Contaminated compost: How an industrial herbicide is ruining backyard gardens

Contaminated compost: How an industrial herbicide is ruining backyard gardens

SOURCE: The Counter DATE: July 22, 2020 SNIP: Clopyralid, used on golf courses and large-scale hayfields, is ending up in compost—and ruining plants that grow in it. In late April, [Iris Nason] moved her tomatoes into the outdoor beds, containing new soil from a local supplier. A week later, she knew something was wrong. Her healthy starts were twisted and the leaves began curling and cupping into strange shapes. Nason is a long-time gardener but had never seen anything like this before. She posted photos in a local gardening group and discovered many others were experiencing similar things with their gardens. They all had one thing in common: the company they’d gotten their soil amendment from—soil that had been contaminated with the herbicide clopyralid. This herbicide, along with aminopyralid and picloram and a few other varieties, are all known as “persistent herbicides” because they take a long time to break down. All of them are commonly used on golf courses and hayfields where they’re deployed to kill problematic broadleaf weeds. Even though state rules (which vary) are supposed to prevent clopyralid-contaminated grass, wheat, or other clippings from ending up in compost, cases like the one in Portland are not uncommon. If an animal like a horse or cow eats feed that has been sprayed with clopyralid, the herbicide can pass through the digestive tract and come out in the manure still active, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture. This contaminated animal manure can also make its way to local composting companies. Clopyralid leaves grass or hay intact while killing pesky broadleaf weeds like thistles and dandelions, according to...
America’s Radioactive Secret

America’s Radioactive Secret

SOURCE: Rolling Stone DATE: January 21, 2020 SNIP: Oil fields across the country — from the Bakken in North Dakota to the Permian in Texas — have been found to produce brine that is highly radioactive. “All oil-field workers,” says Ian Fairlie, a British radiation biologist, “are radiation workers.” But they don’t necessarily know it. The Earth’s crust is in fact peppered with radioactive elements that concentrate deep underground in oil-and-gas-bearing layers. This radioactivity is often pulled to the surface when oil and gas is extracted — carried largely in the brine. Radium, typically the most abundant radionuclide in brine, is often measured in picocuries per liter of substance and is so dangerous it’s subject to tight restrictions even at hazardous-waste sites. The most common isotopes are radium-226 and radium-228, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires industrial discharges to remain below 60 for each. “It’s ridiculous that these drivers are not being told what’s in their trucks,” says John Stolz, Duquesne’s environmental-center director. “And this stuff is on every corner — it is in neighborhoods. Truckers don’t know they’re being exposed to radioactive waste, nor are they being provided with protective clothing. “Breathing in this stuff and ingesting it are the worst types of exposure,” Stolz continues. “You are irradiating your tissues from the inside out.” The radioactive particles fired off by radium can be blocked by the skin, but radium readily attaches to dust, making it easy to accidentally inhale or ingest. Once inside the body, its insidious effects accumulate with each exposure. It is known as a “bone seeker” because it can be incorporated into the skeleton...
Trump EPA OKs ‘Emergency’ Use of Bee-Killing Pesticide on 13.9 Million Acres

Trump EPA OKs ‘Emergency’ Use of Bee-Killing Pesticide on 13.9 Million Acres

SOURCE: EcoWatch DATE: June 25, 2019 SNIP: More than 40 percent of insects could go extinct globally in the next few decades. So why did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week OK the ’emergency’ use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres? EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, “that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn’t be allowed to spray.” In a press release sent to EcoWatch, the Center for Biological Diversity stated: The approval includes 2019 crops of cotton and sorghum in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Ten of the 11 states have been granted the approvals for at least four consecutive years for the same “emergency.” Five have been given approvals for at least six consecutive years. If an occurrence is happening six years in a row, does that justify an emergency? “This administration has been grossly abusing this exemption to allow the use of this one pesticide called sulfoxaflor on a vast acreage year after year,” said Burd. Our biodiversity is at serious risk. For example, in Texas — where 5.8 million acres got emergency exemption to spray — more than 800 native bee species and eight species of bumblebees reside. It is also an important migration route for monarch butterflies. “Monarch butterflies and eight species of bumblebees...
Forest twice size of UK destroyed in decade for big consumer brands

Forest twice size of UK destroyed in decade for big consumer brands

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: June 11, 2019 SNIP: An area twice the size of the UK has been destroyed for products such as palm oil and soy over the last decade, according to analysis by Greenpeace International. In 2010, members of the Consumer Goods Forum, including some of the world’s biggest consumer brands, pledged to eliminate deforestation by 2020, through the sustainable sourcing of four commodities most linked to forest destruction: soya, palm oil, paper and pulp, and cattle. But analysis by Greenpeace International suggests that by the start of 2020, an estimated 50m hectares (123m acres) of forest are likely to have been destroyed in the growing demand for and consumption of agricultural products, in the 10 years since those promises were made. Its report, Countdown to Extinction, said that since 2010, the area planted with soya in Brazil has increased by 45% and palm oil production in Indonesia has risen by 75%. The environmental group accused major brands of failing to meet their commitments and warned that the current situation was “bleak”, advising them to evolve in order to “prevent climate and ecological breakdown”. Deforestation releases greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change and destroy important habitat, threatening species with extinction. About 80% of global deforestation is caused by agricultural production, which is also the leading cause of habitat destruction, the group said. Agricultural consumption, and therefore production, is forecast to rise globally. Meat consumption is set to rise by 76% according to some estimates. Soya production is also predicted to soar by almost 45% and palm oil by nearly 60%, according to the Food and...
Brazil’s Bolsonaro Green-Lights 150+ Pesticides This Year

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Green-Lights 150+ Pesticides This Year

SOURCE: Mongabay for EcoWatch DATE: May 3, 2019 SNIP: With the ruralist lobby now in control of key sectors of the federal government, Brazil is rapidly approving new pesticides for use, some of which critics say are either unnecessary or excessively toxic. During the first 100 days of the Jair Bolsonaro administration, the Agriculture Ministry authorized the registration of 152 pesticides, putting Brazil on course to authorize more pesticides this year than in any previous year. Brazil is already the world’s largest user of pesticides. The number of pesticides authorized each year has risen rapidly, from 139 in 2015 under the Dilma Rousseff administration, to 450 in 2018 under the Michel Temer government (see graph). An even higher number is expected to enter the Brazilian market this year, as the Agriculture Ministry considers registration of roughly another 1,300 pesticides. Most of these requests are coming from foreign multinational companies, mainly based in the U.S., Germany and China, which is increasingly becoming an important supplier. Despite the rapid rise in authorizations, Bolsonaro’s agriculture minister, Tereza Cristina, said “there is no general liberation” of new pesticide registrations. According to her ministry, the products will merely give farmers a greater choice of existing pesticides, and access to new chemicals and there is no reason to be concerned: “The use [of pesticides] is completely safe, provided they are applied as instructed, within a context of good farming practice and with the use of individual protective equipment,” said the government. Events within Brazil seem to deny the truth of Cristina’s claims. Brazil has a higher per capita consumption of pesticides than any other country...