Double-headed fish; Farm women & asthma; Pesticide notification registries, and more…

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Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)

A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
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panups20081231 supportaJanuary 22, 2009

Pesticides, double-headed fish & cancer

Evidence has emerged of a possible cancer cluster next to the Queensland hatchery where bizarre double-headed fish embryos have been discovered, according to The Australian. “When I see what’s happening with the fish hatchery and read about the chemicals being used, it leaves me with a very large suspicion it’s from agricultural chemicals,” said Hatchery foreman Bernard Gevers, who was recently diagnosed with bowel cancer. In fact, all of the households that back on to a creek that’s shared with the Sunland Fish Hatchery and a large macadamia plantation have had at least one cancer diagnosis or death since fish deformities were first reported four years ago. “The spray drift goes on to our roofs and washes straight into our drinking water,” said one resident who wished to remain anonymous. A report by Dr. Robert Chong of Queensland’s Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory confirmed that the deaths and deformities of the fish were consistent with with exposure to pesticides such as organophosphate insecticides and Carbendazim (a benzimidazole fungicide).

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Industry-backed group promotes DDT

A new report claiming European Union pesticide regulations will retard efforts to combat malaria comes from an industry-funded group, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The editors of “The EU’s Nasty Bite” are linked to the International Policy Network (IPN), that in turn has had a long-running campaign promoting DDT to battle malaria and blaming Rachel Carson for the failure to eradicate the disease. With funding from ExxonMobil and Phillip Morris, IPN has denied global warming, fought anti-smoking policies and promoted genetically engineered crops. While DDT is still used in parts of the world for indoor spraying to control mosquitoes, its efficacy is limited in many places due to insect resistance. Recent research also points to significant increased risks of breast cancer and other health impacts from exposure to DDT. The new report claims that the EU’s proposed limits on pesticides would ban pesticides like DDT that are also used to control vector-borne diseases such as malaria in Africa. The EU plan was designed to strengthen controls over harmful pesticides used in crop production.

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Pesticides may cause asthma among farm women

Farm women who come in contact with some widely used pesticides may have an increased risk of developing allergic asthma, a new study suggests. “Women who apply pesticides on farms were 50 percent more likely to have allergic asthma, although this was not true for non-allergic asthma,” said study author Jane Hoppin, a staff scientist with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. According to WKRN in Nashville, TN, experts already knew that pesticides have been associated with respiratory symptoms in farmers, and that farmers are at increased risk for respiratory diseases — including asthma — due to exposure to grains, animals, dust and other factors. Despite this, little research has been conducted on the respiratory risks of farm women. “This is the largest study of farmers and their families in the world, so it gives us an opportunity to look at diseases that haven’t been well characterized,” Hoppin said. The findings are available in the January 2009 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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Register for pesticide notification in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture coordinates a non-agricultural pesticide notification registry, a way for home owners to receive advance notice of pesticides that will be professionally applied to lawns, trees and shrubs in their neighborhood. The registry does not apply to agricultural applications, pesticides applied by local governments, pesticides applied by private homeowners or to fertilizer-only applications. Registration is free, but the deadline is fast approaching and requires submittal of a paper-based form. Last year, citizens listed nearly 16,000 addresses on the registry. 

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Maine considers pesticide notificataion registry

In a related story, the Bangor News reports that Maine’s Board of Pesticides Control will hold a public hearing January 23 in Waterville “on a proposal to create an online registry for individuals who want to be notified whenever aerial application of pesticides will happen nearby.” Unlike the Wisconsin system, the Maine rule would explicitly address agricultural pesticide use. The Board is also seeking comments on an approach to prevent pollen drift of genetically engineered sweet corn, among other pesticide rule changes.

shareMORE Details on January 3 meeting in Waterville, ME | DiggDiggThis

California green plan report

“A California Green Plan” is described in a report from Dominican University’s School of Business and Leadership, funded by the Fred Gellert Family Foundation. The study focuses on opportunities in green chemistry policy and how businesses might prosper in an economy that more effectively deals with climate change and energy use. It also finds that the state lacks a cohesive approach to managing the environment: “Agencies, regulations, and budgets often overlap and conflict. This complexity and lack of coordination is hurting businesses and the state’s economy.” It provides examples of best practices in environmental planning from The Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore, as well as the EU’s REACH program.

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