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.”

 

EWG Calls on CDC To Monitor US Population for Monsanto’s Weedkiller Glyphosate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2019  by  Alex Formuzis

WASHINGTON – Glyphosate, the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S., should be added to the list of toxic chemicals the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly measures in the bodies of the American people, Environmental Working Group said in a letter sent today to the CDC.

A growing body of research has found that Americans, including children, are exposed to glyphosate through food sprayed with the weedkiller, and from air and water because of the widespread presence of glyphosate in the environment.

A University of California biomonitoring study of more than 1,000 older adults in Southern California found that at least 70 percent had detectable traces of glyphosate in their bodies between 2014 and 2017. That compared to just 12 percent of participants tested between 1993 and 1996, EWG said in the letter to CDC.

The dramatic increase in exposure among the participants in the California study aligns with the growing amount of glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup – sprayed on cropland since the mid-1990s. More than 250 million pounds were sprayed in 2016.

Most glyphosate used in agriculture is applied on Roundup-ready corn and on soybeans genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. Increasingly, however, glyphosate is used on non-GMO wheat, barley, oats and beans. The herbicide kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner. EWG has conducted three rounds of tests of popular oat-based cereals and snack foods marketed toward kids, and found glyphosate in nearly every sample of food.

recent review of 19 studies of the evidence of human exposure to glyphosate globally, led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, highlighted the limitations of currently available data and concluded that additional studies are urgently needed.

In the letter, EWG urged the CDC to address the lack of nationwide biomonitoring studies of glyphosate, especially exposure of young children. “The EPA’s dietary risk assessments indicate that children one to two years old likely have the highest exposure levels, comparable with EPA estimates of exposure in occupational settings – and yet real-life data on infants’ and children’s exposure to glyphosate are missing,” EWG wrote.

Some of the most recent scientific research suggests that glyphosate exposure during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus as well as the health of newborns and young children.

In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” to people. In 2017, the herbicide was listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer.

“A national biomonitoring effort will give epidemiologists the opportunity to study the health effects associated with glyphosate exposure,” wrote Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG, and Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., an EWG toxicologist.

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More Than 100,000 Americans Urge EPA To Restrict Unnecessary Use of Monsanto’s Weedkiller on Oats

EWG
WASHINGTON – JUNE 7, 2019 – By Alex Formuzis alex@ewg.org

This week, more than 100,000 Americans officially joined EWG and 20 companies calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to significantly restrict the use of Monsanto’s weedkiller glyphosate on oats as a pre-harvest drying agent.

A coalition of companies and public interest groups, led by EWG and Megafood, gathered 104,952 signatures on online petitions to the EPA, urging the agency to lower the tolerance limit of glyphosate in oats and prohibit its pre-harvest use.  The names of those who signed the petitions were submitted to EPA on Wednesday.

The EPA’s legal limit for glyphosate residues on oats is 30 parts per million, or ppm. The petition, first filed last September, asks the agency to set a more protective standard of 0.1 ppm, which was the legal limit in 1993.

glyphosate_plow

“Administrator Andrew Wheeler and the EPA could quickly remove one of the more concerning routes of dietary exposure to glyphosate for children by restricting the unnecessary use of glyphosate on oats,” said EWG Legislative Director Colin O’Neil. “Americans are demanding the agency act to protect the public and the food supply from being contaminated with this toxic weedkiller linked to cancer.”

“It’s hard to find 100,000 people who agree on anything,” O’Neil said. “But when it comes to feeding themselves and their families, they agree that we should not have to worry whether eating healthy, oat-based foods for breakfast could come with a dose of glyphosate.”

The petition was amended this week and submitted to the EPA docket to include additional companies that have signed on since last year.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer-Monsanto’s Roundup, is the most widely used pesticide in the world. It is largely used as a weedkiller on genetically modified corn and soybeans. But it is increasingly being used for crop management and applied pre-harvest to a number of non-genetically engineered crops, including oats.

Glyphosate kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner than if the plant were allowed to die naturally. This is very likely one of the leading sources of dietary exposure for people who consume foods made with oat-based foods, like cereal and oatmeal.

Two rounds of laboratory tests commissioned by EWG found glyphosate in nearly every sample of oat-based cereal and other breakfast products at levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective for children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.

On June 12, EWG will release results of its latest tests, which will include additional oat-based cereals and other foods that were not analyzed for glyphosate in the two earlier rounds.

2017 study by a team of California scientists estimate that between 2014 and 2016, at least 70 percent of American adults surveyed had detectable levels of the cancer-causing weedkiller in their bodies. That compares to 12 percent in American adults between 1993 and 1996, just before the use of glyphosate started to surge with the advent of GMO crops designed to withstand direct application of the chemical.

In 2015, 17 of the world’s top cancer researchers convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed hundreds of studies on glyphosate and voted unanimously to classify the weedkiller as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” In 2017, California added glyphosate to its official list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

These companies are cosigners of the petition to the EPA: MegaFood, Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield Farm, MOM’s Organic Market, Nature’s Path, One Degree Organic Foods, National Co+op Grocers, Happy Family Organics, Amy’s Kitchen, Clif Bar & Company, Earth’s Best Organic, GrandyOats, INFRA, KIND Healthy Snacks, Lundberg Family Farms, Organic Valley, Patagonia Provisions, PCC Community Markets, Foodstirs and Kamut International, Ltd.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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.

Disturbing Map of NYC Parks/Public Areas shows Roundup herbicide Glyphosate INCREASING

February 23, 2016 | by Julie M. Rodriguez |  Inhabitat.com

Bad news, New Yorkers — if you like to take long walks or pay visits to your local park, you’ve probably been exposed to glyphosate, the cancer-linked main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. In response to concerned citizen groups, the New York City government released a report last year detailing pesticide use by its agencies. And now, if you’d like to see whether you’re at risk, Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir have created a disturbing new map that charts every park and public area known to be treated with the toxic compound. You can view the map here.

The data shows that in 2014 alone, the city applied glyphosate 2,748 times within the city. While the recent numbers are alarming enough all on their own, what’s even worse is the fact that glyphosate use within the city seems to be increasing — the amount sprayed jumped 16% from 2013 to 2014.

Why is NYC drenching its parks in a chemical that World Health Organization classes as a probable carcinogen? Studies have repeatedly linked the herbicide to cancer dating back to the 1980s, and farmers have even filed suit against Monsanto alleging that exposure to glyphosate caused them to develop the disease. The company, naturally, has fought back against this research by suing states that try to regulate the use of the herbicide.

glyphosate, pesticide, herbicide, roundup, monsanto, roundup cancer link, new york city, nyc, roundup spraying

 

Glyphosate is BANNED in France, Netherlands, Bermuda and Sri Lanka.  Switzerland and Germany begin to REFUSE stocking Roundup.

While cities like NYC and San Francisco may have no problem with spraying this controversial chemical all over their streets, other governments are beginning to crack down on glyphosate use. France has banned the sale of the herbicide over the counter, along with the Netherlands, Bermuda, and Sri Lanka. In Switzerland and Germany, major retailers have begun refusing to stock Roundup even in the absence of government regulation. The evidence of Roundup’s toxic effects is strong enough for the leaders of these nations and corporations to pull it from the shelves, and New York City needs to stand up and take note.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

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