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Rivers Alliance of CT Priority Topics

Priority Topics

Pesticides; Also, GMOs


 Pesticides & GMOs Archives                                                                Back to Priority Topics

  River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Pesticides and GMO's >


Rotenone Pesticide and Parkinson's Disease

Read here an article on diagnoses of Parkinson’s apparently linked to exposure to the toxin rotenone. Two US Geological Survey hydrologists were heavily exposed to the toxin in 2009 while using it to treat the waters of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Within hours tens of thousands of fish had died. Subsequently, both men developed Parkinson’s at a young age. Rotenone, which is a root-based toxin, has been a suspect in Parkinson’s for many years. Nevertheless it is still used in (our least favorite form) of fish management. Presently, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has proposed to use rotenone to kill rainbow and brown trout in the waters of the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico in order to introduce native Gila trout.




Scotts to Phase Out Neonicotinoids

Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. plans to rapidly phase out neonicotinoid pesticides in its Ortho brand lawn and garden products. These chemicals are suspected to be a cause of bee die-offs bees in certain circumstance. The “neonics” are dangerous not only for bees and other pollinators; they are also toxic to many other species, including birds and aquatic life. The phase-out will include the particularly horrible imidaclorprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran.

More information can be found here

  River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Pesticides and GMO's >

More GMO Crops = More Toxic Pesticidess
Read Jan Ellen Spiegel in CT Mirror on GMOs and Glyphosate

“One of the key reasons for developing GMO [Genetically Modified Organism] crops in the U.S. has been to make them resistant to weed-killers – primarily Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup — which are used to kill weeds and other undesirable plants in and around fields where the food crops are grown" ... " In March, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization, declared the active ingredient in Roundup – glyphosate – a “probable carcinogen.” Its use is being reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency, and in September California announced it would begin labeling products with glyphosate as carcinogenic.”

That is from Spiegel’s article published November 9, 2015 in the CT Mirror. Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine have passed laws of varying strengths requiring labeling of GMO-derived food. Rivers Alliance supports GMO labeling primarily because we want to roll back pesticide contamination of the nation’s waters. Therefore we want people buying food to know from the labels when that food is dependent on systematic, mega-scale pesticide use. Consumers should have the opportunity to make informed choices. But these laws may never take hold if agribusiness industries have their way.

"The food and biotech industries are fighting Connecticut's law and two others in Vermont and Maine with federal legislation that would nullify (preempt is the official term) all three as well as any future attempts at GMO labeling. The bill would also set national standards for labelling food as non-GMO, essentially codifying the existing voluntary practice of labeling those foods."

This is a nationwide fight. Stay posted. Rivers Alliance and numerous other environmental organizations in Connecticut will strongly oppose preemption and support labeling.

A Counter Conclusion on Roundup from the European Food Safety Authority

Here's a science report on Roundup that counters or clarifies the conclusion of the World Health Organization that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.

"EFSA scientists, who worked with experts from EU member states, said their study differed from IARC's in that it considered only glyphosate, whereas IARC had assessed groups of related chemicals. They said the toxic effects could be related to reactions with "other constituents or 'co-formulants'".

The position of Rivers Alliance is that too many toxic chemicals are in our waters, and at the very least, communities should be able to find out what pesticides are being applied in what volumes at what locations in their region. This information is not available in Connecticut at this time.

River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Pesticides and GMO's

An Overview Comparing Results from Two Decades of Monitoring for Pesticides in the Nation’s Streams and Rivers, 1992–2001 and 2002–2011 By Wesley W. Stone, Robert J. Gilliom, and Jeffrey D. Martin

Here are key selections from their Abstract:

This report provides an overview of the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment program and National Stream Quality Accounting Network findings for pesticide occurrence in U.S. streams and rivers during 2002–11 and compares them to findings for the previous decade (1992–2001).
 During both decades, one or more pesticides or pesticide degradates were detected more than 90 percent of the time in streams across all types of land uses.
For individual pesticides during 2002–11, atrazine (and degradate, deethylatrazine), carbaryl, fipronil (and degradates), metolachlor, prometon, and simazine were detected in streams more than 50 percent of the time. In contrast, alachlor, chlorpyrifos, cyanazine, diazinon, EPTC, Dacthal, and tebuthiuron were detected less frequently in streams during the second decade than during the first decade.
During 2002–11, only one stream had an annual mean pesticide concentration that exceeded an Human Health Benchmarks (HHB). In contrast, 17 percent of agriculture land-use streams and one mixed land-use stream had annual mean pesticide concentrations that exceeded HHBs during 1992–2001. The difference between the first and second decades in terms of percent of streams exceeding HHBs was attributed to regulatory changes.
During 2002–11, nearly two-thirds of agriculture land-use streams and nearly one-half of mixed land-use streams exceeded chronic Aquatic Life Benchmarks (ALBs). For urban land use, 90 percent of the streams exceeded a chronic ALB. Fipronil, metolachlor, malathion, cis-permethrin, and dichlorvos exceeded chronic ALBs for more than 10 percent of the streams.
For agriculture and mixed land-use streams, the overall percent of streams that exceeded a chronic ALB was very similar between the decades.
For urban land-use streams, the percent of streams exceeding a chronic ALB during 2002–11 nearly doubled that seen during 1992–2001. The reason for this difference was the inclusion of fipronil monitoring during the second decade. Across all land-use streams, the percent of streams exceeding a chronic ALB for fipronil during 2002–11 was greater than all other insecticides during both decades.
The percent of streams exceeding a chronic ALB for metolachlor, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion, and carbaryl decreased from the first decade to the second decade.

The full abstract and link to the full article is at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2014/5154/

River Alliance of CT > Priority Topics > Pesticides and GMO's

Surprise? Glyphosate Not As Safe As Industry Claims

March 25, 2015

Possible Glyphosate Effects on Aquatic Organisms
Glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the United States, has been classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).  This is the second highest of four risk classes, the highest being known carcinogens. (The finding was reported on March 20, 2015 in the distinguished journal Lancet Oncology.) The warning is directed primarily at industrial or agribusiness exposures, but one of the disturbing recent discoveries has been the presence of glyphosate in animal and human tissue and bodily fluids. So it is possible that moderate exposure also poses health risks.

The USGS reported back in 2009 that "Results from more than 2,000 samples collected from locations distributed across the U.S. indicate that glyphosate is more mobile and occurs more widely in the environment than was previously thought. Glyphosate and AMPA (its primary degradation product) were detected ... in samples collected from surface water, groundwater, rainfall, soil water, and soil ...."

Glyphosate, which is used globally for large-scale agriculture, is the market twin of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). GMO crops can be and are engineered to be resistant to particular herbicides, with glyphosate the herbicide of choice. Monsanto, the inventor of Agent Orange, came up with glyphosate in the 1970s and has parlayed the two technologies of GMO crop creation and a broad-spectrum weed killer into a market bonanza. Glyphosate is sold most often under the brand name Roundup. Farmers worldwide are urged or pressured or persuaded or spontaneously eager to buy GMO crops from Monsanto that are Roundup-ready. That means one can grow the crop in a weed-free field thanks to a thorough soaking with Roundup. The following year, the farmer must buy more seeds from Monsanto. As weeds gradually become resistant to Roundup, a new herbicide can be introduced and another genetic modification can be engineered to assure that the field will be weed free.

This destructive cycle is not necessary. As Mark Bittman says in his New York Times editorial "Stop Making Us Guinea Pigs,"... it’s been adequately demonstrated that crop rotation, the use of organic fertilizers, interplanting of varieties of crops, and other ecologically informed techniques commonly grouped together under the term 'agroecology' can effectively reduce the use of chemicals."

Monsanto no longer is the only marketer of glyphosate. It is also the chief ingredient in many scores of products manufactured by Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, Du Pont, Cenex/Land O’Lakes, Helena, Platte, Riverside/Terra, and Zeneca, and many companies in China. Some of its brand names include Glialka, Sting, Rodeo, Spasor, Muster, Tumbleweed, Sonic, Glifonox, Glycel, and Rondo. (The list is courtesy of Wikipedia.) 

Roundup/glyphosate is also popular with many (not all) landscapers, athletic field managers, golf course keepers, lawn service firms, and the like. It should be kept away from water, but variants are used to kill plants in water. The chemical action is systemic. It works by interfering with the production of amino acids that are needed for plant growth. That’s a fairly profound alteration of a body’s vital chemistry. 

The popularity of the product is based in part on evidence and belief that it is less harmful than other herbicides. Evidence of potential harm has been discounted successfully by the chemical industry. And the news of IARC’s finding is already being criticized and attacked. Naturally it doesn’t help IARC’s case that it works under the auspices of the United Nations and, worse perhaps, is based in France. Monsanto has expressed “outrage,” and wants to meet with IARC.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has repeatedly found glyphosate to be safe when used as directed, announced cautiously that it will give “full consideration” to the IARC findings and all other relevant information during a review of the herbicide now under way with Canadian regulators. 

But glyphosate has been banned in Denmark, Holland, and El Salvador. Sri Lanka instituted a ban and then withdrew it. It is banned in Ontario for nonessential uses, such as lawn care. Brazil’s Federal Prosecutors are pursuing legal action to obtain a ban. Roundup is controversial throughout the EU and in many U.S. and Canadian cities. It’s not a surprise that a reputable science institution has confirmed that there’s a problem with Roundup. Unfortunately, it’s also not a surprise that we haven’t been getting the whole story from government or industry.  These authorities want to reassure the public. The public wants to be reassured. But not tricked.


Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
PO Box 1797, 7 West Street 3rd Floor, Litchfield, CT 06759-1797
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