PANNA: EU & California consider strengthening pesticide rules; Organic farming eases global warming, and more


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EU & California consider strengthening pesticide rules; Organic farming eases global warming, and more

July 5, 2007

Global warming may increase chemical toxicity: A new paper from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry studied the effects of the organochlorine pesticide endosulfan, organophosphate chlorpyrifos, and the common environmental contaminant phenol to assess toxicity impacts on fish at different temperatures. The presence of endosulfan and chlorpyrifos in water resulted in a lower survival rate of the fish when water temperatures were higher than normal. All three chemicals are found commonly in our global environment. Science Daily website reports, “The study suggests that rising global temperatures and the presence of environmental contaminants may influence the survival of many organisms but additional research is needed to understand the magnitude of the effect.”

Stronger pesticide rules considered for EU: The European Union’s Environment Committee has proposed strengthened pesticide regulations in a “Thematic Strategy and Framework Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides”. Friends of the Earth EU, PAN Europe, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and others worked on creating the new pesticide regulation. “Pesticides are a major source of water pollution in the EU, but today [Members of European Union Parliament] sought to make the pesticides industry financially liable for the environmental damage it causes,” said Mecki Naschke from EEB. The new rules reflect a zero pesticide tolerance standard being adopted by many EU countries. Farmers in developing nations who need EU markets for their crops may be impacted the most. In Africa, procedures for measuring Minimum [pesticide] Residue Levels are scant and prevent exports to the EU.

Genetically engineered crops and chemical farming forced upon Africa: “Africa is rapidly becoming a focal point for multinational crop and chemical corporations clearing the way for the extended uptake of their products and technologies,” according to David Fig, an analyst with the South African group Biowatch. Fig’s essay was published on the SciDev website. He warns, “The African Union itself is now also encouraging the adoption of GM technology. …it does so uncritically, rather than taking a more rational precautionary position that would safeguard Africa’s rich biodiversity and agriculture.”

California pesticide bill will protect workers: California’s cholinesterase medical supervision program was implemented more than 30 years ago to test and help protect pesticide handlers from poisoning by neurotoxic organophosphate and carbamate pesticides. Unfortunately, the program does not include a requirement for reporting test results to any state agency. Without reporting, there is no information on whether it initiates workplace review or actually prevents pesticide poisoning. AB 1530, sponsored by PANNA and other groups, is now in the California Senate, and would require the reporting of cholinesterase testing results. It has passed out of the state assembly and is going to the Senate Health Committee. Cholinesterase is an enzyme necessary for health nervous system functions and becomes depressed from exposure to organophosphate pesticides such as chlorpyrifos. California residents are asked to take action.

Organic farming eases global warming: The Rodale Institute’s longest-running comparison of organic and conventional cropping systems confirms that organic farming helps combat global warming by capturing the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, and fixing it in the soil as beneficial organic matter. In contrast, conventional farming exacerbates the greenhouse effect by releasing tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide every year. In a new partnership with Pennsylvania’s Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, the Rodale Institute will expand its research into how organic farming can help combat global warming. See Rodale’s slideshow, From Greenhouse to Green Fields. Spreading the good news further, Canadian organization Quantum Shift has produced a special report describing the Rodale Institute’s findings. In its short video, Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser urges the US President and Congress to replace agricultural subsidies for conventional agriculture with support for sustainable farming practices. Check out Soil: the Secret Solution to Global Warming.

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.

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