(ANTIMEDIA) Sacramento, CA — California just dealt Monsanto a blow as the state’s Environmental Protection Agency will now list glyphosate — the toxic main ingredient in the U.S.’ best-selling weedkiller, Roundup — as known to cause cancer.
Under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 — usually referred to as Proposition 65, its original name — chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm are required to be listed and published by the state. Chemicals also end up on the list if found to be carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) — a branch of the World Health Organization.
In March, the IARC released a report that found glyphosate to be a “probable carcinogen.”
Besides the “convincing evidence” the herbicide can cause cancer in lab animals, the report also found:
“Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the U.S.A., Canada, and Sweden reported increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustments to other pesticides.”
California’s decision to place glyphosate on the toxic chemicals list is the first of its kind. As Dr. Nathan Donley of the Center for Biological Diversity said in an email to Ecowatch, “As far as I’m aware, this is the first regulatory agency within the U.S. to determine that glyphosate is a carcinogen. So this is a very big deal.”
Now that California EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has filed its “notice of intent to list” glyphosate as a known cancer agent, the public will have until October 5th to comment. There are no restrictions on sale or use associated with the listing.
Monsanto was seemingly baffled by the decision to place cancer-causing glyphosate on the state’s list of nearly 800 toxic chemicals. Spokesperson for the massive company, Charla Lord, told Agri-Pulse that “glyphosate is an effective and valuable tool for farmers and other users, including many in the state of California. During the upcoming comment period, we will provide detailed scientific information to OEHHA about the safety of glyphosate and work to ensure that any potential listing will not affect glyphosate use or sales in California.”
Roundup is sprayed on crops around the world, particularly with Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready varieties — genetically engineered to tolerate large doses of the herbicide to facilitate blanket application without harming crops. Controversy has surrounded this practice for years — especially since it was found farmers increased use of Roundup, rather than lessened it, as Monsanto had claimed.
Less than a week after the WHO issued its report naming glyphosate carcinogenic, Monsanto called for a retraction — and still maintains that Roundup is safe when used as directed.
On Thursday, an appeals court in Lyon, France, upheld a 2012 ruling in favor of farmer Paul Francois, who claimed he had been chemically poisoned and suffered neurological damage after inhaling Monsanto’s weedkiller, Lasso. Not surprisingly, the agrichemical giant plans to take its appeal to the highest court in France.
It’s still too early to tell whether other states will follow California’s lead.
Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:12pm EDT Reuters:
Scientists call for new review of herbicide, cite ‘flawed’ U.S. regulations
U.S. regulators have relied on flawed and outdated research to allow expanded use of an herbicide linked to cancer, and new assessments should be urgently conducted, according to a column published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.
There are two key factors that necessitate regulatory action to protect human health, according to the column: a sharp increase in herbicide applied to widely planted genetically modified (GMO) crops used in food, and a recent World Health Organization (WHO) determination that the most commonly used herbicide, known as glyphosate, is probably a human carcinogen.
The opinion piece was written by Dr. Philip Landrigan, a Harvard-educated paediatrician and epidemiologist who is Dean for Global Health at the Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York, and Chuck Benbrook, an adjunct professor at Washington State University’s crops and soil science department.
“There is growing evidence that glyphosate is geno-toxic and has adverse effects on cells in a number of different ways,” Benbrook said. “It’s time to pull back … on uses of glyphosate that we know are leading to significant human exposures while the science gets sorted out.”
The column argues that GMO foods and herbicides applied to them “may pose hazards to human health” not previously assessed.
“We believe that the time has therefore come to thoroughly reconsider all aspects of the safety of plant biotechnology,” the column states.
The authors also argue that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has erred in recently approving a new herbicide that uses glyphosate because it relied on outdated studies commissioned by the manufacturers and gave little consideration to potential health effects in children.
Glyphosate is best known as the key ingredient in Roundup developed by Monsanto Co (MON.N), one of the world’s most widely used herbicides, but it is used in more than 700 products.
It is sprayed directly over crops like corn genetically engineered to tolerate it and is sometimes used on non-GMO crops, like wheat before harvest. Residues of glyphosate have been detected in food and water.
The WHO’s cancer research unit after reviewing years of scientific research from different countries on March 20 classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
But regulators and agrichemical companies in the United States and other countries still consider glyphosate among the safest herbicides in use.
In July, Monsanto said it had arranged for an outside scientific review of the WHO finding.
A best-selling herbicide that the World Health Organisation suspects causes cancer could get a new lease of life in Europe after being deemed safe by a key assessment based largely on classified industry reports.
A decision on whether to extend the license for glyphosate’s use in Europe is pending, but earlier this year, it was deemed “probably carcinogenic to humans” in a preliminary report from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The full report is due for release imminently.
Any revocation of the European license would hit the profits of Monsanto which manufactures the weedkiller which is often used in conjunction with GM crops.
Monsanto said it was “outraged” at the assessment and accused the WHO of “agenda-driven bias”. Sources at the European Food Safety Authority say that they may have to delay publication of their opinion on the safety of glyphosate to take the IARC report into account.
Now a key assessment by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessments (BfR), seen by the Guardian, has drawn contrary conclusions from the IARC’s data. The BfR paper also relied heavily on unpublished papers provided by the Glyphosate Task Force, an industry body dedicated to the herbicide’s relicensing. Its website is run by Monsanto UK.
The BfR’s report found “very limited evidence of carcinogenicity” in mice exposed to glyphosate, and recommended its re-approval, with a relaxation in the acceptable daily intake from 0.3 to 0.5 mg per kilogram of bodyweight per day.
A BfR spokesperson said that another WHO working group had also concluded that glyphosate was not carcinogenic, and an expert task force would soon clarify the health body’s position. “At the moment, we haven’t seen the IARC’s full monograph so it is difficult to judge their work but we will look into it when it is available,” the official said.
The environmental NGO Greenpeace argues that any approval of glyphosate while doubt remains would violate the EU’s precautionary principle, which obliges regulators to err on the side of safety, and undermine public trust because there has not been a full disclosure of scientific materials.
“Regulators should stop playing Russian roulette with people’s health,” the group’s spokesperson Franziska Achterberg told the Guardian. “The EU should immediately ban all uses of glyphosate where the chance of people getting in contact with it is high.”
Glyphosate was developed in the 1970s and became the active ingredient in the firm’s $5bn-a-year Roundup brand, as well as Dow’s Accord and Syngenta’s Touchdown.
Glyphosate-based weedkillers are often mixed with other ‘surfactants’ designed to aid the herbicide’s take-up by plants. Some of these are more toxic than glyphosate itself but manufacturers argue that the product packages should be viewed as secret recipes, as should studies of their toxicity.
Last year, Monsanto reportedly refused to release a toxicity report for Roundup to the Chinese authorities, arguing that it was a trade secret.
According to Andreas Bauer Panskus, the author of a critical report on glyphosate for the TestBiotech research group though, there is a case of glyphosate’s use being restricted.
“I do not think that glyphosate should be banned but its use should be much more restricted,” he said. “While a lot of substances are more toxic than glyphosate, the broad usage of hundreds of thousands of tones of it – particularly on GM crops – is absolutely not a sustainable way to do agriculture or soil use.”
In the UK, the Soil Association has called for a ban on the use of glyphosate by farmers ahead of this year’s harvest. It says use of the weedkiller has risen by 400% in the last 20 years in UK farming and is one of the three pesticides regularly found in routine testing of British bread.
However, bread-makers criticised the NGO for targeting the bread sector and said there was no health risk to consumers.
“There may be a story about Roundup, but not about RoundUp and bread,” said Alex Waugh, director general of the National Association of British & Irish Millers. “It [glyphosate residues] are found in some samples of bread, but the exposure is small. You may want to link them for publicity, but the real story is about glyphosate and the way products are assessed.”
On June 9, 2015, the U.S. Forest Service and federal agency partners will be hosting a public forum to share key findings of the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) 20-year monitoring reports. These reports provide an analysis of monitoring data gathered since 1994, with a focus on the last 5 years.
The day-long public forum will include a series of presentations on the reports’ key findings, followed by a panel session of report authors for question-and-answers. Please note that this is not a public listening session about forest plan revisions; rather, it is an opportunity to learn about recent findings from monitoring data collected under the NWFP. The public forum will be broadcast live via Webinar to allow for remote participation.
New information, including how to participate remotely via Webinar, will be posted online at www.reo.gov/save-the-date/.
Public Forum for Sharing Key Findings of the Northwest Forest Plan 20-Year Monitoring Reports
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Pearson Air Hangar, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
1115 East 5th Street
Vancouver, Washington 98661
(The meeting space is located inside the historic site’s Pearson Air Museum and is adjacent to the main museum exhibit floor.)
8:30 – 8:45 a.m. Welcome and Overview
8:45 – 9:15 a.m. History of the Northwest Forest Plan and Monitoring – Michael Tehan, NOAA
9:15 – 10:15 a.m. Key Findings from the 20-Year Monitoring Status and Trend Reports (1994-2013)
10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Break
10:30 – 11:45 a.m. Key Findings from the 20-Year Monitoring Reports (continued)
11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch (On your own; please bring a lunch, as no food is available nearby)
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Key Findings from the 20-Year Monitoring Status and Trend Reports (1994-2013)
2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Panel Q&A with Presenters
3:30 – 4:00 p.m. Closing Remarks – Jerome Perez, OR/WA Bureau of Land Management State Director and Jim Peña, Forest Service Region 6, RIEC Chair
4:00 p.m. Adjourn
Bees are attracted to nectar containing common pesticides, scientists at Newcastle University and Trinity College Dublin have discovered. This could increase their chances of exposure to high levels of pesticides.
Previous studies have suggested that exposure of this kind can affect bees’ fitness. The research, published in Nature, discovered that buff-tailed bumblebees and honeybees could not taste the three most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides and so did not avoid them. In fact, the bees showed a preference for food which contained pesticides: when the bees were given a choice between sugar solution, and sugar solution containing neonicotinoids, they chose the neonicotinoid-laced food.
The lab-based study also showed that the bumblebees ate more of the food containing pesticides than the honeybees, and so were exposed to higher doses of toxins.
Bees and other pollinating insects are important for increasing crop yields — their value has been estimated to be worth at least €153billion per year globally. When pollinating crops, they can be exposed to pesticides in floral nectar and pollen. Several controversial studies have shown that neonicotinoids have negative effects on bee foraging and colony fitness. As a result, public concern has grown over the impact of neonicotinoids on bees and other pollinators. In April 2013, the EU introduced a temporary ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops, while further scientific and technical evidence was gathered.
Professor Geraldine Wright, lead scientist on the study at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, said: “Bees can’t taste neonicotinoids in their food and therefore do not avoid these pesticides. This is putting them at risk of poisoning when they eat contaminated nectar.
“Even worse, we now have evidence that bees prefer to eat pesticide-contaminated food. Neonicotinoids target the same mechanisms in the bee brain that are affected by nicotine in the human brain. The fact that bees show a preference for food containing neonicotinoids is concerning as it suggests that like nicotine, neonicotinoids may act like a drug to make foods containing these substances more rewarding. “If foraging bees prefer to collect nectar containing neonicotinoids, this could have a knock-on negative impact on whole colonies and on bee populations.”
Jane Stout, Professor of Botany and Principal Investigator in the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, said: “Our findings imply that even if alternative food sources are provided for bees in agricultural landscapes where neonicotinoid pesticides are used, the bees may prefer to forage on the neonicotinoid-contaminated crops. Since neonicotinoids can also end up in wild plants growing adjacent to crops, they could be much more prevalent in bees’ diets than previously thought.”
The study is part of the Insect Pollinators Initiative, jointly funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Defra, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust under the auspices of the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership. It was also funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council, and National Science Foundation.
LONDON (AP) — One of the world’s most popular weed-killers — and the most widely used kind in the U.S. — has been labeled a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The decision was made by IARC, the France-based cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, which considered the status of five insect and weed killers including glyphosate, which is used globally in industrial farming.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which makes its own determinations, said it would consider the French agency’s evaluation.
The French agency has four levels of risks for possible cancer-causing agents: known carcinogens, probable or possible carcinogens, not classifiable and probably not carcinogenic. Glyphosate now falls in the second level of concern.
The new classification is aimed mainly at industrial use of glyphosate. Its use by home gardeners is not considered a risk. Glyphosate is in the same category of risk as things like anabolic steroids and shift work. The decision was published online Thursday in the journal, Lancet Oncology.
According to the French agency, glyphosate is used in more than 750 different herbicide products and its use has been detected in the air during spraying, in water and in food. Experts said there was “limited evidence” in humans that the herbicide can cause non-Hodgkins lymphoma and there is convincing evidence that glyphosate can also cause other forms of cancer in rats and mice. IARC’s panel said glyphosate has been found in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, showing the chemical has been absorbed by the body.
Monsanto and other producers of glyphosate-containing herbicides, strongly disagreed with the decision. “All labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health,” said Monsanto’s Phil Miller, global head of regulatory and government affairs, in a statement.
The EPA’s 2012 assessment of glyphosate concluded that it met the statutory safety standards and that the chemical could “continue to be used without unreasonable risks to people or the environment.”
The French agency’s experts said the cancer risks of the weed killer were mostly from occupational exposure.
“I don’t think home use is the issue,” said Kate Guyton of IARC. “It’s agricultural use that will have the biggest impact. For the moment, it’s just something for people to be conscious of.”
You left me a v-mail last week, requesting information on the 20 year monitoring report for Northern Spotted Owl population status and trend. I understand the draft report is under peer review and not yet available for release, scheduled for publication and release in mid May. Additionally, all of the NWFP 20 year monitoring reports including one on Late Successional/Old Growth (LSOG) habitat are due for publication and release on or before that time, as Regional Interagency Executive Committee (RIEC) is hosting a public forum on the 20 year effectiveness monitoring reports in early June in the Portland/Vancouver, Wa. area. An formal announcement for the forum is due in early May as well, which I can forward to you if you would like.
Dear national forest stakeholder,
We are writing to share more detailed information with you about the upcoming NW Forest Plan public listening sessions. The listening sessions are open to the public, and we encourage you to share this information with others who may want to participate.
As announced on February 18, the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest (OR, WA) and Pacific Southwest (CA) Regions are beginning a public conversation on the process for revising forest land management plans in the Northwest Forest Plan amendment area. The Forest Service is holding a series of public listening sessions, and detailed information is provided below.
The goals of the listening sessions are:
The land management plan revisions will be completed under the 2012 planning rule, which places a strong emphasis on public engagement and collaboration throughout the process.
The Northwest Forest Plan was created in 1994 with the intent of protecting the critical habitat of the northern spotted owl while maintaining a viable forest products industry in the Pacific Northwest. The Plan amended 26 land use plans, spanning 24 million acres of Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service-managed lands in Northern California, Washington and Oregon.
To request a reasonable accommodation, such as sign language interpretation, other assistive technology or language translation services, please contact Emily Platt no later than 3/4/2015. Emily can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 503-808-2970, or federal relay service: 800-877-8339.
We hope to see you at the listening sessions.
from Counter Punch
With the California drought continuing and the Sierra Nevada snowpack limited to a foreboding 18 percent this winter, the mountain communities remain on edge. Of course, last year’s Rim Fire, ignited by a hunter’s illegal campfire in mid-August, was the biggest to hit the Sierra in more than a century of record keeping. It burned for more than two months, spreading over 154,430 acres of chaparral and timberland in the Stanislaus National Forest, about 24,000 acres of private land and roughly 77,000 acres in neighboring Yosemite National Park.
On the plus side, Yosemite remains open for the 37 million people who visit every year, with the majority of its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity unscathed. Moreover, thousands of acres affected from the fire have been reopened already, including trails through Hetch Hetchy and the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias.
Wildfires, Climate Change and Mountain Ecology
Climate change is increasing the increasing frequency and intensity of expansive, wildland fires in a warming and drying world. In fact, this year’s broiling temperatures and almost non-existent precipitation have created a tinder-box out of the west, and the scale of the blazes, like the Rim Fire, is changing the landscape, as wildlife and plants struggle to adapt. Yet, fire has always been an important aspect of forest ecology, and one of its biggest challenges is how institutions and managers react in its aftermath.
Wildfires can promote ecosystem health and survival of many plant and wildlife communities, despite the intense heat and scale of the blazes. According to a recent article by three scientists specializing in fire ecology, large conflagrations create the best habitat. In fact, the ecosystem depends upon them.
Essentially, the Rim fire created 50,000 acres of what is known as complex early seral forest habitat, a rare and critically important post-fire landscape, with some of the highest levels of species diversity in the Sierra Nevada.
Wood-boring beetles arrive first to the standing dead trees (snags), which attract the rare and imperiled Black-backed woodpeckers, followed by cavity-nesting birds and wildlife. Various shrubs and trees have evolved the ability re-sprout from their burned roots and trunks, and some have seeds that germinate best only after intense fire. Many fire-following shrubs like Ceanothus fix nitrogen in soils, allowing nitrogen-hungry conifers and other plants to flourish during natural regeneration. Even the iconic Spotted Owl, synonymous with old-growth forests, takes advantage of burned forests to hunt for gophers and woodrats.
The naturally regenerated complex early seral habitat areas are more resilient to climate disruption than those logged or artificially replanted. Yet, decades of fire suppression and post-fire logging have made scarce or decimated this most important habitat.
Salvage Logging in the Stanislaus: Fire Means Profit
Unfortunately for the mountains, logging is proposed as a solution to future fire risk, called fuel reduction and salvage logging. In fact, the Forest Service recently issued a “recovery and rehabilitation” proposal that includes logging approximately 30,000 acres of the roughly 103,000 acres of Stanislaus timberland burned, in areas where public safety is not an issue. If approved, it could yield more lumber than the combined annual output of all the national forests in the state. It would open up about a fifth of the National Forest’s burned acres to the road building, machinery, and soil compaction that industrial logging brings with it.
So-called “fuels” are trees and shrubs that stabilize soils and provide shelter and food for a host of forest-dwelling creatures. Because climate and weather drive fire behavior and frequency, logging trees and clearing shrubs in “fuels reduction” does little to influence the behavior of large fires during extreme weather events. Science does not support this policy, but the US Forest Service has a substantial interest in harvesting National Forest timber, also benefitting from hundreds of millions of dollars in annual taxpayer subsidies for fuel reduction programs.
Moreover, salvage harvests often focus on more economically attractive large old growth standing trees, some of which have survived the fires that prompt the harvests and ordinarily would be protected. Smaller-diameter trees are often left behind in “slash piles” that increase the risk of later fires.
A recent study by the Center for Biological Diversity and the John Muir Project recommended rather than industrial scale salvage logging, post-fire management should focus on activities that benefit forest health, water quality and the many species that depend upon fire for their very existence.
Unfortunately, several local environmental groups have formed a coalition in support of the salvage logging plan. It is also supported by US Rep. Tom McClintock, whose district covers Tuolumne County, and who introduced a bill to exempt the plan from the usual environmental review. This ill-conceived move would shut down the voice of the 200 scientists who wrote Congress opposing the salvage logging plan.
John Buckley, executive director of one of those supporting environmental groups (Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center), said: “It is far more logical to have the industry remove dead trees with a return for taxpayers than to let the wood deteriorate so it loses saw log value. In that case, taxpayers would end up having to pay huge amounts of money to remove the dead wood to reduce unsafe fuel levels. Delay makes no sense.”
Yet Buckley to his credit expressed several concerns in an LA Times report, including opposition to plans to build permanent new roads in the burn area, including a segment that would punch into a wild portion of the Clavey River canyon that he said harbors one of the last surviving blocks of low-elevation, old-growth trees in the Stanislaus.
He worried that logging 1,300 steep acres using a cable system — in which logs are suspended from cables and hauled to roads — would accelerate erosion. And he questioned whether the Forest Service would leave enough large, dead trees that birds and other wildlife use for nesting and foraging. “It just doesn’t make sense to debate salvage logging in sensitive areas or to build controversial new roads when there are hundreds of millions of board feet of salvage trees that can be logged on noncontroversial sites,” Buckley said.
Though the Environmental Assessment for salvage logging along the region’s highways has already been approved, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Rim Fire Recovery Plan comment period ends on June 16 and can be accessed here. The plan is not expected to move forward until at least August of this year. (note; input can always be made until implementation)
Jack Eidt (jack dot eidt at wilderutopia dot com), Founder and Publisher of WilderUtopia, is a novelist, urban planner, and environmental advocate. In addition to writing regular articles forWilderUtopia, he has published opinion/editorials in various periodicals, including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, Voice of OC, LA Progressive, CityWatch LA, Win:Win Journal, andCounterPunch, and has been featured on Pacifica Radio, NPR, and local public television.
California officials decided Wednesday to add the gray wolf to the state’s endangered species list, extending protections to the animal.
The state’s Fish and Game Commission voted 3-1 at a meeting in Fortuna in favor of the listing, which will keep the animal safe from hunters’ crosshairs. The decision requires a second vote in August to become final.
The debate over whether to list the wolf pitted cattle ranchers, who consider the predator a threat to valuable herds, against those who wish to see the packs again flourish.
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 against sending a letter in support of the listing last week.
Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace, who cast the dissenting vote, said the state needs to plan ahead to address potential conflicts with Northern California seeing its first wolf since 1924.
Several members of the public said that the county should not support reintroducing a species known to cause problems, including ranchers who also attended the Fortuna meeting on Wednesday along with environmentalists who supported the listing.
“We are very concerned about listing the wolf under the California Endangered Species Act,” Justin Oldfield, vice president of governmental relationships for the California Cattlemen’s Association, said before the vote.
Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity, which leads the push for protection, said there are places where wolves and livestock exist together.
“There are definitely avenues for not only tolerating wolves, but accepting wolves,” she said. “This was their home before it was ours.”
Nationwide, bounty hunting and poisoning drove wolves to widespread extermination in the early 1900s. They have rebounded in recent decades, and federal protections have been lifted in the last several years in the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes.
The state commission decided to put off a decision at a meeting in April, wishing first to hear more public comment.
The debate comes into focus as a lone wolf — named OR-7 — began roaming into Northern California from Oregon in 2011.
That’s when the wolf was the seventh in Oregon to be fitted with a GPS tracking collar. He and his mate have produced pups. Biologists made the determination after traveling Monday to a site in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest east of Medford, where photos and a GPS tracking collar showed the wolf known as OR-7 has been living with a mate.
They saw two pups peering out from a pile of logs and may have heard more, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said.