Thursday, February 12, 2009

In California, Families Win Pesticide Buffer Zone...And More

In California, Families Win Pesticide Buffer Zone
by: Sheena Bell, Children’s Advocate
Luis Medellín, a Tulare county resident, knows firsthand howpesticides can drift away from fields—into nearby homes and schools.He recalls waking up with his family one night with headaches, nausea,and vomiting. Pesticides being sprayed in the orange grove next to hishome were going into the family’s bedrooms. When he found out from hisaunt how long-term exposure to pesticides could affect his siblings’health and the health of his pregnant mother, he got involved withCalifornians for Pesticide Reform.
Together with county residents, the Californians for Pesticide Reformcoalition pushed for—and won—regulations that create a quarter-milebuffer zone between pesticide spraying and schools, residentialneighborhoods, preschools, and farm labor camps. Tactics included:
Community training: Volunteers learned how to test for pesticides inthe community. Medellín and others learned to use a drift catcher (acommunity air-monitoring device).
Collecting data: During the 2004–2006 peak spray seasons, residentsfound their air had high levels of an insecticide applied to citrustrees. A quarter of the people surveyed in 2005 said their childrenattended schools near fields and complained about pesticide spraying—but they didn’t know how to report pesticide drift. Community membersalso got tested for pesticides in their bodies (called bio-monitoring). Over 91 percent of the people tested—including Medellín—had “higher than normal” amounts of pesticides in their bodies.Residents compiled this data into reports to give to local officials.
Outreach: Residents performed skits for parents, children, and theelderly at the homes of volunteers. The performers wanted everyone inthe community to understand the dangers of pesticides and effects theycould have—such as itchy skin, asthma, diarrhea, vomiting, migraines,and rashes. The skits also showed the “high importance of protectionzones around communities,” says Medellín.
Reaching out to schools: Medellín and other volunteers went to nearbyschool districts to “see if parents wanted to take part” in thecampaign, he says. They also spoke out at school board meetings tobuild support for the campaign. Medellín says he reached out toparents, saying, “If they find high levels of pesticides in me,imagine what they will find in your children!”
Community petition: Residents went to community events to collectsignatures on a petition for a pesticide buffer zone. They pointed outthat AB 947, a California law, gives agricultural commissioners theability to regulate pesticide use near schools. Community membersdelivered the petition to the Tulare County commissioners’ office.Success
In January 2008, the agricultural commissioner mandated pesticideprotection zones in Tulare county within a quarter mile of schools,residential communities, or sensitive areas, such as preschools andfarm labor camps. “This is tangible fruit of all our hard work,” saysTeresa DeAnda, Central Valley representative for Californians forPesticide Reform and mother of seven children between 10 and 30.
Californians for Pesticide Reform is now campaigning for protectionzones in other counties, especially in Stanislaus and Madera. Medellínsays things will get better for children when they can “breathehealthier, safer air.”For More Information
* Californians for Pesticide Reform, 888-CPR-4880, * To see a slideshow on this campaign, go to * The Threat of Pesticides in Our Air: A Community Response Guide,from the Pesticide Action Network, provides information on pesticidedrift, what to do if exposed, and your rights. In English and Spanish.
This article originally appeared in the January-February 2009 issue ofthe Children’s Advocate, published by the California-based ActionAlliance for Children.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
EPA Sued to Properly Assess Health Risks of Pesticides in the WaterSupply
by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice hassued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to properlytake into account the health and ecological risks of approvedpesticides.
"There are several pesticides on the market that pose extreme risks tohuman health - through the water, air and food," said Earthjusticeattorney Joshua Osborne-Klein. "Our lawsuits say that the EPA has notfully assessed these risks."
Of particular concern is the tendency of pesticides and otheragricultural chemicals to end up in the groundwater, via air, soil andsurface water contamination. The EPA has warned that groundwater is"highly susceptible to contamination from septic tanks, agriculturalrunoff, highway de-icing, landfills, and pipe leaks."
A 2006 report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found pesticideresidue in every single stream tested, along with more than 50 percentof shallow wells and a third of deeper wells.
Although the EPA has directed states to address the issue ofgroundwater contamination, it has provided little guidance as to howthis is to be accomplished, said Janet Fults of the Oregon Departmentof Agriculture's pesticides division.
"There are so many pesticides that do not have benchmarks," Fultssaid. "The EPA expects states to address water quality issues withoutbenchmarks."
Only three states - California, New York and Oregon - havecomprehensive pesticide reporting programs, and few states haveconducted tests for water contamination. In Oregon, the Department ofAgriculture found seven pesticides that regularly turned up. One ofthese was diazinon, which was originally developed as a lethal nervegas and has been shown to pose serious health risks to children. TheEPA banned its residential use in 2004, but still allows itsagricultural use.
Earthjustice has filed suit over diazinon's continued use, noting itsregular detection in surface water and in the air near schools.
"Children are really at risk," said Wenonah Hauter, executive directorof Food and Water Watch. "And a lot of these pesticides aren't justfound in groundwater; they're also found in food products."
Sources for this story include:
Genetically Modified Crops Feed Company Profits Not the Poor
(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2009) Genetically modified (GM) cropsare benefiting biotech food giants instead of the world’s hungrypopulation, which is projected to increase to 1.2 billion by the year2025 due to the global food crisis, according to a report releasedyesterday by the Center for Food Safety and Friends of the EarthInternational. The report, “Who Benefits From GM Crops: Feeding theBiotech Giants Not the World’s Poor,” explains how biotech firms likeMonsanto are exploiting the dramatic rise in world grain prices thatare responsible for the global food crisis by sharply increasing theprices of GM seeds and chemicals they sell to farmers, even ashundreds of millions go hungry.
The findings of the report support a comprehensive United Nations’assessment of world agriculture in the International Assessment ofAgricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development(IAASTD), which in 2008 concluded that GM crops have little potentialto alleviate poverty and hunger in the world. IAASTD expertsrecommended instead low-cost, low-input agroecological farmingmethods.
“U.S. farmers are facing dramatic increases in the price of GM seedsand the chemicals used with them,” said Bill Freese, science policyanalyst at the US-based Center for Food Safety and co-author of thereport. “Farmers in any developing country that welcomes Monsanto andother biotech companies can expect the same fate - sharply rising seedand pesticide costs, and a radical decline in the availability ofconventional seeds.”
According to the report, GM seeds cost from two to over four times asmuch as conventional, non-GM seeds, and the price disparity isincreasing. From 80% to over 90% of the soybean, corn and cotton seedsplanted in the U.S. are GM varieties. Thanks to GM trait feeincreases, average U.S. seed prices for these crops have risen by over50% in just the past two to three years. Exploitation of the foodcrisis has been extremely profitable for Monsanto, by far the dominantplayer in GM seeds. Goldman Sachs recently projected that Monsanto’snet income (after taxes) would triple from $984 million to $2.96billion from 2007 to 2010.
The exorbitant cost of GM seeds is not the only problem. The vastmajority of GM crops are not grown by or destined for the world’spoor, but instead are soybeans and corn used to feed animals, generatebiofuels, or produce highly processed food products consumed mostly inrich countries. The report documents that nearly 90% of the globalarea planted GM crops in 2008 was found in just 6 countries withhighly industrialized, export-oriented agricultural sectors in Northand South America, with the U.S., Argentina and Brazil responsible for80% of GM crops. The United States alone produced 50% of the world’sGM crops in 2008.
Despite more than a decade of hype, the biotechnology industry has notintroduced a single GM crop with increased yield, enhanced nutrition,drought-tolerance or salt-tolerance. In fact, the biotechnologyindustry’s own figures show that 85% of all GM crop acreage worldwidein 2008 was planted with herbicide-tolerant crops. Herbicide-tolerantGM crops - chiefly Monsanto’s Roundup Ready varieties used withMonsanto’s Roundup herbicide (active ingredient glyphosate), haveincreased overall use of chemical weed killers. Roundup prices in theU.S. have more than doubled in the past two years.
Meanwhile, biotech propaganda has obscured the huge potential of low-cost agroecological and organic techniques to increase food productionand alleviate hunger in developing countries. The report mentionsseveral such projects, such as push-pull maize farming, practiced by10,000 farmers in east Africa. The enormously successful push-pullsystem controls weed and insect pests without chemicals, increasesmaize production, and raises the income of smallholder farmers.
“GM seeds and the pesticides used with them are much too expensive forAfrica’s small farmers,” said Nnimmo Bassey, executive director ofFriends of the Earth Nigeria and chair of Friends of the EarthInternational. “Those who promote this technology in developingcountries are completely out of touch with reality.”
TAKE ACTION: Currently the U.S. Department of Agriculture is acceptingcomments until March 17, 2009 on new rules on GM and pharmaceuticalcrops that would significantly weaken oversight of all GM crops, andwhich continue to allow companies to grow feed crops engineered toproduce drugs and industrial chemicals, according to the Center forFood Safety. For more information on these proposed rules and to signa petition for stronger regulations, click here.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is also accepting comments onGM crops. Comments are being accepting until March 6, 2009 onMonsanto’s second application to extend its experimental use permitfor GM soybeans engineered with the soil bacterium Bacillusthuringiensis (Bt).
For more information on GM crop issues, see Beyond Pesticides’ GM Foodand Organic Food program pages, as well as past news articles inBeyond Pesticides’ Daily News Blog archives.
===========================Warning Industry Propaganda Below===========================
February 15, 2009
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGEBy Tony DiGiovanni CHTLO executive director
Jittery? Change the channel
Representing Canada
Jennifer Lemcke, ceo for Weedman USA, represented Canada. Jennifermade Canadians proud! Weedman has over 100,000 customers in Canada. Itis a remarkable organization that has achieved amazing growth andsuccess.
Jennifer’s message focused on The Power of Vision. A clear vision isessential for success. The vision provides clear direction forchoosing action. It must be shared with everyone in the organization.Core values and company culture flow from the vision. The visionempowers employees to see success in their future. It helps themunderstand their role and motivates them to assist in achieving thevision.
Jennifer urged everyone to focus on employees and build a companyculture where everyone’s job is to help each other succeed. Stayfocused and committed to your culture. Live, breathe and communicateyour core values.
Jennifer also talked about the negative affects of fear. In the year2000, the Supreme Court of Canada gave municipalities the right to banpesticides. Weedman reacted with shock and fear and went into crisisand survival mode. They momentarily lost sight of the company’s visionand growth flattened. By 2002, growth exploded and continues untiltoday. What changed? The pesticide situation has become much worse,yet Weedman has returned to its original positive vision of growth.They regained their positive attitude. They are facing challenges headon. They are committed to growth. It is a time to change and flourish.It is a time for leadership, hope, choice and action.
Jennifer ended her session with two action-oriented questions. “Whatare we going to do to build our future?” “What are you going to do?Great questions to ask in any economy.
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached
Feb 11, 2009
Dow AgroScience launches podcast for roadside vegetation managers
Indianapolis-based Dow AgroScience has launched a podcast for roadsidevegetation managers. VM Radio will feature interviews with industryprofessionals and university researchers that explore marketplacetrends and identify resources.
Indianapolis-based Dow AgroScience has launched a podcast for roadsidevegetation managers. VM Radio will feature interviews with industryprofessionals and university researchers that explore marketplacetrends and identify resources.
Available at, the podcast covers topics thatinclude dealing with public sensitivity to herbicides, the time andcost benefits of integrating mechanical and herbicide treatments andan overview of invasive species. Listeners may also use an online formto suggest topics for future podcasts.
Related Stories
* Taming the wild roadside * Trimming time and money * Herbicides help Illinois DOT control roadside weeds
Thu 12 Feb 09
The Greenery extends Bayer project
The Greenery is set to roll out its project with Bayer CropScience toreduce the need for pesticides to 20 countries, following a review ofits initiative on Italian grapes this season.
The initial trial took place in Puglia, from February to October lastyear after the plans were set in motion at Fruit Logistica last year.
The project will now be extended to include Spanish tomatoes,Brazilian melons, South African citrus and pineapples from Panama toname a few categories, while UK retailers have also shown a keeninterest in the project.
Tim Willaert, in the marketing and communication department, told FPJ:“By combining our knowledge, we have been able to reduce the use ofcrop protection products to a minimum levels and reduce residue levelsto a level that is far below even the most stringent requirements.
“We are looking at how we use the absolute minimum crop protection ina targeted way, throughout the season…
“There is increased competition in the market and we have to be clearabout the extras that we can provide. At the moment, we are looking athow to communicate our work to consumers.”
Agronomist Ben Burgers, who oversaw the project, added: “The major aimis to keep quality standards as high as possible, while trying tocreate a further reduction of residue levels in the final stages ofproduction.”
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St. John's Daily Spray Advisory

My Past Articles

More enforcement needed for pesticide spray regulations
The Western Star (Corner Brook) - Final - 10-01-2002 - 413 words
Karen Griffin - Judie Squires says someone needs to patrol the companies that spray residential areas for pesticides because she's observed nine violations of the Environmental Protection Act in her Paradise neighborhood alone

Spray woes: Province falling down on monitoring pesticides
The Telegram (St. John's) - Final - 10-01-2002 - 253 words
Judie Squires - environment to become poisoned? A temporary ban on all residential pesticides has to be put into place, to protect us, our wildlife and our environment as a whole. Judie Squires Paradise

Government lax on cosmetic pesticide regulation: advocate
The Telegram (St. John's) - 08-28-2004 - 613 words
Stokes Sullivan, Deana - Despite increased awareness about adverse health effects from pesticides, Judie Squires, a member of the Pesticide Working Group of Newfoundland and Labrador, isn't optimistic the province will ban cosmetic use

Woman doesn't expect cosmetic pesticide ban any time soon
The Western Star (Corner Brook) - 08-30-2004 - 712 words
Stokes Sullivan, Deana - Despite increased awareness about adverse health effects from pesticides, Judie Squires, a member of the Pesticide Working Group of Newfoundland and Labrador, isn't optimistic that the province will ban the

Province lagging behind in pesticide control
The Telegram (St. John's) - 09-04-2005 - 496 words
Squires, Judie - it to do is to prohibit the cosmetic use of synthetic pesticides altogether in order to protect our citizens and the environment. Judie Squires writes from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

The two sides to pesticide use
The Telegram (St. John's) - 07-16-2006 - 781 words
Judie Squires - health of your families. When Canada's most respected health authorities tell us pesticides threaten our health, we should all be listening. Judie Squires writes from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

Inquiry implicates BTk
The Telegram (St. John's) - 06-24-2006 - 353 words
DEANA STOKES SULLIVAN - of trees. The live spores can be inhaled by humans and animals exposed to BT. Judie Squires, secretary of the Northeast Avalon Group of the Sierra Club, says despite claims that

Delayed pesticide laws 'disappointing'
The Telegram (St. John's) - 06-24-2006 - 833 words
DEANA STOKES SULLIVAN - at the end of this year. These products will only be sold to certified dealers. Judie Squires, secretary of the newly formed Northeast Avalon Group of the Sierra Club, isn't

Above Articles available through Trancontinental Newsnet

Time for provincial lawn pesticide regulation
The Telegram (St. John's) - 03-14-2009 - 419 words
pesticides. Please join me in lobbying our province for a pesticide ban Judie Squires Portugal Cove...

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