Range west of Eugene, said the protesters want a reversal of the methyl iodide decision, a buffer around schools and homes protected from agricultural and forestry pesticide spraying, and the resignation of Miller and EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson."
California governor gets involved in aerial spraying controversy: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the ingredients of the pheromone-pesticide CheckMate LBAM-F to be made public in the on-going controversy over aerial application of the product. Pheromones work by disrupting the mating behavior of the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM). Last week, a judge ordered the lifting of a ban on the aerial spraying in the Monterey/Santa Cruz area, to begin in Monterey Oct. 24. Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that the Santa Cruz City Council is hiring an attorney to file suit to block upcoming spraying over the city.
DDT, other toxics found in Silicon Valley: A new study has revealed that dozens of toxic chemicals, including DDT and arsenic, are contaminating populous Santa Clara County, California. The San Jose Mercury News conducted tests at eight public park areas. The contamination found may have been left from old orchards. The newspaper reports, "California doesn't offer residents simple public health and safety advice about living on old orchard land.... Those lapses, some experts say, put people at risk every day.... 'This isn't something to be taken lightly,' said Richard Wiles, executive director of Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C., non-profit focused on toxins research. 'People are being exposed and they don't even know it.'"
New pesticide policy law in U.S.: The Pesticide Registration Improvement Renewal Act (PRIAII) was signed into law by President Bush. Beyond Pesticides reports: "'This is a win-win-win proposition,' said Phil Klein, senior vice president of legislative and public affairs at Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA). 'EPA gets long term stable funding, environmental and farm worker communities get increased funding for worker protection, and industry benefits from predictable timelines for bringing newer products to market.'" CSPA, CropLife America, a pesticide industry organization, and Natural Resources Defense Council aligned on passage of the legislation. Dr. Susan Kegley, senior scientist at PANNA, says, "Unfortunately, the PRIA process does not currently provide any opportunities for public comment on new pesticide registrations, which leaves the public without a voice and EPA without input from those who are likely to be adversely affected by a new pesticide." Read the bill.
Minnesota hearing on pesticide use reporting: Minnesota state representative Ken Tschumper hosted a hearing in Wadena, Minn., about the public's right to know about pesticide use in the state. Tschumper chairs the state House Subcommittee on Environmental Justice and Healthy Housing, and has authored legislation to broaden Minnesota's pesticide right-to-know law. The West Central Tribune reports that Julie Jansen, a Renville County resident who works with Clean Water Action, a Minneapolis-based environmental group, testified that "people are being harmed by accidental exposure to pesticides. Pesticide drift carried by winds and errant applications put people at risk.... She said pesticide drift is a far bigger problem than many people realize." Pesticide applications can be a source of volatilization drift for days following their application. "This is not an isolated case,” said Representative Tschumper in response to hearing the testimony.
Anti-Syngenta demonstrators shot: Via Campesina, the global peasant organization, reports that some 150 demonstrators who had camped at a Syngenta experimental field for genetically-engineered soy near Santa Teresado Oeste, Brazil, were attacked by "around 40 gunmen" on October 21. "A Via Campesina member, Valmir Motta, 32 years old, father of three children, was executed with two shots on his chest.... [and] six rural workers are severely wounded and a gunmen was possibly killed". One of the women, Isabel do Nascimento de Souza, is reportedly hospitalized in a coma. Via Campesina is demanding an investigation this incident and the hiring of illegal militia, and support of neighboring communities who are growing criolla --locally-adapted traditional seed crops.
Organochlorine pesticides travel to Tibet: Researchers from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research and the Chinese Academy of Scientists found evidence of organochlorine pesticides, including lindane and DDT, in conifer needles from trees in southeastern Tibet. The levels of DDT found in the region were "noticeably higher than those from other mountainous regions." The study's authors suggested that the application of dicofol in nearby regions might be the cause. Dicofol, which is produced using DDT, is a PAN "Bad Actor" chemical, possible carcinogen, and suspected endocrine disruptor. Organochlorines are long lasting chemicals that travel to northern latitudes on wind and water and bioaccumulate. Read the study's abstract.
Buy fair trade for your holiday chocolate: Chocolate lovers can make a difference when buying those delicious treats. There have been many revelations over the last decade about child slavery as well as more general labor abuse, pesticide and other environmental concerns in cocoa production, particularly in Cote D'Ivoire in West Africa, as writer Beth Greer reports. There has also been a rise in activism, government investigations, and manufacturer initiatives to clean up the global chocolate trade. But progress is slow. Writes Greer: "Nonprofit groups like Global Exchange and the International Labor Rights Fund... are now suing Nestle's U.S. subsidiary, together with commodity traders Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, in California. The suit charges Nestle, Cargill and ADM with making false claims to the public that the problem of child slave labor on cocoa farms was being resolved. But consumers don't have to wait: buying fair trade chocolate supports small scale farmers and avoids slave labor; fair trade organic chocolate supports sustainable production as well as social justice. If your local chocolatier doesn't already provide these options, ask them do the right thing while you check out pioneering sources such as Global Exchange, farmer-owned "Divine Chocolate," or TransFair's licensed partners in the U.S.