Bees are dying. Would a consumer ban on a pesticide help?

Bees pollinate almost three-quarters of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world’s food supply, say advocates working on a campaign to protect bees from insecticides.

Last week, the grassroots group Environment North Carolina delivered a petition with 13,452 signatures to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office, calling for a consumer ban on the sale and use of neonicotinoids (neonics) pesticides. Advocates gathered in downtown Raleigh, not far from regional headquarters for Syngenta and other businesses like Bayer and Dow Chemical that manufacture neonics and say their products are safe when applied according to label directions.

Every winter for the past 12 years, about 30 percent of commercial honeybee hives in the United States have collapsed because of diseases, parasites, poor nutrition, pesticides and other issues, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Services has said.

While pesticides aren’t the only cause, they contribute to the problem, according to the department, which recommends gardeners use pesticides sparingly or not at all.

Drew Ball, state director of Environment North Carolina, believes banning sales to consumers in the state would be a step in the right direction toward bigger bans.

Maryland and Connecticut have banned the sale of neonics to consumers, said state Rep. Pricey Harrison. The European Union has banned neonics and Canada is phasing them out.

Harrison is one of the sponsors of House Bill 559, also known as the Pollinator Protection Act. The bill, whose primary sponsors also include Reps. Chuck McGrady, John Ager and Mitchell Setzer, stalled in committee this spring.

Concerns about agricultural pesticides are not new, said Hannah Burrack, professor of entomology at N.C. State University. People disagree because there are positive and negative effects, so it’s a trade-off, she said.

“The thing that gets glossed over in the discussions of banning neonics is that the pests themselves aren’t going to go away in these farming systems,” said Burrack, who is also an extension specialist. “Something needs to be done to manage them, and that something might become a more toxic pesticide if this one is removed. That needs to be a part of the conversation.”

A Google search can yield numerous alternatives to insecticides, like using fabric covers to keep pests off crops. The Natural Resource Conservation Service suggests people who do use insecticides should choose products with less harmful ingredients and spray them on dry evenings after dark when bees are not active.

Neonicotinoids are classified as a “general pesticide” by the EPA, which means no training or licensing is required to use them.

Consumers, who may not know as much as farmers about the chemicals they are using, often over-apply neonics, at a time when non-farming regions have become increasingly important habitats for bees, said Libba Rollins, Environment North Carolina’s campaign lead.

“Private citizens aren’t typically aware of the impact this has on pollinator population,” Ball explained. “A lot of people are buying these over the counter without recognizing the effect.”

Environment North Carolina is seeking a consumer ban because “bees are dying at record rates,” Ball said. “Beekeepers report losing an average of 30 percent of all honeybee colonies each winter, roughly twice the loss considered sustainable. A recent study found that more than half of all (wild) bees are in decline, too.”

It is not clear if neonics are causing the decline in wild bees, Burrack said. “There is limited science available and it’s harder to research wild bees because they can’t be raised in captivity,” she said.

However, fewer wild bees could affect crop production. North Carolina is fourth in pumpkin production, seventh in cantaloupe, apple and tomato production, eighth in squash and watermelon production and ninth in cabbage production, and all of these crops require pollinators, including wild bees, Rollins said.

Bayer, Dow, Monsanto and Syngenta are some of the biggest producers of neonics and say they should not be blocked or banned.

“Neonicotinoids are rigorously tested before going to market to ensure they can be used safely and effectively while allowing bees and other pollinators to thrive,” Syngenta said a statement to The News & Observer. “The weight of scientific evidence clearly shows that bees and other pollinators can coexist safely with neonicotinoid insecticides when product labels are followed.”

Bayer agreed, adding that the potential exposure to bees by consumer application is far below levels that would cause concern.

“Distinguishing toxicity from risk is a routine activity performed by most of us, even if we’re unaware we’re doing so,” Bayer said in its statement. “For example, caffeine is more toxic than many pesticides, yet we drink it in coffee without fear because the levels are so low.”

In 2014, Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement company, announced that it had stopped treating 80 percent of flowering plants with neonics and would completely stop using neonics in flowering plants by 2018.

Lowe’s Home Improvement announced in 2015 that it would phase out neonics after the EPA announced it would stop approving new uses of the pesticide.

While groups disagree about bans, insecticides like neonics are part of a larger discussion about how our food is grown, Burrack said.

“I believe the best solution is to use the whole suite of pest-management tools we have available to us,” she said. “We monitor insect populations and select the least disruptive treatment available to us which in some cases is chemical control or not chemical-based controls.”

 

Is Neem Oil Causing Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome? Pesticide Contamination?

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June 24, 2019 by Emily Earlenbaugh for Leafly

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), a rare cyclical vomiting condition, is said to be triggered by too much cannabis. But many believe this isn’t true—and instead say the painful bouts of vomiting come from other factors, such as pesticide contamination.
Recently, the idea that neem oil (a very common pesticide) could be responsible for CHS has become a popular theory.

But is this theory plausible? While plenty of rare allergies and sensitivities to cannabis certainly exist—and some say that neem oil is the most likely cause—medical experts and CHS sufferers have concluded the theory simply doesn’t hold water. So what is the cause of CHS?

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Defined
Doctors first identified cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome in 2004 when a new set of symptoms starting showing up for some cannabis users.

These patients came to emergency rooms complaining of recurrent episodes of intense nausea, vomiting for hours, and unusual body temperature shifts. Prolonged vomiting dehydrates the body, and in rare cases can lead to death from kidney failure.

Strangely, for all of these patients, the symptoms could be relieved by taking hot baths or showers.

Blood toxicology showed no drugs in these patients’ systems, other than cannabis. Most sufferers used large amounts of cannabis daily—grams of extract per day, or several ounces of flower per month. So doctors suspected heavy use might play a role, and recommended stopping use entirely to see if that helped. Most of these patients stopped their use and had their symptoms subside. But those who continued using cannabis, continued to be ill.

Suddenly CHS was a thing. Even if the mechanism wasn’t fully understood, there was a clear profile of symptoms that was unlike anything else.

By 2012, more cases of CHS began to appear in the medical literature. While it is considered extremely rare, the exact numbers are hard to pinpoint. Some experts like Dr. Ethan Russo say there are only around 200 identified cases in the world. Meanwhile, there are online message boards and Facebook groups dedicated to CHS with thousands of members who believe they may have this condition.

A Neem Oil Theory of CHS Emerges
Despite the association between stopping cannabis and CHS symptoms going away, many remain unconvinced CHS can be a reaction to cannabis overuse. Some argue that the condition is actually the result of pesticide poisoning—specifically from neem oil, a pesticide commonly used by commercial and home gardeners.

Neem oil is deemed an “organic pesticide” as it comes from the vegetable oil of seed kernels from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). Neem oil contains active ingredients like azadirachtin, nimbin, picrin, and sialin.

This theory gained prominence through CHS patients like Taeia Kaley-Dolan, who started doing her own research on the syndrome and noticed similarities between the symptoms of CHS and poisoning from azadirachtin, one of the chemicals in neem oil. Both CHS and azadirachtin poisoning can cause severe vomiting and nausea. However, azadirachtin poisonings are rare and symptoms also include not just vomiting, but seizures, acidic blood, and deadly nervous system swelling.

Kaley-Dolan shared her theory to help others with her condition understand that it might not be from cannabis, and many in the cannabis space echo the theory that CHS might really just be pesticide poisoning, or something—anything—other than cannabis.

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is sort of like the boogie man for cannabis consumers. It comes without warning and turns your ideal medicine into your worst nightmare, but it’s also rare, so many have never met someone with the condition. It’s no wonder that the cannabis community pushed back on this theory, saying it must be misdiagnosed or totally made up.

Russ Hudson, a Barcelona, Spain-based cannabis consultant who has been working in the space for 27 years agrees. “I would posit that most veterans in the cannabis industry—people with 20-plus years of experience—think that cannabis hyperemesis is a made-up or severely ‘misunderstood’ (read; misdiagnosed) condition,” he shares. Hudson says that he’s never met anyone with this condition in his entire time working in the space, and isn’t sure it’s real.

According to Hudson, “Azadirachtin poisoning seems a likely culprit, as well as other types of contamination,” such as bacteria or other pesticides. He also points to allergic reactions to terpenes or an uncomfortable reaction to being too high as potential causes.

Registered nurse Doug Rhodes is a wellness educator who has seen two cases of CHS first-hand agrees with Hudson and Kaley-Dolan, saying, “I’m a firm believer that hyperemesis syndrome is from contamination, be that neem, pyrethrum, or other products.”

So could it be that CHS isn’t a real thing? Could it be that we are just seeing pesticide poisoning and there are no cases of true CHS—cyclical vomiting actually caused by cannabinoids?

Unfortunately, this theory doesn’t line up with the evidence.

Neem Poisoning Differs From CHS
While we’d all love to hear the news that CHS could be solved by avoiding neem oil, the medical experts we talked to say this theory doesn’t make much sense. The effects of these two conditions are just too different from each other.

“As much as I decry the use of pesticides on cannabis, their toxicity profile does not match the symptom complex or time course of CHS.”
Dr. Ethan Russo, cannabis researcher

“As much as I decry the use of pesticides on cannabis, their toxicity profile does not match the symptom complex or time course of CHS,” explains leading cannabis researcher and neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo. “Neem oil and azadirachtin generally have limited human toxicity, but can rarely produce vomiting (the only symptom in common with CHS).”

Dr. Russo points to the other symptoms of azadirachtin overdose like increased salivation, diarrhea, liver toxicity, and convulsions. “The latter symptoms do not match CHS at all,” he says. “This is someone’s wishful thinking, or just another conspiracy theory.”

Furthermore, neem oil poisoning cannot be treated with hot showers, a core feature of CHS.

Jeff Raber, PhD, a cannabis researcher and organic chemist, agrees that neem oil isn’t likely to be the culprit.

“Someone sent the neem oil link to me a while ago and I was just like, ‘It doesn’t make that much sense,’” he recalls. “A lot of people use neem oil on that and on a lot of other products. We don’t see neem oil hyperemesis syndrome. I think we’d see a lot more cases because of the prevalence that neem has been used.”

These experts say that the CHS cases they’ve encountered and studied seemed to consistently respond to one major factor: cannabis use. They both believe that an overabundance of cannabinoids is causing nerve cell signalling dysfunction. The theory comports with what’s known about cannabis, based on cell, animal, and human trials. Take vomiting, for example. At low doses, cannabis can treat nausea. But at high doses—the opposite occurs.

“Phytocannabinoids such as THC are noted to produce biphasic effects, i.e., they may produce one effect at a low dose and an opposite effect at a much higher dose,” explains Dr. Russo. “THC is normally antiemetic, but perhaps in CHS this reverses after heavy chronic usage.”

Scientists know THC stimulates the body’s CB1 receptor—found in the brain and the gut. The body responds by decreasing the number of CB1 receptors on nerve cells. That’s how tolerance to THC develops. If the number of CB1 receptors falls below a certain threshold, boom, hyperemesis, scientists think.

Another factor is the TRPV1 receptor, also known as the capsaicin receptor or the vanilloid receptor 1. This receptor seems to be involved in CHS, and is activated by cannabinoids. Issues with TRPV1 could explain why hot baths help, since they are also known to activate that receptor.

Still, what’s not clear is why this condition affects only a small subset of cannabis consumers.

While both doctors said more research should be done to understand this rare condition and the exact mechanisms driving it, both were also convinced that pesticides could not account for the symptoms seen in CHS.

Patients Get CHS From Clean Cannabis
Perhaps the biggest nail in the coffin for the ‘CHS is just pesticide poisoning’ theory is the fact that some patients have gotten CHS from cannabis that was grown without pesticides, including neem oil.

“You can have too much water. So why are we trying to pretend that you can’t have too much cannabis?”
Alice Moon, CHS sufferer, Los Angeles

Take Jared Panks for example. The 39 year-old is a co-owner for Home Grown ORegonicX, a company in Oregon that teaches deaf individuals how to cultivate cannabis. He sources cannabis from his own organic garden, which is pesticide-free (including neem). So when he was diagnosed with CHS, he knew that pesticides couldn’t be the reason.

“I have all this documentation with all the genetics that I’ve grown, all the mold tests, all the pesticide tests, all that stuff, and I’m still getting sick,” he explains.

Panks’ symptoms line up perfectly with classic CHS—cyclical vomiting that increases with more cannabis use, and is relieved by hot baths and cannabis cessation. Panks’ worst attack left him unable to hold down food or water for 14 days. He needed to be hooked up to IV’s to survive the severe dehydration.

“For me, I think it’s an overload on cannabinoids,” he explains, adding that he’s tried cannabinoids other than THC, like CBD and CBN, and still had bad reactions. The only thing that has helped is lessening his intake of cannabinoids. “They can’t clinically say that anybody’s ever overdosed from it,” he adds. “I can say that I’ve overloaded. And that’s the truth.”

Alice Moon, a 29 year-old from Los Angeles with CHS, says she is also convinced that pesticides are not the problem. She put her body through the ringer hoping that pesticides might be.

The cannabis public relations person was once a cannabis edible reviewer, but had to shift her career focus when she discovered her recurrent vomiting would only stop when she ceased cannabis use. After quitting, her symptoms subsided and Moon decided to try again.

“I started smoking pesticide-free weed because so many people say CHS is pesticides,” she explains. “But I smoked pesticide-free weed and my symptoms came back after a few months.”

Her last attempt was to use hemp-derived CBD from a source she knew used no pesticides including neem. But one day, a larger than normal CBD dose sent her back to the hospital with her worst CHS bout yet—16 days of non-stop vomiting.

“I had so many moments where I was wondering if I was going to die because it was so severe,” she recalls. By the end of her stay she had three ulcers, a hernia, and a bacterial infection from the experience.

“Now, I will not be a guinea pig at all,” she explains. “I can’t do it. My body can’t do it.”

Since her own failed experiments getting rid of CHS without stopping cannabis, Moon has been outspoken about CHS and her belief that it is truly related to cannabinoid intake. “I 1,000% believe it’s not neem,” she says, adding that she even had a blood test that came back negative for any pesticides.

“I do believe people can have pesticide poisoning. I am not denying that that’s real,” Moon says. “But I do think that this isn’t that.”

Moon says that since going public with her thoughts on CHS, she’s gotten a lot of negative responses from the cannabis community.

“I get so much online hate in regards to this,” she explains. “Every other day, people are telling me, ‘You made this up. You work for the government. You work for Big Pharma.’ I’m like, ‘No dude, I just want to be able to smoke weed again.’”

Moon says she believes in the medical benefits of cannabis but wants to educate people about CHS so they’ll stop as soon as they exhibit symptoms and not risk their lives thinking pesticide-free cannabis will help. But Moon says, “People don’t want to believe it’s real.”

“You can have too much water,” she points out simply “So why are we trying to pretend that you can’t have too much cannabis?”

Are Sub-Populations Sensitive to Pesticides?
While the bulk of CHS sufferers must reduce their cannabis intake to be cured, some rare sub-groups most certainly have CHS-like symptoms related to cannabis’ many added ingredients. One such person is Leafly’s own Natalie Bernstein, a performance improvement analyst.

“It’s really difficult to say that any one answer is going to apply to everybody.”
Natalie Bernstein, neem allergy sufferer, Seattle

Bernstein moved to Washington in 2014 to use cannabis to manage her chronic migraines. In the spring of 2017, she switched from a pesticide-free, illicit market source of cannabis to store-bought cannabis. By summer of 2017, she developed what she thought might be CHS—nausea and intense vomiting following cannabis use.

While she worried she had CHS, her symptoms didn’t line up. She wasn’t a heavy smoker. And hot showers didn’t stop the vomiting. Rather, the antihistamine Benadryl controlled her nausea, she discovered by accident.

Bernstein has many allergies, and new ones can pop up seemingly out of nowhere. Suspecting a rare type of cannabis contaminant allergy, Bernstein started tracking her intake. To source neem-free cannabis, she used Washington state’s cannabis industry pesticide application data, and called growers directly.

She found a strong correlation between inhaling flowers treated with neem oil, and her nausea and vomiting. “My doctor told me that I was wrong, that it was THC, so I stopped seeing that doctor,” she said. “People say neem is ‘organic,’ but poison ivy is organic.”

By winter of 2017, she determined she could control her nausea through edibles, or inhaling neem-free cannabis.

Bernstein believes not all CHS cases are caused by heavy cannabis use. There’s probably a spectrum of CHS causes, where maybe 70% of CHS sufferers might have classic CHS, she believes, while maybe 20% have a reaction to pesticide toxicity, and 10% have rare allergies to even trace amounts of pesticides, like her.

“It’s really difficult to say that any one answer is going to apply to everybody,” Bernstein said. “I think what I have is more prevalent that what people know.”

Neem Oil Generally Not Causing CHS
So is neem oil the cause of CHS? Generally not. The bulk of early evidence points to overactivation of the CB1 receptor. The old adage “moderation in all things” holds true.

There is a long way to go in understanding CHS, and why it only affects a segment of heavy cannabis consumers. More research is needed to fully understand what factors are at play in this mysterious condition.

Still, while we’d all love to hear that CHS is just a made up condition or a misdiagnosis of something we can easily fix, the pesticide theory doesn’t match most case studies. Patients like Moon and Panks are suffering from a very real condition, one that can’t be explained by pesticides.

When pesticides are taken out of the equation, CHS remains.

Glyphosate in Cereal: Monsanto’s Weedkiller Detected at Alarming Levels, Report Says

Dr_Axe.pngGlyphosate-in-Cereal_HEADER.jpg

June 12, 2019 By Christine Ruggeri, CHHC

Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released its third round of 2019 test results measuring glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, in popular oat-based cereals and foods.

When the nonprofit organization released similar results last year, two companies, Quaker and General Mills, told the public it had no reason to worry about traces of glyphosate in their products.

After three rounds of testing that proves glyphosate is in popular cereal products, it seems that’s not the case. In fact, in the newest test results, the two highest levels of glyphosate were found in Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch and Cheerios.


Glyphosate in Cereal

In the latest batch of testing that confirmed and amplified the findings from tests done in July and October of last year, all but four of the products tested contained levels of the potentially-carcinogenic weed-killing chemical above 160 parts per billion (ppb), the health benchmark set by EWG.

These findings come about one year after EWG released two series of tests measuring glyphosate in popular children’s breakfast products. That’s when General Mills and Quaker Oats Company immediately went on the defensive, claiming glyphosate levels found in its foods fell within regulatory limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

That may be true, but many public health experts believe the levels of allowable glyphosate in food are far too high and don’t properly protect human health. Previously, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculations suggest that 1- to 2-year-old children likely experience the highest exposure to glyphosate, the potential cancer-causing chemical used in Monsanto’s Roundup. And according to the agency’s risk assessment, the exposure level is 230 times greater than EWG’s health benchmark of 160 ppb.

In the May 2019 batch of testing, EWG commissioned Anresco Laboratories to test a range of oat-based products, including 300 grams each of 21 oat-based cereals, snack bars, granolas and instant oats made by General Mills and Quaker. Of the 21 products tested, those with the highest levels of glyphosate include:

  • Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch (833 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Maple Brown Sugar (566 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Granola Cups, Almond Butter (529 ppb)
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios (400 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Baked Oat Bites (389 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Oats and Honey (320 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Peanut Butter (312 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Granola Cups, Peanut Butter Chocolate (297 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bars, Dark Chocolate Cherry (275 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats n Dark Chocolate (261 ppb)
  • Multi Grain Cheerios (216 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares, Blueberry (206 ppb)
  • Fiber One Oatmeal Raisin Soft-Baked Cookies (204 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Granola Peanut Butter Creamy & Crunchy (198 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Biscuits with Almond Butter (194 ppb)

These tested products contain glyphosate at levels well above EWG’s safety standard of 160 ppb.


A Look at Previous Glyphosate in Cereal Testing

Last year, EWG set a more stringent health benchmark for daily exposure to glyphosate in foods than the EPA and tested an initial batch of products. Considering EWG’s standard of 160 parts per billion (ppb), after two rounds of testing, the following products exceeded that limit in one or both samples tested, with the starred products exceeding 400 ppb:

  • Granola
    • Back to Nature Classic Granola*
    • Quaker Simply Granola Oats, Honey, Raisins & Almonds*
    • Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats ‘n Honey
  • Instant Oats
    • Giant Instant Oatmeal, Original Flavor*
    • Quaker Dinosaur Eggs, Brown Sugar, Instant Oatmeal*
    • Umpqua Oats, Maple Pecan
    • Market Pantry Instant Oatmeal, Strawberries & Cream
  • Oat Breakfast Cereals
    • Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal*
    • Lucky Charms*
    • Barbara’s Muligrain Spoonfuls, Original Cereal
    • Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran Oat Cereal
  • Snack Bars
    • Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Oats ‘n Honey
  • Whole Oats
    • Quaker Steel Cut Oats*
    • Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
    • Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats

Companies negatively affected by these tests may point to the EPA’s legal limit for glyphosate in oats, which is 30 parts per million. But since this outdated standard was set in 2008, the International Agency for Research on Cancer labeled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment categorized it as a “chemical known to the state to cause cancer.”

EWG suggests that the solution is simple – keep chemicals linked to cancer out of children’s food. This may start with the EPA sharply limiting glyphosate residues allowed on oats and prohibiting the chemical’s use as a pre-harvest drying agent.

Since last August, there have been three separate verdicts against Bayer-Monsanto, the makers of Roundup. Jurors in California awarded more than 2.2 billion dollars over claims that the toxic weedkiller caused cancer and Monsanto knew about this risk for decades, but went to extraordinary lengths to cover it up.

What does this mean for our children? Without some serious changes made to the food industry and EPA standards, they’ll continue to ingest potentially toxic levels of glyphosate for breakfast. Maybe this will be the last straw for consumers?

EWG turned to Eurofins, a nationally recognized lab with extensive experience testing for chemicals. This testing involved measuring the amount of glyphosate found in popular products containing oats. What is this a big deal? I’m glad you ask …

Glyphosate in cereal - Dr. Axe

Previous research suggests that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is linked to the development of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The bad news? Tests have detected it in all but two of 45 non-organic product samples. The list of products tested includes Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Nature Valley granola bars and Quaker oats.

Alexis Temkin, PhD, an EWG toxicologist and the author of the report, expressed her concerns about these findings. “Parents shouldn’t worry about whether feeding their children healthy oat foods will also expose them to a chemical linked to cancer. The government must take steps to protect our vulnerable populations,” she said.

Until then, EWG and 19 food companies have delivered more than 80,000 names on a petition to the EPA demanding that they sharply limit glyphosate residues in oat products and prohibit its use as a preharvest drying agent.


Why Is Glyphosate in Our Food? 

Why is there glyphosate in our food? According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 250 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed on American crops each year. Glyphosate is primarily used on Roundup Ready corn and soybeans that are genetically modified to withstand the herbicide.

Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide, meaning it’s taken up inside of the plant, including the parts livestock and humans wind up eating.

And on top of that, glyphosate is sprayed on other non-GMO crops, like wheat, oats, barley and beans, right before harvest. Farmers sometimes call this “burning down” the crops and do this to kill the food plants and dry them out so that they can be harvested sooner.


How Much Glyphosate Is Too Much? 

Why do we have to pay attention to glyphosate levels in our food? The simple answer is that glyphosate is linked to an elevated risk of cancer. In fact, the World Health Organization categorizes the weed-killing chemical as “probably carcinogenic in humans.”

So, really, any amount of glyphosate in our food is concerning, especially when it’s found in our children’s food. (And especially since children consume it during critical stages of development.)

So how did EWG come up with the limit for child glyphosate exposure? Using a cancer risk assessment developed by California state scientists, EWG calculated that glyphosate levels above 160 parts per billion (ppb) are considered too high for children. To break that down into simpler terms — a child should not ingest more than 0.01 milligrams of glyphosate per day.

How did tEWG come up with this health benchmark? Under California’s Proposition 65 registry of chemicals known to cause cancer, the “No Significant Risk Level” for glyphosate for the average adult weighing about 154 pounds is 1.1 milligrams per day. This safety level is more than 60 times lower than the standards set by the EPA.

To calculate the recommendation for children, EWG took California’s increased lifetime risk of cancer of one in 1 million (which is the number used for many cancer-causing drinking water contaminants), and added a 10-fold margin of safety, which is recommended by the federal Food Quality Protection Act to support children and developing fetuses that have an increased susceptibility to carcinogens. This is how EWG reached the safety limit of 0.01 milligrams of glyphosate per day for children.

EWG’s health benchmark concerning the amount of glyphosate that poses a threat in our food is much more stringent than what the EPA allows. Although this amount of glyphosate present in oat products doesn’t seem like much in one portion, imagine consuming that amount every day over a lifetime. Exposure to this toxic herbicide will certainly accumulate over time, which is worrisome, to say the least.

“The concern about glyphosate is for long-term exposure. As most health agencies would say, a single portion would not cause deleterious effects,” explains Olga Naidenko, PhD, EWG’s senior science advisor for children’s health. “But think about eating popular foods such as oatmeal every day, or almost every day — that’s when, according to scientific assessments, such amounts of glyphosate might pose health harm.”

And there is some controversy over whether or not we can trust government regulators to make sure the food we eat is safe. This past April, internal emails obtained by the nonprofit US Right to Know revealed that the FDA has been testing food for glyphosate for two years and found “a fair amount.” But these findings haven’t been released to the public. According to The Guardian, the news outlet that obtained these internal documents, an FDA chemist wrote: “I have brought wheat crackers, granola cereal and corn meal from home and there’s a fair amount in all of them.”

According to Naidenko, “It is essential for companies to take action and choose oats grown without herbicides. This can be done, and EWG urges government agencies such as the EPA, and companies to restrict the use of herbicides that end up in food.”


Glyphosate in Cereal: Organic vs. Non-Organic Products

What about organic cereals and oats? EWG findings suggest that organic products contain significantly less glyphosate that non-organic products. To be exact, 31 out of 45 conventional product samples contained glyphosate levels at or higher than 160 ppb, while 5 out of 16 organic brand products registered low levels of glyphosate (10 to 30 ppb). Of all the organic products tested, none of them contained a level of glyphosate anywhere near the EWG benchmark of 160 ppb.

Glyphosate can get into organic foods by drifting from nearby fields that grow conventional crops. Organic products may also be cross-contaminated during processing at a facility that also handles conventional crops.

While glyphosate was detected in some organic oat products, the levels were much, much lower than conventional products, or non-existent. So it looks like the rule still stands — to avoid increased exposure to cancer-causing chemicals like glyphosate, choose organic.


Final Thoughts on Glyphosate in Cereal

  • EWG commissioned independent laboratory tests to measure the levels of glyphosate present in popular oat-based products. Scientists found that almost three-fourths of the conventionally grown products contained glyphosate levels that are higher than what EWG considers safe for children.
  • Feeding your family clean, healthy meals may already feel like a daily challenge. We shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not our seemingly healthy choices contain toxic herbicides.
  • To join EWG to get glyphosate out of our food, take action here.

Bed Bug Infestation Sweeping Metro Denver

FOX31 – July 18, 2017, by Keagan Harsh

DENVER — Tourists are coming to Colorado in droves this summer, and it’s not just visitors of the two-legged kind.  Our state is seeing an infestation of bed bugs.

Christina Thomas experienced it first hand. Thomas was visiting an Extended Stay America in Colorado Springs and says she woke up to find bed bugs all over her pillow.


“I woke up and three inches from my face I see a spot, and I look at it and say ‘no way, is that a bed bug?'” she said.

Christina isn’t the only person dealing with bed bugs in Colorado.

Jacob Marsh is one of several Denver exterminators absolutely overwhelmed with bed bug calls.

“It’s infestation levels over the whole city pretty much,” he said. “Right now we’re working 6 or 7 days a week,” said Marsh.

He says this is the worst time of year for bed bugs. However, Colorado’s infestation actually began several years ago. He estimates more than 3,500 homes are treated for bed bugs in the Denver area every year.


It’s a problem Marsh attributes to both the state’s growing population and Colorado’s popularity as a tourist destination.

“Denver is usually ranked 4th to 6th worst in the nation. We get a lot of good things when things are booming like it is, but unfortunately when people are coming in and traveling you also get a lot of unwanted visitors,” he said.

If you’re staying at a hotel there are things you can do to try and keep the bugs away.

First, store your luggage away from the bed on luggage racks or even in the bathroom.


Also, check the sheets, mattress, and bed frame for signs of the bugs.

One of the biggest misconceptions about bed bugs is that they’re too small to see. Most are actually about the size of an apple seed, and similar in appearance.

As for Christine Thomas, she isn’t taking any chances. She checked out of the hotel and left.

Dr. Oz “#Chagas is not curable and will likely kill you by means of a ‘not so’ pleasant death.”

Could You Have a Deadly Parasite and Not Even Know it?  Have you heard of the kissing bug, aka ‘love bug’?

Originally aired on 1/25/2016 | The Dr. Oz Show

Have you heard of the kissing bug? Evolutionary biologist Dan Riskin explains how this parasite got its name and how you can get Chagas disease from it. Then, Dr. Oz shares how to recognize the symptoms of a parasitic infection.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Woman Hospitalized Amid Bed Bug Investigation in Texas

A woman was hospitalized after a medical emergency turned into a health and safety inspection in her Central Lubbock home Thursday.

Lubbock Fire Rescue responded to the home at the 4900 block of 38th Street early Thursday afternoon. Crews discovered a bed bug infestation in the woman’s bedroom, and contacted Code Enforcement.

City workers arrived to inspect the home, and it was revealed that there was trash around the house, unsanitary conditions, and un-permitted work, according to Stuart Walker, Director of Code Administration with the City of Lubbock.

“[There was] rubbish in the yard, things like that that the fire department wanted to make us aware of. So we went out and addressed those issues, and we’ll follow up on that case in the future and make sure that everything gets corrected,” Walker said.

He said his department generally does not respond to bed bug calls, but due to the condition of the home, the City deemed the home “uninhabitable.”

“We call codes for a number of different type of calls,” said LFR Division Chief Steve Holland.

“It’s a public and safety issue,” he added. “Codes needed to come and look and see if there was anything big enough for public health and safety [violations].”

Adult Protective Services was also notified of the situation, and a relative of the woman who rents the home, said a representative came to the home to evaluate the woman’s living conditions.

That family member said the woman was removed from the residence by law enforcement and taken to a local hospital for evaluation after refusing to leave the property. Her medical condition was not publicly known as of Thursday evening.

Walker recommended contacting a local pest control company with concerns about bugs.

“If you’ve got an infestation in your house, contact a private pest control operator, find out what the best solution is. If you’ve got issues with your house, you’re more than welcome to give us a call. There are some programs in the community and programs with the city that if you qualify, you may get some assistance as far as making repairs,” Walker said.

The phone number for the City of Lubbock is (806) 775-3000.  The city also facilitates the 2-1-1 phone service to put residents in touch with social service agencies.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Brit-itch Airways: Plane flies on despite bosses knowing it was infested with bloodsucking bed bugs

Main Image

Bug brother…BA jet was infested with BedBugs but airline bosses kept it flying and in service!  Passengers were bitten by infectious BED BUGS on BA flight.

February 25, 2016 | by Stephen Moyes | The Sun

A BRITISH Airways jet infested with bed bugs was allowed to keep flying as there was no time to disinfect it, staff claim.

Cabin crew logged the issue because passengers were bitten but bosses decided to keep the aircraft in service.

Staff hit out after the critters were spotted on a Boeing 747 from the US to Heathrow last week.

Coming to a seat near you ... close-up of a bed bug

Coming to a seat near you…aisle or window?

One passenger was nipped at 30,000ft and others saw the bugs and their eggs.

The problem was so serious that row 47 in the economy section was closed. But BA workers claim engineers did not have time to kill the creatures between flights.

The plane took off again and crew again had to deal with the bugs. Days later another “severe” infestation was reported as the jet flew from Cape Town to London.Last night it was claimed bugs were also seen on other flights by the 747 — now fully fumigated.

One passenger said: “This turns my stomach.”

A BA spokesman said: “Reports of bed bugs on board are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we continually monitor our aircraft.”

Blood suckers

BED bugs are small blood-sucking insects that live in cracks and crevices in and around beds or chairs.

Attracted by body heat and carbon dioxide, they bite exposed skin and feed on blood. Adult bed bugs look like lentils, oval, flat and up to 5mm long.

An infestation from one female can rise to 5,000 bed bugs in six months.

Mark Krafft last year took pics of bites he said he suffered on BA, below.

Vicious ... bed bug bites allegedly inflicted on BA passenger Mark Krafft last year
Vicious … bed bug bites allegedly inflicted on BA passenger Mark Krafft last year

A BA spokesman said: “Whenever any report of bed bugs is received, we launch a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, remove the aircraft from service and use specialist teams to treat it.

“The presence of bed bugs is an issue faced occasionally by hotels and airlines all over the world.

“British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bed bugs on board are extremely rare.

“Nevertheless, we are vigilant about the issue and continually monitor our aircraft.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Bed Bugs Found on British Airways Flight – U.S. to Heathrow

Bed Bugs Found on British Airways Flight

February 26, 2016 | by Clover Hope | Jezebel

A British Airways plane was taken out of service last week after bed bugs were discovered when the crew tried to stuff extra large carry-ons into an overhead compartment.

Since the bugs (two of them) were found between flights, in row 47, the crew claims it wasn’t able to remove them in time.

“This isn’t a bed… It’s a plane!” one bug reportedly said to the other.

The Sun reports:

Cabin crew logged the issue because passengers were bitten but bosses decided to keep the aircraft in service.

Staff hid out after the critters were spotted on a Boeing 747 from the US to Heathrow last week.

One passenger was nipped at 30,000ft and others saw the bugs and their eggs.

A spokeswoman for British Airways told Mashable otherwise: “We wouldn’t let a plane continue to fly if we knew it had an issue.” Hmmm.

The plane was later fumigated, but it’s more likely the bugs decided to disembark on their own after realizing the plane wasn’t a bed.

The company rep adds, “Whenever any report of bed bugs is received, we launch a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, remove the aircraft from service and use specialist teams to treat it—this happened in this instance.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Here’s how California could be missing pesticides’ cancer risk – #sayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Strawberry_Fields.jpg

The local community is concerned about high levels of pesticides used near Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, Calif., which is surrounded by strawberry fields on all four sides.  Photo:Sam Hodgson

February 17, 2016 | by Andrew Donohue | Reveal

The local community is concerned about high levels of pesticides used near Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, Calif., which is surrounded by strawberry fields on all four sides.

California’s pesticide police could be missing a serious health concern for residents and farmworkers by failing to monitor what happens when pesticides get mixed together.

As a new report from UCLA highlighted today, California studies only how each individual pesticide affects human health. Often, however, workers and residents are exposed to a number of pesticides at the same time.

That can happen when pesticides get mixed together before they’re applied to fields or when different pesticides are used in the same field on the same day. A growing body of science is showing that the chemical cocktails could create greater health risks than each pesticide does on its own.

In particular, the report shows how three fumigants – a type of gaseous pesticide central to the strawberry industry and used near schools and homes – might combine to increase the risk of cancer for bystanders. Essentially, once in the human body together, the chemicals can team up to attack and mutate DNA in a way they wouldn’t on their own.

“The regulatory system that is supposed to protect people from harmful levels of pesticide exposure has been slow to deal with interactive effects when setting exposure limits for pesticides,” the report says.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s mission is to protect humans and the environment from the dangers of pesticides. The report’s authors, who come from UCLA’s law and public health schools, said the department must begin studying the combined effects. And they point out that low-income and minority residents are at the greatest risk.

“DPR is required to assess this risk and protect public health, but isn’t doing so,” the authors wrote.

The department already is under fire for how it has managed fumigants, which can spread easily through the air. A Reveal investigation found that department leaders allowed growers and Dow AgroSciences to use heavy amounts of one fumigant despite strenuous objections of scientists because of its potential to cause cancer.

When Ventura County residents subsequently raised concern about the pesticide’s use in strawberry fields near Rio Mesa High School, department Director Brian Leahy responded with a series of exaggerations and contradictions.

The department has curtailed the pesticide’s use and begun drafting rules that would limit pesticide use around schools and require residents to be notified of fumigant use near their homes. However, the state continues to keep open the loophole it created at Dow’s request.

Last week, the department’s second-in-charge, Chris Reardon, left without explanation after nearly 13 years with the agency. An appointee of the governor, Reardon maintained close ties with the agricultural industry, copies of his calendars show.

The UCLA report focused on the fields around Rio Mesa High School to make its case. The school is boxed in on all four sides by conventional strawberry fields. Although pesticides aren’t applied during school hours, the gases can linger in the air for weeks after they’re applied without teachers or students knowing.

Combined, the health risk could be much greater than those of the individual pesticides.

“In fact, modeling shows that over the course of about one week people who live and work in the area around Rio Mesa High School in Ventura County were exposed to large doses of multiple fumigants,” the report says. “This level of exposure raises concerns about possible interactive effects.”

The report points out that 35 percent of all fumigants were applied on the same field on the same day as another fumigant, and 26 percent were applied as part of a pesticide mix.

The authors recommend the following changes in California’s pesticide regulation:

  • Pesticides sold as part of a mixture should be tested before being approved for use.
  • When pesticides are mixed at the field or applied near each other, regulators should require testing or create strict restrictions if there’s a reasonable chance of human harm.
  • The combined effects of the pesticides should be considered in the initial health research done by the Department of Pesticide Regulation and the rules it creates around the pesticides’ use.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Misled About BedBugs? Ask Real Estate

Apartment_BBS.jpg

Michael Kolomatsky/The New York Times

The New York Times | by Ronda Kaysen | November 21, 2014

Q. My wife and I recently signed a one-year lease for an apartment. It included a rider stating that all apartments in our building had been bedbug-free for at least one year before our move-in date. After we moved in, we learned from the superintendent that an apartment in our building had been infested by bedbugs and treated a few weeks before our move-in date. Needless to say, we were disturbed by this news — and want to know our rights. As we understand it, the landlord is responsible for the costs of fumigating. Who is responsible for other expenses, like replacing mattresses and furniture? Since we were misled (and have the signed rider as proof), can we demand remuneration for any repairs or replacement costs we might be forced to incur?

Astoria, Queens

A. There are two plausible explanations for what happened here, neither of them good. Either your landlord was woefully ill-informed about the state of the building or he lied. In either case, I would be concerned about how effectively the infested apartment was treated for bedbugs, which are notoriously hardy creatures.

“If this is a landlord who is willing to lie on a disclosure form,” said David Hershey-Webb, a lawyer who represents tenants, “then the tenants may not have a lot of faith in the landlord to adequately address the bedbug problem.”

The New York City administrative code requires landlords to disclose whether or not an apartment has been treated for bedbugs in the last year. The measure does not include any penalties for violating the law. However, if you do get bedbugs and incur damage to your personal property, you could take the landlord to small claims court and use that erroneous disclosure form as evidence of negligence. Under normal circumstances, a landlord is required to treat the infestation and a tenant is responsible for cleaning personal belongings, Mr. Hershey-Webb said.

But before we wander too far down the road of future infestations, determine your risk. If the affected apartment is adjacent to yours or in the same line, you have good reason for concern. But if several floors and walls separate you from that apartment, your risk is considerably lower.

“If it’s an immediately adjacent unit or if it’s in that line, it could have an effect,” said Gil Bloom, the president of Standard Pest Management and an entomologist. “Outside of that, it normally does not make a difference.”

Once you have assessed your risk, decide whether you want to stay in the apartment. Ultimately, you might want to consider packing up your belongings and moving out before the bugs move in. You “have the option to try to rescind the lease on the basis of fraud,” Mr. Hershey-Webb said. Consult with a lawyer to see if you can get out of the lease. Otherwise, you may find yourself battling a bedbug infestation with a dishonest landlord.

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Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

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Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

Bed Bug Blog

Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety