A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
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Methyl iodide approved; DDE linked to diabetes; California spraying suspended; Pesticide-free pumpkins and more…
October 11, 2007
Dole halts use of paraquat: Citing diminishing use due to the recent European Union court decision effectively banning the herbicide paraquat, Dole Food Company has announced it will no longer use paraquat in its agricultural operations. The Central Valley Business Times reports, “‘Dole’s implementation of this phase-out program responds to developing marketplace conditions in Europe and elsewhere regarding the use of this herbicide, while also balancing needed compliance with the local regulatory requirements,’ says David DeLorenzo, president and chief executive officer.” Paraquat is an acutely toxic Pan “Bad Actor” chemical and a focus on intense international campaigning. Syngenta, the manufacturer of paraquat, has announced it will seek a new application to register paraquat once again in the EU.
EPA registers methyl iodide: Ignoring the pleas of more than fifty of the nation’s eminent scientists, EPA granted Arysta Life Science a one-year approval for its fumigant pesticide Midas. The Los Angeles Times reports, “Methyl iodide is a neurotoxin and carcinogen that has caused thyroid tumors, neurological damage and miscarriages in lab animals.” Last year, EPA halted approval after it received over 12,000 comments opposed to registration from public health, farmworker, and environmental advocates and the California EPA. An editorial today in the Sacramento Bee declares: “State should keep methyl iodide out.” The Ventura County Star wrote, “…eyes are turning to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to see if it will allow methyl iodide to be used on California farms, even though 54 of the nation’s top scientists warn of dire consequences.” The Star’s agriculture reporter, Stephanie Hoops, also writes about the bidding war going on to buy Arysta: “…MSN Business reported that ‘United Phosphorus and Tata Group enterprise Rallis India are in the race to acquire the world’s largest privately held crop protection and life sciences firm, Arysta LifeScience Corporation, from private equity firm Olympus Capital Holdings.'” Read more about methyl iodide. Take action now to demand a reversal of EPA’s decision.
DDT breakdown compound linked to diabetes: A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives reveals a link between the exposure to pollutants, including the organochlorine pesticide DDT’s breakdown product, DDE, and incidence of diabetes among adult Native Americans. The researchers collected serum samples and medical information from 352 adults from the Mohawk tribe in New York State, and conclude that “exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlorinated pesticides” may increase the risk of developing diabetes. Read more about the health and environmental effects of DDT.
Santa Cruz residents protest; aerial spraying suspended: Community members from the Santa Cruz/Monterey area of California “became unruly” during a protest Oct. 3 of aerial spraying for the Light Brown Apple Moth. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that the protestors disrupted a meeting intended only for elected town officials. According to the San Jose Mercury News, on Oct. 10, the day a second aerial spraying on the Monterey Peninsula was to begin, Superior Court Judge Robert O’Farrell “granted [a] restraining order because of the ‘potentially harmful propensities” of an inert ingredient in CheckMate, the pheromone spray manufactured in Bend, Ore., by Suterra, LLC.” The judge “scheduled an Oct. 18 hearing to take arguments” on the safety issues. PANNA supports the use of pheromones as far preferable to the dangerous organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos, but has expressed concern about aerial applications, the lack of complete transparency from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and called for review by community members and experts. The Monterey County Herald addressed the complex issue in an editorial: “What the state should have done, and still needs to do, is enlist outside help from scientists and environmental advocates who are not beholden to California agribusiness.”
Venezuelan agroecology visionary to speak in Berkeley: Miguel Angel Nunez of the Instituto para la Produccion e investigacion de la Agricultura Tropical (IPIAT) and agricultural advisor to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, will describe government and grassroots efforts underway to promote food sovereignty and a more sustainable food system on October 17, 5:30 pm at the Morgan Lounge, University of California, Berkeley. The event is co-sponsored by the Laboratory of Agroecology/UC Berkeley, Center for the Study of the Americas, Food First, and PANNA. In an In Motion magazine interview, Nunez comments: “Sustainable development means that you need to develop the participatory process and democracy. The new democracy that we are working here in Venezuela is participatory …The moment when the society has the highest knowledge about sustainable practice they are going to demand [that] their community sustainable practices and politics [need] to be changing.”
Pesticides harm communities in Punjab: A recent community health survey conducted by Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM), an NGO working in agricultural Malwa region of Punjab, India, revealed a rash of cancer clusters and other chronic illnesses. As reported in the News Post India, KVM’s study attributes these health effects to high levels of pesticide use. KVM head Umendra Dutt calls for a “pesticide holiday” for the region, a shift to organic farming and a government survey of the causes and distribution of pesticide-induced diseases. “The government should do a blood sampling of 100,000 people to check for pesticide levels and also do a check on the breast milk of mothers. This will reveal the level to which the toxins are affecting the people.”
George Clooney stars in “evil pesticide company” thriller: The plot of a new Hollywood film, Michael Clayton, “…hinges on an evil pesticide company (it bears the beautifully sinister name ‘U/North’) whose executives have worked hard to hide the fact that their product is poisoning the farms where it’s being used, as well as, of course, the families living on those farms,” according to Salon.com.
Pesticide-free pumpkins: Children deserve a pesticide-free Halloween, and communities across the U.S. are choosing organic pumpkins and alternatives to chemically contaminated gourds. The Seattle-Post Intelligencer Planet-Wise Child Rearing blog reports, “‘Tis the season for pumpkin picking. Whether making pies, jack-o-lanterns or simple decorations, you can green-up the gourd: buy organic. Farmers markets, PCC markets and other foodstores should carry them — ask if you don’t see them (show your consumer power!). Or, make a day of it! A wonderful way to celebrate the harvest is to go out and visit the farmers.”
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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