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A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives

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Senator Jim Talent cuts fees for chemical corporations, North Carolina residents sickened, New report on pesticide residues on produce and more…

November 09, 2006

U.S. Senator proposes $10 million in cuts on import duties for chemical companies: During the 2005-2006 legislative year, Missouri Senator Jim Talent proposed forty- two bills that would reduce U.S. Customs $10 million. German pesticide corporations BASF, Bayer and Syngenta (all headquartered in Europe); Monsanto, the American Chemistry Association and agrichemical industry trade group CropLife are among corporate interests that contributed over $600,000 to Talent’s campaign funding. The independent media website, ePluribusMedia has the details. Jim Talent lost his Senate seat in the Nov. 7 election, and may attempt to rush some of his legislation through the lame duck Congress.

Congress calls for EPA Social Justice accountability: In response to an EPA Office of Inspector General report issued in Sept. 2006 [link to report] that called for an review of the Agency’s performance on environmental justice, seventy-five members of Congress, including Representatives Hilda L. Solis (D-CA) and Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and John Kerry (D-MA), wrote a letter asking EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson “to immediately implement the recommendations of the report.” In their letter, the Congress members of Congress demanded EPA to “take real steps to combat the environmental injustices which continue to plague our low income communities.” Read more.

Hundreds sickened by North Carolina chemical and pesticide spill: “I think we are seeing the tip of the iceberg. I think they finally processed something that smelled so bad that we noticed it. We know this is bad stuff, but we have a million questions that still need to be answered, and any help that you can give us would be appreciated,” declared chemist Dr. Lois Speaker. Over 750 residents of Fayetteville and Fulton Counties in North Carolina became ill from a spill from a waste treatment company of the chemical odorant propyl mercaptan—which produced the smell—and the organophosphate pesticide MOCAP (active ingredient ethoprop), which is more dangerous. Ethoprop is a PAN “Bad Actor” chemical, a carcinogen and nervous system toxicant. Speaker described the chemical to the Fayetteville News: “It directly attacks the nervous system in the body. It is the gift that keeps giving because it has an unusually long lifeline. …you use one pound per acre and it’s one of the most hazardous compounds to human health.” The Peachtree City Council has appealed to state and federal authorities to make public whatever is discovered about the chemical mess.

New food guide shows pesticide residue on food: Environmental Working Group (EWG) issued its new Food Guide for assessing average pesticide residues on the produce we buy. Peaches, apples, and sweet bell peppers contained the highest residues, while onions and avocados had the lowest of those measured. EWG analyzed tests from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which had collected over 43,000 samples in 2000-2004. The report notes that washing produce does not eliminate all pesticide residue, and that peeling eliminates important nutrients. EWG advises to choose organic produce for the best protection from pesticides. Get the Food Guide from Environmental Working Group.

Green businesses and customers gather in San Francisco: Organic food and clothing companies, green builders, non-profit organizations dedicated to sustainability issues, and visionary speakers will be joining tens of thousands at the Green Festival in San Francisco this week. Pesticide Action Network North America will be there, too, so stop by and say hello! We’ll have gift memberships available for the holidays there and on line. (link to membership page). Green Festival was convened in Washington D.C. in October, and a Chicago edition is scheduled for April 21-22, 2007.

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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