Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)
A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
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- GE maize linked to infertility
- Farmworkers’ children at greater risk
- U.K. fruit drinks laced with pesticides
- China says U.S. soybeans tainted with pesticides
- Website tracks pet lawn pesticide poisonings
- California: Urge DPR to enforce regulations to reduce pesticide smog
Research with the Austrian Ministry of Health, Families and Youth reports that “mice fed GM maize produced fewer and smaller litters with many genes affected.” According to Beyond Pesticides, the study involved Monsanto’s transgenic hybrid NK603 x MON810 “containing three gene cassettes, two conveying glyphosate herbicide tolerance and one insect resistance coding for endotoxin Cry1Ab.” Over all generations, “about twice as many pups were lost in the GE group” and the ones that were born weighed less. In addition, kidney weights of both females and males were “significantly lower” and showed “reduced core metabolism.” “It’s no surprise to us that U.S. regulators did not catch this,” said Center for Food Safety (CFS) Science Policy Analyst Bill Freese. “None of our regulatory agencies require any long-term animal feeding trials before allowing [GE] crops on the market.” CFS Executive Director Andrew Kimbrell called the research “a wake-up call to governments around the world that [GE] foods could cause long-term health damage.” CFS has called for a moratorium on GE products for human consumption “until their safety can be undeniably established.” Freese added that the U.S. FDA “must stop letting biotech companies self-certify their GE crops as safe, and instead establish strict, mandatory testing requirements, including long-term animal feeding trials — for every GE crop.”
The December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reports that children of farmworkers are “three times more likely than other children to have no health insurance coverage.” A U.S. Department of Labor survey of 3,136 parents with children younger than 18 years revealed that 32% of parents had no health insurance for their children. If the parents were migrant workers, the percentage of uninsured children rose to 45%. Beyond Pesticides reports farmworkers’ children were “uninsured at roughly 3 times the rate of all other children and almost twice the rate of those at or near the federal poverty level.” The authors of the Archives report recommend creating programs to provide health coverage to these most vulnerable members of society.
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After sampling more than 102 fruit juice drinks from 15 countries, researchers at Spain’s University of Jaen report that Britain’s fruit drinks contain larger amounts of pesticides than products sold anywhere else in the world. The London Sunday Times reports pesticide levels were, on average, more than 34 times greater than those permitted in drinking water. The London Daily Mail reports the detected chemicals “included carbendazim, thiabendazole, imazalil, prochloraz, malathion and iprodione. “ Furthermore: “A total of 19 products were bought in the UK, all made by Coca-Cola. Two orange drinks … contained imazalil at 300 times the limit permitted for a single pesticide in drinking water.” Peter Melchett, of the Soil Association, called this a clear example of how “the government fails to protect people from pesticides.” The researchers bought 102 drinks from countries including the U.S., Russia, Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland and compared pesticide concentrations with the levels permitted in drinking water in the European Union — i.e., 0.1 micrograms per litre (m/l) for each pesticide and 0.5 m/l for the total concentration. The average concentration was the highest in Britain (17.4 m/l), ahead of Spain (12.3) and France (4.9). Drinks bought in the U.S. had significantly lower levels of pesticides. Britain’s Food Standards Agency said the residue levels found in the study were not considered a safety risk but, as the Times points out, Britain imposes “no maximum recommended limits for
pesticide residues in fruit juices.” Georgina Downs, of the UK Pesticides Campaign, called the study’s findings “a serious alarm bell to the soft drinks industry.”
According to the People’s Daily Online, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) was alarmed to discover that a 57,000-ton shipment of soybeans imported from the U.S. arrived “coated with a blue substance contaminated with three pesticides — methalaeyl, fludioxonil and thiamethoxam.” In response, the GAQSIQ has set up an “early-warning system ”to detect contaminated seeds and has ordered stepped-up inspections of U.S. imports. The GAQSIQ has complained to Washington that the presence of tainted seeds indicates “major problems in the U.S. soybean export system.”
Dogs and cats may be more vulnerable to pesticide poisoning than their human companions, according to the The Daily Green. Household pets spend more time playing on lawns and in gardens that have been sprayed with hazardous cosmetic pesticides, and are routinely doused with flea and tick repellents. According to Beyond Pesticides, “Numerous studies have documented the risk of pesticides to pets over the years. A 1991 National Cancer Institute study finds that dogs whose owners’ lawns were treated with 2,4-D, four or more times per year, are twice as likely to contract canine malignant lymphoma than dogs whose owners do not use the herbicide.” Many veterinarians have been aware of the risks to exposure, and a recently launched American Veterinary Medical Association Web site now makes reporting cases easier. The hope is that the website will help identify the chemicals that put out animals most at risk.
On November 28, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released new draft regulations to address smog-forming pesticides. The draft regulations seriously backpedal on DPR’s promise to reduce smog-forming pesticides in the five air basins across the state–especially in the San Joaquin Valley. DPR is cheating Californians out of their right to breathe clean air and avoiding real use reductions of smog-forming pesticides. Voice your opposition by taking action by January 15 and in person at the public hearings January 12 in Bakersfield and January 14 in Sacramento.
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