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Austrian ban on glyphosate delayed due to a procedural error

24 Aug

 Richard Bruce draws attention to disappointing news from Austria.

In July last year, EuroNews reported that lawmakers in Austria’s lower house had voted to ban the herbicide glyphosate from 2020.

The motion, proposed by the Social Democratic (SPO) party, planned a complete ban of glyphosate products as a “precautionary” measure. “The scientific evidence of the plant poison’s carcinogenic effect is increasing. It is our responsibility to ban this poison from our environment,” the SPO leader, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, said in a statement.

A large majority in the Austrian parliament and public (according to poll results) support banning the chemical because of fears it causes cancer and Austria devotes more of its farmland to organic agriculture than any other EU member state

In June, the Wall Street Journal published an undertaking by Bayer AG, that it would pay up to $10.9 billion to settle tens of thousands of lawsuits with U.S. plaintiffs alleging the company’s Roundup herbicide causes cancer

Law firm Baum Hedlund notes that the ban was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, but the country’s caretaker leader, Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein (below left), a career judge who must sign bills for them to become law, refused to do this.

Francois Murphy, reporting for Reuters explains that the chancellor said, in a letter  posted online by the government’s spokesman, that the bill could not come into force because the European Commission was not properly notified under a process aimed at giving it and member states time to react: “Such a notification of a bill – required by European Union law and specified (in the bill) as a condition for it to take effect – was, however, not carried out properly”.

A number of European member states have partially banned glyphosate — a pesticide first marketed by Monsanto as Roundup — as concerns have been growing about the potential effect the herbicide could have on human health since a 2015 report by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer which classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans“.

Despite their members’ feelings, the EU renewed its approval of glyphosate in 2017 until the end of 2022 and gave France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden the task of assessing the herbicide for further use within the bloc.

 

 

 

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Glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides 1: Dr Rosemary Mason  

1 Aug

Colin Todhunter is an independent writer and former social policy researcher. He writes on food, agriculture, geopolitics and neoliberal globalization. Originally from the UK, Colin has spent many years in India where he has written for various publications, most notably the Bangalore-based Deccan Herald for 10 years.

His review of a new report written by environmentalist, doctor and anaesthetist, Dr Rosemary Mason (left), sent to the UK Environment Agency, Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK?, is summarised here.

Her message is that the British government, regulators and global agrochemical corporations are colluding with each other and so are engaging in criminal behaviour.

She outlined, with supporting evidence, how the gradual onset of the global extinction of many species is largely the result of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture, with a particular emphasis on glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides, such as Roundup, widely used in Britain.

Colin Todhunter (right) refers to Dr Mason’s account of a 2019 Brexit Seminar discussing priorities for the UK chemicals sector meeting. UK regulators and senior officials from government departments listened to Janet Williams, head of regulatory science at Bayer Crop Science Division, who made the priorities for agricultural chemical manufacturers known.

In February 2020, Dr Mason wrote the report ‘Bayer Crop Science rules Britain after Brexit’. She noted that PM Boris Johnson plans to do a trade deal with the US that could see the gutting of food and environment standards. In a speech setting out his goals for trade after Brexit, Johnson talked up the prospect of an agreement with Washington and downplayed the need for one with Brussels, if the EU insists the UK must stick to its regulatory regime.

Dr Mason says that ultimately, the situation comes down to a concentration of power played out within an interlocking directorate of state-corporate interests – in this case, global agrochemical conglomerates and the British government – and above the heads of ordinary people. She believes that these institutions value the health of powerful corporations at the expense of the health of the population and the state of the environment.

Readers can access Dr Mason’s paper ‘Criminal collusion between Defra, the Chemicals Regulation Division and Bayer over Brexit Agenda’ via academia.edu website.

Next post: Glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides 2: European action

 

 

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Glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides 2: European action

1 Aug

Baum Hedlung are award-winning American lawyers whose successes include the $2 billion Roundup verdict against Monsanto (now Bayer) on behalf of Alberta and Alva Pilliod, a couple who developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was in the 2019 Trial Team involved in the groundbreaking case of Dewayne “Lee” Johnson v. Monsanto Company.

On their website they list cities, counties, states and countries throughout the world which have taken steps to restrict or ban glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.

Several of the following news items about European action come from this website page.

In Britain, the following boroughs and townships have issued bans or restrictions on pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate:

Brighton, Bristol, Bury (ban in children’s play areas), Croydon, Derry City (Northern Ireland), Frensham Parish Council, Frome, Glastonbury, Hammersmith & Fulham, Lewes, Midlothian (Scotland), North Somerset, Trafford and Wadebridge in Cornwall.

In 2019, the London Assembly called on the Mayor to cease the use of the herbicide on Greater London Authority (GLA) land and the Transport for London (TfL) estate.

 

 

 

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How many generations will suffer before a ‘chemical trespass’ law is passed?

10 Feb

In 2005 the Center for Science and Environment in Delhi checked the blood samples of the people of Punjab and found many different types of pesticides in their blood.

Two years later, the Economist reported: “In Punjabi villages, children and adults are afflicted by uncommon cancers. Some are going blind. The reason is massive and unregulated use of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals in India’s most intensively farmed state. According to an environmental report by Punjab’s government, the modest-sized state accounts for 17% of India’s total pesticide use. The state’s water, people, animals, milk and agricultural produce are all poisoned with the stuff”. (The article is now paywalled but can be sent via email if requested in the comments section)

Sean Gallagher, zoologist, film-maker and journalist quoted the words of Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Center for Science and Environment in 2013: “Punjab is now becoming a hotspot of cancer cases in India. There are a lot of studies which now link cancer in Punjab to use of pesticides. Punjab is one of the largest users of pesticides in India”

In 2017, research published in Nature Plants showed that farmers could slash their pesticide use without losses and quoted from a UNGA report denouncing the ‘myth’ that pesticides are necessary to feed the world.

Prof. Ian Boyd, chief scientific adviser to the UK government, pointed out that regulators around the world have falsely assumed it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes.

In March 2019, the British Medical Journal published Prenatal and infant exposure to ambient pesticides and autism spectrum disorder in children: a population based case-control study, BMJ 2019, 20 March 2019, which noted that common pesticides have been previously shown to cause neurodevelopmental impairment in experimental research. This study’s findings suggested that an offspring’s risk of autism spectrum disorder increases following prenatal exposure to ambient pesticides (including glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and permethrin) within 2000m of their mother’s residence during pregnancy, compared with offspring of women from the same agricultural region without such exposure.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information published a study later that year undertaken in California’s agricultural Salinas Valley by the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS). It reported that many pregnant women are exposed and prenatal organophosphate pesticide (OP) exposure is associated with poorer cognitive function in Mexican American youth – learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem solving, decision making, attention and behaviour problems

Exposure is widespread in the US population, predominantly through diet – pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Individuals living near farmland or living with family members working in agricultural settings are also exposed to pesticides from residues on clothing and drift from nearby fields.

How many more research papers will be published before decisive action is taken?

Pesticide sprays near Georgina’s home

In England over 10,000 rural residents have been calling on the Prime Minister via an online petition to ban all crop spraying of poisonous pesticides near residents homes, schools, and playgrounds and the words of many damaged individuals are recorded in an article by pesticide affected Georgina Downs.

Chandra Bhushan goes further. He concludes that this can no longer be allowed. We cannot allow chemicals to trespass in our body. We need a chemical trespass law that says we are not going to allow chemicals into our body to accumulate [where] they might cause numerous diseases in the future.

 

 

 

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News of black grass developing resistance to glyphosate herbicide takes nine months to percolate

4 Jan

In December, one day before Christmas Eve, Helena Horton reported evidence from a study showing that black grass – a native annual weed – is developing resistance to glyphosate in the field. Glyphosate is currently approved for use as a herbicide in the EU until 2022 but is banned or restricted in many countries listed here.

Nine months earlier the paper had been published in the New Phytologist, Evolutionary epidemiology predicts the emergence of glyphosate resistance in a major agricultural weed (March 19th) followed on June 20th by an interesting commentary on the study which said:

“Although resistance to herbicides initially did not appear to evolve as rapidly as did cases of insecticide resistance (Gressel & Segel, 1978), over 240 weeds are now resistant to a variety of herbicides following c.70 years of herbicide use (Heap, 2019).

“Currently, there are c.41 weed species that have evolved resistance to glyphosate (Heap, 2019). Strikingly, what we have learned about glyphosate resistance evolution from these species all stems from studying the weeds after they become problematic to the farmer. This means that we are most often considering glyphosate resistance evolution in a reactive, rather than proactive fashion”.

Farming UK reported on the research paper in June, quoting the lead author, Dr David Comont, a weed ecologist from Rothamsted Research, who said the work provides an early-warning to the UK farming industry that over-reliance on glyphosate is likely to lead to resistance:

“We found evidence that a number of blackgrass populations are responding to glyphosate use, by evolving reduced sensitivity to this herbicide in the field. Crucially, our results show this happening before high levels of resistance have evolved, whilst there is still time to delay or prevent this resistance”

The Telegraph reported on the research published in New Phytologist, on an article in ZSL Science (Zoological Society of London) and referred to a study in the journal Nature.

It repeated ZSL’s warnings that the UK’s food security is being put at risk by herbicide-resistant black-grass and its call for a ban on overuse of weed killer: “Black grass out-competes wheat for soil nutrients and reduces the number of wheat plants where it grows – and it is likely to spread further across the UK. This would increase the prices of bread and biscuits, and there would be less animal feed available so could also affect how much meat costs”.

Worldwide, there are 253 herbicide-resistant weeds, so the global impact of further resistance could be enormous. Nature’s study recommends urgent national-scale planning to combat resistance and the provision of incentives for increasing yields through food-production systems rather than herbicides. Dr Varah, the lead author, added that farmers need to implement more truly integrated pest management strategies – including diverse crop rotations and strict field hygiene measures.

 

 

 

 

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Post 1945: a plague of profitable but destructive chemicals

14 Sep

2010 research findings: 34% of UK cancers in 2010 (106,845) were linked to smoking and alcohol and one in 25 cancers is linked to a person’s job – other causes included exposure to chemicals. The percentages may well have risen. Pollution is one of many factors thought to be responsible for rising rates of allergy.

Despite this knowledge, harmful substances are freely sold in order to enrich a few and any attempt to change this is met with powerful resistance which influences most politicians.

Richard Bruce sent a link to this parliamentary debate opened by the Countess of Mar, a doughty campaigner on behalf of farmers, whose health seriously deteriorated after being compelled by government to use organophosphate sheep dip. Lord Blyth referred to Richard’s experience, but a fuller account is given on his website.

Agriculture: Health & Safety Responsibilities

6 Feb 1996: Column 183

The Countess of Mar rose to ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the statutory duties of the Health and Safety Executive and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to ensure that employers and employees carrying out exclusively agricultural operations are kept informed of, and adequately advised on, matters relating to health and safety.

The noble Countess said: In asking the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper, I declare an interest. I have been exposed to organophosphate sheep dip and believe that I suffer chronic ill health as a result.

Some of the points made in the seven page report:

  1. In 1951, Solly Zuckerman, later Lord Zuckerman, chaired a working party which investigated the health effects on workers using dinitro and organophosphorus compounds in agricultural sprays
  2. It found that repeated low level exposures could result in chronic effects on human health
  3. and recommended simplifying labelling and including the words “Deadly poison” in large letters on containers.
  4. But not until 1994 were manufacturers required to put a skull-and-crossbones symbol on OP sheep dip containers to warn of toxicity.
  5. MAFF introduced national dipping orders in 1976
  6. The orders were rescinded in 1992
  7. GPs, untrained in chemical toxicology, used irrelevant tests & many decided that these patients’ symptoms were psychosomatic.
  8. Effective tests were not recommended by the HSE to GPs and consultants.
  9. The Health and Safety Commission did not consider it appropriate to advise and inform farmers of the inherent dangers of these substances.
  10. The Health and Safety Executive actively suppressed a 1990 field research project.
  11. Internationally research published in the Lancet in May 1995 found damage to farmers and that there was a dose relationship.
  12. Veterinary Products Committee rejected these research findings.
  13. The Countess of Mar asked the Minister how many members of the VPC had the relevant neurobehavioural expertise to assess this research. (Ed: an undated account VPC Members Specialisms and Biographical Details Indicates that none had this expertise, though Dr Karin Burnett had studied several aspects of toxicology).
  14. OPs are said to be too toxic to test on humans and maximum levels of exposure are arbitrarily set.
  15. T.C. Marrs, senior medical officer at the Department of Health, adviser to Ministers and government committees, said at a meeting of farmers in October 1991, “You don’t have to convince me there is long-term damage. I know it”, but did not inform ministers.
  16. Though the National Poisons Unit (NPU) at Guy’s Hospital confirmed that Richard Bruce had been poisoned by organophosphates and this was reported to the HSE, their inspectors did not visit Mr. Bruce or the farm where he worked to investigate the incident.
  17. Lord Blyth asked: How serious does an incident have to be before it is thoroughly investigated? What powers do health and safety inspectors and EMAS doctors have to inspect premises and obtain other evidence?
  18. The NPU withdrew the diagnosis of OP poisoning in a letter to the HSE, copied to Mr. Bruce’s GP on 2nd December 1994, but confirmed the diagnosis to the Benefits Agency in a letter of the same date.
  19. Lord Beaumont cited an Australian case with damages awarded in a court of law and recommended that OP sheep dips be classified as prescription products until the results of the Government’s delayed researches are known.

Baroness Turner said “It is clear from the information received from a number of sources that much needs to be done to improve health and safety standards in this vital industry. Many in it are suffering the effects of pesticide poisoning, and many are dying as a result.

 

The report may be read here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pesticide use: the tide appears to be turning

14 May

Bayer, the German company which bought the US agrochemical firm Monsanto, acquired its lucrative portfolio of pesticides and genetically modified seeds – and more than 13,000 pending cases relating to glyphosate sold under the brand name Roundup. At its annual meeting in Bonn last month, in an unprecedented revolt, more than 55% of shareholders declared they had no confidence in management. The ongoing fall in its share prices has accelerated. (Reuters 14.5.19).

Prof. Ian Boyd, chief scientific adviser to the UK government points out that regulators around the world have falsely assumed it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes, that other research in 2017 showed farmers could slash their pesticide use without losses and quoted a UNGA report denouncing the “myth” that pesticides are necessary to feed the world.

Recent reports in the BMJ, the International Journal of Epidemiology and the European Food Safety Authority, add weight to Professor Boyd’s stance

Prenatal and infant exposure to ambient pesticides and autism spectrum disorder in children: population based case-control study, BMJ, 20 March 2019 (open access) notes that common pesticides have been previously shown to cause neurodevelopmental impairment in experimental research and environmental exposures during early brain development are suspected to increase risk of autism spectrum disorders in children. The study’s findings suggest that an offspring’s risk of autism spectrum disorder increases following prenatal exposure to ambient pesticides (including glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and permethrin) within 2000 m of their mother’s residence during pregnancy, compared with offspring of women from the same agricultural region without such exposure. Infant exposure could further increase risks for autism spectrum disorder with comorbid intellectual disability.

• In February, researchers at the University of Washington (UW) published a new scientific analysis of glyphosate (PDF) (right), the active ingredient in Monsanto-owned Bayer’s Roundup, the world’s most popular weedkiller. They concluded that evidence supports a “compelling link” between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a type of blood cancer.
• Glyphosate exposure increases cancer risk up to 41% according to a study published in the IInternational Journal of Epidemiology (March). Observations in this analysis of >300 000 farmers and agricultural workers from France, Norway, and the USA, included elevations in risks of non-Hodgkin lymphoid malignancies (NHL) overall in association with the organophosphate insecticide terbufos, of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL) with the pyrethroid insecticide deltamethrin and of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) with the organophosphorus herbicide glyphosate.

• More transparency sought: an EU court ruled on 7 March that the EU Food Safety Authority (EFSA) should publicise studies about Monsanto’s glyphosate weedkiller. The General Court’s statement said that it annulled decisions by the EU food watch agency “refusing access to the toxicity and carcinogenicity studies on the active substance glyphosate”.

• On March 29th – after safety officials reported human health and environmental concerns – EU states voted for a ban of chlorothalonil, a fungicide, after a review by the European Food Safety Authority was unable to exclude the possibility its breakdown products, cause damage to DNA. EFSA also said “a high risk to amphibians and fish was identified for all representative uses”. Recent research further identified chlorothalonil and other fungicides as the strongest factor linked to steep declines in bumblebees.

Reuters reports that a California jury found on Monday that Monsanto’s Roundup likely caused a couple’s cancer and awarded them a staggering $2.055 billion in damages, in a third consecutive Roundup trial loss for the Bayer-owned unit. In one trial last August, a US court in California awarded damages and costs against Monsanto to 46-year-old park worker Dewayne Johnson, who was diagnosed with cancer after using the chemical.

But there’s still way to go; Monsanto – apparently undaunted – offers another  product, said to have less damage potential

Monsanto is reformulating its dicamba pesticide which tended to drift and earlier damaged millions of acres of crops and wild trees in 2017.

Farmers in 25 states had submitted more than 2,700 claims to state agricultural agencies that year and it was banned in the state of Arkansas last year, where almost 900,000 acres of crop damage (above) were reported. Monsanto unsuccessfully sued the state in an effort to stop the ban.

A lower volatility formulation, M1768, ‘a product with less potential to volatilize and move off the target area’ has been approved by the EPA for use until 2020 – on corn, wheat, cotton, soybeans and other crops – though it has not been evaluated by experts independent of Monsanto. It was obliged by the American government’s Environmental Protection Agency to agree to registration and labelling changes for the 2018 growing season, including making these products restricted-use and requiring record-keeping and additional measures to prevent spray drift.

 

 

 

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Is Cornell’s Alliance for Science ‘brainwashing Indian scientists, farmers, decision-makers’ or ‘captivating the world’?

13 Apr

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A Cambridge reader has drawn attention to the activities of the Cornell Alliance for Science, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was set up in 2014 todepolarize the charged debatearound genetically modified foods (GMOs) by adding “a stronger voice for science”.

https://blogs.cornell.edu/onehealth/2017/09/15/gates-grant-seeds-cornell-alliance-for-science-10m-campaign/

To this end Rob Horsch, who worked for Monsanto for 25 years before moving to the Gates Foundation, was appointed as Deputy Director of the Cornell Alliance.

For four years he led the foundation’s agricultural research and development strategies which are said to have relentlessly promoted the use of GMOs and agrichemicals in Africa despite the opposition of Africa-based groups and social movements, who have voiced many concerns about genetically engineered crops. Assisting them in this work are 24 of their 27 ‘2018 Global Partners’ from African countries. Has Africa even greater cause for concern?

Strengthening public relations – aka propaganda?

Mr Horsch has been succeeded by Vanessa Greenlee who has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. She ‘ensures team coordination to reach organizational goals’ and has ‘a passion for finding consensus through conflict’.

U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit public interest, consumer and public health research group working for transparency and accountability in the nation’s food system, describes the Cornell Alliance for Science as a public relations campaign to promote genetically engineered foods and pesticides. The examples in their fact sheet show that the group:

  • misleads the public with inaccurate information about science;
  • elevates unreliable messengers who make false and unscientific claims; and,
  • partners with front groups that have worked with the tobacco industry or chemical industries to manufacture doubt about science that raises health concerns.

Shaping India’s agricultural future 

The India-based Cornell Sathguru Foundation for Development, established in 1994, is said to promote access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, improving environmental sustainability and raising the quality of life globally. A search, however, reveals little reward for its efforts.

One of the few entries found relates to a course funded by the US Department for Agriculture involving American and India students. No publications were reported during this period and the outcome was that Cornell was seeking funds to continue this work. Its genetic modification proposals have not been successful, apart from India’s now failing Bt Cotton sector.

On April 8th 2019, Joan Conrow, the managing editor of the Cornell Alliance for Science, published an article – Shaping India’s agricultural future – about a course held in February featuring ‘international and Indian experts in gene editing, science communications and the regulatory framework that governs the technology in India’. Matthew Willmann, director of Cornell’s Plant Transformation Facility, lectured on the latest advances in plant gene editing, often called CRISPR.

Dr Sarah Evanega, director of the Cornell Alliance for Science, who moderated the subsequent discussion, said hopefully “It was extremely rewarding to participate in an informed, civil conversation about a controversial topic that has captivated the world. India is clearly preparing to take its rightful place on the world stage of agricultural innovation.”

Genetic modification of agricultural seeds isn’t in the interest of the planet or its inhabitants”

This reflection preceded many points raised in Dr. David Perlmutters dialogue with Dr Evanaga last year. A few are summarised here:

  • Genetically modified (GM) crops are associated with an increased use of chemicals, like glyphosate, that are toxic to the environment and to humans. These chemicals not only contaminate our food and water supplies, but they also compromise soil quality and are actually associated with increased disease susceptibility in crops.
  • This ultimately leads to an increase in the use of pesticides and further disrupts ecosystems. And yet, despite these drawbacks, we haven’t seen increased yield potential of GM crops, although that has always been one of the promises of GM seeds.
  • The various toxic herbicides that are liberally applied to GM crops are having a devastating effect. In terms of the nutritional quality of conventional versus GM food, it’s important to understand that mineral content is, to a significant degree, dependent on the various soil-based microorganisms. When the soil is treated with glyphosate, as is so often the case with GM crops, it deprives the plant of its mineral absorption ability.
  • Whenever harmful chemicals like glyphosate are introduced into an ecosystem, this disrupts the natural processes that keep our environment healthy.
  • The USDA Pesticide Data Program reported in 2015 that 85% of crops had pesticide residues. These chemicals are also contaminating the supplies for other organisms in the surrounding environment.
  • GM seeds now account for more than 50% of global glyphosate usage.
  • These chemicals are harming the soil. the various organisms living in the soil act to protect plants and make them more disease resistant. Destroying these protective organisms with the use of these chemicals weakens the plants’ natural defence mechanisms and, therefore, will require the use of even more pesticides and other chemicals

Dr Perlmutter ends by saying that the argument that we need GMO food to feed the entire world population is absurd. GM crops have actually not increased the yield of any major commercialized food source (link leads to the report on the right) and concludes that traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering ‘hands down’. In fact, soy — the most widely grown genetically modified crop — has actually experienced reduced yields. The promise of increased yield potentials with GM crops is one that we have not realized.

 

 

 

 

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Over 159 American cities oppose section 9101 of the Federal Farm Bill blocking local pesticide controls

15 Dec

More than 150 U.S. cities and counties have created “organic-first” policies and in some cases banned the use of specific chemicals that may harm people or the environment.

PR Newswire refers to a letter sent by local officials to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi    noting that research has increasingly connected some pesticides with Parkinson’s disease and honey bee die-offs, A rapidly growing body of evidence links pesticides to a wide range of diseases and conditions including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, leukemia, lymphoma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, reproductive dysfunction, Alzheimer’s disease, and variety of cancers including breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer.

Recognizing these risks, many communities have passed progressive policies to restrict the use of pesticides and protect our residents before any harm comes to them.

Some local officials in Irvine have opted to go further than federal or state laws and have restricted pesticide use on public land such as parks, sports fields and landscaped central road reservations. The city now uses organic products with ingredients such as corn gluten meal and oil from soybeans, lemongrass or rosemary.

Detailed information and photograph (above) may be seen in https://ocweekly.com/how-irvine-became-socals-first-non-toxic-city-7317638/

However, though the bill has attracted attention by legalizing hemp, bolstering farmers markets and rejecting stricter limits on food stamps pushed by House Republicans, California’s Orange County Register reports that a four-page provision (Section 9101) tucked away in the 748 page 2018 federal farm bill could block local governments in the United States from making their own rules about pesticides, ‘effectively neutering’ local control over pesticides, blocking cities, counties and school districts from restricting the use of on playgrounds and parks.

Felicity Arbuthnot draws attention to a report by the Environmental Working Group, commenting: “It truly says it all when government attempts to force people to eat cancer causing poison and feed it to their families and friends”. The EWG report records that:

  • the National League of Cities and
  • the League of California Cities, sent letters of opposition to congressional leaders.
  • The National Association of Counties – representing all 3,069 U.S. counties – and
  • a diverse coalition of over 170 organizations dedicated to public health urged Congress to reject the rider.
  • The National Audubon Society and
  • the American Academy of Pediatrics also sent letters.
  • A lettersigned by over 60 local officials in 39 communities from 15 different states, urged the conference committee to reach an agreement on a final 2018 farm bill that does not include this rider.

Despite all these representations, on 12th December, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 2018 Farm Bill by a vote of 369 to 47. The next step to permanent legalization is the President’s signature.

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Will any British city follow Irvine’s lead? 

In 2017 Horticulture Week reported Edinburgh City Council’s decision to pursue an herbicide-reduction policy at the end of 2016 followed a year-long trial of alternatives to chemicals run by the council’s parks department. An online search revealed that similar moves have been proposed and discussed by councils in Dundee, Bristol and Belfast.

Today, the Times reported that Dublin city council is to use alternatives as part of a move towards a “herbicide and pesticide-free city” in the spring.  In 2015 Kaethe Burt-O’Dea (above) started a campaign to stop Dublin City Council from using a weedkiller. She is seen above near the community garden started up more than 10 years ago as a place for the street’s residents to compost their organic waste.

 

 

 

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The Berlin Declaration 2018: adopted by 64 regional GMO free European governments

19 Nov

The Network GMO Free Regions in Europe, comprised of 64 regional governments, have adopted the Berlin Declaration, that called for a European and global moratorium of Gene Drives and demanded that national governments as well as the EU take on this issue at the upcoming meeting of the 2018 Convention on Biological Diversity.

When presenting the declaration, the network’s President Dr. Beatrix Tappeser, said: “Let us continue the precautionary approach, and maintain our GMO Free pathway, that has served the European Regions so well over the past decade. There needs to be more public investment in the agriculture people really want.”

The declaration ends: “Considering the substantial concentration of market and research power in the seed and agrochemical business over the past decades, we see a need to increase the public engagement in maintaining and developing non-GM seed breeding, research and agricultural methods. Germ plasm of all plants and animals should be kept in the public domain and be maintained as one of the most valuable public goods of humankind. Public investment in agricultural research and development should guarantee that the whole range of options needed to address present and future challenges to agriculture; food production and resource management continue to remain at public disposal. We commit to contribute to a renaissance of public research and the development of public goods for future generations”.

The full text may be read here.

 

 

 

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