Petitions tell EPA “phase out fumigants;” Farm Bill action; France pledges pesticide/GMO reductions; Organic food is healthier..

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Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)

A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives

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Thousands send messages to EPA to phase out fumigants: A petition with comments from more than 12,200 people was sent to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today, asking for a phase out harmful fumigant pesticides. The public comment period ends Friday, November 2, for the Fumigant Cluster Assessment, under which several fumigants are being simultaneously reviewed for re-registration: chloropicrin, metam sodium, dazomet, Telone, and ozone depleting methyl bromide. On October 25, more than 10,200 people petitioned EPA administrator Stephen Johnson, demanding that he reverse EPA’s Oct. 5 decision to register the new carcinogenic fumigant methyl iodide. EPA acted despite a protest from the nation’s top chemists that this lethal pesticide – the first new fumigant to be registered in 20 years – posed an “astonishing” hazard to people living and working on or near farms.

Communities continue to be sickened from fumigant incidents: In addition to the large incident on Sept. 26 in Yerington, Nevada which sent 120 people for treatment from chloropicrin contamination, a smaller incident occurred on October 23 in Salinas, California. Interviews conducted by Clinica de Salud, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and Pesticide Action Network revealed that the severity of exposure from both chloropicrin and methyl bromide and duration of symptoms were underreported in the Salinas contamination. Ongoing incidents like these show that fumigants occasionally drift well beyond the few-hundred-foot buffer zones that regulatory agencies consider to be the largest that are “feasible.” Newspaper accounts downplay the frequency of weather conditions leading to these accidents. In fact, “temperature inversions” such as those impacting these communities are common in both Nevada and California agricultural valleys as the sun goes down.

Ask your Senators for improved Farm Bill for healthy food: Members of Congress have been debating the Food and Farm Bill, a framework for U.S. agricultural policy that will determine the future of our ability to produce healthy food with methods that protect farm workers, farm communities and our environment. The Senate is debating this critical legislation now, and has made improvements over the House version. But much remains to fix: your voice needs to be heard now to demand federal agricultural programs that fund and support sustainable food production. Please ask your Senators to insist on a more sustainable agricultural policy. Click here to email your Senators. Learn more about the 2007 Farm Bill, its implications for organic farming and family farmers, and world agricultural policies affecting health, energy, trade and the environment.

French President proposes freeze on GMO’s, major cuts in pesticide use: The Guardian UK reports that French president Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled plans for a new French “green revolution” last week, including a “temporary freeze” on GMOs and serious pesticide reduction. These plans “caused a heated row in France, the biggest agricultural producer in Europe with a strong farming and chemical lobby. Mr. Sarkozy proposed halving pesticide use over the next 10 years, saying it was not just the responsibility of farmers but also of the companies that ‘recommended and sell these products.'” Duetsche Welle reports that even if temporary, the French GMO ban is significant: “In the EU, the MON810 corn variety, which is produced by US-based biotech firm Monsanto, is the only GMO maize that has been approved for cultivation. Although the GMO share of total maize production in France, the EU’s largest agricultural producing country, is barely 1.5 percent this year, maize growing increased fivefold from only 0.3 percent in 2006. Some farmers have urged greater use of GMO crops to boost yields. Green lobbyists say GMOs contaminate conventional crops and create imbalances in the ecosystem where wildlife has to coexist with farming.”

Go organic and live longer: Research being conducted at a farm in the United Kingdom confirms that organic food has higher nutrient value than food grown conventionally. The Sunday Times reports, “‘We have a general trend in the data that says there are more good things in organic food,’ said Professor Carlo Leifert, leader of the QualityLowInput-Food (QLIF) project. ‘We are now trying to identify the agricultural practices that are responsible for this.’ The research has shown up to 40% more beneficial compounds in vegetable crops and up to 90% more in milk. It has also found high levels of minerals such as iron and zinc in organic produce. The findings from the farm, which is part of Newcastle University, appear to conflict with the official [UK] government advice that buying organic food is a lifestyle choice and there is no clear evidence that it is ‘more nutritious than other food.'”

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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