Pesticide manufacturers' own tests reveal serious harm to honeybees
Bayer and Syngenta criticised for secrecy after unpublished research obtained under freedom of information law linked high doses of their products to damage to the health of bee colonies
Syngenta had told Greenpeace in August that “none of the studies Syngenta has undertaken or commissioned for use by regulatory agencies have shown damages to the health of bee colonies”. Goulson said: “That clearly contradicts their own study.”
Six companies are about to merge into the biggest farm-business oligopoly in history
The consolidation of these six highly competitive companies into three juggernauts has left many farmers and consumers uneasy. Consumers advocates say they worry the mergers will usher in a “new era of sterile crops soaked in dangerous pesticides.” Farmers worry that less competition in the marketplace will give the merged companies an ability to increase prices of seeds and chemicals—something that would be particularly harmful during a time when US farm incomes are dropping.
Monsanto licenses CRISPR technology to modify crops — with key restrictions
Leading the list of those concerns is gene drive, in which CRISPR-based genome editing alters normal inheritance in such a way that traits are always passed on to offspring. That could spread a new gene throughout an entire population in only a few generations. If the trait is, say, the ability to kill insects, then making that gene ubiquitous in a crop could pose unknown threats to ecosystems, a recent National Research Council report warned.
The Broad also stipulated that Monsanto not use CRISPR-Cas9 to create sterile (“terminator”) seeds. In this approach, genetically altered crops do not produce fertile seeds, so farmers must buy them every year, a financial burden to them but a boon for the seed companies. No such crops have been commercially deployed, and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity recommended they not be developed.
The non-exclusive license also cannot be used for any R&D on tobacco that’s related to smoking. That might include making the plants tolerant to temperature extremes or pests, which could increase the yields that farmers get on their harmful product.
Prairie Hybrids becomes go-to source for non-GMO seed
“My grandfather attended three meetings about licensing GM seed and after the third meeting he said: ‘They want to control the small seed companies. Farmers can no longer plant what they want. It’s too binding, they will control our destiny, and I can’t see us going down that road,’” Gilbert said.
With that, Prairie Hybrids refused to sell genetically modified corn seed.
EPA and CDC Mislead Local and State Officials and the Public on Safety of Mosquito Pesticides Used for Zika Virus
(Washington D.C. September 15, 2016) Beyond Pesticides today urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately alert local and state mosquito control officials, elected officials, and the public throughout the U.S. to the fact that EPA’s key data reviews on the safety of widely used mosquito control pesticides, including naled and synthetic pyrethroids, are outdated and incomplete and the scientific literature raises safety concerns. In a letter to EPA, Beyond Pesticides said, “As local and state officials implement mosquito abatement programs to address the Zika virus, it is critical that they have complete transparent safety information that they are not currently getting from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
Court Rules Consumers and Farmers Can Sue USDA for Weakening Standard that Allows Synthetics in Organic
(Beyond Pesticides September 12, 2016) On Thursday, September 8, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California rejected the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit (Case No. 15-cv-01590-HSG) that challenges changes to the rules that review the potential hazards and need for allowed synthetic and prohibited natural substances used in certified organic food production. Finding that plaintiffs had established both proper jurisdiction and a viable claim, this ruling allows the case to move forward on its merit. The court will now be able to review the substantive importance of formal notice and public comment regarding the rules for organic food production, which were changed dramatically by USDA in 2013.
Take Action to Ban Atrazine: EPA Must Protect Wildlife!
(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2016) Tell EPA to ban all uses of atrazine in the United States! Atrazine, widely used on food and feed crops, golf courses, and residential lawns, is a potent endocrine disruptor that is strongly associated with birth defects, cancer, sex reversal and hermaphroditism in many different animals. The European Union and other countries have banned atrazine, however EPA continues to put U.S. citizens and the environment in harm’s way, allowing nonstop use of this toxic chemical. Sign Beyond Pesticides’ petition to ban atrazine by October 5, 2016.
ICC widens remit to include environmental destruction cases
In a change of focus, the ICC said on Thursday it would also prioritise crimes that result in the “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of natural resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land. It also included an explicit reference to land-grabbing.
EPA Proposes that Glyphosate (Roundup) Does Not Cause Cancer
(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs released last week its Glyphosate Issue Paper in which the agency is proposing to classify glyphosate as “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans at doses relevant for human health risk assessment.” Glyphosate, the controversial active ingredient in Roundup, was classified in 2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “probable carcinogen” and numerous studies have associated the chemical with cancer and other human health issues. However, EPA’s proposed a classification that is contrary, not only to WHO’s, but also a position it had previously held. The issue paper was released in preparation for the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) meeting, October 18-21, which convenes to review EPA’s evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate.