Proposed ban on common pesticide draws controversy
February 18, 2009 -- From MSU News Service
BOZEMAN -- Controversy has arisen over the continued use of a common
crop and garden pesticide, and it's up to Montanans to decide how they
feel about it, says Montana State University Pesticide Education
Specialist Cecil Tharp.
The Natural Resources Defense Council has asked the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to ban 2,4-D, Tharp said. The last day for public
comment is Monday, Feb. 23.
The pesticide was patented in 1945 and registered for use in the
United States in 1947. Since then, 2,4-D has become one of the most
common ingredient in home and garden pesticides and one of the most
widely-used agricultural herbicides in the world, Tharp said. It is
registered for use on crops, aquatic areas, non-crop federally-
protected areas and turf grass.
The issue of banning or continuing 2,4-D is especially relevant in a
wheat-producing state like Montana since 2,4-D is used on 51 percent
of all spring wheat nationwide, Tharp said. The United States uses 46
million pounds of 2,4-D a year. Of that, fifteen percent is used on
winter and spring wheat. Twenty-four percent is applied to pasture and
rangelands. Twenty-six percent is used on lawns.
The pesticide is used to selectively control broadleaf weeds, Tharp
said. Unlike products containing glyphosate (including the product
known as Roundup), which kill almost everything green, 2,4-D is
somewhat selective. It's effective on many broadleaf noxious weeds,
while not causing damage to non-broadleaf plants, including small
grains and grasses.
Tharp said he doesn't promote one view over another, but he encouraged
Montanans to study the points raised on both sides of the 2,4-D issue.
Tharp and MSU Cropland Weed Specialist Fabian Menalled have written a
pesticide advisory on the pros and cons of banning 2,4-D. It also
gives the NRDC's reasons for requesting the ban. To read the advisory,
go to http://www.pesticides.montana.
(PDIS)" on the right side of the page.
Montanans who wants to submit comments to the EPA should include the
docket #EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0877, Tharp said. For detailed instructions,
they should go to
Tharp with questions at (406) 994-5067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or email@example.com
Monday, Feb. 23
Hespeler Horticultural Society Meeting
Guest speaker: Andrew Cartnell, Kitchener master gardener, on simple
steps to a healthy pesticide-free lawn; 7 p.m.; free; Hespeler
Memorial Arena, Optimist room, Cambridge/Hespeler; 519-622-0857.
February 18, 2009
Bernards puts policy in place to minimize pesticide use in parks, on
By LINDA SADLOUSKOS
A sign decorated with the picture of a ladybug was erected Wednesday
at Pleasant Valley Park to inform park visitors of the township's new
policy to avoid using pesticides on public lands.
The sign was donated by the New Jersey Environmental Federation in
recognition of the township's status as the 27th town in New Jersey to
adopt such a policy, said Jane Nogaki, pesticide program coordinator
for the nonprofit federation.
At a public ceremony, Mayor Carolyn Kelly thanked the township's
environmental commission and green team for moving the municipality in
the direction of reducing pesticide use. The green team was a special
committee appointed in 2007 to look at ways the township could improve
the local environment in a cost-effective manner.
The integrated pest management policy, adopted in December by the
township committee, calls for the township to avoid using synthetic
pesticides or fertilizers.
The policy gives the township the option of using organic substances
where necessary. Pat Monaco, director of public works, said the
township is expecting to soon hire a landscaper that uses organic
products to maintain local athletic fields.
Monaco said pesticide-free signs will be placed at other parks in the
township, even if they do not include a ladybug.
A similar celebration is expected to be held in April in Raritan
Township in Hunterdon County, which has also adopted an integrated
pest management policy, Nogaki said.
"A ladybug is a universal example of a beneficial insect," Nogaki
Linda Sadlouskos: 908-243-6608; lsadlouskos@MyCentralJersey.
Feb 19, 2009
Resorts go eco-sensitive
By CHRISTINA JONAS, THE CANADIAN PRESS
You smell them before you see them, or at least our guide did.
"Oh, wow," exclaimed Erick, a young Costa Rican, motioning us to be
As we crouched in a thicket, deep within a rainforest, he pointed
toward the riverbed. "Peccaries."
We watched in amazement as eight of the wild boar-like creatures
clattered noisily across the rocks of a dry riverbed. The wiliest one
knew we were there and came to investigate.
It was only then that Erick told us that these animals will eat
anything, including humans.
"Do we run or make lots of noise?" I whispered, not taking my eyes off
"No, climb a tree," he replied.
"But you said earlier not to touch the trees because there could be
snakes in them," I retorted, incredulous at the predicament we found
"Save your life first, then worry about the snakes."
With that, Erick rose, laughing, and the peccary darted for the
undergrowth. We learned that in this area there are two species -the
friendlier collared peccaries that we had just met, and white-lipped
peccaries that are much more aggressive.
As we r hike to a picturesque waterfall, we were awed by the beauty of
the rainforest. Leaves were as big as elephant ears and trees towered
55 metres. Moss and fern grew thick underfoot, adding their hue to the
lush green canvas, while brilliant jewel-coloured dragonflies, multi-
coloured butterflies and a dazzling array of flowers added splashes of
It is horrifying to think that only one-quarter of Costa Rica's
original forest cover is still standing, and that, despite the steps
the country has taken to conserve nature, about 8,000 hectares are
Our trip took us to two resorts trying to make a difference.
The first was Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in the Osa Peninsula, an
environmentally sensitive resort set on a 66-hectare private preserve
in one of the most remote areas of Costa Rica. To get there you must
fly from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez, landing at a small, single-runway
airport before boarding a boat for a trip across the Golfo Dulce
From the water the area looked desolate, except for a lone pier.
That's because the lodge and cabins are set amidst the dense forest,
affording guests close-up views of white-faced monkeys, green
parakeets and scarlet macaws.
The resort was built by Michael and Donna Butler, former New Yorkers,
who wanted to combine conservation with ecotourism, nature, adventure
"I backpacked a lot around Central America after college and I was
amazed by all the activities in this area and yet it was so
primitive," Michael said. "It was like escaping to the middle of
The couple's vision included a tree house-style lodge, the use of
alternative energy, open-air cabins with private outdoor showers, a
limited number of guests (22 is the maximum) and the promotion of
sustainability and ecotourism, whereby they conserve the environment
and improve the well-being of the local people.
In keeping with their efforts, during construction they used recycled
materials such as roof tiles made out of plastic banana boxes and
posts and beams made out of naturally fallen wood. The gardens and
landscaping are pesticide-and herbicide-free and only organic-
biodegradable cleaning products are used.
Other conservation efforts include a drying shed that can dry 39 loads
of laundry in less than two hours on a sunny day, an endangered tree
nursery, recycling and composting programs and solar-powered lights.
Instead of taking a boat to town to purchase fruit and vegetables,
they grow their own, including avocados, bananas, grapefruits,
oranges, lemons, pumpkins and pineapples.
Lodge meals focus on national and regional cuisine, and often feature
fish caught that morning by guests.
The Butlers hope that guests will apply some of Playa Nicuesa's
conservation methods upon returning home, and strive to educate
everyone about the rainforest, as its destruction will result in the
extinction of thousands of species.
Costa Rica, a country roughly the size of Nova Scotia, has five per
cent of the world's flora and fauna, so it has a lot to lose. It is
home to more than 9,000 species of plants, 200 mammals (half of which
are bats), 160 amphibians, 220 reptiles, 850 birds and numerous
It is a land where you are awakened by the loud roars of howler
monkeys, surprised by a capuchin peeking in your room and amazed by
toucans and scarlet macaws flying free.
Iguanas more than a metre long crash amongst the treetops, armadillos
cross your path and, if you are really lucky, you could spy a puma or
jaguar. Or if unlucky, a boa constrictor or viper.
The second resort we visited is a pioneer of the ecotourism movement
in Costa Rica.
Giovanna Holbrook, matriarch of the family that owns tour operator
Holbrook Travel, was visiting the Sarapiqui region in 1984 when she
learned of plans to destroy 200 hectares of primary rainforest. She
impulsively purchased the property to save the forest, and shortly
after built Selva Verde Lodge and Rainforest Reserve, which in
addition to accommodations, features a nature reserve with hiking
trails, a butterfly garden and an education and conservation resource
centre for area residents, travellers and volunteers.
Gabriel GonzElez, the manager, said the resort is part of the
Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program, which encourages
companies to use recycled products, properly dispose and treat waste,
install water-and energy-saving devices, conserve and expand Costa
Rican forests and implement better information management systems.
Selva Verde continues to improve its carbon footprint.
"Last year we put in 400 energy-efficient light bulbs and installed
solar panels which heat the water for 40 of our 45 guest rooms,"
GonzElez said. "We also use laundry chemicals that are biodegradable
and we have hired a guard to walk around the jungle to discourage
Selva Verde is also one of the 12 sites on a new Costa Rican bird
route that runs along a corridor that has 520 bird species, including
the endangered great green macaw. The first of its kind in Central
America, the route was created partially with funding from the U. S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and is modelled on similar trails in the
United States that promote conservation through tourism. Travellers
can stay at the resorts on the route or arrange day trips through tour
Feb 19, 2009
It's long been said that green tea is good for you. Local researchers
are among those working to add green tea's beneficial properties to a
variety of foods
When your grandmother made you force down a tablespoon of cod liver
oil, she was actually doing you some good. And when your mother told
you to eat your vegetables, she was on to something.
Eons of human eating have taught us what will make us healthy and what
will make us sick; what will heal certain ailments and what will cause
certain diseases. Cultures around the world have known for centuries
that fish oil promotes health and that fresh fruits and vegetables are
among the best foods you can eat. And the Chinese haven't been
drinking green tea for 4,000 years just because they like the taste --
it actually made them healthier.
Our ancestors may not have known what amino acids, bioflavonoids or
enzymes were, but they felt their beneficial effects.
Lekh Juneja, vice-president of Japan's Taiyo Kagaku, is a world leader
in the development of nutraceuticals and functional foods. Taiyo
Kagaku is one of the world's largest producers of green tea extracts,
and Juneja has studied the chemical properties of the leaf for more
than 20 years.
He told the Agri-Food Innovation Forum in Toronto last week it has
been known for centuries that "green tea is an excellent medicine that
prolongs life." While green tea is rich in the stimulant caffeine, its
most medicinal component is L-theanine, an amino acid with a number of
Green tea is an antioxidant that cleanses the bloodstream, burns fat
and reduces the risk of heart attack and certain cancers. Centuries of
tea drinking confirmed the health benefits, and now science is doing
the same. Taiyo Kagaku is exploring new ways to put green tea extracts
into a wide variety of foods.
While it appears that much of our innate knowledge about food is being
undermined by contemporary salt-filled, sugar-laden and fat-heavy
foods, leading edge nutritional science is working to get us back on
the path of healthy eating. Some of the leading research is being done
by Guelph-based scientists.
All of that fat, sugar and salt in our diets is reducing our lifespan,
making us sick when we needn't be. And our deplorable eating habits
are putting such an overwhelming strain on our health care system that
the system may buckle under the pressure, experts say.
Finding ways to inject health-promoting components, such as L-theanine
and Omega-3, into the foods we eat, has become a priority in the
expanding functional food and nutraceutical field.
Plant scientist Marc Fortin, assistant deputy minister of research
with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, says little is actually known
about how these compounds influence human health. Gaining that
knowledge and harnessing it will have a dramatic impact on future
"This innovation could be the cornerstone of agricultural research for
years to come," he said during a presentation at the forum in Toronto.
Understanding the relationship between our genes and the foods we eat,
he said, will have a transformative impact on food production and
processing. The challenge will be finding ways to turn knowledge into
new products and processes.
Major corporations like Taiyo Kagaku, Martek Biosciences and Monsanto
are exploring new, renewable sources for Omega-3, a fatty acid that
began to appear in a number of consumer food products just a few years
Martek Biosciences is a leading producer of algae DHA, an Omega-3 that
promotes heart, eye and brain health. There is evidence low levels of
DHA in the brain and blood may contribute to Alzheimer's disease.
The Omega-3 found in fish oil is derived from sea algae, Martek
executive Philip Fass said during last week's forum. Martek grows the
algae in four-storey tanks in its facilities in the United States, and
squeezes the oil from it.
Fass said a growing proportion of the world's population no longer
gets enough of these beneficial fatty acids in its diet.
Monsanto is the world's leading producer of genetically modified
seeds. Jennifer Elliott, regulatory affairs manager with Monsanto
Canada, said the biotech giant has discovered a genetically engineered
plant-based source for stearidonic acid, an Omega-3. Monsanto is
working with a number of companies to find ways to use this plant-
based alternative in everything from dairy products to snack foods.
Undoing decades of bad eating habits won't happen overnight, experts
agree. But boosting the health-promoting components of foods will
promote improved health and nutrition.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Health care system unprepared for 'tsunami' of problems
A look at the future of food through the eyes of an expert
Green tea, Omega-3 trends here to stay
The market for natural health products is about to get a lot bigger
Final analysis of changes in the food industry
© Copyright 2007 Metroland Media Group Ltd. All rights reserved
Warning Industry Propaganda Below
Feb 18, 2009
Phosphorus bans ignore problem's real causes
By: Wayne Kussow, Ph.D.
Phosphorus in turfgrass fertilizers comes in two chemical forms, and
both are 100 percent water-soluble. That means after one or two
irrigations or comparable rainfalls, no fertilizer phosphorus remains
on the soil surface. Instead, the phosphorus has washed into the soil,
where it becomes strongly attached to soil particle surfaces while
remaining available to plants.
At that point, less than 1 percent of the fertilizer phosphorus is
capable of making its way into bodies of water or the water table.
Transfer of fertilizer phosphorous (P) to surface water is therefore
predominantly through erosion of phosphorus-bearing soil particles.
These soil particles constitute what is commonly referred to as the
sediment in runoff water.
This is where turfgrass has a unique feature when compared to
agricultural row crops. Sediment losses from agricultural lands are
measured in tons per acre, while sediment in turfgrass runoff water
ranges from zero up to 100 pounds per acre.
This superior ability of grasses to trap and hold sediment is why
grass has long been used as a buffer strip between agricultural lands
and surface waters.
Thick lawns deter runoff
Since sediment transport is the primary means for transfer of
fertilizer phosphorus from turfgrass to surface water, the quantity of
phosphorus transferred should depend on two things: the amount of
sediment lost, and the concentration of fertilizer phosphorus on the
sediment particle surfaces.
The amount of sediment lost from turfgrass is almost totally dependent
on the density of the grass. Research has shown as turfgrass cover
approaches 70 percent, sediment losses approach zero.
Another factor in sediment loss is a visual quality rating of the
grass. Turfgrass researchers employ a rating scale of 1 to 9, with 1
being bare soil and 9 being a dense, uniform cover. Research shows as
the quality rating approaches 7, sediment loss goes to zero.
The second thing determining the quantity of fertilizer phosphorus in
sediment is the concentration of phosphorus on soil sediment
particles. This is readily determined by soil tests. Soil tests are
good indicators of the amount of fertilizer phosphorus applied, and
presumably the phosphorus concentration bears a direct relationship to
the amount of phosphorus in turfgrass runoff water.
This assumption is what leads to the use of soil test phosphorus level
as the criterion for deciding when fertilizer phosphorus application
on turfgrass is to be banned.
Soil tests not valid
But is this a valid assumption? Not according to research conducted to
date in Minnesota and New York. That research has shown there is no
direct relationship between turfgrass soil test phosphorus levels and
the quantities of phosphorus in runoff water.
Similarly, Wisconsin research has shown there is no relationship
between the amount of fertilizer phosphorus applied and the amount of
phosphorus in turfgrass runoff water.
In other words, there is no scientific validation of the use of soil
tests as the criterion for regulating or banning fertilizer phosphorus
application to turfgrass.
A study conducted in Madison, WI, showed the amount of tree canopy
over streets accounted for all of the P in runoff from the streets. It
has long been known that P loads from urban areas have two peaks—one
at the time of leaf fall and the other during spring snow melt.
One impetus for banning the fertilizer phosphorus on turfgrass has
been surveys showing many home lawns have excessive levels of soil-
test phosphorus with respect to actual turfgrass requirements.
When soil-test levels of phosphorus exceed what the grass actually
requires, there is no additional uptake of phosphorus. Phosphorous
bans assume fertilization is responsible for high soil-test levels.
However, the science does not support this seemingly logical
Turfgrass researchers know the ratios in which nutrients are taken up
by grasses are remarkably constant. For the cool-season grasses grown
in northern climates, the ratio in which nitrogen (N) and phosphorus
(P) are taken up is close to 9:1.
Leaving the clippings on lawns, now a widespread practice, results in
recycling of phosphorus. Wisconsin research has shown when clippings
are left on lawns, it takes only 0.1 pound of fertilizer P per pound
of N to replace what has been removed from the soil. This equates to a
ratio of 10:1. Any survey of fertilizers commonly sold for lawn
application quickly reveals a similar ratio of 10:1.
This leads to the inescapable conclusion that these fertilizers are
supplying only the quantity of phosphorous that is being removed by
An alternative source of the P in lawn soils was recently explored in
Researchers noted new housing developments often strip topsoil and
stockpile it for eventual spreading on lawns prior to turfgrass
establishment. They also note much of the development is on
agricultural land that likely has a history of heavy fertilization.
The stockpiled topsoil averaged more than three times the phosphorous
levels researchers consider optimum for home lawns.
That means the common practice of spreading these topsoils around
newly constructed buildings prior to lawn establishment can result in
high to excessive levels of soil test P without any fertilizer
actually being applied.
About the Author
Wayne Kussow, Ph.D.
About Wayne Kussow, Ph.D.
See more articles by Wayne Kussow, Ph.D.